ABRA CADABRA and Other Such Magical Words

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CENTRAL FIRST BLUEb largerIn yet another clever move to “make this city grow”, the city’s planning staff, working for Mayor Shelton, has conjured up some magical words to give the City Council apparent permission and encouragement to ignore Central’s Master Plan.
A number of recent planning staff reports have begun with some variation of this: “Staff notes that the proposed use is not consistent with the Master Plan with respect to land use.”
But that statement, which most people would accept as a likely denial of the rezoning request, is followed by these magical words: “Identified as a key need for the City of Central in all phases of the planning was the development of a strong retail presence. Retail growth will help the City in several ways: building a strong tax base from which other improvements can be financed; providing shopping and services to Central residents; reducing the need to drive into surrounding cities; and providing a source of jobs.”
Resulting in the following conclusion: “Therefore, Staff notes that this proposal merits consideration and recommends approval of the rezoning . . .” usually followed by a few minor stipulations to make the rezoning contrary to the Master Plan seem reasonable.
So magical is this powerful phrase that the city’s planning staff cuts and pastes it, word for word, and has used it at least three times in the past three months to justify recommending that the Council rezone property from Rural and Residential to Commercial, all in direct conflict with the Master Plan.
Two of these three requests have already been approved by the City Council, and a third comes before the Council in a few weeks. Two of the three also failed to garner the approval of the Zoning Commission.
To put it simply, the planning staff, being paid by the Mayor’s office, is giving the City Council seemingly valid reasons to rezone and develop property in direct contradiction to the City of Central’s Master Plan. And to be clear, these elected officials have the legal right to take all of these actions, but like I have said before, just because you have the right to do something does not mean it is the right thing to do.
The Mayor and Council have set out on a twelve-month project to “update” the Master Plan, and my bet is that this “update” will ramp up residential and commercial development. Now it seems that the planning staff is clearing the way for the Mayor and Council to allow unchecked development even before the Master Plan changes by invoking a few magical words of permission. ABRA CADABRA. That’s the way I see it.