Cherokee Triangle Association questionnaire

The CTA sent the candidates questions on a wide variety of topics of importance to our neighborhood and all of Metro Louisville. These include preservation, neighborhood plans, zoning, and Baxter Avenue/Bardstown Road development. You can read all of the candidates’ responses in entirety here. My responses appear below.

It appears to the Cherokee Triangle Association there are not enough staff members in the Landmarks department of Metro Louisville.  Would you support increased funding necessary for Landmarks staff to enforce rules and regulations on the books affecting historic neighborhoods?

There has been a dramatic decline in staffing devoted to Landmarks, through attrition and reassignment, in recent years. In the wake of the 2008 Recession some of that decline may have had some justification: Metro revenues and new development proposals were also declining during that period. But revenues and development proposals are both increasing now, and funding for Landmarks should increase again. As a Council member I would advocate for Landmarks funding and staffing benchmarked against other cities that value their architectural heritage and its role in promoting both cultural and economic growth.

Would you support Landmarks staff, which was created to uphold rules and regulations supporting historic preservation districts and individual structures throughout Metro Louisville? If yes, how would you support them?

Yes. I would support Landmarks staff in the following ways:

• Helping staff work with constituents on preservation issues through the application process, the Architectural Review Committee, Landmarks Commission, and all aspects of the planning process;
• Supporting budgets that allow Landmarks staff to do their job effectively; and
• Respecting the positions they take in the planning process – not overruling their recommendations in the Landmarks/Planning process.

Would you favor developing a process to identify when neighborhood plans need to be reviewed or changed?  If so, would you require an opportunity for input from all neighborhoods affected?

I respect neighborhood plans and the democratic process by which neighbors develop a vision of what they want their neighborhood to look like. As a Council member I will stand up for those plans, which should not be modified or ignored by the Council. If the Council were to consider a “process” by which neighborhood plans should be reviewed or changed, I would certainly require input from all affected neighborhoods.

I chaired the CTA Subcommittee on the proposed “Cherokee Grande” project, one in which we successfully opposed the construction of a 6-story building in the middle of the 1000 block of Cherokee Road because it was 3 stories and over 25 feet taller than allowed under our Neighborhood Plan. I respect the role that Planning and Zoning (now Develop Louisville) staff members played in that process and would respect their expertise and experience as a Council member.

Would you require input from affected neighborhoods should the Metro Council wish to make any changes to neighborhood plans (including a decision that a plan is no longer valid)

Yes (see above).

What sort of development would benefit the Cherokee Triangle neighborhood  What would harm it?

Development in the Triangle should, first of all, comply with the Cherokee Triangle Neighborhood Plan of 1989 and with the guidelines associated with the Cherokee Triangle Preservation District established in the early 1970s. I believe that the District Guidelines and the Plan itself – and the reasonableness which the CTA and neighbors have shown in applying it – allow for sufficient flexibility to allow for creative and beneficial development, especially in the 20-odd nonconforming lots that are most likely to see new development proposals.

I have already described my leadership role regarding the proposed “Cherokee Grande” building in the middle of the 1000 block of Cherokee Road. While I would welcome redevelopment of sites that contain nonconforming uses I know that developers can make money with buildings that conform with our neighborhood plan, and I know that neighbors are willing to allow developers enough flexibility to succeed.

In the Triangle’s commercial corridor (primarily on Bardstown Road), development should comply with the Triangle Neighborhood Plan, the Bardstown Road Overlay District and other applicable guidelines and regulations.

In addition, Develop Louisville and the Metro Council should immediately examine the rules that allow bars and restaurants to provide so few parking spaces related to their scale of operations; these formulas are putting unacceptable pressure on the residential neighborhoods that surround them.

In August of 2013, the Louisville Metro Council voted to up zone the Bordeaux Apartments property (corner of Willow and Baringer Avenues from R-7 to R-8A.  This change increased substantially the housing density allowed on that site; it also reversed the 1989 Cherokee Triangle Neighborhood Plan that established the zoning on that property R-7.  This zoning now allows the Willow Grande to be built at 15 stories high.  If you were a Metro council member in 2013 would you have voted in favor or against up-zoning this site to R8A? Why would you have voted in that way?

I would have voted against the up-zoning of the Bordeaux property. The Council should respect the decisions of the Planning Commission and should not overrule Planning Commission decisions as it did in this case.

The commercial viability of the Bardstown Road/Baxter Avenue corridor is vital to the health and success of the surrounding neighborhoods.  Issues such as 4:00am liquor license benefit businesses while creating additional problems for neighborhoods. How do you propose businesses and neighborhoods balance commercial and residential needs to ensure the continued success of both?

As I listen to residents of the Triangle, the Original Highlands and other neighborhoods in District 8, it is clear that the balance between commercial activity and residential life (something that drew most of us to this neighborhood) is out of whack.

