Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Compatibility and Common Sense

It was almost like David and Goliath, the small Library Mews met up with the overwhelming Hembree building.

During the City Commission meeting to decide whether this proposal would move forward, the issue was clearly defined. The proposal met the code test for the DROD (Downtown Residential Overlay District) as well as the downtown zone code criteria, but the question was whether it was compatible with the surrounding neighborhood.

The City Comprehensive Plan requires that new projects be compatible with the neighborhood. The Comp Plan describes compatibility in terms of height, scale, size bulk and being sensitive to surrounding neighborhood. The Hembree proposal was for a 10 story building with a footprint basically lot line to lot line. This building would be nestled in between 2 and 3 story building on all sides. This is where the compatibility question came into play.

The result was that the commission voted 3-2 to turn the proposal down. The basis for those voting against the proposal was that it was not compatible, that there were ways that the proposal could be designed to take into consideration its effect on the surrounding building intensity.

This was a victory for common sense. While the proposal met the DROD criteria and the downtown zone code criteria, it was simply not compatible with the surrounding area. Common sense over ruled the technical criteria.


Gretchen Serrie said...

Special thanks to Commissioner Shelin, who effectively argued the necessity for compatibility and provided the best quote of the evening--- this project is so out of scale that “my common sense takes over.”

It truly is difficult to define compatibility, quality of life, sense of place, etc., but common sense goes a long way.

Anonymous said...

How about the commissioner who said, “This project is definitely out of scale, but I’m still not going to vote to deny it.” Nonsense?

Anonymous said...

I find it incredibly ironic that these commissioners should speak of out of scale and compatibility issues on this project but give the green light to a project such as pineapple square- they have no clue how big that project is going to be.