Lubbock’s new amortization committee struggles to define goal
Lubbock’s Amortization & Strategic Downzoning Study Committee, or ASDS, held its second meeting on Monday. The main topics on the agenda were discussing the committee’s resolution and responsibilities, and reviewing research material provided by the city.
In determining their charge, committee members kept coming back to the same question: what exactly does amortization mean?
In a video posted to the group’s Facebook page, Lubbock Free Radical described amortization as a way for a government to implement tangible changes to zoning regulations. It is a practice of examining which properties do not abide by the zoning of that area. If a property is found to violate zoning ordinances, amortization provides a grace period for that business to continue operating or to receive payment from the city for relocation.
The committee chair Thomas Parker defined amortization as "a legal tool available to a municipality in order to terminate the use of a nonconforming land-use.”
Parker said it is the role of the committee to determine if the city needs that tool.
The other part of the committee’s title, downzoning, is to rezone an area; usually to modify a commercial area to be residential or to decrease the density of residential development. Though Parker said the committee should focus on understanding amortization in Lubbock before it can worry about potential downzoning.
Another member of the committee, Mary Crites, addressed the importance of diving deeper into the contributing factors and history of zoning in Lubbock and raised the question of whether the committee should hold public hearings to learn more from those affected.
Citizens, primarily from North and East Lubbock, have tried to emphasize amortization as a priority for city officials since the introduction of Plan Lubbock 2040 in 2018, and the drafting of Lubbock’s Unified Development Code.
Committee member Gordon Wilkerson suggested receiving a summary of the concerns raised at previous public hearings, rather than “redoing what’s already been done.”
The desire for public hearings was expressed by members of the public who spoke during the citizen comment. Both Joshua Shankles with Lubbock Compact and Natalie Miller with the North and East Lubbock Coalition called for transparency and dialogue with the community.
Miller explained that a more public forum would help foster a greater understanding of the issues and “to actually look in people’s faces and see the folks that it actually affects.”
The committee is set to hold meetings for about six months, once its work is completed and the members have reached a conclusion as to how to advise the city– Lubbock’s Director of Planning Kristen Sager explained that the city will conduct a zoning map analysis and determine what changes should be made.
Committee members expressed their appreciation for the context provided by historical and current zoning maps and how they reveal potential changes to be made.
“Good Lord,” Parker said, “we’ve got an airport on a residential area.”
Although the committee did not determine whether or not it would be holding public hearings as part of its research, Parker said the meetings would always be open to citizen comment.
The Amortization & Strategic Downzoning Study Committee announced its next meetings, Monday, Dec. 18, and Wednesday, Jan. 3, both from 2-3 P.M.
An interactive copy of the City’s zoning map since the adoption of the UDC can be found here.
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