Sunday, January 26, 2020

The City Planning Department & You

I cannot stress enough how important it is to be on top of what's going on in the planning department as our city grows, be it new zoning cases, the fiscal analysis tool they use, or any new code development regulations they make. Decisions made by City Council, P&Z, and the planning department directly impact traffic, crime, pollution, property values, affordability, and what our city ends up being in 20 or more years.
People don't care about other people's land use and zoning controversies until it happens to them. And, there is usually a subset of people who call people who don't want the gas station, concrete plant, apartments, dental office, or high school football stadium near their properties NIMBYs (not in my back yard)....until something happens in their back yard.

This Tuesday, January 28th, there will be a special City Council meeting on the 121/Hardin area and specifically across the street from the stadium (hint, more apartments) right by the Horse Shoe Bend estate development.

Afterwards, there will also be a joint City Council meeting on the new code development regulations we hired a consultant to look into (hint, the consultant is suggesting taking the City Council out of the review process for some situations) Both will be dull, but very important meetings. You can watch the presentations or you can just review the powerpoint presentations yourself. Please go here to look at the agendas and presentations for each one.

Don't wait for the rezoning signs to appear before you find out about some significant changes around you. Rezoning cases happen much faster than you realize. You have to be on top of what's going on. You have got to know the case number and email the planner in charge questions, try to work with the developers, send in approval or opposition letters, find out how to protest a zoning change, and get your neighbors active so you know what to do in case your area is affected.

Everyone must learn about their area.

1st - Look at the 2040 Comprehensive Plan for your "district" in the preferred scenario they've cooked up.

2nd -Once you know your district, look here for the details of what the planning department has in mind for your district in the Individual District Strategies section of the plan. It is often eye opening what has been decided for you and your neighbors.

3rd -Even though there is a GIS map with some current zoning cases/changes, I don't use it because it isn't up to date and it is hard to use for most people. The only other available tool is the Planning Case Master List located here. Do a search for a major street near you.

4th- Prepare yourself for a fight. If something is planned near you, those developers have consultants and people experienced in dealing with planning departments and asking the right questions for the results they want. Citizens do not have the upper hand. There are many tactics you can take, though. I'll be writing about those coming up.

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