Tuesday, January 19, 2010

No 'Age of Aquarius' at planning department

Best line in the agenda for tonight's City Council zoning meeting, which is a rezoning meeting and the agenda is put together by the city's planning department. Under item No. 6, regarding zoning petition 2oo9-067:
"The Zoning Committee voted 4-1 to recommend DENIAL of this petition. The following outstanding issues have been addressed: (and then a long list of things such as setbacks, parking counts and buffers)
"14. Astrological Services has been deleted as a permitted use"

Update: I asked Tammie Keplinger of the planning department. Her reply:
"The Zoning Administrator has indicated that astrological services are office uses. It doesn’t need to be specifically listed on the site plan because it would be an allowed use in the O-1(CD) district."

No word yet about fortune tellers or palm readers, but one could assume they, too, are office uses.

I'll be at the meeting, "Tweeting" at @marynewsom. Here's link to the agenda.


Anonymous said...

People have been using a method called 'electional astrology' for thousands of years to pick the right time, the most propitious moment or day, to begin a venture, start a business, initiate construction, get married, make a major purchase (house, car, etc), and so on.

It cannot hurt, and will likely only help; again, it is a tradition that goes back thousands of years all over the world. - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electional_astrology

Palm reading, fortune telling, crystal ball gazing, Tarot cards, and so on are completely unrelated to astrology - astrology is grounded in scientifically-verifiable ancient cycles and patterns: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cosmobiology

consultant said...

Is Charlotte zoned for spoofing?

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the links to the agenda, Mary.

I watched the December council zoning meeting in which the father/father-in-law of the petitioners spoke on behalf of the couple. (Your readers can find the link to this and other videos at http://www.charmeck.org/Governing/home.htm.)

He said that “this (astrology) was something my family does, something my culture does”, and explained that he is a Romanian Gypsy.

He went on to point out that he’s been a responsible businessman in Charlotte for years. He intends to put $200,00 into renovations of the single-family house his son bought at the site in question.

The petitioners and their two children will live there, although the office portion will be, as his attorney says, “for spiritual consultations and astrological services”.

The office use they seek apparently would have been allowed under the existing R-3 residential zoning, but the family wants a large detached sign, which isn’t allowed under R-3.

So who is telling the truth? The neighbors and planners who claim this is an office building that intrudes into a residential neighborhood and threatens land use plans, or the petitioners who say they are just trying to fix up a ranch house to blend well with surrounding houses and run a small home-type business out of it?

Of other interest may be petition 2009-082, which is under protest by an affected neighbor. It would add 4,000 square-foot of offices to a brick two-story home fronting Fairview Road not too far west of SouthPark mall. Much of that neighborhood is up in arms because they say it threatens the character of their R-3 residential ‘hood.

A side issue is that the neighborhood has single-family deed restrictions, which the rezoning would violate. A lawsuit has been filed against the petitioners since the legal system may back the neighbors, although the city doesn’t recognize deed restrictions.

So why do planners and the zoning committee show disfavor with astrologers, but unanimously back the professional lawyer/doctor couple who say their office tenants will be an insurance firm?

Speaking of protests, which when filed require nine city council votes to pass a rezoning petition: I understand Mayor Foxx will be out of town. Therefore doesn’t his vote, if he would have had to cast it, automatically go to the petitioners? Is the same true of absent council persons if the petitioners don’t seek a deferral?

Anonymous said...

this sounds like a Monty Python sketch...

Anonymous said...

Always look on the bright side of life......

Jumper said...

It is legitimate to consider the amount of traffic - meaning foot and road - to a business, in use decisions. In addition to "office" staff in that business. It is hard to see an astrology business generating equal traffic to a doctor's office. It might surpass traffic to a lawyer's office. If the astrology biz succeeded enough to start running 'em in every 15 minutes for a reading, the impact is real.

Anonymous said...

Jumper, whenever residents of any Charlotte neighborhood protest a rezoning change, they will invariably argue that gridlock-causing traffic, destructive flooding, loss of air-scrubbing trees and loss of desirable greenspace are issues.

City planning staff and councilpersons themselves examine those issues upfront, so neighbors are usually just blowing smoke when they use them to try and block a rezoning.

Their real fear is long-term impact on their own properties, which doesn't seem to sway council votes. After all, progress is progress. People have a right to make a living.

Residents fear that if a change is allowed, the 'hood will experience more and more changes until its original character is completely destroyed. They fear that the end result be a loss in value and equity in their houses if the change makes the neighborhood a less desirable place in which to buy housing.

It's what is not being said at those rezoning hearings that's important.

The petitioners say that the house in which this home office will exist will still be primarily a house just like all its neighbors. They say not much traffic will be generated. In fact, the existing zoning allows a home office.

But the petitioners want a larger sign than what is allowed under the existing R-3 zoning. They want a 4X6 sign, not a 2X2, to attract attention to the business from potential clients speeding down South Tryon Street. To do so, they have to get an okay for O-1 zoning.

The spokesman for the protestors told council that neighbors have no issue with that type of business
being in that house. But they feel changing the zoning there from residential to a higher office use will set an unwanted precedent (that will lower property values as others buy up houses there for more and more non-residential use).

It's the potential that's a problem, not necessarily the immediate change. Hence the reason for the protests filed against many of the petitions on that agenda by homeowners in what are now strictly residential parts of Myers Park, SouthPark and the South Tryon corridor.

J said...

I think the protesters have a point in that the sign allowed under R-3 should be good enough. This type of business activity insn't usually done by people who do it on a whim. I really can't imagine someone hauling down Tryon St, see a sign, and say to him/herself, "Self, I really think we should give up our old methods of planning for the future and use astrology instead. And look, there's a sign for a business who uses astrology! Let's go!" Rather, I think business for these folks would come through word of mouth. I think they should just use the 2x2 sign. They'll get their business and the neighbors' concerns eased.

Anonymous said...

J, I agree.

If I were interested in "spiritual counseling" I'd look on the Internet or in the phone book to find it. So would most folks. The heck with a sign.

Even city council, especially the councilman who represents that district, were looking for ways to accomodate the "gypsies" without resorting to a rezoning. They asked the planning dept. guy is a simple variance might do the trick and keep everyone happy.

But the councilman for that district stressed he would not prefer to see non-residential zoning intrude into that 'hood.

The vote on this was deferred until next week. My bet is that council nixes it.