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Thread: Public Hearing Rant

  1. #1
          Downtown's avatar
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    Public Hearing Rant

    Hey. Just wanted to blow off a little steam. Tonight is our weekly planning board meeting, and our second project is a Muslim Community Center. And I just completely do not want to go tonight because all week the calls from "concerned neighbors" have started trickling in. Much crying and gnashing of the teeth about "How can the Town allow these people to come into our neighborhood?" Ok. maybe I exagerrated about the teeth gnashing. But I just don't want to deal with thinly guised bigotry tonight. I guess I just have to have faith that our Chairman will put the kibosh on unrelated outbursts/tangets. But it is just things like this that further enforces my sometimes belief that the general public is just a bunch of yahoos. Which is probably not the best attitude for a planner, the public's advocate, to have. But oh well. Sorry. I'm just tired and crabby and totally dreading tonight. I'm sure that once I get into the bathtub tonight after the meeting and after consuming a couple of "wind down" mich lites I'll be in a much better fram of mind.

    Thanks for listening to me (reading my) bitch.

  2. #2
    Member Mary's avatar
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    I understand. I just finished talking to a lady who told me that they need street lights on her road, at least 3, (her road by the way is less than 600 feet long and already has lights on both ends at the intersections) because her neighborhood is getting dangerous. There's an apartment complex on one end and a nursing home at the other and people "ALL KINDS" roam the street all the time.

    After about 10 minutes of listening to her telling me how the wonderful nieghbors across the street moved out and now a mexican family lives there................ all I can say is.

    Cringe, Cringe, Twitch, Twitch.

    I'm glad it's almost 5.

  3. #3
    Forums Administrator & Gallery Moderator NHPlanner's avatar
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    Affordable Housing...

    The latest thing here is "threatening" to use affordable housing as a means to gain exemptions to our growth management ordinance. Usually goes something like this...

    Applicant: Well, I guess I could always build affordable housing...but does the town really want those people here?

    Me: Oh, really. Would you consider me to be one of "those people?"

    Applicant: No, why?

    ARRRGHH! This hit me personally, because according to the formula that affordable housing (really it's moderate income housing) is calculated (80% of the median income) I'M EXACTLY THE TARGET INCOME GROUP FOR AFFORDABLE HOUSING!!

    It always throws off a developer when I spring that nugget on them.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Emeritus Chet's avatar
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    Let us know how it went KMateja!

    My meeting tonight should be just as colorful : A parochial school is planning an expansion and they provided the Plan Commission with 5 altenative exterior treatments ranging from vertical sheet metal panels to 100% face brick. Of course the Commission chose the face brick option and not the congregation is coming back to complain about the cost and appeal for alternative treatments. Excuse me, but aren't THEY the one's that hired this guy and approved his submittal to us? Did anyone - especially the architect - think about budgets from the get-go? Sure, now we are the bad guys. Tell ya what folks, tell the pope to sell one of those pretty pictures he has hanging around his shack....

  5. #5
          Downtown's avatar
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    Here's the update:

    It went amazingly well last night. Someone ordered an armed police officer, and he was totally not needed, but who knows, maybe his presence deterred some people from speaking out. Everyone was so civil - I think it really helped that the Muslim Community Center had an open house at a local Catholic Church and invited all the neighbors to check out their plans. So all my stress was for naught.

    And here is my two cents about the "affordable housing":

    In the year that I've been in this job, I've yet to see a subdivision proposed with starting housing prices less than $180,000, and the high end in the same subdivision is always up to $300K. Invariably, someone in the adjacent neighborhood to a proposed subdivision gets all huffy that this "affordable housing" is going to be near their property. Hello? $180K is NOT affordable housing! I just want to yell that A) if they think THAT is affordable housing, then I must live in a shack and B) there is no way those whiners would EVER get $180K for their own house, and THEIR shacks are probably bringing down the value of the proposed houses. Grrr.

  6. #6

    show me the money

    I just forces myself to remain completely calm while listening to my supervisor recount a conversation with the Chairperson of the Planning Commission where the chair, who is a budding developer, said he couldn't support an application because he didn't consider the proposed use the 'highest and best use' for the site...he thought a convenience store would be better...the adjacent land uses include an "affordable" housing development where new homes run 160-250k and resells are going for 195-325k.

    Think I could get fired for kicking a commissioner?

  7. #7
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    Re: show me the money

    Yeah, I got the same thing too -- in fact, for a few months back in 1999, this little 12 home infill development occupied about a third of my work time and about 40% of my public contact, even though I was handling 40 other active cases.

    So, what was the big deal? In the Denver area, every suburb wants to cash in on the affluenza that's spreading through the region. The mega-burb where I worked was trying to shed its "downscale" image, although what's considered downscale in the Denver metro area would be considered several ticks above middle class anyplace else in the United States. (That "downscale" suburb had the region's best schools and some mighty tough design regulations, too.) The homebuilder was to be one that normally built high-end product, and the models proposed were 2,000 square feet and up -- at the time, starting at $250,000. (In other Denver 'burbs, similar houses would sell for $300,000 to $400,000, but this was a suburb that elicited chuckles among the "dot-communists" and "robust e-business solutions" crowd when its name was uttered.)

    The adjacent HOA had a fit, considering the proposed product to be "entry level," even though surrounding homes were similar in size and cost They wanted conditions for minimum square footage and price. I argued against that, saying that home prices were shooting up so quickly in the region, that the $250,000 that would buy you a 2,000 square foor house now would buy you 1,600 square feet next year, and 1,200 square feet the year after. Also, the price of the raw lots dictates the price of the final product; if the underlying land is expensive, the developer has to build large houses to make a decent profit. If they built small houses, it would be a money-losing proposition.

    Admittedly, on the Front Range, a 2,000 square foot $250,000 house is on the low end of what's being built in the region, but c'mon, what about considering market reality. Nobody is going to built $500,000 tract mansions in the noise contour of a busy major street, next to fifteen year old $250,000 houses, in a suburb with an undeserved yet perceived "image problem." (Believe it or not, the southern end of that city was filling up with homes approaching seven digit prices, and the town was still the butt of jokes; those homes were still no big deal compared to the highest of the high end in every other town.)

    The public meeting lasted forever. The infill development was approved. In the end, though, everybody hated me; my supervisor, because this project took longer than the anticipated eight weeks to process (uhhh, you mean that vurilent NIMBYs and three neighborhood meetings shouldn't have slowed things down), there were reports of unreturned phone calls (I logged an average of 40 to 50 public contacts a day while that beast was running through the works), and my work on it had a chain reaction that affected my other cases; the developer because the process took "so long;" and a powerful HOA because I was "biased" and recommended approval.

    Shortly after that case was over, I was assigned to be the case manager for a proposed commercial development. I'm glad I quit shortly afterwards, considering the presence of several web sites offering extremely vocal opposition to the project. I would have been the most hated planner in Colorado if I remained.
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

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