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?
Please no teaser titles in the professional forums. I edited the thread title to be more specific.