Parking Lots & the Environment

I’ve written about the new parking lot slated for downtown Culver here and here, I had a somewhat heated exchange the other day regarding the parking lot and whether it was an issue that affected Lake Maxinkuckee.  So here is my mini rant list on why this is an environmental issue:

  1. Parking Lots and their environmental impacts are addressed repeatedly in the new Culver Comprehensive Plan. Yes, I realize it is a “plan” and plans change…  But, it is only 14 months old!!!  It seems ridiculous that all of the recommendations regarding future land use for that piece of property and how parking lots should be installed and whether we even need another parking lot are outdated at this time!  All of those things were addressed in detail in the Plan.  (It’s interesting… and sad… to note that at the three town meetings I attended where this issue was discussed, the Comprehensive Plan was only brought up one time and that was as part of a protest from an adjacent property owner.  It was never referenced by the Boards and Commissions reviewing the proposal.)
  2. Parking lots are the antithesis of green space within Lake Maxinkuckee’s watershed. This parking lot only works by violating the buffer requirements. The Culver Zoning Ordinance calls for 20′ wide buffer on C-2 parcels that abut residential properties.  The properties on either side of this parking lot are zoned R-1.  Buffers would have been green space. The Town requested variances down to 1′ from the property line on each side and after debate obtained variances for 1′ on one side and 7′ on the other side.
  3. The Culver Zoning Ordinance now includes limitations on impervious surface. This lot was rezoned to C-2 in order to accommodate the parking lot. C-2 zoning districts require a maximum 60% impervious surface coverage. As originally proposed with 1′ setbacks on each side there is no way the impervious surface requirements would not have been violated.  Even with the revised variance which was approved it is questionable whether coverage is not greater than 60%. In any case no calculations were provided to show that this requirement was not violated.

All of this is nothing but a philosophical argument at this point anyway. The die has been cast on this one and my only reason for arguing about it is to point out a missed opportunity.  Still, it is frustrating to see those opportunities slip away…

Comic source:  thedrunkencyclist

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