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Joyce Clark Unfiltered

For "the rest of the story"

Disclaimer: The comments in this blog are my personal opinion and may or may not reflect an adopted position of the city of Glendale and its city council.

Glendale’s Planning Commission has always been one of the most revered of all of Glendale’s volunteer boards and commissions. This commission has gravitas. The professionalism of its citizen volunteers was extraordinary.

While we may not have agreed with all of their recommendations (I certainly haven’t), we respected their decisions. It pains me to offer that people are beginning to say that this commission may be straying into areas outside their mandate.

The purpose of the Planning Commission, per Section 3.102 of the City’s General Code states, The Planning Commission provides analysis and recommendations to The City Council related to the City’s General Plan, for zoning, ordinance amendments, subdivisions, conditional use permits, and other matters affecting land use, and development within the city.” The city’s website says, “To analyze, review and made recommendations to the City Council regarding land use and development related issues. Holds public hearings regarding these issues.”

The public’s general perception is that the Planning Commission hears proposed development proposals and either recommends approval or disapproval to the City Council. Typically, the City Council accepts the Planning Commission’s recommendations but occasionally it doesn’t. In those cases, the City Council may have further exculpatory information or may consider factors that will bear directly on the proposed development.

 

The current Commission members are:

  • Tom Cole representing the Barrell District
  • Vern Crow living in the Sahuaro District and appointed to represent the Cactus District
  • John Crow (not related to Vern Crow) appointed by the Mayor to fill the At-Large position
  • Daniel Heath representing the Sahuaro District
  • Martin Nowakowski representing the Yucca District
  • Edwin Nyberg representing the Cholla District
  • Warren Wilfong representing the Ocotillo District

Hearing concerns about the Planning Commission’s recent performance, I made it a point to watch the Planning Commission meetings of August 5, 2021, and September 2, 2021. For those of you who are unaware, it is quite easy to do. If you go to the city’s website and click on the City Clerk’s page link a menu appears. Click on ‘city council meetings and agendas’. Once there you can pull up just about any city public meeting and click on the video link.

On August 5, 2021, the Planning Commission heard Ambra Residential Minor General Plan Amendment GPA 21-03 and Rezoning Application ZON 21-07. This proposed subdivision is comprised of 45-foot-wide lots. After a period of discussion the proposal was recommended for approval by the Commission. However, some of the Planning Commission members’ comments were questionable.

Commissioner Wilfong characterized those who move into 45-foot-wide lot communities as “transient residents.” He claimed that those who move into these communities do not stay for more than a few years and then move up and away. He suggested that 45-foot-wide lot proposals before the Commission should be “put aside for a while.” Planning Commission Chairperson Vernon Crow stated, “this commission is right on the limit of accepting these very, very small lots.”

Perception is reality and it could be inferred from these Commissioners’ comments that this body would not approve any future developments comprised of 45-foot-wide lots. If that was their intent, it was inappropriate.

At its September 2, 2021, meeting the Planning Commission heard the Hopewell Rezoning Application, ZON 21-16. This proposal is for several industrial buildings in the Loop 303 area. Commissioners discussed everything but the rezoning application. The applicant presented a conceptual plan for the site. It was by no means the final plat as the applicant had not gone through plan review with the Development Department.

They questioned the number of driveways exiting to Alsup Road. They wanted to see the city’s Transportation Department’s and MDOT’s traffic studies. They wanted to see the applicant’s plan for stormwater retention. They wanted to see the height clearance letter from LAFB. None of these items were germane to the applicant’s rezoning request. They were advised by the Interim Planning Director Tabitha Perry that all these issues would be handled during the plan review process and that the conceptual plan presented was not the final plat.

Still not satisfied, Commissioner Nyberg motioned to table the Rezoning Application until October 7, 2021, while requesting all the material the commissioners discussed (and not relevant to the Rezoning request) be provided to the Commissioners. It passed unanimously.

These recent events led me to recall the Planning Commission’s unanimous recommendation of denial for the Rezoning and Major General Plan Amendment for Glen Lakes. Please note not all the current Commissioners were on the Commission in August 2020. It was their right to recommend denial because they felt the project was too dense.

However, part of their discussion centered on the city’s sale price of the land. Again, it was inappropriate to the deliberation of a rezoning and general plan amendment. It appeared as if some Commissioners, unhappy with the sale price, considered that factor, in part, in making their recommendation to the City Council. By the way, this was one of those rare occasions when a majority of City Council did not accept the Planning Commission’s recommendation and approved the rezoning and general plan amendment.

