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Shape Places Ordinance Is Misshaped

The Shape Places zoning ordinance for the City of Sioux Falls is on the ballot Tuesday April 8th. I am voting “No.”.

From my Viewpoint the fatal flaw in the ordinance is the rescinding of citizen input for projects in their neighborhood. Nearly every “Conditional Use” Permit process is gone.

As I interpret the new law, decisions on what happens in neighborhoods would be given primarily to staff bureaucrats. In my opinion, a dangerous move.

Citizen input can be messy. People can be hard to deal with. Time is money and time spent in neighborhood, planning commission, and city council meetings might be considered wasted money by some.

However, having many eyes and brains look at a project is not a bad thing. Sometimes neighbor’s expectations can be far away from the real world. Developers can also look at their project with blinders on, not seeing the impact of their development on their neighbors.

The public hearing process of Conditional Use Permits can separate the wheat from the chaff.  My ten years experience as mayor taught me the importance of citizen involvement in their neighborhood. Not everyone can win everything they want with the Conditional Use Permit.  It is about compromise.

I believe the proposed elimination of several categories of Conditional Use Permits, puts bureaucrats and developers in charge. I don’t believe they are evil or always wrong. However, without citizen input the odds are stacked against neighbors and the chances for things to run amok go up.

There are many good things in Shape Places. However it should not become the law of the city, until the citizen input process is massively improved.


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