Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Gilmore Defers S-town Property Rezoning Bill Indefinitely

Two weeks ago just before the second reading vote on Erica Gilmore's Ardelia Park bill Vice Mayor Diane Neighbors mentioned the possibility of a deferral so that CM Gilmore could get approval from Stormwater and Public Works, which had not yet signed off on the SP rezoning to allow the high-density detached single-family homes at 7th and Garfield.  Perhaps she should have availed herself of the opportunity.  At tonight's meeting, CM Gilmore was forced to defer the bill indefinitely because the Council Planning Committee made their approval contingient on getting department approval, and Public Works had not yet approved.

CM Gilmore acknowledged as I previously reported that Stormwater had approved, but developer RC Hazzard had not yet received any word from Public Works.  She openly wondered whether the delay was the fault of Planning, which is responsible for transferring the primary documents to MPW, but that does not explain why MPW would not respond in some fashion to the developer or to her.  CM Gilmore thanked fellow members and emphasized that she is moving the bill in order to do what is best for Salemtown.

Those of us who have worked with Public Works in the past can testify that delays and miscommunications are at times a distinct possibility.  Perhaps if this bill had moved more slowly and neighborhood feedback would have been more deliberately incorporated, then some of us could have supported the developer by contacting Planning and Public Works and expressing our support.  Salemtown Neighbors might have even endorsed and asked its President to express that endorsement on their behalf (no SNNA member showed up to the Council Public Hearing two weeks ago to express support).  In my comments to the Planning Commission, I expressed the personal wish that this project move more slowly and that it not be hurriedly punched through.

Some of us here would have happily stepped up to help grease the machine--including speaking favorably at both Public Hearings--if we had been given a chance.  But CM Gilmore seemed to take this on her shoulders as a personal quest (in fact, tonight she even made what sounded like an appeal to "councilmanic courtesy," which is the idea that approval should be driven exclusively by the council member).  My sincere hope is that Ardelia Park does help Salemtown, but we are not in such a tight spot that approval couldn't have waited until all of the ducks lined up (including consistent communication between the CM and SNNA).  Tonight's deferral shows that such a delay was inevitable.  The council committee did the right thing in putting basic conditions on this bill.  Let's not be in such a hurry that this rezoning is not done right.


  1. Can you clarify how these single family homes are considered "high density"? In the context of the blog, it doesn't make sense.

  2. Instead of building five single-family homes across five lots (lower density), the developer is building five single-family homes across two lots. If you accept the common definition of housing "density" (the number of residential units per acre of land), how does it not make sense?