Podcast: Planning Commissioner Alice Thomas on the Land Development Code

Alice Thomas, Ross Currier, Tracy Davis Our guest this week: City of Northfield Planning Commission member Alice Thomas. After our usual time-wasting fluff segment, we talked with her about the current process for revising the Land Development Code (LDC), AKA development ordinances, now that the 2008 Comprehensive Plan is finished.

Click play to listen. 30 minutes. You can also subscribe to the podcast feed, or subscribe directly with iTunes.

Our radio show/podcast, Locally Grown, usually airs Wednesdays at 5:30 PM on KYMN 1080 AM and on Fridays at 4 PM on KRLX 88.1 FM.


  1. norman butler said:

    I do recall that Betsy said that her priority was the finishing of the comp plan/zoning ordinances. Why now all this attention on windmills to the delay of comp plan?

    Last comment on program was regarding rental ordinances: does the council realize that the ragged remnants of said ordinances are most probably illegal in particular those addressing relatedness issues and the 20% rule?

    More importantly, at what level, at what point, can and will senior staff be held accountable for what they do? And how?

    February 19, 2009
  2. Ross Currier said:

    Ah Norman, you expose a weakness of audio when compared with video. When the suggestion was made that the Development Ordinance Re-write was being delayed because the Planning Commission was chasing windmills, Alice and Tracy looked at me as if to ask “where did you come up with that crazy idea?”. I took that to mean that they were not slowing down their work for a sudden breeze.

    February 19, 2009
  3. Norman, the Comp Plan is finished (Yay!) but the zoning ordinance is “in process” (last I heard the consultant was writing the final rough draft).

    Windmills have blown other work off the table at Carleton’s request and the Council’s agreement. I believe this sets a poor precedent for how we do business as well as getting us a poor ordinance. But You can read what I’ve said on my blog. The Planning Commission revisits the wind ordinance on Tuesday.

    February 21, 2009
  4. I haven’t listened to the podcast (yet) but I should note that Alice Thomas is tireless and relentless in reading and questioning and improving whatever comes before the Planning Commission – thanks Alice!

    February 21, 2009
  5. kiffi summa said:

    Betsey: Thanks for being willing to deal with an ‘issue’ in a straightforward manner, regardless of what might be political fallout, or staff dismay.

    This is the kind of leadership we need on the council; persons who are willing to voice their reactions, discuss the problem, not stand in awe of other factions, and then express a principled opinion.

    Thanks again, Betsey! I for one, am very glad you’re there.

    February 21, 2009
  6. Ross Currier said:

    Yeah Betsey, I have to agree with Kiffi on this one.

    Much like your praise of Alice (which is much justified), I am glad, and we are lucky, that you are there being “tireless and relentless in reading and questioning”.

    Thanks for your fine work and please keep it up.

    February 23, 2009
  7. kiffi summa said:

    “Chasing windmills”, Ross said… How prophetic!
    Last night at the council, the annexation agreement was approved, and it contains the seeds of destruction for the integrity of one of the most important components of the just approved new Comp Plan, and also for the yet unfinished land development regulations.

    1. The Planning commission strenuously objected to there being a housing component in the annexation area.
    2. The council passed a resolution last June, that supported that omission.
    3. The Staff, in their negotiations with Greenvale, came back to the idea of up to 20% of the area being dedicated to housing (” not wanting to have the council’s hands tied”) .
    4. That re-negotiated PRINCIPLE is in the approved agreement (see bullets 1, 2, and 3, on pages 2&3) and supported (#3) by the bold statement that the Comp Plan may need to be amended to accomplish this!
      5.When questioned in public comment, to please address this discrepancy of principle in their discussion of the approval, some rather hesitant statements were made by the Mayor referencing Brian O’Connell speaking to the council about this in a work session.

    I had thought that if a council made a legislative decision, especially about something as important as this land use principle, if there was a proposed change, by the staff …. the council would re-discuss, possibly have a need to rescind the former council’s resolution, and form a new one of their own.
    This is a striking move by a new council, whose new members all campaigned vigorously on the sanctity of our new Plan.

    Obviously, in practice not so….. My opinion of this procedure is obvious; all of you out there may differ , and differ strenuously….. What do you think?

    February 24, 2009

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