Mayor Jason Shelton’s summit with developers, real estate agents, and other business interests at 3 p.m. today in City Council chambers holds the potential for making decisive strides toward approval of a new development code at least in part better focused on widening the paths to additional middle-income, owner-occupied housing.
The council on Tuesday again postponed voting on a new development code prepared by the city’s planning professionals because it agreed to hear from developers about encouraging middle-income housing growth, one of Shelton’s key platform planks and a goal also adopted by the previous council and administration.
It’s expected that the council will meet and again discuss the proposed code in relation to housing development sometime in the days after today’s meeting.
While getting it right related to middle-income housing is an important question, we hope the council refuses to delay a vote solely to block CarMax, a top-tier nationwide used car company, from locating in the Barnes Crossing overlay district. The code in force now doesn’t allow used car businesses in the overlay. Existing used car dealers along South Gloster Street have opposed the CarMax variance because, they say, variances were refused when similar requests were made by some among them.
Ward 3 Councilman Jim Newell wants CarMax to locate on South Gloster, a location the firm has given no indication of considering. He was part of a 4-3 council majority that previously voted to deny CarMax a variance under the existing code to locate in the Barnes Crossing area.
Businesses seek locations to maximize profit potential. Delaying a new development code solely to prevent one business from locating in a currently excluded zone isn’t a good precedent to set.
The council has a right to decide policies dictating the best use of scarce, valuable land in high-demand, high-density zones like Barnes Crossing.
Most code updates and revisions reflect changes in demographics, development and community expansions.
No code revision can change decisions in the past or flatly determine business growth ahead.
Code fairness moving forward is the best that can be expected. Protectionism, as tariffs frequently prove, rarely works to the degree supporters believe desirable or possible.