August 21, 2018
Dean Lynne and David,
I am writing you in your respective roles as President of the Parkridge Community Organization and leader of the Park City Preservation Alliance. Please feel free to share this with your Board and neighbors as you wish. The purpose of this email is to clarify the timeline from the City’s perspective, and to outline two separate issues.
It is important to remember that the present moratorium on demolition passed by City Council will expire on September 28, 2018. At that time, unless action is taken, there will be no protections (outside of the existing H-1 overlay district) against demolitions and no design guidelines to prevent additions and new construction of homes out of character with those in the neighborhood.
The City held a public meeting on June 27, 2018 at the O’Connor Senior Center to clarify the City’s position on zoning options for Parkridge based on the comments Mayor Rogero received in a series of meetings with groups of individuals who had represented different sides of the issue.
Based on those small group meetings, Councilwoman Gwen McKenzie and the Mayor stated at the June 27 public meeting that they do not support renewal of the effort to place an H-1 overlay on the proposed expansion area. There are still major concerns and disagreements in the neighborhood about that proposal, and the size of the proposed expansion area makes it very difficult to build a sufficient level of neighborhood support and, ultimately, City Council support.
Both at those small group meetings earlier this year and at the June 27 public meeting, we discussed another option that would conserve the character of the neighborhood built environment: the Neighborhood Conservation District (NC-1) which would provide protection against demolitions as well as design guidelines for new construction and additions to houses.
Councilwoman McKenzie and the Mayor are prepared to initiate the process for a NC-1 zoning designation for the proposed H-1 expansion area, if the neighborhood organization requests this.
Additionally, as we discussed, pursuing a NC-1 designation does not preclude H-1 advocates from identifying smaller areas for H-1 designation and working with Councilwoman McKenzie to determine a sufficient level of support among the affected residents and property owners that will garner support from City Council.
Community Mediation Center
At the June public meeting, the City again offered to underwrite the cost of mediation to help heal the wounds that remain from the previous effort to expand the H-1 boundary. As a result, on July 30 the Community Mediation Center (CMC) held an orientation session, attended by some 25 Parkridge residents, and offered a facilitated dialogue process to help move toward finding common ground and to heal relationships.
Last week, Mayor Rogero received the attached email from the CMC director which states that, after reflecting on the questions and comments received at the meeting… “I don’t believe a facilitated dialogue process would be effective at this time. The various positions expressed on zoning and historic preservation seem to be so firmly held that people find it difficult to listen, to try to find mutual solutions, and to respect each other’s differences.”
CMC would still like to offer mediation to “any person who wants to try to ‘mend fences’ and heal relationships between themselves and their neighbor.” They would “also welcome any request from a neighborhood organization to set up facilitated and creative public policy discussions in the future.”
Based on CMC’s conclusion and recent emails from two pro-H1 advocates who continue to push for the H-1 expansion area, we are concerned that the neighborhood will miss the opportunity to protect themselves with the NC-1 while some continue in a counterproductive effort to rehash the arguments regarding the previously proposed H-1 expansion.
Here are two separate tracks that we ask you to consider.
- The first is whether the neighborhood wishes to ask Mayor Rogero and Councilwoman McKenzie to pursue a NC-1 designation for the proposed expansion area that provides protection against demolitions as well as design guidelines for new construction and additions to houses.
If you in fact do support moving ahead with the NC-1 process, we will need to receive a request for this action from the PCO Board. This action can be taken at any time, but remember that the current moratorium on demolition expires on September 28, 2018. An application for a NC-1 designation automatically establishes a moratorium during the process. It also allows for pursuit of H-1 in smaller areas as people understand and buy into the further restrictions that an H-1 provides.
- The second track is whether the neighborhood wishes to engage CMC to provide a facilitated dialogue process to heal relationships and/or to facilitate future public policy issues. If so, the City is willing to continue to underwrite this service with CMC. Again, we would like to hear from the neighborhood if you think this effort is worthwhile and are willing to work with CMC to identify what you hope to accomplish and the process for getting there.
I encourage you to discuss these options with your Board and others as you deem appropriate and get back with us. Let me know if I can answer any questions. Thanks, and we look forward to hearing from you.
Deputy to the Mayor and Chief Policy Officer
City of Knoxville