“Smothering the Baby in the Crib”.
The new (2021) Comprehensive Plan is under attack!
by Allan Samara, First published in PCC newsletter
On September 19th the Planning and Zoning Commission entertained a detailed proposal from the Planning Dept. listed as Agenda Item #8, (last) and presented by a brand new hire to the dept, Senior Planner Jordan Rockerbie. You may view his presentation here: https://planotx.swagit.com/play/09202022-566.
The three screens and 12 suggestions, included in Mr. Rockerbie’s presentation suggested a benign cleanup and adjustments to the Comprehensive Plan and even suggested a concession of sorts, that Senior and Assisted living housing be treated as multifamily apartments, an idea we endorse. The rest of his suggestions represent pure poison to the ideas newly incorporated into the Comprehensive Plan that took 5 years of court hearings and $650,000 in outside legal expenses the city wasted fighting their own citizens to deny a referendum vote of its own taxpayers.
When the city recognized their loss at the Texas Supreme Court level and remanding back to the district court with a 3-0 adverse ruling the city compromised the issue of “urbanization” by setting up a balanced Commission of 16 citizens appointed by all 8 of the City Council which is known as the Comprehensive Plan Review Committee. After 16 months of work and $900,000 in consultant fee guidance the document and all its extensively rewritten planning chapters was edited by the Planning and Zoning Commission. It was approved by all three city entities and made an ordinance to guide the city’s future toward a less dense land use and neighborhood-school-safety and security friendly document.
The new recommendations of the Planning staff underscore an insidious and unfortunately all too common reaction of a bureaucracy intent on dishonestly playing a shell game of deception, of sneaking insidious ideas under the table, and assuming that the general public is simply no longer watching. It takes some skill reading between the lines, but as a former P&Z Commissioner (2020-2021), I can tell all this is not what we voted for in adopting the new Comprehensive Plan.
Reading between the lines, this is a call for more multifamily transitional citizen-renters in our city, to add to the 42 percent of our already built and rezoned, under construction developer projects (including 346 units at Legacy Square, 1145 units at Beacon Square. and 2300 units coming to Collin Creek Mall.
While it is complicated and vaguely confusing to the uninitiated citizenry, the Planning Department’s new recommendations call for a re-envisioning of “residential” densities, an overlay allowing new residential zoning for Central Expressway and even a suggested map showing every neighborhood shopping center in the city available for bulldozing and “residential” (read apartments) development. It was revealing that Comprehensive Plan Senior Planner Mike Bell, adviser to the new 2021 Comprehensive plan sat mutely 15 feet away while the new hire presented their rebuild ideas of our new Comprehensive Plan.
Commission Chair Downs, a dissenting voice when the old plan was vacated on a joint Zoom conference of P&Z and Council, swiftly moved to have a vote on setting a “public hearing” for P&Z on a vaguely undetermined future date, and it passed unanimously, with Commissioners Bronsky and Carey absent.
Stay tuned, a public hearing is coming, the baby hasn’t smothered yet.
Allan Samara, V.P. Communications Plano Citizens Coalition