NCON and SENA Join Forces

From: Northend Coalition of Neighborhoods
Subject: NCON letter regarding proposed zoning changes

Date: June 29, 2020 at 6:14:59 PM EDT
To: Keith James, Rick Greene,  Angelina Jones -Vann  June 29, 2020

CC: Christie Fox, Christina Lambert, Cory Neering, Joe Peduzzi and Kelly Shoaf

Dear Mayor James:

The North End Coalition of Neighborhoods (NCON) held a special meeting on Sunday June 28, 2020 to discuss concerns about the city’s Planning staff initiative to amend the Planned Development (PD) zoning district. The changes included increasing the minimum acreage for proposed developments in both the residential and commercial PD zoning districts.
For the residential PD districts, the proposal drops the minimum acreage from 10 acres to 1 acre.

On May 19, 2020, the City’s Planning Board narrowly approved (by a vote of 4-3) the proposed code revisions and forwarded these proposed revisions to the City Commission. We have come to learn some of the Planning Board expressed concern that the public had not been adequately notified about such consequential changes. As a result of this and other public outcry, the City’s staff has scheduled a public comment meeting to be held on-line tomorrow, Tuesday, June 30, 2020, at 5:00 PM.

We believe the impacts of these potential changes have not received adequate public scrutiny. NCON asks for this process to be slowed down and opened up for public input.

The public should be allowed more of an opportunity to review and comment on important matters such as these prior to being brought to vote. Lastly, it should be noted that the COVID-19 Pandemic may not be the best time to accomplish this goal considering public hearings are only being held on-line and may not reach less connected residents.

At this time, NCON seeks answers to the following questions or concerns:

1) What are the full impacts of reducing the minimum acreage of PD’s from 10 acres to 1 acre?

2) Will this drastic reduction in minimum acreage constitute illegal spot zoning?

3) The city’s planning analysis lacks the actual reasons for such a drastic reduction from 10 acres to 1 acre. Could the Northwood Pines minimum acreage be a higher threshold to obtain favorable benefits, while maintaining the necessary protections for Northwood Shores established single family communities?

4) What is the full impact of retaining Comprehensive Plan’s Future Land Use Element Policy 1.7.1? We’ve received conflicting staff claims that it was already removed five years ago. A check on-line shows that the FLU policy continues to be listed.

5) Why is FLU Policy 1.7.1 being added to the Zoning Code? Will this inclusion (with its suggested exemptions to density, acreage, height, setbacks, and floor area ration (FAR)) be used to reverse or undo the Zoning Code’s exacting standards?

6) Given the historical and repeated use of Policy 1.7.1 to override current zoning standards, what is the City’s rationale for retaining Policy 1.7.1?

7) Could Planning staff explain the original impetus for this proposal? It appears unlikely that residents in established single family neighborhoods would ask for less protection.

In summary, we believe changes of this magnitude should not be rushed. NCON asks that this process be slowed and opened for review by the communities in which it impacts. Staff should strive for greater public input. NCON is willing to work together with the City and SENA on a collaborative approach to ensure our zoning and code restrictions work for the City’s planning purposes as well as protecting and improving our communities.


Cathleen Ward,  Chair North End Coalition of Neighborhoods (NCON)

SENA – South End Neighborhoods Association

NCON- Northend Coalition of Neighborhoods