Fairview Village: “This is a tough decision.”

In 2002 there was an expectation, fairly made by council to residents, that they would not be subjected to further eroding of their single family residential neighborhood.  The current Fairview Village request for a dramatic change of zoning falls squarely in the lap of council. They seem to be aware of the legislative discretion they have (and are taking it seriously), and of the fact that the rezoning request clearly fails on at least one count.

Council also seem aware they may be starting a trend, where precedents will be set; precedents that will open up not just Fairview Avenue, but the entire village to a diminution of the weight of zoning laws and future use maps and comprehensive plans.

Land Planner and Fairview Village team member Ken Rathje argues that council “Should not be shackled by guidelines” as he made his case in favor of Fairview Village. An unfortunate choice of words that elicited a murmured response by the packed house.  What we all know: guidelines do not shackle; guidelines provide rational basis, especially when a result of good process.

If it stays purely a zoning issue, it will probably fail until future use and a new comp plan come into play.

Sandack summed it up pretty well removing the emotional filter of a good senior provider (FV) and resident objections.  This is for him definitively a zoning issue, and that view seems to be shared by others, in particular Neustadt, Schnell, and Tully.  Beckman had zoning and also land value questions.  Durkin nodded several times as other council members spoke, but his question was tied to the future plans for Fairview Avenue and whether it would be expanded to four lanes at some point.  Fairview Avanue may change, but that isn’t going to happen soon-we’re still paying off debt on the three lane version for the next several years.  Waldack tied his comments to density and lot coverage, noting the buildings had reduced bulk to better fit the area, but did not return to his earlier zoning comments and questions posed to Rathje that seemed to indicate he was zeroed in on zoning also.

While Sandack expressly pointed out he feels the project is a good project, in his mind objective criteria must be addressed.   The last criteria is the sticking point: what is the purpose of a future land use plan if it is not given credence and weight?  It exists to provide guidance and expectation.  When circumstances require it can be deviated from, but this project is an inconsistent use with that future land use plan.

Council was uniformly complimentary to both Fairview Village and to residents for keeping it civil and respectful, and was pretty worn out by the time the first item on their itinerary had ended three hours later.


8 Responses to “Fairview Village: “This is a tough decision.””

  1. Connecting dots Says:

    Commissioner Schnell said this started in 2002. Six years these people have been fighting to save their neighborhood.

    Six. Years.

  2. Anna Bananna Says:

    If this had been any other developer besides Fairview Village, the answer would have been a “no brainer” … NO. NO. NO.

    See this for what it is, a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

  3. Martin Tully Says:

    Connecting Dots:

    It actually “started” before 2002 with the Family Video development. But it has been a different petitioner/project each time, so its not as though the neighbors have been “fighting” the same cause for “six years.” People periodically buy property in that area and then try to develop it. It happens. You can only consider these projects one at a time based on the individual merits of each.

  4. Bill White Says:

    Martin Tully writes . . .

    You can only consider these projects one at a time based on the individual merits of each.

    This is true, unless the Village initiates a comprehensive review of its Future Land Use Map. That would allow an “applicant neutral” process that studies the entire west side of Fairview Avenue from 63rd Street to say 67th Street or even 75th Street in context rather than as isolated and disconnected parcels of land.

    Our collective inability to plan the entire west side of Fairview Avenue (except through looking at the individual merits of specific cases) is why I believe the current process is broken.

  5. Martin Tully Says:


    If you scour the minutes of the past 7+ years of council meetings, you’ll find no more vociferous advocate of undertaking a comprehensive review of the Future Land Use Map than yours truly. (In short, you’re preaching to the converted.) But the point remains that even with a current, well-developed comprehensive plan, be it Ogden Avenue, Fairview Avenue, or a Village-wide FLUP map, you necessarily must consider each proposed project “one at a time based on the individual merits of each.” Frankly, there is no other responsible way to do so. How else would you satisfy yourself as to whether or not the project was consistent with that well-thought-out comprehensive plan?

  6. markthoman Says:

    I went back and read it all, and Tully has the same reservations he had back in ’03 with the medical building/townhomes.

    I don’t know if this analogy is appropriate or not, but when I think of taking each project based on it’s merits I think of hiking through unfamiliar territory only looking down at your feet. You see the ground immediately around you, and will not walk into a lake or off a cliff, but if you look up and look around, you may find it easier to get where you want to go.

    Both of you are tracking on the need for a FLUM update, and an updated Comp Plan. Them first, then revisit. Good planning (dare I say good process?) shouldn’t happen in a staccato burst of one project here and one project there, it succeeds by being deliberate and thoughtful. Better to make the right decision slowly rather than the wrong one quickly when it has such long term impact.

    Looking at each project one at a time based on the individual merits of each should happen within the larger context of how the pieces fit into the FLUM and Comp Plan. Although those guides are not absolute, planning must integrate with and examine the totality of the community, and how each piece fits into the larger picture.

  7. Red Fred Says:

    The Village Council’s gotta look at a bigger picture or Downers becomes a patch quilt of townhomes being wedged in wherever a developer can finagle them.

  8. Bill White Says:

    Mark and Martin, I agree with both of you.

    If the Village Council does not draw a line on the sand TODAY and commit to doing the Comprehensive Plan review and the Future Land Use Map review before doing any more re-zonings, when will we accomplish that review?

    If not today, when?

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