Ordinance reduces advance time required for BZA meeting notices

The Oakland Board of Mayor and Aldermen has passed an ordinance on final reading that reduces the advance time required for Board of Zoning Appeals meeting notices.
Board members took the action during their July 16 regular monthly meeting on a motion offered by Alderman Billy Ray Morris and seconded by Alderman Kelly Rector. The motion was passed by three affirmative votes, with Alderman John Troncone absent.
The ordinance was unanimously passed on first reading at the board’s June 18 meeting. It amends Article XII, Section 12.3(a) of the Oakland Municipal Zoning Ordinance.
The amendment was reviewed by the Oakland Municipal Planning Commission at its June 2 meeting and recommended for approval by the Board of Mayor and Aldermen.
The Zoning Ordinance states that BZA meetings are open to the public. They are scheduled at the “call of the chairman” and “at such other times” as the board may determine.
The BZA adopts “rules of procedure” and keeps public records of applications, as well as the action taken on them.
Section 12.3(a) of the Zoning Ordinance previously required notices of scheduled BZA meetings to be published at least “seven” days in advance in a local newspaper. The amending ordinance reduces that time to “five” days.
During discussion at the June 18 meeting, Mayor Chris Goodman said an application for a “variance” to the Zoning Ordinance must be submitted for BZA approval. With a weekly newspaper, if the BZA did not “catch it just right,” he said it frequently had to wait almost two weeks to schedule a meeting.
“And if it’s a building or something in process,” he noted, “this might just give a little leeway to get it in that much sooner.”
As an example, Town Planner Chris Pate said someone came in on a Monday morning in June and filed an application for a variance. But because the “deadline” for the June BZA meeting was “that Friday,” the applicant had to wait until the fourth Tuesday in July for a “fence issue.”
Pate said the amending ordinance “expedites things,” while still informing the public and “the neighbors” that there is “action” in their neighborhood.