Sunday, January 16, 2011

Links to staff reports on beach site plan and casino building rehabilitation:

Staff Report

Variance Application

Justification Statement

I was able to fish these out of the Planning and Zoning Board agenda...the one that you can't see any words, just links.

The first thing that jumped from the staff report is that the city is relying on the Beach and Casino land use designation and the Beach and Casino zoning district in order to go forward with the rehabilitation project.  These were created by the same ordinances that our new Commissioner Christopher McVoy circulated a petition to have repealed!  He and his supporters used his efforts to gather signatures to overturn these ordinances as a "positive" to get him into office.  The city is also using the land use designation as included in the adopted EAR (Evaluation and Appraisal Report) Amendments to the Comprehensive Plan as the basis for approval of this project.  The point here is that there is NOW the realization by those in power that this Beach and Casino (BAC) designation is needed to allow for other than open air recreation at the beach.

Had the city acted on McVoy's petition, the items would have been part of a referendum.  Imagine if that had gone through?  Part of the not-so unintended consequences of the former Hometown Democracy movement.

This is the same version of the Comprehensive Plan that is currently being challenged by petitioners (see post on last Wednesday's hearing.)  What if the judge sides with the petitioners and finds that the Comprehensive Plan is NOT in compliance and that the Department of Community Affairs was in error when they proclaimed that the document was in compliance?  That possibility is not discussed in the staff reports or the back-up material.

If the judge finds in favor of the petitioners, then the city will have to hold another transmittal hearing, DCA will issue another Objections, Recommendations and Comments (ORC) report, the city will have to respond to it and then hold another adoption hearing.  During this time, it would be a good idea to review the permitted heights within the city so that we are better positioned to contribute to the success of mass transit, especially any transit-oriented development (TOD) along either railroad.  All this takes time and has the prospect of delaying the beach project - since the wording that allows it is in the contested Comprehensive Plan.

And, not only is the city using language in the Comprehensive Plan that is being challenged, it is also asking for VARIANCES from the Beach and Casino zoning district related to SETBACKS!  You read it here first ladies and gentlemen.  It wants to build closer to the SEAWALL than PERMITTED!  Remember then Commissioner Jennings' infamous PowerPoint presentation - complete with people running from on-coming waves?

Truth is stranger than fiction.