“We’re gonna make sure that what we put in there won’t be detrimental to the neighborhood.” –Vice Mayor Doug Young.

“The council retains full suggestion powers on possible uses there.” — the bird.

The ordinance rezoning 21.6 acres on Joe B. Jackson to heavy industry needs readings at two more council sessions before it becomes law. But the last two votes are merely a formality.

Despite the reassuring words of Mr. Young, the council vote handed over much of the decision on what goes in on the parcel (between NHK and the Subway) to the developer.

From his public remarks, Mr. Young apparently thinks the parcel is next to Amazon. It actually is between NHK and Subway. You can listen to Mr. Young’s remarks by clicking the link below.


(Click on the link. You will be taken to a drive with a player on it, but because of a software quirk it isn’t connected to anything. Go to the top of the page and click on “open” to get a pulldown menu. You will see a choice of players. The easiest one to use is the first — music for Google Drive. DriveTunes works also, but is a little more complicated)

(Click here for actual distances from the parcel to surrounding homes: http://wp.me/p5ZA8p-7N

"Not close to neighborhoods"
“Not close to neighborhoods”

@ Once the rezoning becomes law, the following uses become a matter of right, and there is no way to stop them.They adhere to the land forever, unless council takes the unlikely and risky step of reversing the zoning to something less intensive. These uses can go in automatically as a matter of right.


– auto making (we have no objection)

– brewery (I once lived near one. It’s an acquired taste)

– chemicals

– fertilizer plant (see related story: http://bigstory.ap.org/article/official-several-injured-texas-plant-explosion

– paints

– primary metal manufacturing (which I have been told includes aluminum and steel plants)

– rubber and plastic manufacture

– saw mills

– glass and concrete products

– tire manufacture

– sewer treatment facility (which would go in only by the city’s decision)

– adult cabaret, adult entertainment center, adult motel, adult bookstore, adults-only theater and massage parlor.

@ These uses require a special use permit — This is the famed “second review” before the board of zoning appeals (BZA). In each case, the ordinance allows the BZA to attach additional conditions as it sees fit. But BZA can’t arbitrarily deny a use it says is conditional or attach unreasonable conditions without landing the city in court.

(I omitted a few conditions to save space but none change my argument.) Here are some of these uses along with the major stated conditions. Note that in most cases the mitigating measures don’t really protect neighbors the way light industrial zoning does.

– junkyard

  • It must be screened from the street
  • the junk must be arranged neatly so firefighters can access the site.
  • tires must be stacked so mosquitoes can’t breed in water contained in them
  • there are height limits on stacks of junk

– landfill

  • The parcel must be at least 25 acres
  • The BZA must approve hours of operation (Doesn’t the stuff still stink in off-duty hours?)
  • It must comply with all state and federal laws (I should hope so.)
  • It has to have access to a major or collector street

– radioactive material processing and storage

  • You must comply with all state and federal laws (What a relief!)

– sand, gravel and other mining

  • There are required distances between any excavation and (1) the parcel property lines, (2) streets, or (3) residences. These distances range from 30 feet to 250 feet.
  • The land must be restored to is original condition when the excavating operations cease.

– slaughterhouses

  • Comply with all state and federal rules. (Some second level of review. How did this get overlooked in the first level?)

– fireworks vendors

  • Fireworks sellers can’t be closer than 250 feet from a fuel source and must be within 500 feet of a fire hydrant.
  • no fireworks sales are permitted within 200 feet of a place that sells alcoholic beverages.
  • fireworks vendors must comply with all state and city laws.

– composting

  • provide  a detailed description of the process, including the chemicals that will be used and the materials to be composted
  • tell how the materials will be stored before they are composted
  • have a plan to manage stormwater runoff
  • attempt to mitigate undesirable things like noise and odors
  • identify neighboring properties that might be affected by the composting operation

Of course, Mr. Harney has pledged that he won’t put in some of these uses. But ask yourself this. Isn’t something wrong with a zoning ordinance that attaches all these uses to land near homes indefinitely? Isn’t it sloppy zoning to ask devlopers to make voluntary lists of things they won’t do?

Are these guys serious?
Are these guys serious?

It is relatively easy to fix the zoning ordinance so that homeowners are protected. Evidently the will isn’t there to rewrite the ordinance from the people who claim to be our protectors.