As a first matter, I will stand up and do whatever it takes to ensure that existing laws are being enforced. I will also use my experience in building technology companies and online communities to create a single platform where citizens can see how their Metro Council representative and all government agencies are serving their needs. This platform will also help me know when commercial activity is veering out of control. A Council member needs to step up and defend his constituents and their residential interests. This can all be done while honoring and encouraging commercial development on Bardstown Road.

I propose to engage all neighborhood associations, commercial guilds and neighbors in a new Bardstown Road Master Plan that addresses important issues like parking, pedestrian safety, and public transportation that serves all users of Bardstown Road. Our city’s most important urban corridor deserves a plan that honors its character and ensures that it serves the people who live alongside it.

How do you propose helping neighborhoods manage issues associate with 4am alcohol Licenses?

I will support efforts to limit late alcohol licenses where they are not appropriate, and encourage Metro ABC to judge them on a case-by-case basis. I am attaching a letter my wife and I submitted last year in opposition to a 4:00 AM liquor license application for 814-816 Cherokee Road as evidence of my approach to these matters. I followed up on this letter with an in-person meeting with Metro ABC officials. Late licenses should not be automatically granted to all bars. As a Council member I will support residents in such efforts, including advocating for decisions that support their views in Frankfort.

While 4:00 AM licenses are likely to remain with us on Bardstown Road, I will also direct my efforts to minimizing their impact on residential life in the blocks nearby, by enforcing other rules (on excessive noise and criminal activity), and by developing a Master Plan that keeps more of the people who visit businesses on Bardstown Road remain on Bardstown Road.

Describe your philosophy of the role of representative as it relates to District 8 and Metro Louisville as a whole

A Metro Council member’s job falls into three categories:

• Constituent service. This is by far the most important, and I will listen to and serve the needs of my neighbors right where they live – in their homes, on their streets and in their neighborhoods. A Metro Council member must be willing to stand up to defend residents and their right to shape their own neighborhoods.
• District-wide issues. I will seek to connect all neighborhoods and neighbors on the issues that connect us all. This includes Bardstown Road and developing a plan that serves the residential neighborhoods that give it life.
• City-wide issues. As a Council member I will work across districts and with other Council members to develop majority support for issues that the citizens of District 8 want to see advanced on a city-wide basis. I have a long record of working with other civic leaders to advance important goals like education, health and the arts, and will work with my fellow Council members on the issues that create a better Louisville for every citizen AND attract newcomers and companies to our city and its amazing neighborhoods.

Metro Council members have recused themselves from some matters due to declared conflicts of interest.  In advance of the election, are you willing /open to disclosing the occupations and or investments of all your family members in order to discuss areas of possible conflicts of interest?  If so, please provide a list of such possible conflicts.

The only financial interest I hold in District 8 is my ownership, with my wife, of property located at 1074 Cherokee Road, the first house built in what became the Cherokee Triangle. We bought the main house at this address in 1995 and a few years later purchased its carriage house, which had been legally subdivided into two separate condominiums. I am fully invested in the success of the Triangle as an important residential neighborhood.

I chair the board of Seed Capital Kentucky, a non-profit organization that is developing the West Louisville FoodPort, and although I have no personal financial interest in that project I would recuse myself from any Metro Council decisions relating to it. A company I control owns my office building at 200 York St. south of Broadway. Although my businesses employ many people in Louisville, our revenue is almost entirely generated from clients outside Louisville. I have no other financial interests that pose any conflicts of interest with Metro Council matters.

I would be happy to make disclosures related to myself and other immediate family members to answer any specific questions regarding conflicts.

How important is historic preservation in Metro Louisville, especially in Landmark neighborhoods in Metro Council District 8, such as the Cherokee Triangle but also including other Landmark neighborhoods?

As I think you can tell from my earlier answers, I believe that historic preservation is incredibly important in Metro Louisville. The best way for Louisville to grow and to move forward is by doing so in a way that honors our past and our unique character as a city. Preserving our natural heritage as a portage and watershed is also critically important.

I grew up in another city that honors its historical legacy – New Orleans – and I came to Louisville in part because of this city’s own cultural heritage, one embodied in both the natural beauty of its location and the built environment that makes it such a welcoming home for natives and newcomers. The Cherokee Triangle embodies that beauty and that spirit.

I believe that preservation in other Landmark neighborhoods is also important. I have extensive hands-on experience in preservation beyond the Triangle, including:

• Negotiating historic easements on many buildings and properties in Jefferson and Oldham Counties with several preservation organizations, including the Kentucky Heritage Council.
• Working with preservation organizations and the State Historical Preservation Officer since the mid-1990s on preservation issues in multiple hearings and filings under the National Environmental Policy Act and Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act.