FEBRUARY 22, 2005


Present: Commissioners Binnewig, Bustos, Ford, Ludtke, and Buchman (Chair).

 The agenda included two zone changes required to update zoning designations applied under the old zoning code to categories that match the 2001 zoning code.  These are normally fairly straightforward approvals, but one of these cases was contentious.  The old zoning code allowed property owners to “step down” and develop land carrying more intensive zoning designations with land uses deemed less intensive; in this case, the property had been zoned for commercial use, which meant that the owner could have developed the property for commercial uses or residential uses (including higher density residential such as an apartment complex).

 Long-term residents of an adjacent neighborhood objected to the proposed new zoning, which specified both commercial and high-density residential, citing concerns that an apartment complex would cause traffic problems, lower property values, and change the character of their neighborhood.  The property owners argued that changing the zoning to a purely commercial zoning under the new zoning code would be a taking because it would remove some of the development rights they have currently.  The zone change was approved unanimously.  The evening’s second zone change to update an old commercial designation to a new one was not contested and did not include the joint residential zoning.

 The commission also unanimously approved a master plan and initial zoning for a Tierra del Sol development with affordable homes (estimated to require a mortgage of about $60,000) between Elks Drive and I-25.

 At the end of the meeting staff informed the commission that City Council is considering doing away with the Board of Adjustment because under the new zoning code, many of the variance requests that used to go to the Board are now handled either by the Planning and Zoning Commission or staff.  Council will have a work session on the issue in April.

Nancy Stotz

League of Women Voters