Zoned out: City Council talks “taking by typo”
At a June 4 City Council meeting, Councilor Dave Norris brought up the infamous "taking by typo" issue regarding the property behind the Mary Williams Senior Center in the Woolen Mills neighborhood, which may have been accidently de-listed as historic due to a series of zoning snafus. Recently, the Board of Zoning Appeals rejected a challenge by the feisty neighbors, who argued that the entire 7-acre property, owned now by scrap yard owner and BAR member Preston Coiner, and home to his Woolen Mill Self Storage facility, was designated an Individually Protected Property by City Council in 1993.
"There's some sentiment from certain quarters that Council needs to 'step up to the plate' and get involved," said Norris. "I'm curious where the issue is."
As City Attorney Craig Brown explained, any zoning mistakes that were made had been nullified by the BZA's most recent determination, which designated only a portion of the property historic, based on the city-wide zoning changes made in 2003. Council could re-zone the property if there were grounds for a historic designation, Brown said, but he cautioned members that site plans for the property had already been approved, and that such a designation would not change anything.
Councilor Kendra Hamilton said she was sympathetic to the concerns of the Woolen Mills residents, but pointed out that similar zoning mistakes had been made elsewhere, including her own neighborhood. "In simple fairness to other neighborhoods," said Hamilton, " if we're going to seek out and pursue this, we should have a consistent policy."
In the end, Councilors did not 'step up to the plate'. In fact, they even seemed at a loss for words.
"Anything anybody wants to do?" Mayor David Brown asked.
"It's a difficult situation," mayor Brown continued. "Time has gone by, plans have changed. Plus, we were a long way removed from the original decision."