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City Planning: Goodbye Riley, Hello Weiss

Planning Commission loses attorney, gains architect

By Katherine Gregor, Fri., Aug. 24, 2007

The city Planning Commission saw the departure of member Chris Riley last week. Riley, an attorney, has served three two-year terms since August 2001, when City Council redefined the Planning Commission and split off some of its duties (in areas without adopted neighborhood plans) to the Zoning and Platting Commission. The Planning Commis­sion votes on proposed zoning changes before they go to council – making it one of the few commissions with real power. Com­mis­sioners also recommend changes to the city's master plan, vote on land-use changes within neighborhood planning areas, and annually recommend capital improvements.

Of his accomplishments during his service, Riley said he is most proud of participating in the city's transition toward more mixed-use, pedestrian-friendly development. He also has advocated for reduced parking requirements for Downtown residential projects. Riley worked to reinvigorate the commission's three main committees (Codes and Ordinances, Comprehensive Planning, and Neighborhood Planning) and to establish regular monthly committee meetings. He also served as the commission's representative on the Commer­cial Design Standards Task Force, the Water Conservation Task Force, and the Downtown Commission – where he now must also be replaced.

Council Member Brewster McCracken plans to appoint architect Richard Weiss – who now serves on the Design Commission – to the vacancy. McCracken said he hopes to have Weiss in place before the Planning Commission starts hearing Vertical Mixed Use cases (to opt in or opt out specific properties) from the neighborhoods. Weiss Architecture designs mixed-use projects similar to those promoted through the city's VMU ordinance.

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