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November 19, 2017, 08:14:46 pm
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Author Topic: Zoning Update - MPDs are PUDs on steroids  (Read 1532 times)
PonderInc
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« on: May 10, 2015, 07:03:41 pm »

Having spent some serious time examining the proposed zoning draft, I'm starting to get nervous about the proposed MPD.

As currently drafted, it seems to be little different from the existing PUD, except that it would actually change the base zoning to "MPD" which means...whatever the developer wants / gets approved for that site.  As far as zoning is concerned, it's a blank canvas with no restrictions.

Interestingly, in the current draft, there's a footnote which states that the Form Based Code would become MPD-1.  (Not sure why the Form Based Code can't just be one of the base zoning options, but at least it still exists.)

So the first MPD will be great, and the others will suck.  I almost wonder if the development insiders on the Citizen Advisory Team WANTED to make the FBC an MPD, so it would be harder for the public to just say "get ride of the MPD."  If so, this is genius.  In earlier drafts of the zoning code, there was actually a spaceholder for the section to contain the FBC before it got reduced to a footnote and an MPD.

If we can't get rid of MPDs (maybe we should reinstate the FBC as standard zoning option, and then just get rid of MPDs?), we need to regulate the heck out of them.  They cannot continue the long ridiculous  tradition of the PUD.  With the new zoning options allowing mixed-use and greater density, I can't think of a logical reason why 99% of the developments would NOT fit into an existing zoning category.

Since the "Purpose and Intent" of the MPD section includes: "Compact, mixed use development patterns where residential, commercial, employment, civic and open space areas are located in close proximity to one another," the MPD should include regulations REQUIRING these outcomes.  If we believe in the purpose and intent, MPDs should require pedestrian amenities, complete street grids, limitations on parking, limitations on width and number of curb cuts, buildings brought forward and parking pushed back, etc.

We still have "corridor" zoning and CH zoning for big box stores in car-centric places.  I can't understand why we need MPDs as another tool to create more crap.  So let's lock it down and require MPDs to follow the "intent and purpose" outlined in 25.070-A.  (Funny, that someone deleted the word "high" from the phrase "high-quality, livable environment.")  The MPD section should include requirements that will support the Purpose and Intent language.

One time-honored trick of the PUD (which also has lovely "purpose and intent" statements) is to present pretty pictures of fictional developments (development concepts) to the TMAPC to get the PUD approved. Much later, developers present the site plans for "review" which are often quite different than the pictures provided at the time the PUD was approved.  Developers also know that a series of amendments can easily chip away at the original approved plan with little to no public involvement.  (Example: the development at the SE corner of 41st and Harvard was sold to the TMAPC as "the next Utica Square." It was also supposed to have single story buildings closest to the adjacent neighbors.  Use your own judgement to see how that turned out.)

MPDs should require a complete site plan for the entire MPD to get it approved; and any changes to the approved site plan should constitute a major amendment (not minor).  

In addition, MPDs should include regulations about neighborhood transitions, so fewer homeowners will end up with their backyards abutting loading docks, trash cans and 40' tall blank walls.

There also needs to be specific language regarding the application for an MPD, and exact explanations for why standard zoning could not be used.

These are just a couple ideas on this topic.  Other thoughts on improving the MPD section are welcome.
« Last Edit: May 10, 2015, 07:10:29 pm by PonderInc » Logged
PonderInc
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« Reply #1 on: May 10, 2015, 07:08:38 pm »

Oh, and here's the lovely "purpose and intent" language.  Please suggest ideas for REQUIRING these outcomes via regulation of this section.

