Reading the MAPC agendas
Nov 28, 2016 10:28 am | mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org (Editor)
It's a dirty* job, but someone has to do it - and that may not be DelanoWichita anymore. If you run a businesses or own a commercial property in Delano, you should pay attention to MAPC agendas yourself now.
* Not really dirty, but kind of boring.
The Metropolitan Area Planning Commission is a joint city/county commission with members appointed by each City Council member including the mayor, and each County Commission member plus one at-large to balance the scales. MAPC is where zoning and vacation decisions are debated; for most of them, the City Council or County Commission approval is a consent-agenda item.
The MAPC calendars and agendas are posted on their pages on the City website, and are generally pretty easy to read compared to the City Council agendas discussed earlier. Unfortunately, this is because they're usually limited to a simple line-item notice. Fortunately, Planning is very nice about emailing details on request.
Looking at the December 15 agenda (PDF), there is a variety of items coming up including a couple of Delano ones. Let's look at a few.
City Conditional Use for Personal Improvement Service (massage therapy) on property zoned GO General Office; generally located east of Hillside Street and north of Douglas Avenue (101 N. Clifton St.)
A "Conditional Use" is a request for an exception to zoning laws. Some types of businesses require conditional-use permits for any zoning, and the Delano Overlay adds a list of things that require conditional-use within its boundaries even when the underlying zoning on the property would allow it. Generally, MAPC is more likely to require restrictions on a conditional use rather than disallowing it completely, but some cases have come before MAPC despite staff planners telling the applicants they'll almost certainly be shot down.
City request to vacate a portion of a platted utility easement on property generally located east of South Hillside Avenue, southwest of George Washington Boulevard, on the southeast corner of East Ross Parkway and South Roosevelt Street
A "vacation request" is not a request for time off, but a request that a property restriction be removed. Easements are already owned by the property owner, but they're restricted in what they can do there. You can't normally build anything in the right-of-way next to the street in front of your house, for instance, even though you own it and pay taxes on it and have to mow it.
City zone change request from LC Limited Commercial to CBD Central Business District, generally located north of Douglas Avenue and west of McLean Boulevard (624 W. Douglas Ave.)
City zone change request from LC Limited Commercial to CBD Central Business District on property located east of North Seneca Street on the northeast corner of West Douglas Avenue and North Walnut Street (930 W. Douglas Ave.)
That's the former Crawley Office Space building in 600 block, and the Westside IOOF Lodge building at Walnut (most recently owned by Friends University), both being rezoned by InSite. Delano residential properties are often rezoned multi-family to allow accessory apartments (generally a good thing, since density is better for Delano) or to correct a zoning that doesn't match existing uses (not all of which got caught in the mass rezoning at Delano Plan ratification).
Delano commercial properties usually see conditional-use permits when a planned business doesn't fit in the zoning for its property, since rezoning is a more expensive process. One exception is the rezoning to Central Business District, and this generally happens for one reason: CBD properties are exempted from parking minimums. Parking is, to say the least, a controversial issue in Delano, though DW is coming around to the idea that parking minimums are bad. Regardless of where one stands on the issue one can probably agree that it's not right to have a patchwork of CBD where some buildings can have businesses with no parking restriction and some can't.
If Delano had a functional business and/or commercial landlord association, it would probably be able to propose to City Council that a blanket CBD rezoning take place for downtown Delano - or it would be able to more effectively fight the cases if parking minimums were deemed more beneficial. Some of the older CBD requirements (like the prohibition on food trucks) have changed since Delano was rezoned. CBD may be a good fit now, or it may not. As it stands, it's something being decided on a case-by-case basis, and it's only happening for properties with the financial reserves to tackle a rezoning.
Visiting a MAPC meeting
Meetings are, with very rare exception, held in City Hall. There is public parking to the south of the parking garage - take your ticket into the Planning office and check if you qualify to have it validated, otherwise there's a small fee.
If you can't attend the meeting, send a written statement (email counts) to the contact information on the agenda for that meeting, and contact your District IV and/or VI representatives on the committee. A copy of all comments is attached to the information about the agenda items given to the committee members.
If there's enough advance warning, call for a vote on the topic at a Delano Neighborhood Association meeting or a Delano United meeting. A large crowd shouting angrily about a topic has no official standing with MAPC or the City Council - but a voted-on statement taking a position does, and will be entered into the official MAPC or Council minutes. It's important to know the system - and yet again: planning staff will help with this, as will the District IV and VI Neighborhood Assistants.