Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Is the Salemtown neighborhood association prepared for these January rezoning requests?

Salemtown Neighbors does not traditionally hold December business meetings deferring instead to hosting a holiday social. This tradition will hold in 2014, but given news of some requests for rezoning due for public hearing in January, the association officers may want to consider discussing them since they will happen before the January 2015 business meeting:

A seven-home courtyard style project is slated for 1614 and 1616 Fourth Ave. N. Dale & Associates will go before the Metro Planning Commission on Thursday, Dec. 11, to request the SP.

At 1618 Fourth Ave. N., and on the southeast corner of the intersection of Garfield Street and Fourth, an eight-unit development with six attached townhomes to face Garfield and a two-family dwelling to address Fourth is planned. D&A will go before the commission on Thursday, Jan. 8.

And at the northeast corner of Sixth Avenue North and Garfield, a 20-unit attached-townhomes development is being targeted. Seven of the units would face Sixth, eight would address Garfield and five would run along an alley. The project would replace the four existing duplexes seen here in an image courtesy of Google Maps. D&A also will address the commission about this project on Jan. 8.

The project that is before the Planning Commission tomorrow (1614 and 1616 4th Av N) was already vetted and discussed by the association at their October business meeting. The association made no requests for changes, even though an "SP" ("Specific Plan") allows them to leverage changes to the plan in exchange for community support of the plan. However, those developers promised in October to keep the association in the communication loop as plans unfolded. I have not heard anything from SNNA officers on new plan developments since that meeting. Maybe it is time for an update? I would hate to be blind-sided by tomorrow's commission meeting.

The association has not heard from the developers for the larger 8-unit development at Garfield and 4th Av N or what sounds like a massive one at Garfield and 6th Av N. Most of Salemtown is zoned "R6" for medium density single family detached homes or duplexes, so I assume that the developers are seeking rezoning. At the very least, we should be discussing the impact of replacing 8 units with 20 units at 6th Av N and Garfield. The street parking situation on Garfield alone is getting silly with the existing onslaught of new builds.

Since rezoning cases are about the only times the neighborhood can have direct influence or control over what gets built and the plans' consistency with Salemtown's character, I hope the association officers are keeping tabs on this. I have heard nothing from them as an SNNA member. Hopefully, they are considering making more of a social media effort beyond promoting cookies and dog grooming on the association's Facebook page.

In my opinion, Roy Dale's development company has a debatable track record of building in Salemtown and so we need to stay on our toes and vigilant about these proposals. Otherwise, in a few years we may regret letting this opportunity go by without exercising some control over the process. I hope the officers are keeping their eye on the ball despite the distractions of the holiday season. Developers are notorious for sneaking controversial proposals through the Planning Commission when neighbors are distracted by the holidays. We need to keep tabs on Dale & Associates for that reason alone.

1 comment:

  1. Mike,

    I think this is primarily an incident of bad timing more than anything else. The developers of the proposed Row at 6th & Garfield (the 20-unit SP proposal) reached out to us and Councilwoman Gilmore simultaneously just after our final SNNA meeting of the year, but they voluntarily offered to delay proceedings. I'm working with Lindsey (SNNA President-Elect) and Erica to coordinate a community meeting that would likely occur before our late January association meeting. We'll hope to get updates on both projects at this meeting and call a special meeting of the association if it's considered necessary based on what we hear.

    I think the biggest thing I'm paying attention to is the acceptance of greater density on some of these parcels. So far, there's been some concern, but it hasn't risen to the level of clear opposition to any of the projects we've seen so far.

    Traffic and parking is not unrelated, but I'm not sure there's any realistic way for the SP process to address it as it stands now. I think our best bet is to continue pursuing options with Traffic & Parking on that front.

    If you have specific concerns, though, please share them. I have confidence so far that stormwater issues will be adequately addressed in all of the recent SPs we've seen. If there's language you think could give us all greater confidence, I'm amenable to proposing it.