Gov't

P & Z: Understanding the Process

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By Dave Freneaux

One of my favorite sayings is; "there are only two kinds of people in the world….those who try to say yes, and those who try to say no." As I have studied much of the controversy over the past months, it seems to me that even the most heated arguments over seemingly irreconcilable issues are being had by people who, at the very core of the issues, are really all wanting pretty much the same thing. At heart, the people of Central are by and large hard-working, faith-filled, honorable, loyal and friendly people who care more about family and friends than anything else. Don't get caught up in trying to disprove my view by pointing out the exceptions, as that is why we call them exceptions. I am simply hopeful that everyone in the process can spend the majority of their efforts "trying to say yes" to productive mutual understanding, becoming educated in the process, and finding ways to work through difiicult issues with mutual respect.
I hooked you into reading this by telling you this article was about Planning and Zoning, and it is. Just as our elected and appointed officials are relatively new to leading in government, so we are new in following and participating in the process. I hope here to first confess to you that I was not fully aware of the Planning & Zoning (P&Z) process, then to tell you that it would be a safe bet that 90% of Central does not understand it any better than I did. I believe that the next few paragraphs may set all of us on a better path toward a more civilized and fruitful approach to the issues of P&Z.
"P&Z In Everyday English"
PUD – planned unit development – a bunch of buildings to live in, work in or shop in. SPUD – SMALL planned unit development – a tiny PUD – (less than 20 acres). PUDs come before P&Z two times, once to approve the Concept Plan, (before the developer spends serious dollars), then again after traffic and drainage studies are done to approve the Final Development Plan. It is reasonably expected that a developer who is told YES on the Concept Plan will be told YES again if the developer has done what was proposed and taken the advice of the P&Z as to any changes needed in the Concept. At that second P&Z appearance the committee makes reccomendation to the Council that the PUD be zoned as requested or that zoning be modified or denied. City Council ALWAYS has the final say on all zoning changes. A SPUD is done the same way, except that both P&Z appearances are rolled into one meeting.
Master Plan – a general agreement as to where everything should be built in Central. The Master Plan is a RESOURCE, not a law. The Master Plan does not dictate zoning. The zoning on all property in Central was there before the City was created. That zoning stays in effect until it is changed through this P&Z and City Council process. Recent history has shown a STRONG tendency to follow the Master Plan in making zoning decisions.
CAB-1 – A restaurant that can also serve alcohol. CAB-2 – a bar that can also serve food. These zoning requests, because they involve alcohol, can only be made once the actual building is far enough through construction that the floorplan can be detailed in drawings and the boundaries of the facility are known. A developer can go to P&Z with a Concept Plan including a CAB-1 or CAB-2 zoning, then pay for traffic and drainage studies and come back for approval of the Final Development Plan and request Commercial Zoning, yet still not be zoned CAB-1 or CAB-2. Until the specifics of the building are known, the CAB-1 or 2 cannot be applied for.
So now you know as little as I do, and I apologize if I have made any errors in writing this. I will have my staff check it for errors…OK, I don't see any errors. I will not pretend that this one article will solve any of the differences I witnessed at the last P&Z meeting, but it can't hurt for people to understand the basics of what they are arguing. I am, however, going to pretend that my earlier ramblings about looking for the best in people and finding ways to say yes, or at least to compromise, will encourage at least SOME people to find a way to solve at least SOME of their differences and recognize that we really all just want the best for Central.

6 Comments

  1. Mike Stephens

    April 28, 2010 at 11:11 am

    Dave,
    Thanks for clearing that up for me. Your description of the residents of Cetnral is a very good one. The issue of the sports bar is one of many that a new and growing community will face in the comming months and years.
    Hopefully we can agree to disagree, keep it friendly or professional
    without getting personal and work hard TOGETHER where we find common ground.

  2. Mike Mannino

    April 28, 2010 at 2:58 pm

    Dave,
    I am what I would consider fairly up on this process after many years of being involved in EBR. The process here is very similar. To your points.

    – PUD- I totally agree that this was probably the case with the Sports Bar but I dont think many of us were aware that this area had been approved in concept as a PUD. We have a serious communication issue and for that matter, knowledge of the process issue. I can understand the Commissions frustration with us that show up to these meetings, unaware of what has already been done. Our fault, we will learn but in the mean time, we cant let things slip in because the developers know the rules and we dont. There were enough people voicing a concern about this that someone on the P&Z commission should have stepped back and said, ” We missed something here”. Either its communication, notification, whatever but the frustration level will grow as more and more of this happens because the rules are clearly known by developers, they can quickly move forward, and those of us that have regular jobs get left in the dust because we cant react quick enough to impact a decision. By the way, anyone aware of what else is approved in the PUD ? Any strip clubs ? Just curious to see where we draw the line.

    – Master Plan- I agree with your assessment that this is a resource. However, most people EXPECT that if we spent between 500-750 thousand dollars to develop it, we better damn well have a good reason to not follow the recomendations. The Townhomes on Triple B are a good example. Though this was pulled last night, its not over. By pulling the request, the developer can come back anytime with another plan for this instead of waiting a year as required if it was denied. Now the Moore Group, that developed this plan, sent a letter to the P&Z commission clearly stating that this should not be developed as a high density area. That should be the end of it, no if’s,ands, or buts. If it was a recommended use and the only problem a few technical details, then its OK to keep it active.

    Sorry about this but I’m not one of those people that go along to get along. If your comments about saying yes mean meeting in the middle when we have differences of opinion, maybe, on most items. On others, sometimes the right thing to do is dig your heels in and see who can pull the hardest…
    By the way, I’m starting to see a pattern with all these developments. Seeing the same people involved in almost all from the builders to realtors, to agents. One of those things that makes you go Hmmmmm.

  3. My_Voice

    April 28, 2010 at 3:13 pm

    Mike,

    I like your last sentence! Right on brother for saying the things no one else will say!

  4. Robby

    April 29, 2010 at 9:39 pm

    It’s not one of those things that make me go hmmmmm, it’s one of those things that chaps my hide!
    It is VERY much a pattern and I hope its one that ends VERY SOON!

    Thanks for pointing that out Mr Mannino!

  5. Mike Mannino

    April 30, 2010 at 7:32 am

    OK folks. New info. Found out that the PUD concept shows a restaurant ( CAB1) and not a bar ( CAB2) so we were either misled at the Commission meeting or we misunderstood something. Everyone needs to show up at the Council Meeting on May 11 to voice your opposition and to force the issue and hilite the fact that the original approval does NOT have a bar.

  6. Paul

    May 1, 2010 at 9:09 pm

    I am not against a sports bar opening in Central. I think we often punish institutions for the actions of patrons or users. If you think that bar owners are responsible for drinking related incidents than you must think that gun manufacturers are related for shooting related accidents. It makes about as much sense. The fault is the individuals who commits a CRIME, not the restaurant/bar owner trying to make a living. Now, I have no problem with those people that are against opening a bar, whether it be for moral or religious reasons. Just let’s not try and apply faulty reasoning to it. I hear people saying we have too many bars already. How many bars are too many? I don’t go to any of the existing ones but I would go to a sports bar. Besides, what happened to the free market?

    Now, after saying all that – I agree that the process should be an open one and people on both sides of the issue should have their opportunity to speak on the issue before the board members make up their mind. But invariably, one side is going to walk away in disagreement with the decision.

    What puzzles me is that so many people are discussing this issue as if it is the most pressing one facing Central today. This issue is minor compared to not preparing to create a full time police department. There will be far greater reprecussions to our failure to act on that issue than will ever be seen by acting on this one.

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