Feelings mixed on Crestwood’s proposed power of review statute

Bill would allow board to review tabled matters

Crestwood City Hall

Photo by Gloria Lloyd

Crestwood City Hall

By Lucas Irizarry, Staff Reporter

The Crestwood Planning and Zoning Commission had a second discussion June 1 about a proposed power of review ordinance in the city.

The ordinance allows aldermen to vote to consider matters tabled by the commission if any alderman believes a tabling would jeopardize the matter. Aldermen amended the ordinance May 24 to require a two-thirds majority to consider a matter.

“We don’t require a supermajority for very many things, so that would certainly convey the message of the rarity this is supposed to be,” Mayor Grant Mabie said in May.

The commission first read the ordinance in April and had reservations about the possible intent and broadness of it. Commissioner’s felt the ordinance reached “too far” in the commission’s powers.

Chairman Robert Sweeney, who hadn’t had a chance to weigh in publicly until the June meeting, said while he isn’t opposed to the ordinance, he feels it is unnecessary. Sweeney said the issue that ultimately led to this ordinance, a tabling by the commission for a part of the Crestwood Crossing site, was caused by a lack of communication between developers, staff and the commission.

“The Planning and Zoning Commission was not informed of the need for speed with regard to that particular issue,” Sweeney said. “It was presented to the planning commission in a bit of a rush, so my knee-jerk reaction was to ask for the matter to be tabled. I didn’t know tabling it could negatively impact the possibility of the project going forward.”

Vice Chairman Greg Zipfel, Commissioner Andrew Meyerkord and Commissioner Jordan Wilkinson spoke against the ordinance in the past, and are still against it.

One of the main issues commissioner’s raised was the broadness of the ordinance. Meyerkord said he would be more likely to support the ordinance if it was limited to matters that included a third party, as opposed to including strictly city business.

Zipfel mentioned that if a city code ordinance bypassed the commission, certain sections could inadvertently cause harm to residents because a group of experts hadn’t seen it.

“There are some things that we tabled … in our opinion as experts could cause undue harm to residents. I would think for those matters you would want our expertise,” Zipfel said.

At the May board meeting, Crestwood resident Martha Duchild spoke against the ordinance during public comment, stating that the city hasn’t been conforming to its comprehensive plan with aspects of the mall development, a similar perspective to why the planning commission recommended denial of the preliminary plan for the mall redevelopment in 2021.

Duchild said if the power of review ordinance passes, it shows “a lack of respect for (the commission’s) professionalism, and sends the message they lack the ability to make decisions in the best interest of the city.”

Mabie and several aldermen were in attendance at the June planning meeting to communicate the board’s thoughts on the ordinance. Mabie said he would be in favor of addressing the commission’s concerns about including a third party amendment in the ordinance so it can no longer impact city business.

The board will revisit the ordinance at its June 28 meeting.