Urban planning community

+ Reply to thread
Results 1 to 6 of 6

Thread: Non-compliant commercial project next to residential? - (was: Is this as crazy as I think it is?)

  1. #1
    Member
    Registered
    Mar 2008
    Location
    NYC area
    Posts
    3

    Non-compliant commercial project next to residential? - (was: Is this as crazy as I think it is?)

    In my neighborhood, which is comprised of about 100 houses on a strip of about 15 acres lying between the old road and the river. The properties on the old road are C-1 and the perpendicular streets, once you're past those lots fronting on the old road, are all residential. A developer wants to change two R-1 properties abutting two of the C-1 properties on the old road, combine the 4 lots and build a nonconforming structure which is about 150% of what is allowed (FAR/height/setback) while meeting about 60% of the requirements(parking/buffers/setbacks) for his new, large lot. When we, his residential neighbors openly resisted - attending town meetings and such, our small town's mayor asked him in a public meeeting if he wanted to pursue the variances needed or if he'd like to approach the development as a redevelopment zone. He asked them to declare the 4 lots into a 'redevelopment zone' which they (the mayor and council and the town's attorney) say will allow him to sidestep the citizen review boards that would ordinarily consider the variances. Citizen boards that we had hoped to influence not to allow him such significant variances. Am I in Wonderland or have things actually evolved this far? I'm an architect and I'm cognizant of Kelo v. New London and a few similar takings in my state (NJ) but I can't find enough information about this concept to begin to think through how to rebutt this. I think our small town politicians are just misguided and anxious for the ratables but I would like to influence them not to spend their efforts pursuing such a crazy idea -- and our time in rebutting them by hiring counsel and such. Reality check, please? Is this really the world I live in?
    Moderator note:
    Please no teaser titles in the professional forums. I edited the thread title to be more specific.

    Thanks,
    mendelman

  2. #2
    What does the community's comprehensive (master) plan say about the land in the R-1 adjacent to the C-1 district? Is it a logical place, according to the plan, for commercial outgrowth?

    What setback requirements is the developer proposing -- those of the C-1 or the R-1? What development standard is he being judged by -- the R-1 or the C-1?

    I don't think anyone could make a case for a taking here. Rather, you are describing what would be an adverse effect on an adjoining property.That's typically a stopper for a use/development standards variance. Rezoning, even if it is not supported by the comp plan, would not rise to the level of a taking.

  3. #3
    Member
    Registered
    Mar 2008
    Location
    NYC area
    Posts
    3
    Masterplan and updates say 'r-1 stays r-1' and 'c-1 stays c-1'.
    Masterplan makes no mention of need for redevelopment anywhere in this general area. There is a redevelopment zone of perhaps 20 acres in an ex-industrial/ warehouse showroom part of town, so its not like they forgot to consider of the idea.
    There is no 'taking', the two R-1's are willing sellers.
    My concern is the use of redevelopment when none of the reasons for redevelopment apply, to skirt the variance boards and get the R-1's rezoned.

    I'm judging his new commercial building (150% / 60%) against the C-1 criteria.
    Apologies for the incorrect title, thank you for revising it.

    What does the community's comprehensive (master) plan say about the land in the R-1 adjacent to the C-1 district?
    --> there's no problem with the adjacency for the people who bought the houses next to the c-1, it has been that way for 150 years, it is the transferring of that adjacency to the next house down the block.
    Is it a logical place, according to the plan, for commercial outgrowth?
    --> No, the masterplan says the commerical band along the road is supposed to maintained (it is a linear town alng the old road) and the resdiential homes should stay residential.

    What setback requirements is the developer proposing -- those of the C-1 or the R-1?
    Our C-1 and R-1 setbacks here are virtually the same. He's proposing vitually no setbacks on any sides nor the front.
    What development standard is he being judged by -- the R-1 or the C-1?
    --> I'm comparing his proposed commercial building to the C-1 standard.

