So I can move to a more positive note, I’ll begin this piece with the bad news. Perhaps the worst is that before this hearing and as it progressed, I had the feeling that this rezoning is a done deal. There are several steps ahead but it is hard not to feel that the outcome is already determined.
Another disappointment for me was the small turnout of Armory Park people. There has been extensive discussion on the listserv about the threat of this proposed rezoning and the importance of a strong community representation was stressed. The top figures of the neighborhood association and historic board were present but relatively few of their board members attended. I counted five AP people not members of either board. This was way short of the up-welling of community support that might have influenced the examiner.
It seems that the questions of building size (48′), appearance (modern), business parking (minimal) and operating hours (5:00 AM until 1:00 AM) will not be adequately addressed.
There was some good news. The hearing examiner was actively engaged in the process and asked many appropriate questions. He also sought areas of accommodation which would mitigate the impact of rezoning.
More good news: The developer, Larry Kappler, has made adjustments to the design of the project to make it more acceptable to the neighborhood. He has also agreed to a number of provisions to mitigate impact on neighbors and historic preservation. These, however, can only be relied upon if they are incorporated into the final zoning with his concurrence.
Remaining concerns: This will be the first removal of a property from a historic zone by the zoning process. It has been stipulated that this will not be a precedent for future actions but that is hard to believe. The Trinity Church removal from The West University HPZ by another process was also stipulated to create no precedent. In fact, that action has been cited as a precedent for the Baffert rezoning. One can only imagine how many property owners north along 6th Avenue will soon be seeking to remove the historic restrictions on their properties. This could be the death of historic protection downtown.
The hearing examiner’s preliminary report should be available early next week. Our historic board will review the report and decide whether to appeal the outcome at its regular meeting next Tuesday,