Now that you’ve learned who represents your area on City Council, you should learn about the other people that serve your ward on different bodies in city government.
Mostly, City Council is the last vote in a decision since there’s a group before it that recommends how council handles the measure. Some of those groups include the Downtown Design Review Committee, the MAPS 3 Citizen Advisory Board, Historic Preservation Commission, the Urban Design Commission and the Planning Commission. This is only a handful of commissions and committees. You can see the whole list here.
Each of these bodies has representatives from the different wards; oftentimes, that person is appointed by the mayor. These positions are not put to public vote.
By name, it might be easy to figure out what each body does. The DDRC oversees designs and changes in downtown. There are guidelines and regulations for each section of the city in terms of what can be built and what it can look like. Similarly, the Urban Design Commission oversees work in some of the city’s more popular districts, such as Paseo, Uptown 23rd and the Plaza District. The DDRC and Urban Design work to make sure any new projects or renovations stick to the fabric of the existing area.
The MAPS 3 Citizen Advisory Board keeps its eyes on how the money collected from the Metropolitan Area Projects sales-tax initiative is spent and that the projects are built to the caliber at which the residents are expecting. The board is broken down into subcommittees for each project. Of course, with MAPS 4 in the works, there will be a MAPS 4 Advisory Board started soon. Contact your City Council representative if you’re interested in serving.
While you might not be building anything in downtown or the Plaza, if you live in one of the city’s historic neighborhoods, you should get familiar with the Historic Design Commission. The body safeguards the historic integrity of some commercial areas; yet, its main duty is to keep the nature of the city’s historic neighborhoods intact. The Historic Preservation Districts are Crown Heights, Edgemere Park, Jefferson Park, Mesta Park/Heritage Hills/Heritage Hills East, Paseo, Putnam Heights and Shepherd. Find out what you can do anytime to your home and what requires a Certificate of Approval before you alter your home.
And finally, no matter where you live, zoning and other regulation changes going before the Planning Commission could affect you. If you live near a project that is being rezoned (ex: someone wants to build an apartment complex on empty land near you, but it’s marked as agriculture property) then you’ll receive a notice in the mail. You can show up at the monthly meetings and say why you support or do not support the project. You can send in a written protest, which are also considered by the planning commissioners when weighing to approve or deny the request. Your ward has a representative on the commission so feel free to contact that person as well. The Planning Commission sends a recommendation to the City Council on what to do with each project.