Neighborhood Communication Summary for Greensboro N.C.
The above document is from the public review draft of the new Land Development Ordinance rewrite for the whole City of Greensboro this section above is titled Neighborhood Communication Summary. One thing you see missing from this section is something called a "meet and confer " or "citizen information meeting" between the applicant for a zoning case and the surrounding property owners.Cities all over this state from Charlotte,Raleigh, Wilmington, and High Point require the applicant to hold some type of meeting with the citizens when they have a rezoning case.
Let's take a look back and see just what the Triad Real Estate and Building Industry Coalition(TREBIC) tried to do to the citizens of High Point back in 2005.
On September 27, 2005, a public hearing was held before the Planning and
Zoning Commission regarding the request by the City of High Point to amend Chapters 3 and 9 of the Development Ordinance pertaining to zoning map amendments (rezoning), conditional use permit and special use permit
procedures, including their notice requirements.
Speakers expressing opposition to and concerns about this request were Mr. Keith Price, 3907 Gisbourne Drive, Jamestown (TREBIC MEMBER), Mr. Ron Guerra, 4476 Kendale Road (TREBIC MEMBER) and Ms. Marlene Sanford, 1830 Eastchester Drive (President of TREBIC). All of the speakers were opposed to requiring a mandatory neighborhood meeting and submitting a report on this meeting. It was noted that this is something that most responsible developers are already doing, but it should not be mandatory for all requests.
Let's take a look at what was said in the draft to High Point Planning and Zoning on having mandatory meetings with the neighborhood.Here were the objectives of having required meetings with the surrounding property owners.
• To improve the rezoning process by providing an opportunity for citizens to become better informed of the applicant’s development proposal prior to offering their comments at the public hearings;
• To provide an opportunity for citizens to ask questions and determine what specific issues of concern, if any, they have with a specific conditional use district rezoning request prior to the public hearings;
• To provide an opportunity for the applicant to consider citizen’s concerns and offer conditions to address those concerns prior to submittal and consideration by the city of their conditional use district rezoning;
• To provide an opportunity to resolve citizen concerns before the P&Z Commission and the City Council consider the request and thus prevent delays once the rezoning is in process;
• To allow dialogue between the applicant and citizens to occur in an informal setting outside and prior to the formal rezoning process;
• To provide an opportunity for the applicant to be open and informative about their development proposal and to offer adequate conditions to mitigate potential problems before the public hearings;
• To allow the P&Z Commission, the applicant and the public to better prepare for their public hearing by providing them staff reports approximately one week prior to the P&Z Commission meeting;
• To provide an opportunity for rezoning requests to proceed in a more efficient manner by emphasizing the need for preparation by the applicant prior to submittal and by limiting changes once a request is under consideration by the city; and
• To reduce the length of time under consideration by the Planning & Zoning Commission and City Council for some zoning proposals that would normally be tabled by the P&Z Commission or referred to the City Council’s Planning & Development Committee to provide time to address citizen concerns.
This requirement for mandatory meetings can and will help out the whole process in the long run.Let me give you a great example of what happens if you leave it like it is. There was a rezoning case off of Elm Street and Cornwallis Drive CLICKHERE back in December of 2008 where Greensboro City Council Member Robbie Perkins partner Stan Hope Johnson was trying to rezone this property. He knows the process but decided to sneak this one in at last minute and only had a meeting 1 week before the zoning case was to be presented. Here is what was said at the blog spot dedicated to this rezoning case, " Following neighborhood opposition at a poorly advertised meeting on December 1, the developers requested the Greensboro Zoning Commission postpone their hearing until January 12 at 2:00". Following a poorly advertised meeting was a understatement and to know that this was done by a partner of a sitting council member, priceless.
Here is the final product from High Point City Council on a required Citizen Information Meeting:
Citizen Information Meeting
(22 days prior to P&Z meeting)
This step is only required for zoning requests which include a Conditional Use Permit.
Applicants are required to notify owners of property within 300 feet of the proposed zoning site and conduct a citizen information meeting or meetings. The applicant shall submit to the citizens a written description of their development proposal and a statement, provided by the Planning & Development Department, outlining the purpose of the citizen information meeting and the zoning process. The purpose of the citizen information meeting is to allow the applicant the opportunity to inform citizens about their zoning proposal and to provide citizens the opportunity to ask questions and find out more about the proposal prior to the public hearings.
Following the information meeting(s), and at least 22 days prior to the P&Z Commission meeting, the applicant is required to submit a citizen’s information meeting report. At a minimum, this report shall include the following:
Names & addresses of property owners notified and date & method of notification;
Date, time and location of the citizen information meeting(s);
Written description of the development proposal presented at the meeting; and
Any comments, ideas, or suggestions from citizens that were incorporated into the zoning proposal.
How does TREBIC try not to let this requirement happen in Greensboro. Let's stack the deck in our favor on the Land Development Ordinance Committee where David Wharton CLICKHERE who is also a member of this committee had this to say back in January of 2009.
I made some comments at the meeting, too, in which I focused on the fact that the building and real estate industries hold majorities on key boards and commissions, specifically the Zoning Commission, the RUCO board, the Board of Adjustment, and the Land Development Ordinance Citizens Advisory Team (of which I was a member).
Marlene Sanford of TREBIC took issue with my figures, disputing in particular the LDO CAT numbers, which I said was weighted 11-4 in favor of real estate interests. Since this is a public board, I don't think I'll be violating anyone's privacy by posting their names and occupations here. So here they are:
Trip BrownBrown Investment Properties (TREBIC member)
James CoxUrban-Atlantic Builders
Mike Fox Attorney Tuggle Duggins and Meshan PA (TREBIC member company)
Dick Franks Koury Corporation (TREBIC member)
Gary Hill McAlpine Company
Jessica Marlies Environmental law attorney
Bob Powell North Carolina A&T University
Keith Price Samet Corporation (TREBIC member)
Todd RangelCommercial real estate manager SunTrust Bank
Gary Rogers Starmount Company (TREBIC member)
Todd Rotruck Independent Contractor
Mary Skenes Yost and Little (TREBIC member)
Gary Wolf Sparrow Wolf & Dennis, PA (TREBIC member)
David Wharton UNC Greensboro
Some might quibble with the way I counted. Mike Fox and Gary Wolf are both attorneys, but I counted them as being in the real estate industry because both of their firms are TREBIC members. And though Todd Rotruck was appointed as a representative of the GNC, he's also a contractor in the building industry.
Even on Ed Cone's blog David Wharton had this to say.
This might interest you: I and others tried hard to get a "meet and confer" requirement written into the new ordinance, which would require a developer seeking a rezoning to meet with the neighbors beforehand and to report to the zoning commission the outcome of the meeting.
The best we could get was a requirement that developers must report to the zoning commission on their efforts to confer with neighbors, which means that if they didn't try to meet, they have to say that.
The "best we could get" which means when you stack the deck of TREBIC members on this committee and ever since 2005 they have wanted to deny Triad residents the requirement of meeting with adjoining property owners you will see what comes out as a final product. Neighborhoods all over Greensboro need to be aware of what is happening and to be aware of what is going on.You can make a difference by letting your city council member or future city council member know that you would like a requirement for the applicant in a zoning cases to meet with adjoining property owners it is called "meet and confer" or "citizen informational meeting".