Planning Commission denies proposal for rezoning of Myers Park area

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By: Mariel Carbone
February 8, 2017

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV)—In a joint City-County Planning Commission meeting that lasted into the early morning hours of Wednesday, the Commission voted to deny the proposed rezoning of a nearly 10 acre parcel of land in Myers Park.

“(The decision) was very obvious,” said Planning Commissioner Dianne Williams-Cox, who made the motion for denial.

“One of the things I like to do is listen to the citizens and it was very obvious that the people who took the time to do the research, we received so many documents, I did take the time to go through. I also did do some research before I got out here, and it was just very apparent that this was not going to be good for our community and our citizens,” she said.

Hundreds of residents showed up at the Tuesday evening meeting to speak out in opposition on the proposed rezoning; with the group preparing a more than 50 page proposal against it. At the start of the 6 p.m. meeting, more than a hundred residents waited in a line that snaked outside of City Hall and down Adams Street.

By the time all of the residents passed the security line, the City Commission room was at maximum capacity, forcing many to have to sit outside the room, listening to the meeting through speakers. The agenda item featuring the rezoning was the final item on the agenda, and didn’t begin until after 10:30 p.m.

The area in question is the 9.5 acres of land that sits between Myers Park and Cascades Park. Currently, green space and various Parks and Recreations buildings occupy the space.

The issue of rezoning came up after residents in Myers Park complained of a noise issue coming from the Cascades Park Amphitheater. A sound mitigation wall was proposed, but was ruled out because of the cost.

The next option for a solution, was the proposal to redevelop the land and use new residential buildings as a sound barrier.

But, upon looking into these solutions, the City of Tallahassee said it found that the area in question was not properly zoned, and would need to be rezoned regardless of what was done with the land.

At Tuesday’s meeting, the planning commission looked at the City’s proposal that would designate the land as central urban 12, as opposed to its current designation as residential preservation.

But residents were against this for several reasons. One, is the argument to “keep public land public.” Residents did not want to lose the park land there and said it would set up a bad precedent for the future. They also cited concerns of increased traffic as well as a conflict with the areas designation as an historic district if new dwellings were to be built.

Dozens of residents spoke out at the meeting, with an organized group making specific presentations. They all hailed the color red as a sign of unity.

Residents said they weren’t surprised with the turnout.

“People are passionate about this,” said resident Karen Cooley. “We don’t have a beach in Tallahassee, we don’t have mountains in Tallahassee. But, my gosh, what we have is green space, trees and public parks… to be even selling a square foot of it, to me is sacrilegious.”

But residents said that although the denial is a victory, the fight isn’t over yet.

“The City Commission has already shown that they don’t always abide by the Planning Commission’s decisions, so we can’t let down. We will continue to lobby and let them know that we oppose the sale,” said resident Ramona Abernathy-Paine.

The Planning Commission’s decision to deny the proposal will now go to the City and County commission’s which will then decide what to do next.

By: Mariel Carbone
February 7, 2017

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) – Tuesday evening, hundreds of residents turned out for the City-County Planning Commission meeting to voice their opposition to rezoning in the Myers Park neighborhood.

The commission chamber quickly hit maximum capacity and about one hundred people were forced to sit outside.

Between the topics on the table, including Myers Park rezoning and Killearn Country Club rezoning, enough speakers signed up to fill three hours’ worth of time.

The meeting, which began at 6 p.m., was still underway as of 11:57 p.m.

Stay with for the latest updates on this story.

By: Mariel Carbone
January 30, 2017

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) – Some residents in the Myers Park area are standing in solidarity, taking a stance on potential rezoning.

Neighbors said they plan to attend next Wednesday’s Planning Commission meeting, where they hope to speak out against the rezoning of a nearly ten acre parcel of land.

The discussion of rezoning comes after noise complaints from Cascades Park. Initially, a noise mitigation wall was proposed to keep the noise from affecting those living in the Myers Park area. But, that was vetoed. Instead, Tallahassee and Leon County Commissioners are looking at potential residential development to serve as a sound barrier.

The area in question sits between Cascades Park and Myers Park. Sitting there now is a handful of Parks and Recreations buildings, as well as designated green space. However, after looking into this land, local officials said the way the area is currently zoned is “non-conforming.”

“The comprehensive plan designates it as open space. The zoning is residential preservation two… so already we have a conflict between those two documents that guide development or use of that property,” said Wayne Tedder, with the City of Tallahassee.

Regardless of what is done with the land-whether that be continuing its original use, or developing it- the zoning issue needs to be dealt with, he said.

“Under the current comprehensive plan and zoning designation, let’s say something happened even with the way the hurricanes came in and the storms, let’s say the structures out there were damaged to a point that was more than 50 percent destroyed, we could not legally build that structure back,” said Tedder. So it’s really important, if we intend to maintain those structures that we have a land use designation and a zoning designation that would allow for rebuilding should that ever occur,” he said.

Still, some residents are leery of rezoning, believing it will inevitably lead to development.

"It sets a horrible precedent to take public land, be it green space, a park, whatever, and put it into the private sector,” said Karen Cooley, a resident in the area.

Cooley is encouraging and organizing a group to attend the planning meeting, which is on February 7 at 6 p.m. It’ll be held at City Hall. The group is planning to wear red, the same color of the hundreds of “no rezoning” signs residents have posted around the city.

"Red for passion for our environment, and our park and our green space,” said Cooley.

Residents said there are several reasons why they see rezoning and redevelopment as an issue. Those range from opposition to the sale of public park land, to the fact they say potential higher density dwellings don’t fit in with the characteristics of the neighborhood, an increase in traffic and the loss of prized greenery.

“If they sell this park and develop it, it's gone,” said resident John Scholz.

"It's also going to be a noise generator, it's going to be a traffic generator. And we don’t' need that as a way to deal with the original problem,” said resident Sara Smith.

Many of the residents expressed concerns over not being heard by local government.

"It seems to me a great place to start, would be with all the people here,” said Cooley.

But Tedder said that’s the point of these public meetings, to allow residents a chance to speak their minds.

“This process is all about the public’s participation. That is so key to making sure that the decision makers hear what is important to the public, as well as balance all the other issues as a community,” he said.

Following the meeting, the Planning Commission will make recommendations for how to rezone the area to both the City and County Commissions. The respective parties are expected to each make a decision in March.

Should the City and County Commissions decide to move forward with development, any plans will need to go before an architectural design board because the area is a historic district.

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