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Vested rights not right



Task Force cancels meeting, fur will fly at future date

Fur went un-flown last week as the City's Vested Rights Task Force canceled its post-dawn meeting to consider how much leeway a grandfathering ordinance will give to residential and commercial developers.

Planning Commissioner Mitch Meyer, who recently resigned as a task force member, says the process is "taking way too long, and I don't know how effective it will be once it is done anyway."

The grandfathering ordinance has its fans, and its detractors. It gives no consolation that the task force consists of members of the city's Planning Commission, which has essentially served as an escort service for subdivision developers who apparently are convinced there is no land to develop unless it lies over the Edwards Aquifer Recharge Zone.

San Antonio's top environmental activist, Code Name Salamander, sent us a list of the top ten things vested rights, or grandfathering, would allow once the document is released by the task force:

1. Grandfathering on large development plans will increase from 20 to 30 years.

2. Streetscaping rules, requiring developers to plant street trees and shrubs, will be changed for the sole purpose of exempting grandfathered developments.

3. School districts, primarily Northside ISD and Northeast ISD, will henceforth be exempt from the aquifer protection and tree preservation ordinances.

4. Developers will, for the first time, be allowed to file retroactive affidavits to secure grandfathering.

5. Developers will be allowed to change a project and remain vested. Under state law and current City policy, vested rights are lost when a project changes.

6. Developers will be allowed to change tract acreage by 10 percent and remain grandfathered. Currently, grandfathering is lost when land use changes.

7. Developers will be issued a new vested rights permit if they hold an expired development rights permit.

8. All utility service commitments will be grandfathered.

9. Developers will have additional opportunities to appeal denials of grandfathering claims, while citizens are forbidden to make any appeal.

10. Developers will be given two additional options to change development plans without losing grandfathering."

Michael Cary

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