Betty Duffy

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Fighting the Man (Pt. 1)

We received a certified envelope today informing us that there will be a public hearing to rezone the cornfield next door to build an apartment complex. I knew it wouldn’t last forever, the cornfield, that is. It’s too conveniently located to so many amenities. I still don’t favor it, for a number of reasons. Anyone have experience in fighting the power? What kind of arguments hold sway in determining who is granted their desired zoning?


Karyn said...

Sometimes land is saved around here by some sort of farming heritage land trust - but I don't know much about it. Or, maybe if you can get the owner to start up a CSA or community garden, the positive press would save the field. Don't know what your community is like...Good luck though!

Erin said...

Legally, the land could be saved by a nonprofit conservation trust if it is ecologically significant (if it is home to a particular species or is a special biological environment). Being "farmland" is not considered ecologically significant, unfortunately, but it might be worth getting the attention of a conservation land trust just to be sure. Like the first comment says, I think there is promise if there is a movement to turn it into a community garden. "Environmentally friendly," and "locally grown" are all buzzwords right now and local governments love to get all the friendly press that is involved in creating one!

BettyDuffy said...

Being that this is a pretty rural area, I wonder if there would be much support for CSA. Though it would be an ideal location for it. Doesn't it depend on who owns the land? It sounds like it's already been purchased by this developer, and he just needs the zoning to get started.

Katherine said...

Land conservancy and zoning issues were hot topics where I most recently lived in the US - constant protests and show downs in city and county council meetings. Below are links to some of the organizations that were the most active and effective - they might have some helpful information or at least some ideas to try though some of it won't be transferable due to differences in local laws, etc.

Good luck! You're fighting the good fight from where I see it.
general land preservation
non-profit that turns undeveloped land into public parks (and she does this in one of the trendiest neighborhoods just outside of downtown - Karen is a force of nature unto herself)

Erin said...

Hmm, if the developer owns it already you're probably fighting an uphill battle. Someone would have to come in and prove that the land is home to some really ecologically significant species or habitat in order to reverse that. Probably the only way that could be reversed would be with the help of the federal government. Unless the developer is willing to sell, I think it would be almost impossible for a nonprofit to purchase it for a conservation trust. That is the extent of my legal knowledge - I'm sorry! Good luck!

Karyn said...

Wouldn't the land have to be zoned correctly for a developer to even want it? Would a developer want to buy land he or she might not get correct zoning for?

TS said...

We had a somewhat similar situation so we trooped out with a ton of fellow neighbors to the publicly-held meeting. The crowd was impressive.

The developer tried to sell his vision to the zoning council and to us: single-story condos to be leased to medical and dental professionals & such. The residents weren't too happy but all knew it couldn't last forever (i.e. the empty 4-acre field). The zoning commission re-zoned it for that particular use.

But then the developer decided to build two-story condos and a separate meeting was held on that, and a compromise was reached such that only 2 two-story condos would be built.

After renting the land to the state of Ohio for a year and making gob-fulls of money, the developer apparently decided it wasn't worth it not to have all two-story condos, so now he has the land up for sale again.

Don't know if that was much help but there you go.

BettyDuffy said...

I've been on the horn with the neighbors. The city has given us a couple days to go to the courthouse and view the plan. Then the hearing is the day after Christmas. How convenient for everyone. The field was originally purchased by a Church, which really is preferable since it would only be Sunday traffic (it's Protestant), but I guess they've sold off a portion of it, or maybe all of it. So it's being rezoned from religious R1 to Rm.

I guess our only hope would be that demand for apartments in this area would not be enough to finance the supply.

I'm still going to be a pill about it though. Christmas at the courthouse.

jen said...

as if the world needs another strip mall. i hope the cornfield can be saved.