The Galveston City Council should grant a request the chamber of commerce made Tuesday afternoon and postpone voting on a slate of revisions to the city’s 2015 Land Development Regulations.
The council is scheduled to consider those revisions at a meeting today.
The council should instead postpone that vote for 90 days, as the Galveston Regional Chamber of Commerce requested late Tuesday.
“On behalf of our 800 Galveston Regional Chamber of Commerce members, stakeholders and taxpaying property owners in the city, we feel it is imperative that consideration of the proposed revisions be delayed until ample additional time for public comment and consideration be allowed,” states the letter the chamber issued Tuesday.
It’s clear from the letter that a lot of people were surprised to learn the council would be considering making material revisions to a complex document that completely overhauled the city’s zoning rules, took four years to complete and generated considerable controversy.
We’re not suggesting that anyone attempted to make these changes surreptitiously. The Planning Commission held two public hearings about the proposed changes, including one on June 20. It voted unanimously Oct. 3 to recommend the council approve the changes and the council has discussed the proposed changes.
Word about the proposed changes was out there, but clearly, however, the word didn’t get out as widely as it needed to.
A large part of the responsibility for that falls on The Daily News. The scope of the revisions was, we’ll admit with chagrin, news to us.
Be that as it may, the city has not achieved what the ordinance up for consideration today claims it has achieved, which is wide consensus among stakeholders in favor of the revisions.
Instead, a significant constituency among those stakeholders is urging the council to slow down.
“It appeared to come up so fast, and many in the business community have not had enough time,” chamber Chairman Bix Rathburn said.
“The big question is, we just don’t know what those impacts might be.”
The chamber’s position on the proposed revisions is that they severely curtail property owners’ abilities to use and develop their property, according to the letter.
“In addition, they will result in a confusing, subjective, lengthy and, in many instances, politically charged process,” the letter states.
We don’t know whether that is the case universally or in part with the revisions. It could be that all of the revisions are necessary and proper.
We do know there are enough questions about, and enough objections to, the proposal to warrant postponement of a final vote.
District 6 Councilwoman Terrilyn Tarlton-Shannon, an ex officio member of the Planning Commission, said Tuesday she would vote to defer any action on the document.
The rest of the council should follow her lead.
• Michael A. Smith
Editor’s note: The Daily News is a member of the Galveston Regional Chamber of Commerce. Daily News Publisher Leonard Woolsey, who is a member of the newspaper’s editorial board, also serves on the chamber’s board of directors.