Wednesday, November 2, 2011

An Open Letter to Planning and Zoning Concerning the Overlay Zoning Proposal for Laney-Walker

The vote for the proposed overlay zone will be Nov 7th!

  • Dear Planning & Development, 
    I was happy to see in the Chronicle today that residents of Laney-Walker got some much-needed answers about the overlay district that is to be imposed on their neighborhood. 

    From the article, I have learned that all the overlay will do is to ban liquor stores and pawnshops in the section of "Foundry Place" that is currently zoned for business. 

    I believe this is a fair reading of the newspaper article. I take further that no changes will come to the current residential zoned area of the neighborhood. Again, that's what I get from this article. The story also says that current property owners will be exempt from the restrictions of the overlay district. I presume that they will be able to open liquor stores freely without hindrance from the city government. This is what I gather from the reading of the article, but is it a fair reading of the facts? 

    The zoning amendment that was passed in June which enables the city to impose the overlay districts says this, as I'm sure you know, "The full text of the proposed additional requirements for the proposed overlay district must be provided at the time of the application for designations."

    I have asked repeatedly for this full text. So have others. We have been provided with various vague information packets, one of which is even labeled as the application for zoning overlay, but none of them is a full text of the proposed regulations. Has the text changed? We have seen nothing about the "grandfather" exemption in any of the information packets so far provided to us by the city, but now that angle is being put out to newspaper reporters. 

    The text of the application that has been provided to us says that every lot in the proposed area will be open to residential, professional, institutional and business uses. Every single lot. This fits in with the plan for "heavy commercial development" of the area. Fits a lot better than simply "banning liquor stores." 

    "The full text" of the regulations seems to be as-yet-unwritten, or in a state of continuous evolution. This document should have been in its final form when the application was first presented to the city. This is what the plain meaning of the law requires. 

    We are in much need of an answer to this question–
    Where is "the full text of the proposed additional requirements for the proposed overlay district"? 
    We would like to see the overlay district regulations in the form they are to be voted upon this coming Monday. That is, the form that they will take in law, not watercolor sketches. Certainly, the Planning Commission cannot be voting on a blank check. What is the full text, where can it be obtained? 

    Thank you, 

    Michael Sheil

    That was the letter. By the by, I knew that they would try to sway the people with watercolor sketches. No joke. You cannot believe the power of watercolor sketches to make people lose their minds. The new overlay will find itself in the law code of Augusta. What will it look like there? It's a simple question, but they have been avoiding it like madmen. And this new thing about grandfathering in the current property owners? That is ludicrous--it would include the brand new homes the developer just built there and did manage to sell. These are the homes for which they are placing restrictions on older residents. That's the whole point of it. What nonsense will reporters in Augusta not swallow happily?

    Related articles: Urban Redevelopment or Land Grab?

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