Friday, November 20, 2015

The Erosion of Boone's Single-Family Neighborhoods

Last night at its regular meeting, the Boone Town Council voted 2-2 on an ordinance amendment to allow for "planned developments" in every zoning area of Town. Mayor Rennie Brantz broke the tie by voting for the text amendments (about which, more below), siding with Council members Lynne Mason and Quint David and against members Loretta Clawson and Fred Hay.

This was Quint David's last meeting on the council, since he did not seek reelection (neither did Fred Hay). Mason and Clawson recently won reelection to four-year terms and are now well established and also sharply contrasted for differing visions of Boone's future.

Mason has been leading to make Boone friendlier to big developments and to seek a lot more New River water to sell to those developers, both inside and outside the city limits. Clawson has long been a champion of Boone's endangered single-family neighborhoods, but she's about to be even more out-numbered on the Council.

Jen Teague and Charlotte Mizelle, both elected to two-year terms earlier this month, have firmly aligned themselves with Mason and will hold a solid three-person majority. They could and probably will cement that majority when they appoint a new Council member to serve out Rennie Brantz's term (Brantz was elected Mayor, leaving his remaining time on Council to be filled by appointment).

New Rules for "Planned Developments"
The text amendments voted through last night by Mason, David, and Brantz effectively eliminate the requirement that developers follow the Town's minimal zoning standards, like setbacks, buffers, parking, etc., as long as they promise a "Planned Development," a promise that can be as empty as smoke.

The amendments allow for any use to go anywhere in town. A meeting is now required between neighborhoods and the developer to share neighborhood concerns, but the new rules do not allow for any conditions to be placed on the development other than those agreed to by the developer. There's your smoke, and how's that for the future of neighborhoods in the town of Boone?

The amendments greatly increase the power and authority of the planning administrator to approve big developments and greatly reduces a neighborhood's ability to challenge those developments. The Board of Adjustment, which ordinarily provides a judicial process for challenges and for imposing conditions on new developments, is taken out of the process altogether. The Town Council can deny a Planned Development proposal, but only on narrow grounds that do not include taking into consideration neighborhood concerns.

The removal of the Board of Adjustment, with its quasi-judicial process that can be challenged/sustained in court, paves the way for closed-door bargaining, cronyism, and the specter of favoritism.

It's just sad maddening that recently reelected Council members placed "protecting our neighborhoods" at the top of their campaign platforms when it's obvious they didn't mean a word of it. Do they think we're not paying attention?


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

What's new. Lynne Mason was always about the money or what favored her personal interests.

Anonymous said...

Wow! Do you mean that Lynn Mason has somehow gained a little bit of common sense and understands that progress will eventually have to come to Boone?
Great news. You go, Lynn!

Anonymous said...

So neighborhoods now have two enemies. The mega developers AND the Council. Should be an interesting two years.

Anonymous said...

Anon 11:35 - that depends on your definition of "progress". Yes to in-fill, yes to re-purposing the empty offices and buildings around town. But a resounding 'NO!' to building just anything just anywhere, even when the roads aren't wide enough and more of these huge student mega-developments are not needed.

I've lived in places that decided "progress" should be equated with 'unsustainable growth'....f.y.i., it doesn't.

Anonymous said...

I've lived in two places that touted "sustainable growth" and "mixed use" too, and I left both of them after our communities were destroyed. Mixed use here is a code phrase for more mega student housing complexes. How many more are we going to allow in? They are destroying the Town. I don't live in Boone but just outside in the ETJ. Guess we're next after they finish with what's left of Boone.

Anonymous said...

I wish I hadn't vote for Lynne this time. I have voted for her every time she has run for office. She started off well enough but has become increasingly intolerant, my way or the highway, and developer friendly. I hesitated this year to vote for her again but did in the end because I just didn't know much about the other candidates well enough. I should have trusted my instincts instead.

Anonymous said...

Progress has been in Boone since Watauga Academy opened its doors in 1899. You can't be serious.

Anonymous said...

It seems simple to me. Traffic has worsened, gigantic housing complexes have popped up all over town, and the beautiful gem we had tucked away in our mountain community has been pillaged for profit. Electing an absentee mayor from Raleigh who tricked voters into electing him to a term he had no intention of completing and a business owner who frequently makes decisions that directly benefit her bottom line were mistakes I won't make again. Clawson is our only chance to get our town back.

Disgusted with Democrats said...

Anon 303PM is right......beautiful gems like the Red Carpet motel, the Library, and the Scottish Inn are being replaced with new business/residential buildings close to campus. Student housing close to campus will probably result in greater traffic in town than having students drive in from county locations.

Boone is a mess! It's time that our town council started looking at what the MARKET wants rather than assuming that a central planning council made up of people with little or no business experience can determine what's best for all of us! I am not a fan of Lynn Mason but let's face facts. She, at least, has some business experience and doesn't rely on taxpayer money for her support.

Anonymous said...

Unless this supposedly progressive Town Council puts an end to the unnecessary 7 million gallon a day water intake, they will be the one that brought what was a community a person could live in to an end. With all the apartments and growth they have allowed, the town is still only using about 50% of its 3 million gallon capacity. So what is their solution? Increase that to 10 million gallons? Why? So the Templeton types can complete their destruction of Boone? Mason and Brantz have made common cause with the developers for years. David? He has no clue. Maybe people are starting to notice, but the last election shows that maybe they are not.