Gluttonous Government Needs to Lighten Up07/27/14- Editorial by Renee Wilkins
If you give a mouse a cookie, he’s gonna want a glass of milk. So goes with rules created by government, which have gluttonously increased over the years, and lack common sense in their execution. Our Governing Body is considering lightening the burden created by overbearing and confusing area plans which govern esthetics and land use in different areas of the city. You might think that these area plans only affect big developers, but a recent zone change request proved otherwise.
At the July 9th Governing Body meeting, an individual requested to change his modest 1/3 acre lot from transitional zoning to R-4 medium density residential. Most area plans prohibit rezoning anything below contiguous 2.5-5 acre parcels. City staff initially offered to waive the rules in this instance, however, there is another individual who has been attempting to rezone one acre from residential to commercial, and city staff has refused to approve his request. Should it be up to city staff members to pick and choose who has to follow the rules?
With such senseless rules in place, it is easy to see why the Development Services Department finds it hard to adhere to them. Another example of the idiocy in these area plans is evident in the Broadmoor Area Plan’s requirement for an individual to obtain a legal shared-access agreement from both adjacent property owners before the City will grant him a building permit. Are we now responsible for our neighbors? When this rule was put to the test with legal action, city staff relented and allowed the individual to build without this reciprocal agreement.
In a bad example of Abbot and Costello's "Who's on First" routine, people building here have to make sense of the Comprehensive Plan, the city-wide Zoning Ordinance, on to the Specific Area Plans, then to master plans and neighborhood covenants. Many of the area plans are in direct conflict with the Zoning Ordinance, which trumps them, leaving them moot.
If the legality of these area plans is disputable, do they simply serve as a security blanket? To date, most people go along with them to get their project through, but area plans also dictate the minutia of a building’s appearance, adding thousands to even the most modest project budget. Since the City is not footing the bill for the construction, it’s nice that they tell us to “throw in the extras.”
Whether an individual or a bigger business is building here, Chapter 154 of the Zoning Ordinance has enough rules to satisfy the City, while keeping it simpler and less expensive for the builder. Pertinent sections of the area plans, such as “proposed land use” and “access management”, already are or can be incorporated into the Comprehensive Plan.
There will always be those who want to impose unnecessary rules on others, but they should be careful what they ask for – they might find gluttonous government taking a bite out of them someday.