At the June 7 council meeting, one of the issues was whether the Council should designate the park land at the center of the Kimber Park neighborhood as ‘private open space’. A private open space designation limits what the owners can develop on the land. For example, housing cannot be developed on private open space.
Council had actually already designated this parcel as private open space in 2012. But the property owner sued, arguing that the process wasn’t done correctly. They won which meant the parcel reverted to a status of a ‘study area’, which meant that the Council had to decide again how the parcel should be zoned. Staff began again the process of re-designating the parcel. The Planning Commission heard the matter last month and unanimously supported staff’s recommendation which was to once again zone the parcel private open space (making sure to do it correctly this time).
At the Council meeting last night, the Kimber Park residents packed the Council chambers and spoke eloquently about their long struggle with the property owner.
The property owner had several representatives speak. They did not want the parcel zoned as private open space. A few of them spoke about the recreational project on the site that was approved in 2014. I couldn’t understand why they would be talking about a project that was already approved. They also mentioned having trouble with financing the project and tried to relate that to the rezoning issue. This also makes no sense. Nothing was being proposed that would disapprove that project. If they’re having trouble financing the project, that’s their problem.
When I spoke, I asked staff point blank – would the private open space designation prevent the property owner from developing the project they had proposed? The answer was a clear no.
What was clearly going on is that the property owner wanted a designation that would allow them to scrap their already approved plans and try for something different (i.e. an even larger commercial project). The property owner has tried this several times before with this property. I called it a ‘bait and switch’.
After a lot of discussion, the private open space designation was approved by a 3-2 vote with Councilmembers Jones and Mei voting yes with me.
FINALLY, the Kimber Park residents can rest knowing that this property is under the private open space zoning that they worked so hard to achieve.