Section 25.070 MPD, Master Planned Development District
25.070-A Purpose and Intent

The MPD, Master Planned Development district is established to accommodate development that would be difficult or impossible to carry out under otherwise applicable zoning regulations. Different types of MPDs will promote different planning goals. In general, however, all MPDs are intended to result in development that is consistent with the city’s adopted plans and that provides greater public benefits than could be achieved using conventional zoning regulations. MPDs are also generally intended to promote one or more of the following:

1. Variety in housing types and sizes to accommodate households of all ages, sizes, incomes and lifestyle choices;
2. Compact, mixed-use development patterns where residential, commercial, employment, civic, and open space areas are located in close proximity to one another;
3. A transportation network designed to accommodate safe and efficient motorized and non-motorized travel;
4. Buildings and other improvements that by their arrangement, massing, design, character and site design elements establish a [strikethough] high-quality, livable environment;
5. Sustainable development practices;
6. Incorporation of open space amenities and natural resource features into the development design;
7. Low-impact development (LID) and best management practices for managing stormwater; and
8. Flexibility and creativity in responding to changing social, economic and market conditions
« Last Edit: May 10, 2015, 07:11:52 pm by PonderInc » Logged
TheArtist
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« Reply #2 on: May 10, 2015, 10:17:47 pm »

  As I have mentioned before.  The new comprehensive plan does not seem to lay out any zoning.  There will not be any new zoning in place once this new plan goes into place, other than less restrictive here and there.  There will be more freedom in certain areas for builders to do whatever they want.  (The pictures show pretty scenes of "pedestrian friendly/transit friendly" development, but there isn't anything to stop developers from doing same ol same ol, and nothing to encourage them to do things like is in those pictures, they can now more easily do worse actually).

What the folk doing the "tweaking" of the plan think is "free marked will do the right thing".  Thing is, each developer or the free market does not know what the "group" the citizens of the city, the larger plan (transit) wants and may not take those things into consideration and can harm those larger goals and investments. 

Having read some purpose and intent language in other cities codes, that purpose and intent language above is some of the worst (doesn't really say anything that would make any difference if someone argues with what it means) I have ever read.
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PonderInc
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« Reply #3 on: May 13, 2015, 08:23:07 am »

Bear in mind that the "purpose and intent" doesn't have any actual power to regulate.  It's like a sweet little intro before you get into the actual meat of the rules and regulations.  In the case of the MPD, there really aren't any rules and regulations.  This needs to change.
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Conan71
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« Reply #4 on: May 13, 2015, 09:02:36 am »

While looking up Michelle Cantrell for another post regarding a citizen’s advisory committee, I uncovered this old controversy regarding PUD’s:

http://www.tulsaworld.com/news/government/developer-demands-planning-commission-chairwoman-s-recusal/article_c007b42e-f346-50fc-8042-21db016b9b01.html

Quote
Local developer Chris Bumgarner has sent a letter to Tulsa Metropolitan Area Planning Commission Chairwoman Michelle Cantrell in which he accuses her of having a conflict of interest and improperly communicating with commission staff members and demands that she recuse herself from a matter before the commission.

In a separate letter, Bumgarner asks the Planning Commission to defer action on the issue, which involves a proposed ordinance change that would prevent developers from using planned unit developments to do projects not otherwise permitted in historic preservation neighborhoods.
 
The city's zoning code now allows developers to use planned unit developments to reallocate land uses - such as commercial - into historic preservation neighborhoods whose zoning would not normally allow the use.

The proposed ordinance change could potentially affect commercial development along the city's "medical corridor" on Utica Avenue, where Bumgarner owns property.

The proposal has drawn interest from homeowners and developers alike because the medical corridor borders two historic preservation neighborhoods, Yorktown and Swan Lake.

In his letter to Cantrell, Bumgarner states that it has come to his attention that Cantrell called Planning Commission staff member Wayne Alberty to ask him to remove the first of two issues he raised in a memorandum he prepared for the commissioners.

"The first item basically requests a conversation and negotiation be started on how best to develop along one of Tulsa's most vital corridors," Bumgarner said Friday. "The second item removes from the discussion one of the most critical parts of that negotiation - the boundary 'edge' where residential and commercial interests meet.”

Cantrell said commission members routinely discuss items with staff members but would not say whether she had asked Alberty to alter the memorandum.

"I don't believe it is professional or appropriate for me to disclose conversations between staff and me to third parties," she said.
She added: "I will say, in general, I recognize that staff reports are their own work products, and I don't recall ever directing them to exclude or include any information.”

Cantrell said she will not recuse herself from the case.

