This is an epic battle of local citizens fighting with everything they’ve got to beat back development and save a tiny green paradise that has been there for generations. Blog for Iowa posted about it in October, 2012. It’s a classic tale of a city council being pressured by developers to change the zoning against the wishes of the people who live in the neighborhood. We know how that usually turns out.
Here is their latest FB post on recent developments:
Judge S. Rosenberg will make a decision on the hearing held on 17 January 2014 on the law suit against the City of Des Moines, brought by residents of Beaverdale to correct the action of the City of Des Moines taken on 18 November 2013, at which the city changed the land use of Rice Field. The hearing was to determine how far back in time the city must go when it produces records concerning zoning action on Rice Field.
The neighbors argued that the current development proposal must be judged in light of the concept of the first development proposal, as well as the justification for its departure from R1-60 zoning.
The city argued that no zoning change actually occurred on 17 November, because the conceptual change from a “village within a village” (a composition of row houses, cluster homes, apartments over retail stores, and a community gathering area) to a single monolithic apartment building was merely a technical change in the conceptual drawings.
The neighbors countered that PUD developments are blank slates without their development concepts. And, zoning devoid of specifications constitutes an unconstitutionally vague ordinance. So, in order for the zoning to be constitutional, the development concept must be considered as establishing the land use parameters. This means that the development concept defines the nature of the zoning of Rice Field.
The neighbors conclude that a fundamental change in concept is a change in zoning, when judging PUD’s.