How is it possible that society has changed to the extent that we allow (or sometimes encourage) zoning decisions that are so obviously wrong and are detrimental to the residents of a community? Case in point: A community was zoned over 30 years ago. In 1994, with the re-codification of the ordinance, the zoning of this community was reaffirmed. All is seemingly well in the community. Until…One fine day, a developer and the Planning Commissioner for the Clover Hill district presented the community (association) with plans for a drugstore with a drive-thru. During the presentation, said Planning Commissioner stated “zoning can’t be changed” (as quoted in the community paper) and was not the purpose of the meeting. He went past the point of presenting, clear to advocating for said proposal which by the way, is not as supported by the residents as they led us to believe.
The purpose for both the Comprehensive Plan and local ordinances is to protect the public, provide well designed projects with proper land use transitions, and promote balanced communities, among other things. The zoning on this property is incorrect; I will leave that issue for another post.
No reasonable human could look at this as protection. It will endanger the residents of this community and slaughters the notion of proper land use transitions. (The property and main entrance to the drugstore adjoin a graveyard that has been connected to this community since the 1950s)
That aside, zoning is changed every month, to say otherwise is indecent and a blatant abuse of position by a public official.
So, what would be wrong with a sunset clause for zoning to ensure the needs and well-being of the public are addressed? It would need to be fair to all property owners’. Yes, it could be. The law is clear that when purchasing property no one is ever guaranteed of zoning. Do we not have the ability to look at older communities that were zoned 20-30 years ago, examine the patterns of development, community needs, and base land use decisions on what will be a benefit for, and not a danger to, that community? Or is it that we do have the ability…it simply isn’t an issue those in position want to deal with?
Either way, if we don’t make it known that there is a problem within a community it can not be solved.