Wednesday, August 22, 2007

A win for the neighbors

Outgoing CM Jason Hart ended his 4 years on the council with a solid defeat last evening. I was there supporting the Capitol View neighbors in their effort to stop his rezoning bill from eroding the efforts they have been making to improve their Dickerson Road neighborhood.

Hart spent most of the evening doing two things: getting folks to sign his council poster and counting votes.

Once he rose in defense of his bill it became, as one councilperson put it 'surreal'. He rambled and grasped at the straw of proposing at the last minute an SP zoning for the area. He maintained that he didn't know until just recently that the CS he had in the original bill was 'open ended'. One councilman asked if the Planning Commission would disapprove the SP as they did the rezoning to commercial. The answer was a firm yes. It doesn't meet the community plan already in place--single family residential.

CM Coleman rose in support of Hart's rezoning bill and yielded over 4 minutes of his time back to Hart. He used the time for dire warnings that the current owner, James Ballentine, was going to sell the property to someone who would put in 'double-wides' on the property and opined how he'd rather have this nice million dollar investment in metal buildings than that. Hart protested that the president of the Capitol View Neighbors group (Karen Bennett) "was against it from the start" and asserted that "no one wants a trailer park there." He didn't mention that he's leaving the county and wouldn't have to live with either.

Thankfully, CM Craddock rose and brought some clarity and context to the discussion from his years as a local resident and asked the Planning Commission specifically about the trailer park threat. The answer was that no trailer park could be put there, double-wide single family modular homes, yes.

So the Council voted to allow Hart to amend his bill to SP zoning and then voted on the bill itself. It needed 27 votes since the Planning Commission soundly disapproved the rezoning. There were 13 no votes. It was a lucky number for the neighborhood, not so for Hart.

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