Response to Commissioner Shelin’s comments:
During the downtown re-zoning process, the Planning Staff noted (from the discussion matrix):
Recognizing that there are distinctive areas within downtown (e.g., Burns Court/Herald Square and Rosemary District) where new development must be particularly sensitive to its surroundings, consider creation new zoning districts or using overlay districts to establish standards and/or incentives to enhance compatibility and the preservation of historic resources.
Mindful that the community has gone through a long and thoughtful process, which is intended to change the character of this area, no change to the proposed zoning map is recommended.[indicating Down Town Edge is clearly preferred].
Commissioner Shelin has stated:
The City Commission, as I've said, has an obligation to take into account the views and needs of all its constituencies and the property owners in Burns Court have made their views known through many months of public hearings. They have asked for continuing the use of C-CBD which we can't do because of the adoption of the downtown master plan and code. They've asked for Downtown Bayfront which is clearly inconsistent with the new code, Duany's transect theory, and our desire to downzone the area.
But, they have vested interests in Burns Court and their own properties just as property owners in Laurel Park, Gillespie Park and elsewhere in the city. And we have an obligation to be responsive to them. We have struck a balance, in my view, between the desires of the neighborhoods adjacent to and outside Burns Court and those of Burns Court.
We would remind Commissioner Shelin that the entire downtown was "down zoned". That was the point in the entire process. Under the old code, downtown property owners (CCBD zoning) could expect 18 story buildings. Under the new Master Plan and Downtown Core zoning, the limit is 10 stories. Nobody suffered unduly. This was the desire of the community.
The plan clearly states that building heights (zoning allowance) should be reduced as one moves further from the downtown core. This is the transect model for zoning.
Given this, we do not understand, nor agree with, Commissioner Shelin’s arguments for giving the Burns Square property owners the up-zoning, or zoning bonus, that was clearly not agreed to in the citizen and Planning staff approved Master Plan and zoning recommendations. This is not a question of striking a balance between neighborhoods. This is a question of giving in to a small group of property owners instead of listening to the entire community and listening to our staff. It is not a case where one small group disagrees with staff and argues their position. This is a case where the entire community agrees with staff and a small group of property owners has succeeded in getting their way.
Clear options are available to assure the desirable, unique characteristics of the Burns Square area remain, while respecting the property owner values. Changing the zoning to Downtown Core is not one of these options. No balance was struck. Clearly the process was violated and the imbalance that was created is very disappointing.