Monday, July 21, 2008

Developer wants own project nixed

Reporting live from City Council:

This has got to be a first. Bailey Patrick, the dean of local developers' lobbyists, just got up and urged the City Council to vote against his own rezoning petition.

It's a rezoning proposal from Crescent Resources, a subsidiary of Duke Energy, which wanted to change its plans, approved in 2005, for the Piedmont Town Center development near SouthPark. They wanted to change approvals for retail and office space into residential space.

The planning staff opposed it. Neighbors opposed it and signed a protest petition against it which means it would need a super-majority vote from the City Council.

The proposal would have wiped out a stand of immense old trees. During the 2004 rezoning -- after some publicity from yours truly -- the developer agreed to leave a large wooded buffer, giving the trees a reprieve. I visited those trees -- immense white oaks along a small stream. The new development would have cut them all down to form a retention pond along the creek.

The real crime here is that it would have been perfectly legal. If you think the city's tree ordinance protects trees, may I suggest you probably also believe that the U.S. found weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and that Saddam Hussein was behind 9-11.

It appears Crescent decided to cut its losses. Council member Andy Dulin, generally a good friend to developers, made a motion to deny the petition even before the public hearing opened. Which would have been illegal. "I gotta have a public hearing," Mayor Pat McCrory reminded him.

At which point Bailey Patrick got up and urged the council to reject the rezoning. His client, Crescent, would have withdrawn it, he said, but because the protest petition wasn't withdrawn it couldn't legally do that.

Surely it was a first. I happened to be sitting next to 23-year Keith MacVean -- who has, as the joke goes, gone to the dark side and now works for developers (one of his new clients made that joke so I figure it's OK) -- who couldn't remember it happening before.

He also confirmed that the rejection by council means the developer can't come back with another proposal for two years -- unless it seeks a more intense zoning, such as UMUD.

At 9:27 p.m., after hearing a negative recommendation from the zoning committee of the planning commission, which met quickly after the regular council meeting, the council did as Patrick asked -- they voted down the rezoning.


Joseph said...

Good story. By the way, there were weapons of mass destruction found in Iraq, but Saddam got rid of them all in the 18 months after 9/11 and before the invasion. Heck, I by myself could get rid of a whole arsenal of weapons in 18 months time. It's not very difficult.

Anonymous said...

I live in Barclay Downs and I am glad this was defeated, if only for now. I support greater density but not at the expense of our ancient tree canopy. There must be a better way.

Anonymous said...

"Ancient tree canopy?" I love the trees around Charlotte myself, but I don't believe that any stand of trees around here qualifies as ancient.

Anonymous said...

Well, we do have some fossilized trees in the City Council chamber from time to time.

Anonymous said...

They're ancient for Charlotte :) You know how we are-look quick, it'll be bulldozed tomorrow.

Anonymous said...

Mary apparently didn't read the news stories about the US shipping all of Saddam's yellowcake out of Iraq last week.

Anonymous said...

Before you suggest that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq; before you suggest that the U.S. invasion of my country was not a welcome one, please talk to those of us who lived under his tyranny, worked under a constant shadow of fear, and saw the effect off the WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION that he used on our neighbors in the north. I am learning that it is nice to be able to speak freely with no consequence, but you really should consider how the things that you say in your articles could affect your readers. Your insensitivity is astounding and I hope that you will find new ways of implementing your sarcasm into your writing, a new way to try and spin your politics off on your readers. I would never presume to know your situation, your background, your political choice and why you choose it. Please do not assume to know the situation that exists in my home country. If you would only take a visit to the lands in the north, the Kurdish people of Iraq were victimized for far too long for even you, an uneducated journalist on this particular subject matter, to so sarcasticly deny that the former Iraqi dictator did not just have, but use chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons. I shall write a letter to my friend Ann at your paper and see what her comments on this issue are. If nothing else, Mrs. Caulkin is a very fair and objective women, clearly she would not support your insensitivity through sarcasm. If you were reporting this claim as fact based on a source, then you have my support; but to make this claim in an attempt to garner a laugh is abhorrent.

Anonymous said...

Glad to see the Premier Bldg project defeated. It would have set a dangerous SKYCRAPER precedence along Carnegie, spoiling the look and feel of the area and surrounding neighborhoods.

Now planners and the City must address the untenable cut-thru traffic pushed through the Piedmont Row Drive (aka BARCLAY DOWNS BYPASS) venturi. The city needs a better answer here.

Anonymous said...

They should just build a huge shopping center. I would love to see a Nordstrom Rack and Filene's Basement! Who cares about the trees? There are plenty of them anyways.

sexy said...