Another planning issue just cropped up, and this time I got involved. A parcel of land was zoned for commercial/office/retail and the developer wanted to change the zoning to high-density residential. That might not be too bad, but then they had to go and say that it will be for low-income families. They did this to qualify for some state help in getting bonding. The property would also be a stone's throw from my good buddy scritchwuff's house. I decided to throw my support behind Scritch who was vehemently opposed to the project as was most of his neighborhood association.
So we went to a public meeting last night, and the place was packed! It was great to see people getting involved in what is going on in their community. One of the biggest complaints was that the zoning change seemed to be getting ramrodded through the process in almost a secret fashion. Bad move. Then the developer kept trying to candy-coat the project saying that there would be minimal impact to existing roads and that the addition of another 600-700 residents would not put a strain on the already-overcrowded school. The whole concept of "low-income" seemed to be the biggest sticking point. What exactly did that mean?!? To them it meant people getting started in their careers, like policemen and firemen. What?!? Something just smelled fishy. Plus the rents they quoted didn't seem much out of line with rents in "regular" apartments in the area. Why this special designation of "low-income?" Once again, something just didn't add up. Perhaps the best argument against the project was that there is already a lack of jobs and stores on the west side of the Rio Grande (compared to the east side) so why would the city want to add more residents and take away the opportunity to help reduce cross-river traffic which is the major bottleneck in regional traffic? It will be interesting to see how both development issues get resolved over the next several months.