Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Conditional Freedom

Racine's Becker era conditional-use law has been used to club another would-be business out of town. This time the victim is a funeral home that would have occupied the former Women's Club in downtown Racine. Opponents of the funeral home most often cited parking and traffic concerns as their reasons for opposition.

The conditional-use requirement essentially allows the city to circumvent their own zoning laws and make any potential business subject to a political process before opening.

The problem with the politicization of entrepreneurship is that the real reasons for opposition may not be so innocent. I am making no claims about the hearts and minds of the particular opponents in this case, but it is not a stretch to suggest that in some cases opponents won't want a particular type of person to open a business. That is, there might be discrimination on the basis of race, gender, sexual orientation, political persuasion etc... or to block a potential business competitor. There will always be ample "legitimate" concerns to mask the real reason for the opposition.

It is disheartening that the city has a law that invites and empowers discriminatory opposition. Prior to the conditional-use requirement, a persons race, gender, religion, sexual orientation etc... was not a factor in whether they could open a business in Racine. Is this progress?


Denis Navratil said...

The NAACP, instead of advancing ridiculous claims about ID's and disenfranchisement, should be outraged at the latest from city hall. Explain this to me. White guy needs zoning change for apartment project and $1 million plus grant from taxpayers and gets it. Black guy wants to open properly zoned business with no help from taxpayers and gets denied. Those are the facts. Where is the NAACP?

TSE said...

NAACP is on the Democratic Plantation. Yep - and I'll get slammed again for acknowledging this uncomfortable truth. As long as the alcohol and drugs flow in the Ghetto - it's under control and increasing Democrat voters.

WELL, at the Common Council it was suggested that the former Urban League bldg. on Memorial Dr. be purchased and they use that, as it was formerly a Funeral Home, and, LOOK, just by coincidence, it's in the "right color" neighborhood.

I would agree - that parking is an issue, no matter who buys the building. Perhaps the best use would be to tear it down and increase parking spaces.

Here is a thought - I believe the YMCA, which complained about the parking situation at the meeting, buy it, tear it down, and create private parking just across the street. Do they have ANY private parking?

I noticed that one of the Alderman in the opposition was previously involved in some questionable activity when Keith Fair first got arrested - demanding his head before he had been tried and convicted. That same Alderman is involved in writing the new nuisance ordinance - another club that will be selectively applied. Coincidence or pattern of behavior?

Denis Navratil said...

Hey TSE. Did someone really suggest they buy the Urban League building on Memorial Drive? Who made that suggestion? Real estate agents can get in a whole lot of trouble for suggesting which neighborhoods to live in or avoid. If this was really about parking, it should be noted that there is nothing but street parking near the Urban League building.

Anonymous said...

I think the Y and Marsh should both be required to buy the building and put it to some use.
Otherwise let it go to the highest bidder.
This zoning BS and listening to a few disgruntled neighbors is preventing businesses to get started or grow.

Denis Navratil said...

Anon, that might be an appropriate punishment that won't actually happen of course. I wonder what use there could possibly be for the building as any conceivable use would impact the parking/traffic situation in the area. Maybe someone is trying to drive down the value of the building so they can buy it for cheap. As it stands now, though an attractive building, it has zero value if it can't be used. The fact that the city won't allow the use of the building for a properly zoned purpose ought to be reflected in property taxes. Perhaps any building denied use by the conditional-use ordinance ought to have their property tax obligation suspended indefinitely.

Anonymous said...

Is there some metric by which traffic can be measured and determined to be "a nuisance"? Obviously not - this is just comments about "traffic will be bad" and "there will be too many cars". Obviously there is no way to measure "nuisance" either, so all decisions will be based on hyperbole, conjecture, and who has the most motivation to have the building empty or sold for $10. Can I get a TIF? I'll turn it into a LGBT House of Sensitivity. Take that Paducah!

GearHead said...

I'm telling you, this denial is a blessing. I'm renewing my plan to buy it and turn it into a conservative Man's club, where smoking, drinking and poker playing will happen, unless we are having some nice live music on the stage, of course! Why man's club? Easy, just erase the "WO" above the door. We'll park over by Denis' store if we have to.

Denis Navratil said...

Nice try Gearhead but the area in question is zoned "white liberal."

GearHead said...

So that would explain why we have so many empty buildings around town. Liberals can't make money. They can only spend it.