    I don't think anyone could make a case for a taking here. Rather, you are describing what would be an adverse effect on an adjoining property.That's typically a stopper for a use/development standards variance. Rezoning, even if it is not supported by the comp plan, would not rise to the level of a taking.
    --> Yes, but the town says if its a 'redevelopment' none of the boro codes which would mandate the variances would apply.
    Last edited by Gedunker; 28 Mar 2008 at 4:25 PM.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian btrage's avatar
    Registered
    May 2005
    Location
    Metro Detroit
    Posts
    6,420
    I would try and talk to the responsible staff persons who are handling this request. Try and glean from them whether or not this has become a political issue being driven by elected officials, or if this is the route that is being suggested by staff.

    If this is the route being suggested by staff, then perhaps you can talk to them about their rationale behind their recommendations. Maybe you can sway them, who in turn could sway the elected officials.

    If this is something that is being dictated by the elected officials, then all I can say is pony up and hire a land use attorney.

    I'm not trying to be a jerk, but you're naive if you believe that politics doesn't play a role in land development.

  5. #5
    Being an ex-pat Jersey boy I can say this where others couldn't: your borough is being run by a bunch of muckity-muck yahoos.

    If the master plan doesn't support the re-zoning I'd fight it pretty hard because they are trying the re-zoning route purposefully to avoid public participation. I don't practice in new jersey but i'd be amazed if declaring it a "redevelopment" would in fact extinguish zoning.

    Are there any attorneys living in the effected area that might be willing to lend some pro bono assistance to help you fight this?

  6. #6
    Member
    Registered
    Mar 2008
    Location
    NYC area
    Posts
    3
    I would try and talk to the responsible staff persons who are handling this request. Try and glean from them whether or not this has become a political issue being driven by elected officials, or if this is the route that is being suggested by staff.
    We're a town of 10,000. Nothing beyond clerical staff. They hire on professional help, as needed.

    If this is the route being suggested by staff, then perhaps you can talk to them about their rationale behind their recommendations. Maybe you can sway them, who in turn could sway the elected officials.
    If this is something that is being dictated by the elected officials, then all I can say is pony up and hire a land use attorney.
    I'd really like to figure out how to dissuade them from the unfortunate position they're putting themselves and/or assure them it won't happen without a public fight as I absolutely agree:

    you're naive if you believe that politics doesn't play a role in land development.
    I'm considering going to the state planing commmission or some similar 'neutral expert party' to help them understnad how outlandish their plan seems. Which brings me back to my original question... ...and both of your comments have bolstered my confidence.

    Being an ex-pat Jersey boy I can say this where others couldn't: your borough is being run by a bunch of muckity-muck yahoos.
    They are sincere but seem misguided to me.

    If the master plan doesn't support the re-zoning I'd fight it pretty hard because they are trying the re-zoning route purposefully to avoid public participation. I don't practice in new jersey but i'd be amazed if declaring it a "redevelopment" would in fact extinguish zoning.
    That's the thing, it all seems so outragous -- can't they hear themselves talking? Redevelopment is supposed to be for the public good. The developer has offered no reason his oversized building will benefit anyone but him, other than the ratables.

    Are there any attorneys living in the effected area that might be willing to lend some pro bono assistance to help you fight this?
    Well, actually the town's redevelopment attorny, the guy retained to the town's portion of the paper on the 'real' redevelopment project down at the other end of town -- he owns the lot across the street from me and would become the new 'abutting neighbor' to the C-1. He seems to be in an awkward position since they are his client.

+ Reply to thread

More at Cyburbia

  1. Commercial/residential areas
    Make No Small Plans
    Replies: 0
    Last post: 20 Dec 2007, 2:52 PM
  2. Residential to commercial transition
    Design, Space, and Place
    Replies: 1
    Last post: 19 Dec 2005, 12:27 PM
  3. Replies: 4
    Last post: 20 May 2005, 11:35 PM
  4. Replies: 1
    Last post: 25 Apr 2001, 2:19 PM
  5. Replies: 0
    Last post: 25 Mar 2000, 3:03 PM