Monday, April 04, 2005

Green Development Follow-up

I was talking to an equally Angry, Drunk Bureaucrat over the weekend, and our discussion brought up a couple of interesting supplemental points to my post here on Peduto's Green Development Incentive Plans.

As you recall, Peduto is proposing non-monetary incentives to the developers of Green Buildings. I still can't seem to find any hard details on the matter, but it still seems to refer to leniency on zoning issues for Green Buildings. The bill (2005-1222) directs City Planning Department and Law Department work in cooperation to prepare legislation by May 1st that will provide incentives for green building construction. That's all; no specifics only speculation.

Anyway, onto the questions...

First, what is the monetary benefit to Peduto's deferment of regulations? Rental income is easier to calculate if you will benefit from a greater unit density, but how much is a quicker turn around time from Building Inspection or Zoning worth? Will that make a difference to developers?

Second, are the monetary cost of building Green outweighed by the benefits of not building Green somewhere else. See the First point above; is it worth my time, as a developer, to undertake the cost of building Green with all these benefits, when I can build a standard building on any other vacant brownfield or blighted area in the City? Is development demand in Pittsburgh that great that developers will be chomping at the bit to gain a marginal short term advantage? I would hazard to guess that the answer is "No."

Third, what happens when the first "special" Green Building that plugs a non-conforming use into a neighborhood goes to the Zoning Board of Adjustments? Will Zoning accept such deviations from the surrounding neighborhood context and, if so, will the neighbors acquiesce or will there be blood?

[As a side note about the viciousness and pettiness of Zoning Hearings, I've actually sat in on a meeting where a Homeowner objected to his Neighbor installing a handicap ramp for his MS afflicted wife. The Homeowner complained that the ramp on his Neighbor's property would lower his own property values and that the Neighbor shouldn't have bought the house in the first place if he knew about his wife's condition. I believe that the Zoning Commission was appalled and we nearly beat the crap out of the Homeowner following the meeting for being a dick.]

Anyway, just some thoughts this morning. I'll admit that we have no idea what City Planning & City Law will ultimately come back with... could be nothing.

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