Fake Design Review, As Usual
The Arden Creek Town Center project at Watt and Arden was approved by the Board of Supervisors with a caveat that the oversized signs should be referred back to the County's Design Review Committee for, y'know, "better aesthetics" because the signs were grossly oversized and, well, cheesy. So Merlone Geier, the project applicant, downsized the signs a little bit and the County's Design Review Advisory Committee (DRAC) -- a small group of volunteers who work for local architecture firms -- held a meeting to consider the revisions. Public comments at the DRAC meeting on March 22nd asked howcum Merlone Geier was OK with the nice signs they put in at The UV a few miles away, but absolutely, positively could not live without great big, ugly signs at their Arden Creek Town Center site. The DRAC then decided that the teensy-bit smaller signs were just peachy. The County's staff Design Review Coordinator, a part-timer, agonized (yeah, right...) over the DRAC recommendations and the public objections to the signs which, while downsized a bit, still exceeded County standards. Lo and behold, the part-time staff guy agreed with the DRAC and ruled against the public. What a surprise, right? Oh, and appealing the finding to another bunch of appointees, the County Planning Commission sitting as the Board of Zoning Appeals, will only cost the public $3935. In other words, the public be damned.
The really astonishing thing about this process is how skillfully the Board of Supervisors have arranged for staff and appointees to do their dirty work for them, preventing the public -- us taxpayers who live here -- from any meaningful say in how our community is developed. With a process that keeps the public at arms length, the Supervisors are able to let developers have their way, while also discouraging interference from the public. It's how they roll folks. We don't matter. The best way to describe the process is a with a word that starts with b-u-l-l and ends with "t".