August 8, 2013
For Immediate Release:
Councilman Owen has released the following statement on the Willow Grande vote
Louisville – Councilman Tom Owen (D-8) has released the following statement on the Metro Council action on the Willow Grande project:
“My silence on the controversial Willow Grande rezoning in my Council district has been viewed as failed leadership by those adamantly opposed to the hi-rise condo project. I removed myself from deliberation on the case because of a clear personal conflict of interest that would, at the very least, create the perception of impropriety. My duty to protect the integrity of the rezoning process-especially if the case is appealed– greatly outweighed my duty as the legislative representative for Council District 8.
Now that my Council colleagues have voted on the Willow Grande, citizens across Metro need to hear from me. First, I believe that “city folks” should not be allowed the luxury of condemning suburban sprawl while refusing to allow somewhat denser and taller residences in their neighborhoods. Long-standing neighborhood plans-adopted in the Cherokee Triangle’s case in 1989-should be viewed as guides for planners, developers, and land-use panels not as unwavering dogma that makes urban neighborhoods “stay the same” for centuries.
In the case of the Willow Grande, the opposition over-and-over supported demolition of the existing Bordeaux Apartments but their compromise on new construction on the site seemed limited unrealistically to three stories. I believe a tall residence similar in height to the Dartmouth condo directly across Barringer Avenue and uniquely positioned in a row of existing hi-rises trailing down Willow Avenue would prove to be a significant asset to the neighborhood.
Last night, my Council colleagues sought a compromise of this divisive issue challenging the Planning Commission to seek a development plan calling for a somewhat shorter building that would take up less of the lot. They changed the zoning at Willow and Barringer Avenues but directed the Commission to initiate conversations between the developer and opposition knowing that any new development plan must be recommended to the Council for approval.
I reject those voices that accuse the Council of being swayed by “wealth and power” and deaf to the will of neighborhoods. In my judgment, my colleagues last night signaled hope for a broader range of housing in our older neighborhoods which will inevitably slow the march to the suburbs. In addition, the tortured, three year journey of the Willow Grande rezoning case asks us all whether neighborhood plans are guides for future development or unwavering dogma.