LUZ Committee Special Meeting Minutes

 February 22, 2017

4:45 p.m.


Topic: Enforcement of PUD written conditions, exceptions/variances/waivers and administrative deviations


Location: City Council Chamber, 1st floor, City Hall – St. James Building, 117 West Duval Street


In attendance: Council Members Danny Becton (Chair), Jim Love, Al Ferraro, Reginald Gaffney, Doyle Carter (arr. 4:49)

Excused: Council Members Matt Schellenberg and Joyce Morgan


Also: Council President Lori Boyer; Jason Teal – Office of General Counsel; Jeff Clements  – Council Research Division; Jessica Matthews – Legislative Services Division; Folks Huxford and Bruce Lewis – Planning and Development Department


Meeting Convened: 4:49 p.m.


Chairman Becton convened the meeting and the attendees introduced themselves for the record. He introduced attorney Jason Teal of the General Counsel’s Office to discuss the day’s topic. Mr. Teal distributed and discussed a 2-page document describing the uses of PUD written descriptions and conditions on exceptions, variances, waivers and administrative deviations to achieve controls on developments to allay neighborhood fears and objections. He explained that enforcement of the Zoning Code falls to the Municipal Code Compliance Division which faces several challenges in enforcing various conditions, including the time of day that some violations occur (nights and weekends when MCCD employees are not on duty), uncertainty about the exact meaning of the wording of a condition, and the sometimes transient nature of violations (occurring intermittently, hard to observe).


In response to a question from Chairman Becton, Mr. Teal and Council President Boyer described the differences in the enforceability of conditions on PUDs and written descriptions and site plans attached to rezoning ordinances. Mr. Teal said that written descriptions are considered part of the rezoning ordinance and are therefore enforceable, but occasionally there are problems with ambiguity in the language that make interpretation difficult. He urged that conditions be worded very precisely to ensure that everyone understands exactly what is intended. Ms. Boyer said that a problem exists with interpreting what changes qualify for administrative deviations that can be approved administratively by the Planning Department and what changes are “substantial deviations” that require City Council approval to change. She suggested that the Ordinance Code could be amended to cover more specific categories (i.e. hours of operation, buffers, fences) under the heading of substantial deviations to require Council review and approval. She also said that Council could ensure that very specific conditions are included in the ordinances and that “whereas” clauses at the beginning of the ordinances explain the purpose of the conditions. She also suggested that the Council Rules could be amended to require a statement in any PUD ordinance by the district council member if any of the items were negotiated with the neighborhood and should be listed as ordinance conditions before a PUD vote takes place.


Mr. Teal reiterated the need for conditions to be very specific, very enforceable and very understandable to City staff and area residents many years in the future after the current residents, council member and City staff are long gone. Councilman Carter recommended implementation of a process by which district council members are notified about applications for administrative deviations and minor modifications in their district so they know what changes are being proposed and are not caught unaware by complaints. Ms. Boyer said that if some conditions are not really enforceable because of lack of staffing, hours worked by enforcement personnel, etc. then the Council needs to know that and may choose to turn down a rezoning rather than approve it with conditions that can’t be enforced. She wondered if the Code could be amended to make violation of PUD/waiver/exception conditions a higher level of penalty than other types of violations. Mr. Teal said that state law prohibits conditioning conventional rezonings.


Meeting Adjourned: 5:32 p.m.


Minutes: Jeff Clements, Council Research

            2.24.17   Posted 4:00 p.m.

Tapes:  LUZ special committee meeting– LSD