FYI: Planning Commission, October 6, 2008

Seems we just had a Planning Commission meeting last week (because we did!), but there's another one this Monday, October 6, 7pm, at city hall.  Two items on the agenda:

1.  Design Review and Conditional Use Permit request from Valley Auto Services,  8737 Valley Blvd (corner of Valley and Walnut Grove).  This is relatively close to my house, but I'm pretty sure the nature of the request is such that I will not need to recuse myself.   (I thought I recognized the picture, but I did not; it's actually on Valley, east of Bartlett.  It's not as close to my house as I thought it was).  Still, I'll run it by the Planning Commission's attorney before we discuss the issue.

2.  Request for a Zone change for three lots under the powerlines that run south of Marshall (west of Walnut Grove, between Earle and Rockhold).  The First Evangelical Church wants to put in a parking lot for their patrons, who currently need to park on surface streets in the vicinity (their church is at the corner of Marshall and Walnut Grove). 

FYI: Planning Commission,

Another good meeting.  The first item was well-discussed before a unanimous approval.  It'll improve the appearance of the auto repair shop, and might even improve security along that back alley a little bit.

The second item was tougher.  It's a good example of the old saw, "To govern is to choose."  Yes, sometimes (rarely), it's possible to do something that produces an absolute good at no cost to anyone.  But most often, governing means accepting trade-offs to improve overall welfare.  In the case of the parking lot proposal, the gain is that we hope to get cars that are currently parking on Marshall and Walnut Grove (especially on Marshall, west of Walnut Grove) off the street.  That's where church attendeeds are parking currently.  The church wants to be a good neighbor and they're willing to invest a lot of money to build off-street parking for their congregation.

The tradeoff is that people who currently have a wholesale nursery behind their house will soon have a parking lot.  We've adopted a number of mitigation measures to minimize the impact of the parking lot.  First, it will only be utilized on Sundays, and during Friday nights.  It will NOT be used when children are walking to or from school.  Second, it will only be illuminated when it is in use on Friday nights, and the lights are going to be fully shielded to prevent spill-over into the yards and homes nearby.  Third, we requested the deployment of "video" monitoring of the lot, to deter kids from hopping the fence and making trouble in the lot or on the walls or over the walls.  Fourth, the church will be building a new, six-foot tall brick wall along the east and west perimeters of the property.  Fifth, there will be a ten-foot wide barrier of landscaped space between that wall and the actual parking area.  The wall and the landscaping will shield the residents with yards abutting the lot from the sight and sounds of the parking lot.  Sixth, there will be a security guard present when the lot is being used, with a clear no loitering policy to prevent the lot from being used by anyone other than church goers for the specific purpose of attending the church.  Seventh, there will be landscaping along the Marshall frontage and within the lot to lessen the visual impact of the lot.

It's not a perfect solution, but it will, we hope, get a lot of the cars off of Marshall on Sundays and on Friday nights.  That'll help improve the flow of traffic on both Marshall and Walnut Grove.  Rather than having a large number of cars trying to parallel park on those streets (which necessarily means obstructing the flow of traffic, and interferes with sight-lines), church attendees will, instead, go straight into the parking lot, where a van shuttle service will allow many congregation members to get to church without having to use the crosswalk at Walnut Grove and Marshall.

It won't increase traffic or pollution in the area, because the lot is designed to accommodate cars that are ALREADY coming to the area.  We're just trying to get them to park off-street, to minimize the congestion and clean up the street.