AARRC July Meeting Notes: Knoxville Plan not working; Duke Substation not following landscaping & what is TPDF?

Rather than put all the minutes from the July meeting of the AARRC, we'll just put the highlights here. If you wish to read the entire thing, visit their website here.

2. RETREAT RECAP

Vice Chair Collins recapped the retreat to Knoxville, TN. Members met with planners and learned about their riverfront redevelopment initiatives. Vice Chair Collins felt they did a good job in the redesign, but have not seen significant redevelopment. The group toured the south riverfront. He felt that the downtown was very disconnected from the river. A new form-based code zone is across a bridge. The river is much different than ours. The panel discussed river history and planning. Members then discussed what they learned and what they could bring back. The Commissioners learned that the recreational opportunities are very different there. They have had a vigorous public input process, and utilized public-private partnerships. Councilman Davis stated that the City of Knoxville isn’t really further along than we are.

Joel Burgess wrote a nice article and Mr. Davis recommended the commission send him a note. Ms. Ball is collating the post-its. Chair Torno wondered how the form-based code area felt, but it had been blocked off during the trip. In attendance were 9 commissioners, 9 staff, Councilwoman Gwen Wisler, and two reporters.

Our Comments:  Looks like we're doing EXACTLY as Knoxville. We'll be just like them instead of unique.
Here's the description from their website;  just trade out "South Waterfront" for River Arts District and "University" for New Belgium.
Some of the public improvements include a continuous pedestrian/bicycle riverwalk along the shoreline, parks and green spaces, new and reconstructed streets, a new pedestrian/bicycle bridge connecting the South Waterfront to the University campus, sidewalks, bike lanes, and parking. It is anticipated that these public improvements will stimulate private investment, resulting in the addition of new residential, commercial, retail, and recreational opportunities. These public-private partnerships are intended to benefit residents, businesses, visitors, and the City's tax base. The intent of the Vision Plan is to create a safe, secure, attractive, and walkable series of mixed use developments that complement and connect to the downtown and the university.
Only one problem: they started in 2008 and it has done nothing.   They expect 20 years before it takes off.

3. STAFF UPDATES

a. TPDF (Tourism Product Development Fund)

City Staff submitted Phase I and have been invited to submit Phase II for connector between Craven St Greenway and existing greenway, velodrome rebuild, and Beaucatcher Greenway development dollars, and pedestrian amenities and improvements to connect Amboy and the future river access point. The City is asking for $2 million, and the AARRC can write a letter of support. City staff will submit the application, do a tour in the fall, and the announcements will be made in October. Chair Torno supports AARRC writing a letter, which is due prior to the next AARRC meeting. The fund has approximately $4 million to give total. Ms Monson will send the final submitted application to the committee for reference. 

Chair Torno recommended an offer to provide a tour in their letter of support. Chair Torno will create the letter and send it out.

5. NEW BUSINESS

Design Review: Duke Energy Swannanoa Sub Station Project

Vice Chair Collins reviewed the substation project, which will double the size of the existing substation in the area. This will require retaining walls because there will be a cut in the hillside, as the addition will be several feet above the existing equipment. The design is proposing a soil nail wall with a naturalized appearance to retain existing vegetation, and a fence above. Vice Chair Collins showed photos and a site plan. The designer is working to screen the substation by heavily planting and providing additional view buffers along property line. The buffering is required by the landscaping requirement, and Vice Chair Collins felt that the buffering is adequate. They have provided a stormwater retention system. The subcommittee recommended the wall be a color that matches the surrounding vegetation in winter.

Committee provided a lot of good input that has been incorporated.

Ms Monson reviewed the process. They are not meeting landscaping requirements, so they will be going to Tree Commission on July 20 and committee input will be provided to the Tree Commission at that time. The project is not required to provide sidewalk, but they are interested. Planning and Design Review Committee recognizes that this design needs to implement the multimodal goals of the Wilma Dykeman Master Plan. The comments the commissioners made today will be moved forward to the Tree Commission immediately.

Vice Chair Collins made motion that AARRC vote to approve the project as it does meet the intent and spirit of the guidelines if an effort is made to replace the invasive plants with native noninvasive, and choose a specific color for the retaining wall. Mr. Morasani seconded the motion and it passed unanimously.
Our Comments: So, the only problem they had with this was not following the tree ordinance?

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