Emails needed for Draft #2 of Ruskin Community Plan Guidelines LDC amendment
Hopefully, we just need one more batch of emails to get the Ruskin Community Plan Guidelines codified (see sample below).
Thanks to terrific community participation and all your emails, our county commissioners and planners heard our complaints about their first draft of the Ruskin Plan Guidelines amendment to the Land Development Code (LDC). They have now written a good second draft which closes the loophole in the first draft, and firmly codifies the Guidelines into the LDC, consistent with the Ruskin Community Plan. But this is still only a draft, so we need to stay involved until the proposed amendment is adopted, to make sure it doesn’t get weakened or delayed along the way.
It is up to us to tell our commissioners that LOTS of citizens support this second draft, so it can be adopted as is, without any weakening, and without delay.
Developers are providing plenty of input—many of them are opposed to Community Plans being implemented like this at all, some would like to see this amendment weakened, and some would like to delay the process so the current loophole remains. Citizens must provide plenty of input too.
You can see the new Draft #2 online, with changes in blue strike-through & underline format—the main change is only 4 sentences.
This draft does what we asked.
It codifies the Guidelines, so they can be enforced as the community intended, providing for a bit of flexibility (as is appropriate for “Guidelines”), AND providing strict criteria for any deviation—much stricter and better defined than the first draft. It says that the justification for any deviation cannot simply be that it is profitable for the developer; it must be good for the community in that it “furthers the intent of the Neighborhood Character Review Guidelines and the Vision, Goals and Strategies of the Ruskin Community Plan as a whole, to an equivalent or greater degree than would otherwise be achieved by compliance …”
What’s the difference between the 1st & 2nd drafts?
Both put the Guidelines into the Land Development Code—which is the overall goal. The difference is in how a developer can deviate from the Guidelines. Draft #1 made that way too easy; Draft #2 allows some flexibility only to the same extent that the whole Community Plan would allow it.
Draft #1 required only consistency with a vague one-sentence description of each neighborhood; Draft #2 requires consistency with the whole Ruskin Community Plan. Draft #2 says that if you’re not following the letter of the Guidelines, you must show how you’re furthering the intent of the Guidelines—AND the rest of the Community Plan, its Vision, Goals & Strategies.
Draft #2 requires that any deviation from the Guidelines must be used to make the development better than it would have been if it complied with the Guidelines, in that it must be innovative, creative, and it must further the intent of the whole Ruskin Community Plan. Draft #1 had no such requirement.
Please send an email in support of this codification of the Ruskin Community Plan Guidelines, so we can get this integral part of the Ruskin Plan implemented as the community intended, and get it done quickly.
Copy & paste or see more details below and write your own letter.
To: John E. Healey <email@example.com>, Joe Moreda <MoredaJ@HillsboroughCounty.org>, Marcie Stenmark <firstname.lastname@example.org>, Steve Griffin <email@example.com>, Melissa Zornitta <firstname.lastname@example.org>, Mark Sharpe <email@example.com>, Kevin Beckner <firstname.lastname@example.org>, Ken Hagan <email@example.com>, Sandy Murman <firstname.lastname@example.org>, Victor Crist <email@example.com>, Les Miller <firstname.lastname@example.org>, Al Higginbotham <email@example.com>
Subject: Ruskin Community Plan Guidelines – Draft #2 – LDC #14-0474
Dear County Commissioners and Planners,
I support the 2nd draft of the Ruskin Community Plan Guidelines LDC amendment, as posted online on April 10, and I ask that you adopt this version, without delay, and without any changes that would weaken the criteria used to allow for deviation from the Guidelines. This draft effectively addresses the problems identified by the community in the first draft.
Draft #2 codifies the Ruskin Community Plan’s Guidelines, while providing for a bit of flexibility, and specifying appropriate criteria for any deviation. A key point is that the only acceptable justification for deviating from the Guidelines is to make the project better than it would be if it complied with the Guidelines — meaning “better” by the standards of the whole Ruskin Community Plan.
The Ruskin Community Plan is a great plan guiding growth so that it fits in well with Ruskin’s neighborhoods and community character. This award-winning plan is widely supported by the Ruskin Community. Thank you for your efforts to implement the Ruskin Community Plan’s Guidelines in accordance with the community’s intent.
your name & address
There will be 2 public hearings where we can speak to commissioners about this.
Both hearings are at County Center, 2nd floor, 601 E. Kennedy Blvd., downtown Tampa.
April 24, 6:00 p.m.
Preliminary County Commission Public Hearing
Commissioners will take public comment, but will not take action yet.
I cannot attend this one as I’ll be out of town, but it would be great if some citizens show up and just tell the commissioners you support the proposed amendment as is, and be sure it does not get changed between now and then. (And if it DOES get changed, ask them to change it back!)
June 12, 6:00 p.m.
FINAL County Commission Public Hearing (rescheduled to June 12)
Commissioners will take public comment, and will vote on adopting the amendments.
I will be at this hearing, and hope many of you come too. You won’t have to speak if you don’t want to, we can all simply stand together at some point during public comment to show unified support — IF the amendment makes it through this process with no objectionable changes.
Citizens only get 2–3 minutes each to speak, so no one has to make a big speech—just tell ’em you support the proposed amendment as is. Print out and take a copy of Draft #2 with you, to make sure it isn’t getting weakened along the way to adoption. There are only 3 proposed amendments, so the hearings won’t be long. Look for the Ruskin Plan amendment, #14-0474, on the short agenda.
Arrive before 6pm to park in the garage across Pierce St. from County Center, and you can usually (not always!) exit for free after the garage closes at 6pm. On-street parking is free after 6 in some places — look north of Kennedy.
For information, with links to more info, see this article.
Keep an eye on the schedule of hearings, in case it changes.
See the county’s main info page for all LDC amendments — the Ruskin Guidelines amendment is #14-0474.
Thanks to everyone for pulling together on this!