Friday, June 01, 2012

The @%$#ing Developers are at it AGAIN

And they are trying to gut the UDC and revert the zoning laws back to the 1980s, which is why the UDC was proposed in the first place.  Allow my friend Louise Mercuro to explain:

This is such a very important and the negative impact on Memphis is so massive that it is almost impossible to put into a few short paragraphs.  Almost every page of the UDC has changes proposed.  Major issues are that all the uses that the UDC prohibited in residential neighborhoods, small business centers and in mixed use shopping centers are back in.

The planned development process has been obliterated retreating to the Gold rush days.  Virtually no public notice will be given on PDs and they will exist forever within City limits.  Developers will not have to show an actual plan for their development, only an outline of their property and a potential list of uses.  Once a PD is approved it can NEVER be changed by the legislative body only by the developer or property owner.  In other progressive cities the PD process is an exception allow innovative developments;  in Memphis it is the rule to get around traditional zoning and subdivision rules and regulations.  Cheaper, faster, no notice to citizens of any consequence and cursory review. 
Use variances (cell towers, billboards, day care centers in neighborhoods, etc.) which were taken from the Board of Adjustment by the Council because of lack of notice, by-passing zoning process, misuse and other issues are to be given back to BOA.  Overlay Districts (Midtown, Medical Center, University, New Town Districts) are slated to be eliminated. 
These changes touch every piece of property in the city and thus all of our citizens and business owners.  In effect what the UDC set out to be a blueprint for the future of Memphis has been obliterated.  All of our work (citizens, consultants and staff) to control sprawl, aid in inner-City redevelopment, protect the environment and openspace, create walkable neighborhoods and on and on will be gone.  God only knows the financial implications to the City and in some cases to the County.  We will be going back to the 1980s and 1990s. 
There is much more.  But just a notice to your followers to call or email the Council and ask for an indefinite hold until OPD holds as many public meetings as it did when the UDC was being developed would help.  THERE HAS BEEN ABSOLUTELY NO SUNSHINE IN THIS PROCESS.  IT HAS BEEN DONE BEHIND CLOSED DOORS.  A few folks who got wind of it through connections met with Josh Whitehead and MAY have gotten a few concessions, but review of ordinance posted on OPD blog shows that the concessions they thought they got actually were changed again and were made even more onerous.
I know that OPD was the biggest part of my career in Memphis and I learned and grew there.  I will always consider the UDC to be one of the major achievements of the agency.  I just can't let it go down without a fight. 
Meeting of Council is Tuesday June 6th and then I believe it goes to Commission and will go back and forth until there are 3 readings on both sides.  Either the Council or Commission can make changes, but both bodies have to approve. 
A copy of the changes can be found at  It will be very confusing to the general citizen let alone a professional in planning, engineering, architecture, etc. or a savvy layman.
Any help that you can give would be greatly appreciated. 
Thanks so much,
Louise Mercuro
By the way, here's what YOU can do to stop this:
 City Council Contacts
Phone:   (901) 576-6786Fax: (901) 576-6796 

Chairman Planning and Zoning Committee:  Ed Ford, Jr.Vice Chairman:  Reid HedgepethMembers:  Bill Boyd, Myron Lowery, Janis Fullilove, Joe Brown
Broad Avenue Councilmen:  District 5 - Jim Strickland   Super District 9 - Kemp Conrad, Shea Flinn, Reid Hedgepeth
Emails for all Councilmen are in this format or you can email them all at once from their page found here: 


Rick said...

too many acronyms, what;s UDC, PD, etc mean?

Anonymous said...

What Rick said. I can't make sense of any of this.

Also, posting a comment on your blog has become really effing difficult. If I can actually get this comment to post, this will be my SEVENTH attempt.

Unknown said...

UDC = Uniform Development Code
PD = Planned Development

I got a response form the City Council after the meeting with a breakdown of what they claim is their suggested amendments. They basically are downplaying the changes as administrative clean up and no significant changes to the UDC or the specific overlay districts. Of course I trust them with amending zoning laws about as much as I would trust them with my wallet.