A LOCAL council has faced backlash after approving a local businessman’s application in a decision that breached previously established city ordinances.
The city of Des Moines has passed ordinances limiting the number of driveways to one per 300 feet to make walking safer for pedestrians.
Rich Eychancer, a Des Moines businessman, approached the City Council and requested an exception to this rule for his Midwest company.
Members of the Planning and Zoning Commission previously recommended that the City Council reject the application.
Still, the city council voted unanimously to grant Eychancer an exemption, causing tension among other companies that had made changes to comply with the new rules.
Eychancer argued that removing a driveway would back up traffic on major roads and create “problematic parking issues.”
He also mentioned that the council had previously exceptionally supported his plans to change his property.
Since the new regulations went into effect, Eychancer noted that of the 25 driveways the Midwest Radio property previously had, only six remain.
Shortly after approving Eychancer’s request for an exception, the City Council approved another request in a different neighborhood.
Their decisions caught the attention of Carol Maher, a city zoning commissioner, who said the decisions were “shameful.”
Maher noted that the exemptions conflict with the city council’s “Vision Zero” plan to make streets safer.
According to the city’s website, the Vision Zero plan aims to reduce traffic deaths and accidents by 2040.
The action plan states that “safety work should focus on system-level changes rather than influencing individual behavior,” which seems contradictory given these exceptions.