Thursday, February 01, 2007

They're Being Heard

A dedicated group of hard-working Parker-Gray residents is finally getting the attention they deserve.

The Examiner's David Francis wrote a feature story today — complete with photo — about Columbus Street residents' fight to curb prostitution and drug dealing around the Travelodge on N. Washington Street.

The Growler is posting this story in case a member of the group may want to pass this along to Travelodge corporate headquarters.

Just a reminder that the community meeting on the Travelodge will take place tonight (Thursday, February 1) at 6:30 pm at the Charles Houston Recreation Center, 901 Wythe Street.

Rush to Judgment

The staff report is out on the proposed condominiums at 621 N. Payne St, and the question du jour is this:

Why is this project being heard by Planning Commission before the Braddock Road Metro Small Area Plan is being finalized?

Our community was repeatedly told by former P&Z Director Eileen Fogarty in public forums that major projects — including this one — would be held back from consideration by the Commission until the Braddock Road Metro Small Area Plan was finalized.

City Council and P&Z staff were apparently taken aback by neighbors' criticisms of the Plan at the last public meeting in December, including concerns about density, height, traffic and parking management, and the future of public housing.

At the work session a week later, Council decided that the Plan would not go to Commission in February as scheduled. The Mayor also mentioned holding more public meetings on the Plan. We're now hearing that Planning Commission may review the Plan in April.

Why, therefore, is the staff report on 621 N. Payne Street claiming that the "principles and recommendations" of the Plan are already in place and justifying this as the reason the condo project can move ahead of the Plan itself? Are they implying that the Plan is a done deal and that any further input from the community (including the Planning Commission public hearing itself) is irrelevant?

It's unlikely the developer (K. Hovnanian Homes) is going to suffer harm if the hearing is postponed another month or two, particularly with the condo market so soft.

By considering this project now, P&Z and as well as Planning Commission will be reneging on promises to the community and sending the message that the Braddock Road Plan really is just a paper lion which any developer with an aggressive zoning attorney can brush aside.