To all City officials who may be accountable for public notice of meeting agenda items:
Sent 5/18 in response:
We took no action last night on the matter, but managed to expose a lot of the potential conflicts between the existing zoning classification (MF 30) and the historic district regulations that exist. Much of our conversation concerned the importance of contextual development. Unfortunately, we do not have a set of design guidelines, as we do for the downtown and major thoroughfares, for this particular district. The challenges identified included the existing zoning and its allowance for a maximum height of 60 feet, provision of parking for 27 residential units and the design problems associated with that provision, pedestrian sensitive development, potential loss of “rhythm” of the street front (setbacks, scale and spacing of existing structures), permitted height and the contrast with other structures in the area, etc. Those present expressed both support and concern regarding the project. One of those speaking in support was rightly exposed as being financially involved in the underlying transaction. It should also be noted that we did not receive any back-up material in our packets. The drawings, including the site plan and elevation, were done by the applicant “the night before” the meeting – with no input from our staff and our generally uncomplimentary comments reflected the lack of staff’s input.
It should also be noted that we did not receive any back-up material in our packets. The drawings, including the site plan and elevation, were done by the applicant “the night before” the meeting – with no input from our staff and our generally uncomplimentary comments reflected the lack of staff’s input.
The board also identified this area and its contradictory dynamics in a previous meeting and discussed this under Planning Issues on April 19, 2006. The item was listed as “Southeast MF-20, MF-30 and MF-40 Zoning Districts”. We have directed our staff, limited in number and over-booked with demands, to work on a set of design guidelines so that we can successfully address the challenges and opportunities this area holds for the City.
We identified the following issues related to separation of the function of the board. These are not in defense of keeping the board “as is”, but offered as important points to consider before making such a decision:
1. The board is currently is comprised of residents who live east of
2. Rather than a “conflict” between the functions of a Planning and Zoning Board and a Historic Resources Preservation Board, I think we saw the benefits of having expertise, knowledge and abilities in both areas at our meeting last night. Instead of having a “stand-off” of two opposing sides, a board with combined functions is likely better able to strike a compromise and offer innovative alternatives in a collaborative environment. Although we didn’t “decide” anything last night, we were able to see all sides of the issue due to the board’s experience in dealing with various competing interests. Is it easy? No! But it is necessary to have this kind of dialog for the City to progress.
3. Staffing needs for an additional board should be considered, especially given the budgetary and physical plant constraints that the City faces. Also to be considered, but lesser of importance, would be the time required for a new board to get up to speed.
4. We should also remember that when the functions of the Planning and Zoning Board were consolidated, and the Historic Resource Preservation Board was established, it was done so that all issues could be heard at one time. This reduced the possibility of a long string of individual meetings with the potential for a “back-and-forth” between various boards as changes are made to a particular project. This was also done at a time when the City was trying to attract developer interest and make the process as expeditious as possible, but still remaining comprehensive in scope.
5. The Historic Resources Preservation Board also has the power to grant variances to historic structures/properties so that they remain functional in the present day and can change to reflect the prevailing historic fabric of the various historic districts. This can be done without the finding of a “hardship” as the issuance of a traditional variance requires.
There are other considerations, but these seem to be the most important points to remember at this time. I would encourage you and all others who are in receipt of this to contact me, or any other member of the board, to discuss this important matter further.
Thanks. And I do hope that in the future the board’s agendas give the detail necessary to know better the general focus of the discussion.