W.P. Council Revises Ordinance Timeline
The Whispering Pines Village Council amended the timeline for review of the new Land Development Ordinance (LDO) at its regular meeting Wednesday.
The council decided to change the review timeline because more time is needed than originally anticipated because the building moratorium was adopted in April, later than originally expected. The council agreed that the original timeline should be amended to match up.
"It is helpful to change the timeline since there is more time," council member Molly Boggis said.
Council members debated about when they should submit their thoughts on the LDO. Boggis, council member Skip Gebhardt and Mayor Bob Zschoche initially favored submitting their input before the committees and focus groups. Gebhardt suggested that the groups should have the benefit of the council members' preliminary thinking. But council members Frank Zamaroni and Randy Saunders disagreed.
"Our comments are captivating and close off further discussion," Zamaroni said.
Saunders said that he would like to see the groups' responses before submitting his own.
Zschoche called the situation a "political version of Texas Hold 'Em -- a popular poker game -- in that there was a question over who should go first. Saunders said he didn't see the benefit in the council "showing [its] cards first."
Gebhardt and Boggis said they didn't have strong feelings one way or the other. Council members agreed to submit their comments Dec. 19, the same time as other committees and focus groups.
Under the timeline approved by the council, Village Attorney Mike Brough will receive a copy of the LDO by Oct. 8. According to Zschoche, the village committees can receive either paper copies or electronic copies on CDs. On Nov. 10, Benchmark, the consulting firm hired to draft the LDO, will make a presentation to developers and to the committees. On Dec. 19, written comments from the council, committees, and focus groups will be submitted. On Jan. 20, Benchmark will make a presentation to the planning and zoning board and the council.
Highland Drive Issue
Also during the meeting, Gebhardt raised the Highland Drive runway protection zone issue. He favors sending a letter to the Federal Aviation Administration and political leaders. He said the council should do something on behalf of the homeowners who live within that zone. Gebhardt has drafted letters and wanted the council to go over them at some point.
"The council should [send the letters] as a council," he said. "But I'm prepared to do it myself on my behalf as a council person."
Gebhardt said this issue is "political," not legal. He argued the only way to bring pressure on the airport is through the political avenue. He said that because it is an election year, the timing to send letters to politicians is perfect.
The council seemed to agree with Gebhardt, but Saunders said that while he liked the idea, some of the language in the letter went too far.
"I like a lot of what Skip had here, but some of it goes further than I would like," he said. "We should say we expect to see something happen. We need to open the lines of communication before stepping further. It's not going to be fixed in a day."
Zamaroni agreed, adding that he didn't want to back the FAA into a corner and make it take action it hasn't chosen to, such as buying up the houses. Because no one wants the homeowners to be moved, he said it is important to find an amicable conclusion.
Gebhardt said his letter "doesn't mention a buyout at all." He said his problem isn't with the airport using eminent domain -- something that the Airport Authority has stated it doesn't want to do -- but that the houses are located where planes are landing. The council has discussed the possibility of having the airport shift the runway 500 feet to the south, removing the houses from the protection zone.
Planning Board member Bob Kroll, who is also a pilot, said that removing the houses from the protection zone doesn't change the fact that airplanes are still going to take off and land over those houses. He reminded the council that the zone is designed to protect aircraft, not the homes. He said that relationship between the council and airport authority has become "contentious" and communication between the two entities needs to improve.
"An effort needs to be made to calm things down," Kroll said.
Zschoche reminded Kroll that it was the airport that initiated a lawsuit.
"We didn't sue them, they sued us," Zschoche said.
In other business, the council approved of the Fortaleza Group's compliance with conditions imposed on its conditional-use permit to renovate the old Matthews Market into a community convenience store.
It also discussed proposed plans for a new pavilion at Thagard Park and approved the preliminary design that would cost between $23,000 and $25,000.
Contact John Krahnert III at 693-2473 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
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