Blumenthal: Looking back on a few key points
Unfortunately I’m still without the assistance of my trusted crystal ball, which remains in the shop for more extensive repairs, and I find myself once again having to comment on the outcome of several key decisions likely to be made by our new Town Council at their first meeting, which won’t occur until after my column submission deadline.
But fear not, I’m getting the hang of making some pretty accurate predictions without any artificial assistance, or as some might say attempting to impose my preferences on the forces of nature that have been appointed and elected to represent us.
First let me congratulate Markey Butler on her ascendancy to the mayor’s seat and to Bob Sirkus and Bill Madsen, all of whom ran very enlightened and respectful campaigns.
Now that the electorate has spoken, it’s time to move on with the issues at hand, and I’ll expend a bit of ink this week commenting on a few of those items.
Appointment of a mayor pro tem to fill in if the mayor is temporarily unavailable or becomes permanently unavailable (raising a line of succession issue) is at the top of the list. Usually not a controversial matter, but with our mix of old and new council members, this line of succession issue could likely turn out to be a bit of a sticky wicket from the get-go. As such, I’d suggest a temporary selection be made by the mayor and sitting council members, and once they appoint a fourth council member to replace Butler’s vacated seat, a decision could be made by the full council as to a permanent mayor pro tem. Hopefully they anticipated my suggestion and took this route.
Agreeing on a plan for selection of a fourth council member is next in line of priority. I’m in agreement with the staff’s recommendation to solicit volunteers from the community.
Based on the critically important work that lays ahead, it’s essential that the fourth council member be as knowledgeable and collegial as it appears our two new council members are. Since we’re just emerging from a very contentious council dynamic, I think it best not to appoint any of the recent incumbents who were in the middle of the dysfunctional proceedings that have haunted our governance processes for the past couple of years and look for another fresh face not involved with all the past conflicts.
Bob Sirkus and Bill Madsen have a tough job ahead of them, but I’m confident from what I know and have heard so far they’ll get up to speed quickly in the art of governing, setting policy and making critical decisions for our community. Hopefully another fresh face will emerge with similar qualities, and if so, thankfully the contentious past will all be in our rear-view mirror.
As promised, Related has submitted its application for a major amendment of its previously granted Base Village planned-unit development rights, which is currently wending its way through the various town review and approval processes. As those of you know who followed the recently concluded review and approval of its application to extend its vested rights, a decision concerning the current application is scheduled to occur not later than May 31 of next year in order that sequential construction can commence at the beginning of next summer.
During the recently concluded public hearings, a couple of council members and a number of residents implored and strongly suggested to go slowly and cautiously in the town’s granting of a vesting extension, since the community had not yet seen Related’s major-amendment application and who knows what they might stick in it.
In the town’s rush to give away the store to Related, we’ve now learned the developer has included lots of significant new changes in its plans, but it doesn’t want to follow the rules laid out in our land-use code. The developers want to skip over the critically important sketch-plan phase of review, as well as waive or defer four essential submission items required at the beginning of the review process.
From our town staff, we have learned that following the rules laid out in our land-use code will likely delay the completion of the review process until August 2015, which Related claims will delay commencement of its promised work for another year, and just coincidentally Related’s cherished milestones will similarly be delayed and their vested rights will continue unabated for another year.
Under the wise leadership of our new town manager, Related’s sucker punch is not being taken lightly, and town staff has strongly recommended that the council hold Related’s feet to the fire and follow the land-use code as it applies to all major village development projects.
It will be refreshing to learn that the council followed staff’s enlightened recommendation … and if not, why?
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