We revisit the thread from the previous post about the rezoning petition being circulated in PV. This time, we review the second section that seeks to stop "rezoning." The trouble with the language is that the petition has become wrapped up in a false talking point. Changing land use allowances in zoning districts is not "rezoning," but the Stop group falsely claims it is. The focus on rezoning is a red herring. A moot point. Let's jump in.
Section 2: Missing the Mark on Stopping "Rezoning"
The second part of the rezoning petition is confused when it considers rezoning. From the beginning, the Stop Rezoning group has declared that the city is "rezoning" Prairie Village by considering land use reforms in its zoning districts. From what I could tell, this used the scary-sounding word "rezoning" to evoke a visceral response from residents. The problem, of course, was that the city was never "rezoning" anything. Rezoning is a concept apart from changing what types and forms of buildings are allowed in various zoning districts. While you could accuse me of dissembling and that the two things are very similar – the legal distinction still very much matters.
The petition declares that rezoning is lot-specific, even in its new novel definition. The city has been considering a general revision to the zoning code, which is not lot-specific. Thus, it's not rezoning. The state statute on this matter agrees. So Section 2 of the petition becomes much ado about nothing. It's unclear if the petition recognizes rezoning as "initiated" by a party aside from the city when it says "initiated by the city." The implication is that it does. So I am considering this a limit on city-initiated rezoning. State statute also recognizes such cases.
...If such proposed amendment is not a general revision of the existing regulations and affects specific property, the amendment may be initiated by application of the owner of property affected.... (KSA 12-757)
The city isn't considering initiating rezoning on any parcels by any legal definition from the petition or otherwise. I'm not familiar when the last time the city, on its own, rezoned somebody's land without their asking. I'm not sure if it's ever happened.
This petition doesn't "stop" what the Stop Rezoning has been claiming it does: zoning district and land use reform in Prairie Village. This is a total airball despite what the group tells potential signers. These limitations, if imposed, would leave the city in a status quo. We don't generally rezone land without the owner initiating the process. Section 2 doesn't change anything in a meaningful way.
Stop leaders have claimed they offer to explain what the petition means to signers, but the signers may not be getting the complete picture. If they were, why would they sign a petition that doesn't do anything to advance the group's political goals? As I've said before, perhaps hiding the language is an admission that the petition's language is bad. Or perhaps this petition is simply a loss-leader intended to attract signers to sign the other two petitions from the group – the ones that will cut the size of the council in half and allow an easier takeover of the city from the Stop Rezoning candidate slate. We can't really know.
More on those two other petitions in another post.