Behind the scenes on MoRA’s First Big Zoning Case

News

No doubt about it. Tackling a rezoning case is hard work.  First of all, the process is long and tedious, requiring constant attention.  It is also full of arcane language, a few unforeseen twists and baffling procedures.  Add to that, the petition proposed by the Selwyn Property Group (case 2017-016) was impacted by two external projects that are not designed and will not be completed until 2021 and beyond.

MoRA’s Land Use Committee took on the challenge and deserves your appreciation.

Committee Chair James Scanlon, a Virginia Tech graduate in Environmental Policy and Planning, has impressive skills so he slipped easily to chairing this review process. His PowerPoint presentation at the Jan 31 community meeting brought the project and its intricacies to life.  His co-presenter was local bankruptcy attorney Jack Miller whose passionate support for improving the area’s bike and pedestrian accessibility has enhanced stakeholder appreciation for how attention to that increases both the livability and value of neighborhoods like ours.  Jack also has spoken on MoRA’s behalf before the Metrolina Transit Commission.

Three more members deepened the committee’s expertise.  If you read our Facebook posts and Tweets you already know Matt Chambers.  With his mad social media skills and willingness to pitch in where needed, he served on this committee as well as leading efforts on the Hendrick rezoning.  Marc Seelinger is another invaluable MoRA volunteer.  He helps with surveys, newsletter postings and is our go-to person on Planning’s efforts on a Unified Development Ordinance (UDO). Marc and his wife Cherry organized the October Government Open House with its land use and transportation sessions.  Last but by no means least, talented local architect Mike Doyne provided his knowledge of site plans, building materials and design elements.

Together this team contributed hundreds of volunteer hours. They asked good questions and paid careful attention to community comments they heard both at the petitioner’s meeting in December and MoRA’s own meeting in late January as well as opinions expressed both online and in the paper survey collected at the January 31 meeting. And they have been careful to update the board as their work progressed. With the feedback from area residents and stakeholders, they had the confidence to arrive at their own conclusions.

The ultimate outcome is that MoRA showed that, between a dedicated group of volunteers that will master new skills and is willing to keep checking in with area stakeholders to ensure that their efforts reflect the community’s vision, MoRA is growing into a formidable organization.

Next steps: Because there have been three site plan updates, and negotiations with staff as well as with MoRA continue, the date of the public hearing is now scheduled for March 20. A formal MoRA position has not been reached pending additional information. MoRA will use the MoRAclt.org website and Facebook page to keep you informed and gather any additional thoughts you might care to share.

Site updates on the plans so far include pushing the new grocery store directly to Monroe Road, improving accessibility throughout the site, and improved shielding of the parking lot.

This article was written by Mary Hopper, an invaluable MoRA Advisor who has been guiding and encouraging the Land Use and Transportation Committee as they learned the system.