In addition to being an ace planner by day, I'm also a planning commissioner by night. Last night we had a typical case of a guy owning a fairly worthless flag lot with big elevation changes coming in to get a zoning change to commercial. The site is currently R-1 and it is bordered by R1 to one side and C3 on the other. It has the skinny part of the "L" adjoining the largest commercial strip in town.
Clearly this site had minimal R1 usage due to its layout and location. But on the other hand the C3 use would have been of little attractiveness to any developer due to the dirt work required, shape, and lack of any significant frontage in a town where frontage is king.
Its only real use would be as adjunct land to one of two neighboring commercial businesses. i.e. Parking or maybe room for a small building expansion. The lot is also covered with trees and acts a good barrier for the two subdivisions it borders. The lot was cut out of one of the afore mentioned residential subdivisions to avoid notification requirements to a known foe of one of the commerical developments. The flag lot is clearly a self-inflicted developer wound.
The residential areas it borders are easily in the top 1/3 in value of all R1 areas in town. Homes are in the $140K range and above. The parade of "I'm agin it's" folks appear as soon as the public hearing is opened. And true to form we hear 15 people tell us "it?s always been woods since 1971 and this fellow should keep it that way for us.'
The applicant obviously wants to work out a deal where by he sells the land to the neighbors. He asks for a postponement in the "speak for the project" portion of the public hearing before the neighbors had their say.
It is clear to me that he also doesn't want to screw them. I believe he paid his $1800 for a public hearing in front of the commission so that he could get their attention. It worked.
One of the neighbors says he'd like to talk to the land owner about working a deal after we sat through the 15 5-minute sessions where everyone says the same thing. Anyway, his comments piss off some of the neighbors in a ?I aren?t a buying no land? way. One of the planning commission members makes a statement to the effect of ?this is a good idea and I hope you can work a deal.? But it is clear to me that the neighbors don?t think the board will approve any change to the zoning.
That?s when I gave my little pep talk about how I think a person has the right to seek to develop their property within the rules of the city. And as it stands I would vote in favor of the zoning change when it comes to a vote next month unless a deal is worked out. Sort of a bad cop approach. I didn?t think the neighbors would think the planning commission was seriously going to consider voting in favor of the change because in their understanding of the process having the developer out numbered is what will sway the board.
In my humble planner opinion the land, while it makes a wonderful buffer is far more contiguous with the C-3. I then incorporated the phrase, "If you want to keep the view you need to buy the view." I guess it was tough love planning for a town that likes to shout down people they disagre with. You should have heard the gasp's. "How dare he talk to us that way" was the general gasp consensus. And I was actually in public personal polite mode when I said it.
That was when the little old lady cat called from the crowd, ?You?re stupid.? My skin is now much thicker than in my 20's and 30?s when I would have cat called back. But it begs the question for my fellow planning commissioners, have you ever had the slightest desire to see the NIMBY?s get what they deserve? :banghead: