Tomorrow night (Monday) the City Council is hearing public testimony, and apparently will vote on, Ordinance O-35-17. This ordinance would overhaul the development review process by inserting more transparency (beefing up the notification requirements), offering additional opportunity for public input, and would send major site design plan applications to the Planning Commission for a public hearing. This is good! And your support is needed! Last time it was mostly developers out to testify against it, with only a few there in support.
Alan Hyatt submitted proposed amendments, and Aldermen Arnett and Budget submitted their own amendments and incorporated some of Hyatt's proposals. Some of the proposed amendments concern me. One of Hyatt's would weaken the ordinance by not sending major site design applications to the Planning Commission (though such a hearing could be requested by the Director). That said, if the Planning Commission thinks it would be too burdensome, it may need to be reconsidered. Another proposed amendment by both parties, which I disagree with, is to add a grandfathering provision so that these changes would not apply to any development that has an application submitted. This should be dropped and replaced as I detail below.
I already testified at the last City Council meeting, but I encourage others to have their voices heard on this. I have a few recommended amendments:
- They should increase the notification radius to beyond 200'. I think it should be raised to 500', if not 1,000'.
- I'd prefer to see any appeals of the Planning Commission decision to go to the Board of Appeals rather than the Circuit Court. The Circuit Court is very expensive and is burdensome for residents to appeal to. It would have to be verified this is permissible under State law, however.
- I'm curious what you think, but I have concerns about the proposed grandfathering amendment. Rather than exempt all projects that have applications submitted, I'd rather see any projects without final Planning Commission or P&Z approvals have to comply with the new code. This would allow projects such as Eastport Terrace and Crystal Spring to go through the new public notification/review process (if passed). I don't believe it's too burdensome for applicants to step back and simply schedule a public hearing or to go to the Planning Commission to get more review comments, especially if they don't have any approvals yet.
What are your thoughts?
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