I was recently asked by a voter about the first time I cast a “no” vote on City Council. According to this gentleman, someone who can stand up and vote no is someone with “a backbone”. I agree. It's often hard to be at the front of a one-man parade.
Well, I was barely on the City Council for two months in March of 2018, when I cast my first “no” vote. The city was entertaining a request to rezone a 8.015 acre parcel of land just north on Finsbury Lane that was north of the Kidder Ditch. The land was zoned A-R, Agricultural/Residential, and the applicant was looking to rezone the property to R-3-B, a zoning designation that would allow residential development.
Most times, a residential development in this area would make a lot of sense. There was residential development already on Finsbury Lane and the development would seemingly just add on to an already stable neighborhood. However, there was a particular issue with this parcel; 90% of this acreage was in a FEMA designated floodplain, which also meant it was within the city’s designated floodplain.
Through the rezoning process, council was told by staff not to worry about the flood plain designation. Whatever was built would have to meet FEMA floodplain standards. Any concerns over the floodplain would be met in a future process once a development plan was worked out.
But, I remember what my grandfather taught me, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” I couldn’t imagine why the council would take the risk of even allowing any number of houses to be built in a floodplain. Even if these homes were built above the flood level, what about the streets and sidewalks? If people needed fire, police or EMS help during a heavy rain event, could they be helped?
I was even chided by council members for my line of in depth questioning on the issue. It was thought that I was just tilting at windmills. But, I read the zoning code and I knew the dangers and the massive expense of building within a floodplain. Costs that would surely be passed on to future homeowners. The potential of 29 homes on 8 acres in a flood plain was too much of a risk for the Sherwood Neighborhood and our community to bear.
I was the only one who voted against the Finsbury Rezoning.
The neighbors in the second ward were also upset. They exercised their rights and they passed out a petition and garnered enough signatures to hold a referendum on the issue. However, shortly after the petitions were certified, the applicant withdrew their request for the Finsbury Rezoning and the housing development never occurred.
Standing up for common sense and standing up for neighbors is something I am proud to do and that is one of the reasons why I am running for Mayor of our great community.
If you have questions, please don't hesitate to ask. Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.