Density Bonusing System – observations from Council meeting Jul 22

Following is a summary of some of the points made in the Coriolis Consulting/Toderian Urbanworks report to Council Jul 22;   full summary of the Council meeting is available under the heading “From the Peanut Gallery”. Thanks to Linda Heese for this submission.


Review of Density Bonusing System in the City of NV – by Coriolis Consulting and Toderian Urbanworks

The full report is on the City website – July 22, 2013 – Item 9 on the Agenda

The presentation was at a high level with several recommendations for improving procedures, terminology and documentation of bonusing situations that the City deals with.  There were suggestions about alternatives regarding density limits, negotiated amenities and more formulaic approaches.  These were alternatives that are possible to use and there was not one recommendation for the City to use but a suggestion that various approaches may be used depending on the specific situation or location.

One strong recommendation is that the City – staff and council – with community input – develop a prioritized list (with ballpark estimates) of the projects needed for our City.  Then when there are opportunities for developments to generate some amenities for the City, there is a prioritized list of projects to work from.  Doing things this way puts the City in charge of what is needed and they can work towards achieving the goals that are agreed upon with the whole community.  There was a suggestion that the City should not be bonusing for building standards which builders are now building to – they will do this to be competitive in the marketplace.

Another very important recommendation was that the City have an overall architectural and infrastructure plan for various areas, so that buildings compliment the areas they are proposed for, rather than being looked at as a single site in isolation. 

The report suggests that some areas of the City might have set maximums for height and density while other areas may be better left less defined.  There is a suggestion that the OCP refer to the density plans in Schedule A as ‘thresholds’ rather than ‘maximums’ to cause less ‘confusion’.  [I think that people want more certainty than this would provide.]  (In the discussion that followed the presentation, it was suggested that Coriolis/Urbanworks might be contracted to help define which areas should have maximums and which should be less defined.)

In the discussion that followed with the members of council, it was concluded that some of the findings of the report need to have action by staff – regarding the valuation of the properties, the uplift that would accrue if rezoning were allowed, and the valuation of amenities that would be agreed to.  Then there needs to be tracking, follow-up and communication to the residents of the City regarding the outcomes.  Some consulting help may be needed to establish the procedures and frameworks.

There was a point made that the work done to date for this report was done with input from staff and some discussions with a few developers.  There is a huge missing component – this work did not include residents in the City.  [I had sent a message to Brent Toderian on this a couple of weeks ago.]  Brent Toderian agreed with council that this is a very important part and that this has to be done in the next step of the CityShaping.  He also said that once this step happens that some of the recommendations in the report might change.

Overall I feel this work is contributing to improving the process involving density bonusing.  It is extremely important that when there is opportunity in the CityShaping process this fall that people must participate and speak up about whatever the proposed plan looks like.

Linda Heese


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