those factors to consider did not change with the Green Code.
Prior to our new city zoning law, variances were partly seen
as an answer to the flaws of our 1950s zoning law. Now that
we have a fair, reasonable zoning code, there will need to be
a culture shift from that flexibility of how variances are evaluated.
Similarly, there will need to be a shift from our development community. The feedback from each of these projects
and others provides invaluable insight to developers on what
residents want to see buildings look like in our neighborhood commercial districts. There will also be unique parcels
and projects that will need variances to make them feasible.
The hope is that most projects are code compliant and that
most variance requests have minimal deviations from what is
allowable as of right now.
KP: It seems sort of naive to think that there won’t be
variances. Every site is unique, every project unique, every
process is unique—but we have made this the law and we are
going to defuse community engagement if it is not enforced.
It’s not the law if it’s not enforced, so the question is who,
what, where, and why do people get variances? I think that
whatever the answers to those questions are, we are going
to have to watch, because it shouldn’t be easier to get a variance based on the number of zeroes or commas in the project description, or if there isn’t vocal community opposition.
They should be granted for the right projects and for the right
JF: The worst thing that could happen with this Code
would be if it became one more way that Buffalonians can be
cynical about our leadership and civic engagement. If one of
“THE GREEN CODE IS PRETTY
AGNOSTIC WHEN IT COMES TO
HISTORIC PRESERVATION, AND IN A
CITY LIKE BUFFALO—THIS ISN’T SOME
BLANK CANVAS IN ARIZONA OR TEXAS.
WE HAVE A CITY THAT EXISTS, AND A
MAKES ALMOST NO REFERENCE TO IT IS
NOT A VERY 'UNIFIED’ ORDINANCE.”
“VARIANCES ARE INEVITABLE AND
GOOD FOR THE PROCESS. PEOPLE
WITH EXPERIENCE IN CITY PLANNING
AND ARCHITECTURE NEED TO BE
THE REFEREES ON THE CODE, NOT
POTENTIAL ISSUE THAT WILL COME UP AT
EACH SITE, NOW OR IN THE FUTURE.”