CodeNEXT: Frustrations Mount (Again)

Commissioners lament “the worst code I have ever seen in my life”

Jim Duncan
Jim Duncan
“This is, without a doubt, the worst code I have ever seen in my life. We’re a world-class city and we don’t deserve that.” – ZAP vice chair Jim Duncan

Frustrations around the final draft of CodeNEXT continue to mount on the land use commissions. Tuesday evening, following a joint work session in the afternoon, and after the Zoning & Platting Commission made it through their normal caseload, ZAP sparked a heated conversation regarding a resolution written and sponsored by Chair Jolene Kiolbassa.

The resolution, which ZAP ultimately decided to shelve, pointed out a litany of issues found in the proposed zoning rewrite; challenged the amount of money spent on the full process; and called for an audit of how "taxpayer funds were spent on the third draft." The problems Kiolbassa listed included the draft's numerous spelling errors, inconsistencies in the text and mapping, and the code's overall complexity. As commissioner Bruce Evans said, "No city nowhere needs 1,500 pages to tell them how to develop a damn lot."

Overall, commissioners agreed with Kiol­bassa's general dissatisfaction. The debate stemmed from whether ZAP could call for an audit, and whether that would be the best use of commissioners' and the city's time. Vice Chair Jim Duncan said he co-sponsored the resolution out of "sheer frustration." Duncan, who had remained optimistic about CodeNEXT, finally seems to have had it, saying: "This is, without a doubt, the worst code I have ever seen in my life. We're a world-class city and we don't deserve that." He also admitted that earlier in the day he signed the petition calling to put CodeNEXT on a ballot for residents – instead of City Council – to vote on. (!)

Evans and Commissioner Sunil Lavani seconded Duncan's frustration and said the resolution made valid points, before pointing out that an audit would just open another can of worms without solving any of the issues mentioned. Kiolbassa ultimately decided to pull the resolution, saying ZAP might revisit it eventually with "more specifics."

Good news came earlier in the day, however, during ZAP's work session with the Plan­ning Commission: Draft three sees greater environmental improvements. Matt Hollon of the Watershed Protection Department presented the latest changes, while also emphasizing that all existing environment and flood protections will "absolutely" be held in place – including the Save Our Springs Ordin­ance and today's impervious cover limits. Draft three, however, includes what Hollon referred to as the big three: greater flood management on big properties (redevelopment would be held to the same standards as new projects); Green Stormwater Infrastructure (to improve water quality); and improved drainage on smaller lots to help mitigate localized flooding. Hollon also said Watershed's flood modeling discovered numerous beneficial impacts if all the city's "potential projects" were to be "redeveloped and put in retention."

Staff had promised commissioners a second presentation on Mobility, but that had to be rescheduled because City Council's briefing on the same topic ran later than expected. The next joint work session is this Tuesday, March 27, and will cover affordability and housing.

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Jolene Kiolbassa, Jim Duncan, CodeNEXT

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