WU Council meets Monday

February 20, 2015

The West U City Council will meet in executive session Monday at 5:15 p.m., to discuss potential real estate transactions with West University Baptist Church.

The council also will hear a presentation on the results of the Parks Master Plan update, from consultants from White Oak Studio. The Parks Master Plan update has been in development for more than a year, after a citywide survey last year. A special Task Force has been working on the plans for West U’s parks since that survey. Members of the Task Force included Melissa Pifko, Phyllis Cohen, Mark Prescott, Kevin Boyle, Susan Reeves, John Old and Pieter Vrancken.

City Manager Michael Ross said he does not expect the council to take any action on possible real estate transactions with the West U Baptist Church. Ross has said, earlier, that the city and the church are “in negotiations” over a possible real estate “swap” that would clear the way for the city’s long-range Facilities Master Plan and allow the church to build a new Youth Center.

The controversial proposal has drawn criticism from many opponents who do not want the city to put new municipal buildings on a so-called “Super Block” bordered by University, Auden, Amherst and College Streets. The real estate transaction would involve the city obtaining lots on Amherst from the church, with the church’s planned 7,000 square foot Youth Center on the city’s municipal waste operations on Milton.

Several candidates who have filed for election to the city council have expressed strong opposition to the long-range Municipal Facilities Master Plan.

During its regular session, at 6:30 p.m. Monday, the council will consider a preliminary vote on a proposed new zoning ordinance for the city’s commercial areas and townhome districts. The council and the Zoning and Planning Commission held a public hearing on the rezoning of the city’s non-single family residential properties two weeks ago.

The ZPC did not make any changes to its proposed ordinance at a meeting after the public hearing. The new zoning ordinance provides for the creation of a Town Center Commercial District, which would limit the height and change the parking for the small businesses and restaurants along Edloe St. Because those buildings have “Prior Nonconforming” status — they would have to follow the new restrictions if the owners decide to rebuild. The ZPC did not change a provision that would allow a business owner to “opt out” of the new zoning rules, by seeking a special exception from the Zoning Board of Adjustment.

The council’s agenda also includes consideration of a “nuisance sign” ordinance, and an ordinance calling the May 9, 2015 municipal election.

The last day for candidates to file for the election is Friday, February 27, 2015.