Bob Bloch: Vote for collaboration and dialogue " Vote NO
April 16, 2009
If I lived in Mountain Side, I’d probably share many of the same concerns residents have been expressing in this newspaper. There’s clearly some confusion about development and density of the Peak One Parcel (POP), so let’s talk about what happens after the vote. Since the past is often prologue, I’ll start with a brief recap of what’s happened so far.
Two years ago a public process was initiated by the Town Council to develop and refine the Peak One Master Plan. During the next 18 months numerous public work sessions were held, as well as public hearings by the town council and the planning commission. This was a very public process, open to all citizens who cared to participate. After all of the comments were evaluated, the Peak One Master Plan was adopted and the town council began implementing the plan, starting with the official annexation and zoning of the land in February 2009.
Following this, a Request For Qualifications (RFQ) was published and there were 17 respondents. Currently a Request For Proposals (RFP) is being prepared to select a development partner, and a link to information about this can be found on the town’s website near the bottom of the home page at Peak One Parcel RFQ and RFP Next Steps. There’s a lot of excellent information there that I’m not going to repeat here, but there are several points worth emphasizing.
First, and what I consider to be the most important, is the process. The final design of the development will evolve through collaboration between the development partner, the town and the Frisco community. This will not be done in a vacuum and the citizens will have opportunities to be partners in the design process. This is not a take-it-or-leave-it approach, as you have with a vote. It’s much better, because ideas can be presented, examined, adopted, rejected or modified based on their merits, and a better design will emerge from the process.
Second, let’s clear up the density question. The POP will be developed according to the combined guidance from several documents, of which the RN zoning district is only one. It’s not unusual to look only at the zoning for a parcel of land and come to misleading conclusions. For example, the Water Dance neighborhood was developed according to the RM zone, which allows a maximum density of 12 residences per acre. Drive through there and you will see that there was a different vision, and the actual density is nowhere near the maximum permitted by the zoning.
It’s the same with the POP. The RN zone was created to enable construction of smaller homes on smaller lots which, if taken in isolation, could POTENTIALLY result in a density of 20 residences per acre if there were no other considerations or guidance. But there is! The Peak One Master Plan describes a neighborhood vision MUCH different than potentially allowed by the zoning. The RFP calls for designs of a neighborhood of 50 to 75 residences, with requirements for open space, buffer areas, smaller scale of homes, amenities and parks, honoring existing recreation paths and trails, just to mention a few. And don’t forget the first point ” this is all subject to a public process.
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Third, is governance. It’s my personal belief that, if the master plan vision is to be realized, the town needs to have a continuing legal involvement in the POP that allows oversight of the neighborhood into the future. Why? Because it’s in everyone’s best interest for the Peak One Neighborhood to meet or exceed its vision.
Let’s continue the collaborative process that’s served us so well. Let’s continue to communicate and work through issues that are more effectively settled through dialogue and compromise than up-or-down voting.
For those of you who haven’t sent in your ballot yet, I urge you to vote NO on this ballot question. If you’ve already marked your ballot and want to change your vote, and have NOT sent it in yet, simply take it to the town clerk and get a replacement ballot. Once your ballot is received you cannot change your vote.
Bob Bloch is a Frisco planning commission member.