How to Have a Productive Conversation with the City
One of the more challenging aspects in serving our city and my 45,000 bosses (all y'all Rockwallians) is constantly explaining how processes work. For example, when a controversial subject arises (E.g.: Proposed multi-family rezoning in Harbor, yet another gas station in our town, a Chick-Fil-A that would allegedly cause massive gridlock, sidewalks, etc.), I often receive emails asking me to stop the development. This typically comes from a misunderstanding of either our development process or the authority Council has.
Folks often contact me asking me to deny something. What's difficult to articulate is the particular issue might be so early in the process I have limited visibility...or it may not ever make it to City Council. To shed more light on the process, I have attached the image above, which Director of Planning Ryan Miller graciously sent me. The intent here is to provide a visual map of where development items are in their respective journeys, so we can have a more productive conversation.
The second problem with the outright request to deny something we don't like seems to stem from an idea that City Council has some sort of divine power. It doesn't, and I don't ever want it to. If I own a piece of property and would like to develop it in a manner for which it is zoned and within City regulations, then by God I will do so. The Fifth Amendment protects our God-given property rights.
Particularly, this manifests itself when we are asked to try and change zoning on land after it has sold, or find some way to block the project. This results in opening our city to significant legal exposure in the form of costly lawsuits. As a sworn steward of your and my tax dollars, I will not open the city up to such lawsuits, despite how much I may dislike a completely legal development.
Next time you hear about a project you don't like, first understand where it is in the development process above. Then ask yourself if it's something that could expose the city to lawsuits. Doing so will help us all have much more productive conversations.