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IDO Update: Same Old Story

They came, they bitched and the city councilors basically ignored them.

Dozens of people from various neighborhood associations across the city showed up at the City Council chambers Monday night to complain that the city's proposed Integrated Development Ordinance would harm their neighborhoods and that everybody needed more time to figure out what this thing really is and how to make it better. They asked for delays of 90 days to six months.

But in the end it was city planners, bureaucrats and developers who prevailed.

The council is likely to approve the 397-page ordinance, which in effect is a massive, city-wide zoning change, at its meeting on November 13th.

The councilors approved 15 of 19 proposed amendments to the IDO, in what can only be called a confusing mess. There were amendments to amendments, votes to reconsider votes and stern admonitions from Council President Ike Benton that no one in the audience was allowed to clap or cheer or boo any decision by the councilors.

It was a predictable evening. Most of the people from the neighborhood associations spoke against the IDO saying that it will standardize zoning across the city, take away neighborhoods' rights to customize development plans for their areas, and lead to increased density and taller buildings that they don't want.

The neighborhood people complained that they had been left out of the process and that, in large part, their voices had been ignored.

Then there were the developers and real estate people who unanimously supported the IDO, saying that it will make development throughout the city more predictable and lead to economic development.

And there were most of the councilors who said there was no need to delay voting on the ordinance because it has been in the making for three years.

It was a scene that has been played out time and time again at the council over the 32 years that I've been here. Councilors tell the neighborhood people that they are an essential part of the city and that their opinions are needed and and greatly valued, and then when those people complain about things, their “essential” voices are pretty much ignored. The developers and power brokers get their way.

So the IDO, which will basically do away with the 60 sector development plans that have guided development for the past 50 years, will be approved next Monday night.

Will it really change things? Will it totally transform neighborhoods into corridors of gleaming high rises with booming economies and giddy people making and spending gobs of money?

But it will make it easier for developers to ignore the wishes of the neighborhoods and build what they want where they want it.

And that's the bottom line.

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