Reasons to support the Beebe Rezone

This issue is before the Moscow City Council, it involves the rezone of 2+ acres in two parcels in south downtown Moscow, from Industrial to Central Business District (CBD). The parcels each are occupied by a white concrete (mostly) grain elevator. The railroad has pulled out and the elevators are not in use. One is adjacent to the city Hospital.

My comments 9/18/06

Educators talk about the 3Rs. I want to address the 3Ps tonight

Process. I support this project because of what I hope for on the site — the preservation of a grain elevator. It has been pointed out to me that the elevator’s fate is not the agenda item tonight, the zoning is all that is on the table. Its been suggested that the zoning be bundled with other decisions, in this case a PUD, so we had a better guarantee of what would happen. I am torn by this argument, but finally come to this analysis. A building or a use has a shorter life span than a zoning designation. I conclude the process should be unbundled because the question is — should the CBD grow and in this area?

Parking. There may be some who speak against this proposal because it would expand CBD and bring in more lots with no requirements for on-site parking. The choice seems to be between an urban style or in suburban style downtown. I come out on the side of CBD, denser, more walkable, and I think, better aligned with the concepts espoused on the Idaho Smart Growth website. Like buildings or uses, parking is a issue with a shorter life cycle than a zoning decision. I conclude the question is — should the CBD be expanded in a urban style, or has the time past for that style of urban development?

Planning. I hope that the Council is able to act on the advice of New Cities to revise the city Planning documents. As the railroad pulls out of Moscow, among other changes, it makes the urgency of planning clear. Tonight you can send a signal of the direction you want for that new plan. I conclude that the question tonight is —  should the city should grow inward and upward or should it take its growth elsewhere?

A final thought. During the P&Z process it was suggested that the parcels be designated CBD, but with special parking requirements. Jerry Schutz will tell you I spoke ad nauseum  on the problem of parking as a commons. Tonight I’ll just say I think that is a poor idea.  If, and when, the CBD as a collective addresses its parking issues, having some members in different status will make the process more complex. Better that all CBD sites be on an equal footing.

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