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Planning Commission approves East Riverside plan amendment

Friday, April 15, 2011 by Elizabeth Pagano

Bolstered by support from the Montopolis Neighborhood Association, the Planning Commission on Tuesday approved a plan amendment and rezoning case on East Riverside, despite initial concerns that it could conflict with an impending master plan for the area.


The plan will rezone 18.25 acres of land in the East Riverside Corridor (ERC) for small-lot, single-family residences. Developers agreed to remove a 3.97-acre tract of land in order to be consistent with the East Riverside Corridor Master Plan. The smaller tract runs along Riverside Drive and will be designated mixed use.


Prior to the change, the land was zoned medium density multi-family and commercial services.


Stefan Wray, with the Montopolis Neighborhood Plan Contact Team, told the commission that he was willing to accept the plan as a compromise but would rather see the single-family zoning extend to Riverside.


“Since the regulating plan is not in effect, since there is no definite plan for a train, since people need housing now, not five years from now or 10 years from now, and since the neighborhood is completely behind putting single family homes in this spot right now, I think you (should) just go ahead and approve this neighborhood plan amendment and zoning change,” said Wray.


“We’ve heard this from the neighborhood for a long time, that they wanted to see some balance to the multifamily that is already there, and I think this will help to do that,” said Secretary Saundra Kirk. “If the neighborhood supports it, I think that’s a strong motivation for me to support it.”


Agent Ron Thrower spoke against the change, saying he was worried that it would not contribute to the planned Montopolis hub and could serve to derail urban rail. Thrower, who serves on the ERC working group as an East Riverside Corridor Commercial/ Multifamily property owner, spoke on behalf of the owner of the 20 acres west of the proposed development.


“I think this particular zoning is going in the wrong direction, in trying to bring density to the corridor, where we designated we would like to see a rail,” said Thrower. “I think the existing zoning over there would bring more development density and intensity to the area.”


“As I understand it, the conversations are still in play regarding the urban rail along that corridor,” said Kirk. “Since that’s not a done deal, and those conversations are happening now, I’m not real clear on the conversation we can have regarding that assumption that rail is going to go down Riverside.”


The commission approved the change on a vote of 7-2, with commissioners Jay Reddy and Alfonso Hernandez voting against.


Council adopted the East Riverside Corridor Master Plan in February 2010. The plan lays out the long-term vision for the corridor but lacks specific enforceable regulations. Work is currently underway on a regulating plan for the corridor, which will ultimately come before City Council for approval. The Council must also approve this zoning change.

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