Now that I have a couple of minutes I will better explain what the significance of Councilmember Hickey’s action would be to night.
The city of Rochester passed a downtown masterplan and DMC plan that calls for activating the river and embracing the riverfront. Something we had not done for generations. However in most cases it is the zoning and not the plan that dictates what can be done. As such there are some loop holes that can remain open.
Because a loophole where by uses in the downtown were not updated existed a developer found a piece of land where they could put a wrap around drive through. At every level staff explained that this clashed with our long rage plan, but the developer simple stated that they had a right to do this, which was true until we closed the loop hole.
We closed the loop hole on June 15th by initiating a text amendment to downtown zones that made every downtown parcel more closely fit what our millions of dollars in planning and thousands of hours called for. This affects every property equally, and ensures that future development complies with the plan. State law is crystal clear that there are NO vested development rights prior to approval and when a developer attempts to skirt community leadership they do it at their own risk.
This afternoon I received a notice from Councilmember Hickey via the city administrator that he was going to attempt to amend the June 15th action so as to exempt the pending development, thereby rewarding the developers for attempting to exploit a loophole.
I strongly oppose this for 2 reasons. 1) it is being done essentially in secrecy as no one knows it is coming. 2) If after all that planning we decide that we want drive throughs (3 or 4 lanes in this case) on our waterfront that should be done after a public hearing given how hard we all worked on these plans.
Ultimately this decision is about values, do we want to respect the work of so many that came up with a great plan OR just ignore it for the sake of convenience. Do we care about our riverfront downtown OR is no standard too low.
I hope the council actually stands up for higher standards this time.
Edit: The surface parking lot portion is similar, not the same. That approval for a conditional use permit was denied by planning and zoning.
Edit 2: The developer knew of the community plan position for more than a year, this is an attempt to skirt it.