Letters to the Editor

. July 31, 2018.
Art by Charley Linden.
Art by Charley Linden.

PUD’s explained

“I realize that this is a complicated subject, but the details matter.You began a section of this article with the following, “The 1140 Broadway Lot was originally zoned for a Planned Unit Development (PUD).” This is not true, and this mistaken chronology profoundly matters.

No site, anywhere, is ever originally a PUD. PUDs, by definition, are highly-tailored, zoning constructs, imposed on a property by the owner of the property, with the approval of the community through the municipal government. In this case, the property owner of 1140 Broadway on October 28th of 2002 requested that the city entertain changing the zoning from C-1, C-3, & O to the very specifically tailored PUD that that owner wanted and delineated. That owner was Kevin McGraw of the Lower Town Development Group, LLC. The request was approved by Council on October 7th in 2003.

And because this property’s owner in 2003 successfully negotiated a PUD for the property with the city, all future Master Plans reference the PUD; not because the city feels that this is the future they desire for the property, but because this is the only future possible without a further zoning change. Once established the PUD runs with the land. Any change from a PUD must be instigated by the owner, not the municipal government.

The next paragraph begins, “Most developers want to maximize profits and minimize concessions, as concessions generally cost money. Accordingly, Morningside petitioned the Planning Commission to change the zoning to C1A/R, a designation intended for the Downtown Campus Commercial district.” And once again, not true. Morningside petitioned the Planning Commission to change the zoning to C1A/R because they had no other choice. Even if Morningside wanted single family residences on that site they were NOT allowed to build them without changing the zoning.

You wrote: “Most developers, want to maximize profits and minimize concessions, as concessions generally cost money.” If a developer does not “minimize concessions” just how can they keep costs down? Don’t we all “minimize concessions” in our lives to keep costs down?”

Charles Bultman, architect
via email

History related

“Mr. Bultman is correct that the original LowerTown site was comprised of multiple small parcels, mostly zoned commercial, with restaurants, cleaners, and a bank among the occupants of the buildings. A previous developer consolidated ownership of those parcels and rezoned them all to PUD, with a true mixed use site plan that included residential, office, and commercial, along with nice open space by the river. The buildings were demolished, and the development failed in the great recession.

However he is not correct past that. Site plans DO expire, and this one did. The PUD zoning remains; it does not revert back to the prior zoning. So we had a vacant property zoned PUD with no site plan. No one had to build the old site plan, and no one could because it expired. Any new developer would have to start fresh with a new site plan. That could still have been done under PUD zoning, which is what the Master Plan recommended should happen.

The Master Plan was created by the usual lengthy process that included studies and community input, followed by public hearings and formal adoption by the city. I was one of many neighbors who participated in that process. We have a very good and very detailed Master Plan for this area and specifically for this site. Unfortunately, that Master Plan was ignored and the newly approved development consists of 99% residential, but rezoned to an obscure commercial zoning category intended for another part of town in order to game the system. So we are denied our mixed use urban village and stuck with an intensity of development with no commercial amenities to service the 1000 new residents or the existing neighborhoods that had their old shops and restaurants demolished.”

Tom Stulberg, Neighbor
via email

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