"I have spoken with the commission attorney about Mr. Bumgarner's request, and he assured me that there is no reason for me not to participate in our discussion next week," she said.

The proposed ordinance change is a response to a request made by the Tulsa Preservation Commission that the Planning Commission look into ways the city can better protect the borders of historic preservation neighborhoods from incompatible development.

The Preservation Commission also has asked the City Council to direct the city's Planning Department to come up with a small area plan for Utica Avenue from 11th to 21st streets, also known as the medical corridor.

Bob Sober, chairman of the Preservation Commission, has said repeatedly that the commission's requests are not intended to stifle development in the area.

He has acknowledged, however, that recent applications by Bumgarner to demolish homes in the York-town neighborhood are what prompted him to ask the Planning Commission to study the border issue.

The homes are on the same block as the Arvest Bank that was constructed by Bumgarner on the southeast corner of 15th Street and Utica Avenue in 2008.

Bumgarner noted that history in his letter to Cantrell.

"Not only was that improper ex-parte communication by you intended to alter Mr. Alberty's recommendation," he wrote, "but it also was further evidence of your personal interest in the outcome of these issues, reflected in part by your public opposition, in your capacity as a private citizen, to our Arvest Bank project."
« Last Edit: May 13, 2015, 01:44:01 pm by Conan71 » Logged

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PonderInc
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« Reply #5 on: May 13, 2015, 12:32:24 pm »

That's really funny, when you consider how many developer cronies are on the Zoning Code CAT, and how many planning commissioners are texting back and forth with developers during TMAPC open meetings.
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Conan71
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« Reply #6 on: May 13, 2015, 01:45:14 pm »

How about the mayor appointing not only members to the TMAPC but the Preservation Commission?  Seems like a really tortured slate of appointments.  Shocked
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PonderInc
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« Reply #7 on: May 13, 2015, 03:32:09 pm »

Yeah, I heard someone got replaced on the Preservation Commission because they weren't "pro-development" enough.  Gosh, I thought that was the criteria for the TMAPC, not the Preservation Commission. 

</tangent>

Back on topic... I think it's critical that the zoning code supports PlaniTulsa.  A major goal of PlaniTulsa was "Make it easy to do the right thing."  MPDs make it easy to do the wrong thing. 

Normal folks, who care about creating an economically viable city where people want to live need to care about this.  The same old generic, big-box crap made for cars is not the solution; it's the problem.  Tulsa has got to demand better.  Cause guess what?  Every other city (and many small towns) are kicking our butts. 

We need to have the civic self-esteem to demand high-quality development that supports walking, biking, and transit.  But most of all, we need to demand developments that contribute to a sense of place that people love. 

Disposable, car-centric crap that can be found along any highway service road in the nation is a failure. (We build it all over our city.)  It's expensive, ugly, unhealthy, unsustainable, and makes people want to leave.
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PonderInc
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« Reply #8 on: November 06, 2015, 02:45:36 pm »

Well, the zoning code was approved, so we now have MPDs instead of PUDs.  (Similar to PUDs except with totally customizable zoning, with no height or setback restrictions.  Totally up to the TMAPC and City Council to scrutinize each one.  No longer maintains underlying zoning, it becomes the zoning.)

In any case, there is one clause that I like, and I'm curious how this will play out. 

25.070-C Statement of Intent
Each MPD application must include a written explanation describing how the proposed development meets the purpose and intent described in §25.070-A and the supplemental review and approval criteria of §25.070-D2.


