Here is one commenter's dispatch from last Thursday night's Planning Commission Meeting discussion of the religious school's billboard request beginning with the person of Jim Gotto, who is the Council representative on the Planning Commission:
Someone from Hermitage needs to ask their Councilman Jim Gotto what in the world he thinking Thursday night at the Metro Planning Commission meeting.
Goodpasture Christian School came before the MPC asking to rezone a small sliver of their property CS in order to get an electronic LED sign on their property. Councilman Michael Craddock [Goodpasture's council rep.] came and spoke in favor.
Councilman Gotto, who serves on the MPC, made a motion to deny the CS zoning but instead give them SP zoning on this tiny part of their property for an LED sign.
Commissioner Andree LeQuire had strong concerns stating that the MPC needed to let the LED sign task force make their recommendation before ruling on such a sign. Commissioner Stewart Clifton, who also serves on the task force, stated that the task force had one more meeting and a recommendation would be made. He reminded the commissioners that there were signs all over town that were illegal now that no one was policing.
Gotto tried to tell the group that the task force might take a year to 18 months. Gotto's motion was amended by Commissioner Phil Ponder to allow the sign to be 110% of what it is now and be LED. Goodpasture is one step closer to getting an LED sign that is 15 foot tall with no restrictions. Even if there is a change in LED law, will they be grandfathered in?
The vote was 6-2 in favor. I am sorry commissioners, isn't this spot zoning? Where was Mr. Bernhardt? He always speaks up reminding the commissioners that SP is not for spot zoning. Has he been gagged by his budget cuts? Has he chosen to be quiet in order to try and get the council to put more money back in his budget? He did mention that at the end of the meeting.
If the whole LED sign bill was to get the Bellevue Church a sign, why didn't they just use spot zoning? That too was a scam to get Bobby Joslin the law changed to pad his pockets with cash.
The whole thing tonight looked like a setup. Why do citizens waste their time on a task force when people like Gotto, Craddock and their buddy Charlie Tygard do whatever they damn well please?
The good ole boys have worked their magic on this one. Now everybody and their brother will be at the Planning Commission asking for spot zoning to get them an LED sign, even if they are illegal.
The best part, Gotto suggested that Craddock sponsor the SP so that Goodpasture doesn't have to pay the $6000 SP fee. I thought the city was broke? Why are we giving away $6000 that would go to the city while we break the law Mr. Gotto?
It seems ludicrous enough that Craddock was seeking commercial zoning on a 2,000 ft sq. plot just large enough for a billboard. Churches don't have to pay taxes, and Gotto is trying to loophole a charitable, church-based school so they have no financial obligation to the community on whom they are imposing whatsoever. If they're going to get government handouts, then they should have to pay taxes on their assets.
But I digress. As another Enclave commenter pointed out, the Metro Planning Department strongly recommended against any spot zoning change for Goodpasture's billboard in no uncertain terms:
"The applicant has stated that the purpose of of the zoning request is to allow an electronic sign, which is not allowed in the OR20 district. It is inappropriate to rezone property to a zoning district that is not consistent with policy, or the surrounding zoning to allow a use that is prohibited in the existing zoning district. It sets a bad precedent, and is not consistent with the community planning process, which has identified this area as non-commercial. It would be more appropriate to look at the sign ordinance and make any necessary changes."
It is increasingly clear to me that LED proponents are going to use any argument that benefits their business patrons and parochial organizations regardless of the interests of neighborhoods. They'll reject spot zoning when it doesn't serve them. When they want to leverage imbalanced and inconsistent growth, they'll spot zone. And you know what? Charlie Tygard's LED ordinance will not do a thing to stop spot zoning whenever a council member wants to force an LED billboard on a community. The whole argument for a law that creates exceptions for LEDs in certain conditions is a sham. I believe it is a bait and switch designed not to restrict LEDs but to provide one more mechanism in league with spot zoning to erect more LEDs with less resistance in residential areas.