13 November 2018

[MB McCart] - Covington Council Meets Tonight; Expected to Vote on Proposed Apartments on Covington Bypass



Busy day today, so let's get right to it:

It's looking like the Covington City Council will likely vote to approve Special Use Permit for a proposed 55+ apartment complex at easily one of the worst intersections in Covington.

Keep in mind that the Covington Planning & Zoning Commission voted UNANIMOUSLY to deny this permit.

A theme with many who have voiced their support for this project is that there's nothing that can be done to stop it, and the city will get sued.

Well, that's not correct. The city doesn't have to do a damn thing with this special use permit, first & foremost. 

"But if we deny the special use permit, they'll just come back since they already have the zoning." Well, that's true.

"They'll sue!" Fine. We got lawyers, and the city has a ton of money...

But let's back up a step & look at the big picture.

The beginnings of public zoning go back to the beginning of the 20th century. After some legal challenges, the US Supreme Court, in 1926, ruled that regulations & zoning laws are legal as long as they benefit the public welfare, do not infringe on the due process of any landowner & do not constitute an unjust, or improper, taking of one's property.

Just like in the judicial system, it's all about the balancing of equities. Landowners' property rights are not necessarily absolute. There are rights of the communities to take into account as well.

A very important & legally accepted reason to deny any project is thoroughfare & infrastructure capabilities, as well the amount of available real estate needed, or outstanding, for a particular zone, and whether or not the use is needed. Finally, case law has shown that financial considerations & tax-base implications can also be considered. 

With all that said, here are the main reasons why I think the council should vote this down tonight & immediately begin to redo our entire master plan & zoning ordinances.

- Per the US Census, approx. 60% of residents in Covington are tenants, well above the state & national average. We have way too many rentals already.

- Also, of the major apartment complexes the city already has, there is ad valorem revenue of approx $500,000 vs a conservative estimate of over $2 million worth of expense incurred due to these properties. The big expense is education. And guess what BOE millage rate we have in our neck of the woods? 20 mills. The state max.

- but probably the biggest thing that can legally stop any development is throroughfare capabilities. If it's not there, then it's not there, and the city can deny permits whether the zoning allows for a particular use or not.

Finally, I call on the city council to NOT vote tonight. You'll be seeing the new traffic study for the first time this evening. The prudent course of action would be to have staff & the planning & zoning commission to analyze this information before any course of action.