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Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer has launched a review of the city’s Planning and Design Services department.

Fischer previously announced audits of Public Works and Animal Services, and he’s planning a review of the economic development department. The mayor says he wants each department to be a model for other cities.

The Planning and Design Services department works on zoning and landmarks, among other issues. The review will look at how the department can better serve developers and neighborhoods. It will be led by an eight person panel that includes representatives from the mayor’s office, the state resource council, home builders and preservation groups.

The panel:

  • Bill Bardenwerper, Attorney
  • Tommy Clark, Office of the Mayor
  • Tom Fitzgerald, Kentucky Resource Council
  • Gabe Fritz, The Housing Partnership
  • Chuck Kavanaugh, Home Builders Association
  • Gale Lively, Louisville Apartment Association
  • Jim Mims, Director, Inspections, Metro Codes and Regulations
  • Steve Porter, Attorney

A list of absentee landlords will be published in the Courier-Journal soon. It could be published this week.

The publication is one step a group of Metro Council members is taking to crack down on abandoned properties, which do no favors to the community.

The list is available online (horizontal PDF), and only property owners who owe more than $12,000 in fines to the city will be published in the paper.

Aside from individuals, the list includes banks, LLCs and at least one nonprofit. I’ve been looking through the list hoping to talk with some of these property owners. As I worked my way down, after reaching disconnected lines and leaving messages with secretaries and answering machines, I found Go Invest Wisely. This Utah-based company has made the news in other cities (St. Louis, Cleveland) and the news isn’t very good.

From the Plain Dealer:

In many ways Go Invest Wisely LLC is emblematic of what the region faces as it contends with companies trading in distressed properties.

Since 2008, the Utah company has taken title to roughly 185 properties in Cuyahoga County — most for less than $2,000, according to county records. It has unloaded about 170 properties — including at least 60 Cleveland properties sold to out-of-state businesses after Cleveland Housing Court Judge Raymond Pianka put the company on probation last year, according to records. The sales did not violate the specific terms of the probation order.

The company has paid $9,000 in Housing Court fines and still owes about $1.2 million in cases that stem from code violations and the company’s repeated failure to complete a required seller disclosure form that concerns property conditions, according to records. The company has appealed nearly every ruling.

The company is currently refunding money to its clients, though the details are murky.

I’ve contacted Go Invest Wisely, but haven’t yet heard back.

I’ll post any more interesting bits from the list as I work my way through it.

Here’s an update on the Homeless Shelter Task Force, cross-posted with WFPL.

Wayside Christian Mission may legally be able to operate a homeless shelter in downtown Louisville by the end of the summer.

The Homeless Shelter Task Force was formed to address the gap in zoning laws that neither allowed nor prohibited Wayside’s proposed shelter at 2nd and Broadway. The task force’s final recommendation would allow shelters like Wayside’s in commercial spaces like downtown, and does not set a limit for how many shelters can be in a specific area.

“There are not distance mandates,” says Assistant Director of Planning and Design Services Dawn Warrick. “That was something the task force did discuss: whether or not there should be a requirement for a certain amount of distance to be mandated between various facilities.”

Warrick says the task force does recommend the city establish a licensing standard for shelters.

“We do business licensing for all types of activities within the community at this point in time,” she says. “You operate a restaurant, you have a business licenses, you operate a taxi service you have a business license.”

The task force also suggests that shelters operating in certain zoning areas follow specific quality standards. The recommendations now go to the Planning Commission. If approved, they will be sent to the Metro Council for final approval, which could come as early as July.

The New Republic’s Adie Tomer has written a piece about a zoning decision in Washington D.C. The office of the zoning administrator ruled that a section of the city had reached its limit for bars, restaurants and coffee shops. Tomer initially opposed the idea, but…

But then I read this cross-posted piece at Greater Greater Washington and BeyondDC. The author’s general contention–these zoning limits are there for a reason, specifically to make sure neighborhoods offer all amenities needed to create a quality place–offers a solid counterpoint to my gut reaction. And using the example of a successful mall’s quota system really brings that point home, notwithstanding the differences between a commercial-only mall and a neighborhood’s residential needs.

As I’m neither a MidCity resident nor a current or prospective shop owner, I’m not sure what the right answer is here. I do know the lines to get into bars and restaurants can be overwhelming in that part of town, but I also don’t know if there’s enough hardware or grocery stores to satisfy the residents. Actually, the only thing I really know is that this will probably cause a serious ideological fight in the ever-politically-active District.

What are your thoughts on zoning limits? Have you seen them enforced in your neighborhood? Do you wish there were limits?

Less than a week after CART’s protest, the sidewalk at Bardstown Road and Edgeland Avenue is clear.

Broken Sidewalk reports:

…developer Michael Jones has opened up the sidewalk two and a half weeks ahead of schedule.  CART (Coalition for the Advancement of Regional Transit) held a rally at the site on Monday to draw attention to the city’s sidewalk closure permit process that doesn’t provide pedestrians a viable path around construction sites.

Kudos to Michael Jones of Highland Cleaners and Doric Real Estate as well as Councilman Tom Owen and Public Works for responding quickly to community concerns.  Thanks as well to CART for drawing attention to the needs of pedestrians in Louisville.

Now we can walk by the site and wait for it to turn into this.

The group assigned to create guidelines for where a homeless shelter can be built is complete.

This group’s decision will affect the Wayside Hotel. That is, if JCTC doesn’t get the building through eminent domain.

Louisville Mojo (among others) has the list:

* Dolores Delahanty, formerly with Metro Housing Coalition
* Deb Delor, Louisville Downtown Management District
* Ken Herndon, Louisville Downtown Management District
* Sue Ernst, Planning Commission
* Jack Francis, Neighborhoods Coalition
* Anna Wooldridge, Neighborhoods Coalition
* Marlene Gordon, Coalition for the Homeless
* Cathy Hinko, Metro Housing Coalition
* Debby Levine, citizen
* Victoria Markell, League of Women Voters
* Virginia Peck, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
* Maria Price, St. John Center for Homeless Men
* George Unseld, Metro Council
* Leah Stewart, Board of Zoning Adjustment
* Stephanie Warren, Kindred Health Care
* Regina Warren, Metro Housing & Family Services/Urban Government Center
* Lee Weyland, CITY Properties Group
* Ed Wnorowski, St. Vincent de Paul Society
* Jon Baker, Jefferson County attorney’s office
* Theresa Senninger, Jefferson County attorney’s office
* Dustin Wallen, Jefferson County Attorney’s office
* Rebecca Fleischaker, Metro Economic Development Department
* Chris Brown, Planning & Design Services
* Chris Cestaro, Planning & Design Services
* Chris French, Planning & Design Services
* Dawn Warrick, Planning & Design Services

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