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Hyde Park rezoning tests process, patience

Thursday, December 11, 2014 by Elizabeth Pagano

A plan for a new restaurant in Hyde Park revealed bigger problems than just zoning Tuesday night, when a code interpretation had Planning Commissioners calling for a change in procedure.

Navid Hoomanrad is seeking a zoning change from single family (SF-3) to Neighborhood Office (NO). Hoomanrad is also asking to amend the Hyde Park Neighborhood Conservation Combining District, or NCCD, in order to move forward with plans to build an Indian restaurant at 4500 Speedway.

Today, City Council will consider the case, which emerged from the Planning Commission without a recommendation Tuesday. The commission voted 4-1 to deny the zoning change, with Commissioner Richard Hatfield voting in opposition, but that was not enough for a recommendation, which requires five votes. Commissioners James Nortey, Stephen Oliver, Brian Roark and Alfonso Hernandez were absent.

The change is opposed by the Hyde Park Neighborhood Association, who does not support a restaurant at the location.

Hyde Park contact team member Susan Moffat joined her neighbors in speaking against the proposed change. She explained that though the case would represent a major amendment to their neighborhood plan, “due to a staff interpretation it has been handled outside the mandated neighborhood amendment process.”

Though the city has a neighborhood plan amendment process in place for neighborhoods that have an established Future Land Use Map, or FLUM, the Hyde Park neighborhood implemented its neighborhood plan before FLUMs, and instead has a Proposed Land Use Plan, or PLUM.

As a result, neighborhood planning staff determined that the change did not merit a neighborhood plan amendment. Mark Walters, who is a principle planner in the department explained the code interpretation in an email and essentially said that because there is no FLUM, the code does not apply.

“It’s an inappropriate use in a strictly residential area, and I believe that the writing of the NCCD, regardless of a PLUM, FLUM, or what-have-you, clearly supports this remaining residential,” said Commissioner Jean Stevens.

Ex officio member Jeff Jack pointed out that the neighborhood had clearly illustrated its plans through the map as well as through the text of the plan, saying that choosing to disregard that vision that was “unfortunate.”

Commissioner Lesley Varghese agreed, saying, she was “concerned about the inconsistency in the rights being afforded neighborhoods” based on terminology of plans.

“Irrespective of the outcome, I think we should at least strive for some consistency in the due process afforded neighborhoods,” said Varghese.

Hatfield said that though he agreed with the substance of what had been said, he thought that should be corrected through the committee, not from the dais during the case.

The Planning Commission’s Committee on Neighborhood Planing will discuss the staff interpretation Dec. 17.

Karen McGraw said the tract should remain residential and there should be a neighborhood plan amendment process. She explained that the neighborhood had never intended for the land to be commercial.

“The reason there’s no FLUM is the city didn’t think of the word FLUM until after we got our neighborhood plan adopted,” said McGraw.

In terms of the zoning case itself, Husch Blackwell’s Alexandra Jashinsky explained that the current single-family use was no longer appropriate given the high traffic, which was not appealing to families or long-term renters.

“Traditionally, this house has been rented by students, and it turns over every year. It’s getting more difficult to rent it to families,” said Jashinsky. “We feel that this is compatible with the changes that have already happened along 45th.”

She explained the plan was to retain the existing exterior of the home — but convert it into a restaurant. The developers have also agreed to a list of restrictions including limiting hours and outdoor seating, as well as prohibiting outdoor entertainment, amplified sound or a drive-through.

McGraw pointed out that the house had worked as a house for more than 100 years.

“People have lived in it for 100 years,” she said. “People have lived along 45th for 100 years, and for the applicant to say that it’s no longer fit to be lived in — there are people living in it now. There is a Christmas wreath on the door.”

 

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