These situations are indicators of a Planning Commission that may have lost its way. Have its members forgotten, or perhaps do not know, their role and responsibilities or what findings are appropriate to consider in granting approval or disapproval? It may be appropriate to have a refresher workshop to review those items. Let’s hope the ‘powers that be’ host just such a workshop. I want to feel confident about our Planning Commission again.

© Joyce Clark, 2021       

FAIR USE NOTICE

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which is in accordance with Title 17 U.S. C., Section 107. The ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Section 107 of the US Copyright Law and who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democratic, scientific and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such material. For more information go to http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use,’ you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Disclaimer: The comments in this blog are my personal opinion and may or may not reflect an adopted position of the city of Glendale and its city council.

On Thursday evening, May 18, 2017 at 5:30 pm Yucca district residents decked out in red…shirts, T-shirts, blouses, jackets…started streaming into Council Chambers for the 6 pm scheduled Planning Commission meeting. I lost count after 80 red garbed people passed by me. Many of them had never been to a city meeting of any sort but they came for this one because they knew that the applicants’ request for greater density and small lot sizes would not create a residential community of distinction.

I did not attend the Planning Commission meeting. Several years ago, when Gary Sherwood was a councilmember (now recalled and replaced by Councilmember Ray Malnar), his habit and practice was to attend Planning Commission meetings on issues of importance to him. The commissioners quietly voiced their concerns leading to an issuance by the city attorney advising councilmembers to refrain from attending. In compliance with that advisory I was not there.

The order of presenters on Stonehaven was the Planning Department presentation first, followed by the applicants’ presentation and then the public hearing calling for citizen comment. As one would expect the Planning Department’s and the applicants’ presentations were polished and professional. The citizen comments were not. Some were nervous. Some were intimidated by the environment of Chambers and the Commissioners seated above them. Some rambled. But all shared a common conviction delivered with sincerity and passion. Some managed to speak to the facts of increased local traffic, school overcrowding, the increased pressure on the very few parks available in the area and the fact that the proposed project is surrounded by large lot, semi-rural properties. I was very proud.

However, I wasn’t so proud of their break with accepted behavior. They were rude and there were several outbursts for which they were admonished. I would hope that when they are before the city council that will be corrected.

Of the 26 citizen speakers 21 were people who live in the area of Stonehaven. Five persons spoke in favor of Stonehaven. Four of them lived no where near this proposed project: 72nd Avenue and Tonapah; 5900 block of Pershing Avenue; 4600 block of Kahler Circle; and 6200 block of W. Keim. There was one Yucca resident who described me as being vehemently opposed and questioned whether my position was a conflict of interest since I will vote on the project on June 27th. For the record, it is a councilmember’s duty to represent its citizens and does not pose a conflict of interest.

 

The Planning Commissioners listened. They did what we all hoped they would do and that was to listen, really listen to the people. It was not an easy decision for them to make. There sat Jacob Long and Jim Miller (the Long family’s attorney) and the lawyers hired to represent them. There sat Pulte Homes and their representatives and technical experts. Lastly, there sat a sea of red shirts worn by the citizens united in their quest to be heard.

The Planning Commission vote was 4 to 1 to recommend denial to the city council of the applicants’ request. Planning Commissioners Garcia, Lennox and Moreno (representing the Yucca district) voted to deny the changes sought by the Stonehaven applicants. Chairman Dobbleaire was truly torn and that is perfectly understandable and reasonable. In the end, he too voted to deny the applicants. The only Commissioner to vote in support of the request was Commissioner Gary Hirsch. I have put out a query to Commissioner Hirsch to ask why he voted as he did for I would really like to understand his reasoning. I have received acknowledgement of my query and we will have a conversation soon.

 I hope that the city council will accept the Planning Commission’s recommendation of denial. I have no way of knowing the outcome as I am prohibited from discussing this issue with the councilmembers. To talk to them would be a violation of the Open Meeting Law and is referred to as “daisy-chaining.”

This action, no matter the final outcome should be symbolic of hope. Outcomes that reflect the interests of the affected citizens occur very rarely.  My thanks to all of those committed citizens who took the time to attend the Planning Commission meeting and my thanks to the Planning Commissioners who listened to the people of their community and who agreed that perhaps the changes requested did not benefit Glendale.

© Joyce Clark, 2017                 

FAIR USE NOTICE

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which is in accordance with Title 17 U.S. C., Section 107. The ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Section 107 of the US Copyright Law and who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democratic, scientific and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such material. For more information go to http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use,’ you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

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