Saturday, July 21, 2007

City Plan 2025 Already in Big Trouble

Fayetteville's efforts to codify goals established in City Plan 2025, the city's future planning guide, appear to be in big trouble. Proposed changes to the urban residential design standards delete many key provisions on how duplexes, triplexes, townhouses, and large apartment buildings connect to public streets. The previous design standards were opposed by developers. Predictably.

Fayetteville planning director Jeremy Pate and long-range planner Karen Minkel said developers were very concerned about the standards requiring them to locate all apartments on city streets, so they are reluctant to do anything that might upset the business community. Many large apartment complexes have most buildings facing ugly parking lots. Minkel proposed moving forward only with minor cosmetic changes, like screening trash cans, but removing all meaningful regulations, such as where buildings are sited, and perhaps try those sometime later if that is okay with developers. Planning Commission members predictably appeared ready to roll over.

"If developers had some concerns, this is a smaller bite for them to swallow," said commissioner Christine Myres. Since Mayor Dan Coody and Alderman Robert Rhoades led the purge of the Planning Commission earlier this year, members have been much more concerned with keeping developers happy than working to implement a predictable City Plan 2025.

Jim Ramsey with Paradigm Development in Fayetteville said removing the requirement for buildings to face public streets is welcome. He said better development can come from letting builders create good projects without disruption and added the city could encourage good construction without city ordinances. Then he got to the point, asking “Why can't they put incentives in place for good developments?" Predictable

The Planning Commission meets at 5:30 on Monday at City Hall, and predictably it looks like a winner for the Free Lunch Club. In addition to the scheme to gut the proposed residential design standards and possibly adding more "incentives" for developers, the Commission will consider two major residential projects out west of the bypass. Woodstock, a mixed-use planned zoning district with 382 residences, conforms to the goals of City Plan 2025 but might face opposition. The Links, a big Jim Lindsey project with 604 apartments, does not meet City Plan 2025 standards but is likely to sail through. Neither of these West Wedington mega-projects will have to pay any road impact fees to address the additional traffic congestion.

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