So every MPD application needs to show why an MPD is required and how it meets the following criteria:

25.070-A Purpose and Intent
The MPD, Master Planned Development district is established to accommodate development that would be difficult or impossible to carry out under otherwise applicable zoning regulations. Different types of MPDs will promote different planning goals. In general, however, all MPDs are intended to result in development that is consistent with the city’s adopted plans and that provides greater public benefits than could be achieved using conventional zoning regulations. MPDs are also generally intended to promote one or more of the following:

1. Variety in housing types and sizes to accommodate households of all ages, sizes, incomes and lifestyle choices;
2. Compact, mixed-use development patterns where residential, commercial, employment, civic, and open space areas are located in close proximity to one another;
3. A transportation network designed to accommodate safe and efficient motorized and non-motorized travel;
4. Direct, safe and convenient non-motorized travel routes within the boundaries of the development site, as well as connections to abutting properties;
5. Buildings and other improvements that by their arrangement, massing, design, character and site design elements establish a quality, livable environment;
6. Sustainable development practices;
7. Incorporation of open space amenities and natural resource features into the development design;
8. Low-impact development (LID) and best management practices for managing storm-water; and
9. Flexibility and creativity in responding to changing social, economic and market conditions.


And...

2. Supplemental Review and Approval Criteria
In making recommendations and decisions on MPD district zoning map amendments, review and decision-making bodies must consider the zoning map amendment criteria of §70.030-H and the following factors:

a. Whether the proposed master planned development is consistent with the comprehensive plan and any other adopted plans for the subject area;
b. Whether the development plan complies with the MPD district provisions of Section 25.070;
c. Whether the development will result in public benefits that are equal to or greater than those that would have resulted from development under conventional zoning (non-MPD) regulations; and
d. Whether appropriate terms and conditions have been imposed on the approval to protect the interests of surrounding property owners and residents, existing and future residents of the MPD and the general public.


There are some very smart Easter eggs in the above language that could make a big improvement over how PUDs are handled today.  It will be interesting to see how this plays out.
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TheArtist
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« Reply #9 on: November 06, 2015, 10:23:24 pm »

Well, the zoning code was approved, so we now have MPDs instead of PUDs.  (Similar to PUDs except with totally customizable zoning, with no height or setback restrictions.  Totally up to the TMAPC and City Council to scrutinize each one.  No longer maintains underlying zoning, it becomes the zoning.)

In any case, there is one clause that I like, and I'm curious how this will play out. 

25.070-C Statement of Intent
Each MPD application must include a written explanation describing how the proposed development meets the purpose and intent described in §25.070-A and the supplemental review and approval criteria of §25.070-D2.


So every MPD application needs to show why an MPD is required and how it meets the following criteria:

25.070-A Purpose and Intent
The MPD, Master Planned Development district is established to accommodate development that would be difficult or impossible to carry out under otherwise applicable zoning regulations. Different types of MPDs will promote different planning goals. In general, however, all MPDs are intended to result in development that is consistent with the city’s adopted plans and that provides greater public benefits than could be achieved using conventional zoning regulations. MPDs are also generally intended to promote one or more of the following:

1. Variety in housing types and sizes to accommodate households of all ages, sizes, incomes and lifestyle choices;
2. Compact, mixed-use development patterns where residential, commercial, employment, civic, and open space areas are located in close proximity to one another;
3. A transportation network designed to accommodate safe and efficient motorized and non-motorized travel;
4. Direct, safe and convenient non-motorized travel routes within the boundaries of the development site, as well as connections to abutting properties;
5. Buildings and other improvements that by their arrangement, massing, design, character and site design elements establish a quality, livable environment;
6. Sustainable development practices;
7. Incorporation of open space amenities and natural resource features into the development design;
8. Low-impact development (LID) and best management practices for managing storm-water; and
9. Flexibility and creativity in responding to changing social, economic and market conditions.


And...

2. Supplemental Review and Approval Criteria
In making recommendations and decisions on MPD district zoning map amendments, review and decision-making bodies must consider the zoning map amendment criteria of §70.030-H and the following factors:

a. Whether the proposed master planned development is consistent with the comprehensive plan and any other adopted plans for the subject area;
b. Whether the development plan complies with the MPD district provisions of Section 25.070;
c. Whether the development will result in public benefits that are equal to or greater than those that would have resulted from development under conventional zoning (non-MPD) regulations; and
d. Whether appropriate terms and conditions have been imposed on the approval to protect the interests of surrounding property owners and residents, existing and future residents of the MPD and the general public.


There are some very smart Easter eggs in the above language that could make a big improvement over how PUDs are handled today.  It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

Veeery interesting.
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