Today, we reported on the time schedule
for approvals necessary to unlock development of the 18,500-acre Banning Lewis Ranch.
That meeting schedule looks like this:
Dec 11th— City Council Closed Session—Banning Lewis Ranch (BLR) Annexation Amendment and Restatement Negotiations
Jan 8th —City Council Work Session BLR Annexation Amendment and Restatement Presentation
Jan 11th—Parks Board—BLR Annexation Amendment and Restatement Presentation
Jan 11th—Informal Planning Commission Meeting—BLR Annexation Amendment and Restatement Presentation and Proposed Code Amendments
Jan 18th—Formal Planning Commission Meeting—BLR Annexation Amendment and Restatement Presentation and Proposed Code Amendments
Jan 22nd—City Council Work Session—BLR Annexation Amendment and Restatement Presentation and Proposed Code Amendments
Feb 13th —City Council Regular Meeting—Consideration and Reading of Resolution to Amend and Restate the BLR Annexation Agreement and First Reading of the Ordinance regarding the Proposed BLR Code Amendments
Feb 27th— City Council Regular Meeting—Second Reading of the Ordinance regarding the Proposed BLR Code Amendments
There's been no details provided to the public so far about what codes need to be changed and how, exactly, the annexation agreement will be modified, but Council President Richard Skorman is upbeat about the prospect of the city gaining thousands of acres of green space in the bargain.
Annexed in 1988 under an agreement that requires $1 billion in infrastructure investment from developers, the land on the city's east side has remained largely dormant over the years. In 2014, Nor'wood Development Group, the region's biggest developer, acquired the land for $28 million and is surging ahead in getting the rules changed to make development more palatable for developers.
Skorman says he doesn't know details yet, but up to 6,000 acres, or maybe even more, of the ranch could be set aside for parkland and open space. He says city officials are mining for grants that might be used to acquire the property, although he says Nor'wood might simply donate some of the land. It's worth noting that developers are required to donate land for parks in new subdivisions, but thousands of acres would likely far exceed any city requirement.
"If you don't allow development in Banning Lewis Ranch," Skorman says, referring to the demands placed on developers in the annexation agreement, "then you allow development to go into the county." The county doesn't collect stormwater fees, for example, so the city often inherits problems from outside its borders.