The City Council’s vote (6-2, Cox and Branch dissenting) to abolish the 18 Citizen Advisory Councils — the CACs — leaves a big void where community consideration of rezoning applications is concerned. A hastily prepared substitute was rushed through the Planning Commission last week and arrives on the City Council agenda today. The public hearing on it is tonight, 7 pm.*
That’s right, tonight is the public hearing. This is because the Council scheduled the hearing before the measure was even drafted, let alone considered by the Planning Commission. Council was going to enact it tonight come heck or high water, obviously.
So what is this substitute, which is on the agenda as TC-3-20?* (TC means Text Change — a change to the zoning ordinance.)
It’s a “neighborhood meeting” to be conducted by the applicant for the rezoning, with a report due after to the planning staff BY THE APPLICANT on what was said.
To repeat, the meeting will be run by the applicant, i.e., the developer.
Not by city staff.
Nor by knowledgable CAC officers either.
This single get-together for a sales pitch by the applicant is supposed to replace two community meetings at the CAC — the first of which was a presentation of the application by the planning staff, with the applicant then allowed to make a pitch; this was followed by a second meeting, usually the following month, at which those in attendance could discuss the application and vote on it.
Who will attend this new “neighborhood meeting?” Notice of the meeting will come from the applicant to all property owners (not residents, just owners) who live within 1,000 feet of the site of the proposed rezoning.
The time and place of the meeting is up to the applicant.
Here’s the thing about rezoning cases. On the one hand, a property owner has rights. On the other, the surrounding community has rights too — in general, that the up-zoning of a single property should not detract from the value of other nearby properties.
This is the point of zoning codes in the first place, to balance these competing interests and allow for orderly growth that serves the community as well as individual owners and developers.
The CAC process worked pretty well as a forum for the two sides to work out any differences. Most rezoning cases emerged from the CACs with a positive vote; 90 percent-plus were thereafter recommended by the Planning Commission and approved by past City Councils.
This Council, with four brand-new members and a mayor backed by developers, may not fully understand why the CACs were valuable in rezoning cases. As Joni Mitchell said, “You don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone.”
(She went on: “They pave paradise. Put up a parking lot.”)
- The hearing on TC-3-20 is hearing number 15 on the Council’s 7 pm agenda. So expect it to come late, maybe very late, into the night.
- Here’s a link to the staff report on TC-3-20: https://go.boarddocs.com/nc/raleigh/Board.nsf/Public
Once on the linked page, click on the “REGULAR MEETING – FIRST TUESDAY” item. That will take you another page where you’ll need to click “View the Agenda.” Scroll down to item 15, then click on it. Read about the text change and click on the 4 PDF files.