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.
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?