More On The Potential Threat of the UDO to the Future of the City

[Maureen Curtin has been a tireless advocate for neighborhoods threatened by inappropriate projects. Her email here focuses on one of the potential threats to neighborhoods implicit in the “Diagnostics Report” for the Unified Development Ordinance.  An earlier post I wrote goes into other very disturbing elements of the recent document.]

On Fri, Oct 7, 2016 at 1:17 PM, Maureen Curtin <> wrote:

To: Behan Planning: John Behan, Michael Allen City Planning Department: Bradley Birge, Tina Carton, Kate Maynard, Susan Barden

cc: Mayor Yepsen, Commissioner Franck, Commissioner Madigan, Commissioner Mathiesen, Commissioner Scirocco

Concerned City Homeowners

Re:  September 6, 2016 UDO Diagnostic Report

Over the past three years, Residential Homeowners throughout the city have fought to maintain their Residential Neighborhoods by maintaining current allowable densities and limiting uses in their neighborhoods to those now permitted.

These densities and uses are clearly defined on Table 2: Use Schedule, and Table 3: Area and Bulk Schedule, in our current Zoning Ordinance.

The Comprehensive Plan Committee Members voted and approved in our 2015 City Comprehensive Plan not to increase densities in our future Zoning Ordinance (aka the UDO), except in a few limited specifically defined areas. This was the “vision” and the intent, and this vote and promise needs to be upheld in our new Zoning Ordinance.

The 2015 Comprehensive Plan Executive Summary reads:

“This new Plan mirrors the 2001 Plan in the following ways…

3) the location of future land uses and their intensities are almost identical.”

However, in the September 6, 2016 UDO Zoning Diagnostic Report, page 37, you are recommending a significant change for determining lot size and width. Your recommendation is to “Review all of the current lot sizes and coverage percentages to ensure compatibility with existing lot sizes and neighborhood character.”

Residential Homeowners strongly oppose this.

Departing from set lot sizes and lot widths could lead to substantial density increases and subdivisions of current lots throughout the city.

Many older neighborhoods had houses built on small lots in the 1800s and 1900s before current zoning laws were written. Zoning laws written in the 1990s were done so in part to protect residential neighborhoods from being overbuilt in order that lawns, green space and sun would be part of the residential landscape.

What you are proposing now eliminates these protections in residential neighborhoods.  Any builder or property owner could use smaller lots in their neighborhood to demand the right to build on lots 25 to 50% smaller than lot sizes currently required in our Zoning Ordinance, significantly increasing densities.

Suggesting Neighborhood Character would offset any misuse of your recommended method is inadequate, as who is to determine what fits into a neighborhood, as often there’s a mishmash of housing styles throughout neighborhoods. This would be highly subjective and the hope and dream of any builder with a Land Use attorney.

Please do not make us fight this long fought and won battle again.

We want Table 2 and Table 3 of the current Zoning Ordinance maintained in the new Zoning Ordinance (UDO). These Tables correspond to what was voted on and contained in the 2015 Comprehensive Plan.

Sincerely, Maureen Curtin

On Behalf of Residential Homeowners Throughout the City

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