Skadron: I take viewplane violations seriously
Things got a little heated during demolition talks at Monday night’s City Council meeting, with some accusing the council of failing to listen to the community and act democratically.
Following a 4-0 vote during a Historic Preservation Commission meeting Sept. 9 in which the commission granted conceptual approval to tear down the building next to Casa Tua, Senior Planner Sara Adams returned before the council to discuss viewplane exemptions.
The 9,026-square-foot lot located at 447 E. Cooper Ave. violates two viewplanes — one at Wagner Park looking toward Independence Pass and one blocking the Wheeler Opera House, Adams said.
According to a memo to the council from Adams via Community Development Director Chris Bendon, the Historic Preservation Commission found that the viewplane is already blocked by other buildings that lack potential future redevelopment.
The commission also found that the development has a minimal impact on the viewplane, thus granting an exemption from reviewing the project through the planned-development process, the memo said.
In a notice of call upon the building, which developer Mark Hunt is currently under contract to buy, the City Council motioned to push viewplane talks to a later date, citing the need for information further than what was provided in order to make any decisions.
“I take viewplane violations very seriously,” Mayor Steve Skadron said, adding that he thinks it will be an important community decision and future discussion.
Because of the council’s decision to delay talks of the building’s viewplane, the council denied public comment on the matter, which didn’t sit well with some members of the community.
“A developer is trying to take over the town, and nobody wants this,” one woman said.
One person asked the council why it doesn’t listen to people, and one man who sat in the front row stood up a few times and questioned the council’s democratic process.
To this, Skadron said, “There is a democratic process because there are two sides,” and to entertain a discussion when more information is needed creates an unfair democratic process.
Councilman Bert Myrin suggested city staff collect everyone’s email addresses, to which Bendon argued that “taking people’s emails puts the city in a potentially precarious position.”
City Council members made clear that public comments on the topic are welcome, but that Monday night’s meeting “isn’t the appropriate time.”
“We do want to make sure there’s a venue for the community to let us know about issues they may have,” Councilman Adam Frisch said.
At this time, public hearing on the matter will proceed during an Oct. 26 meeting, Skadron said.
“You’re welcome to come at that time — council will be prepared, the applicant will be prepared and you can be prepared, as well,” he said.
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