While traffic and drainage concerns continue to be the primary issues we should focus on during the review and approval or denial of proposed developments, what can easily be lost in the game that engineers or developers play is the design of those subdivisions with regards to the subdivision code.
According to existing subdivision regulations, in exchange for the ability to provide smaller lots for the consumer, developers must provide sidewalks, street trees and parks to a specific standard. Sidewalks and trees are pretty self-explanatory, but parks can be a bit more nebulous based on calculations in the code and areas of a development that can be counted as a park.
However, what Quality Engineering is doing with the recently approved development – Germany Oaks phase 2 is equivalent to nothing more than a 3 card monte. While people are going to focus on the significant drainage or traffic concerns in the area, no one is going to focus on how they are short changing the Parish with regards to the design of the subdivision.
How they are accomplishing this is layered into several pieces:
1. The existing Germany Oaks subdivision received preliminary approval in May 2014 and Final Plat approval in March 2016. However, the plat that was recorded at the Clerk of Courts office doesn’t match either of the plats that appeared before the Planning Commission. How does this sort of thing happen? Well, if you follow the dateline of events, this was around the time that Quality Engineering CEO Jared Beiriger demanded that the Planning Director ‘do his job’ and he was subsequently terminated. One would imagine out of fear of retribution from the Parish President, staff did not feel as though they could address any concerns they had with any of Quality Engineering’s projects which most likely may have included having a plat recorded that wasn’t actually approved.
2. They are calling the new subdivision Germany Oaks – Phase 2. Why phase 2? Why not second filing? Well because if they call it phase 2 people will think it’s a new part of an already approved subdivision, when in fact it’s an entirely new subdivision and should be treated as such. If they call it a filing, people may question why it didn’t appear on the originally approved Preliminary Plat. New subdivisions should be held to the same standards as listed in the subdivision codes and ‘adjacency to other subdivision’ shouldn’t allow the reduction of those standards.
3. Based on the subdivision regulations, 1.5 acres of park space is required to be provided within Germany Oaks – phase 2. All evidence on the plat included in the agenda package looks to show about 0.4 acres of park space on a tract of land that isn’t even contiguous with the subdivision. How is this being accomplished; by convincing the planning staff that the original Germany Oaks over-provided park space therefore this new phase shouldn’t have to provide what it is legally required to.
4. The access to the new subdivision Germany Oaks phase 2 is actually through property that was previously designated as Park space in the original Germany Oaks subdivision. Once again, based on the information available to me, it looks to be about 0.4 acres. How is this lost park space being accounted for? As it only appears that .4 new park area is being provided, where is the other 1.5 acres required for Germany Oaks phase 2?
5. There appears to be a chart on the Germany Oaks phase 2-preliminary plat that lists tree preservation credits. The trees listed are located within the original Germany Oaks subdivision and have already been counted towards the developers not having to provide new trees in the original subdivision. What they are doing is now ‘double-dipping’ the large oak trees to get away with not having to plant as many trees within the entirely new subdivision, that just happens to be called Germany Oaks phase 2.
6. There does not appear to be any reservation of property for the potential future expansion of Germany Road to meet the standards depicted in Appendix 13 – Major Street Plan of the Unified Land Development Code.