Mar
01

Pee en Zee

By

The Planning and Zoning Board plays a very important role in our city’s development review process. In addition to reviewing projects to ensure they meet our city’s Unified Development Ordinance, they also review projects that are requesting zoning changes (like the current MHO affordable housing effort, known as Larchmont). As we move nearer passage of the Downtown Master Plan, P&Z may be the final say for nearly every project built downtown. They’re all volunteers who put a lot of time and effort into Asheville.

In considering candidates for the Board, I was looking for people who were able to understand, interpret, and apply the UDO. During interviews, that’s what I asked the candidates about. In the end, that left me settled on Mark Brooks and Joe Minicozzi. There were other candidates with great skills, but Joe and Mark seemed to me to be the folks who would best be able to faithfully execute the planning document.

The Mountain Xpress has a story on the Board Appointments here. It’s stirred up a debate over the future of an appointed board with an enormous responsibility. In retrospect, I wish I’d done the vote a little differently and asked for a discussion period rather than simply going around and naming our choices. The learning curve is an unforgiving mistress.

Because this thread has the possibility of going completely off the rails, I’m going to ask all you Hooligans to keep a couple of things in mind – 1) Keep it factual; 2) Remember that all of us, even when we disagree, want a better Asheville.


Comments

  1. Barry Summers says:

    I’ll disagree with your set-up on this point, Gordon: not everyone agrees with what constitutes “a better Asheville”.

    There are many powerful people in this town who think that “a better Asheville” means no restriction whatsoever on their right to make money building whatever they want wherever they want, whether it ruins the quality of life for many in their wake or not. That’s a fact, and it collides head-on with a vision that many of us have: “a better Asheville” means in part, that development issues that come before the City will be decided by people who don’t have a direct financial interest in the outcome. It feels crazy to me to have to argue that point.

    There’s a mean and selfish undercurrent to this town, and this recent vote by City Council is the latest eruption.

    Thumb up 14

  2. Doug Gibson says:

    So is there a standard questionnaire on which people get asked, “have you or a member of your immediate family had a project under consideration by the P&Z board in the past five years?”

    Thumb up 5

  3. Tom Sullivan says:

    Many of us would consider the new City Council successful if it could put to rest people’s suspicion that there’s one set of rules for average citizens and another for connected insiders (who like their set of rules just fine). Some of the trick to pulling strings is just having the experience to know where the strings are to pull. But for years developers have seemed to rip through the UDO like tissue paper, either with official help or acquiescence. It leaves a perception that the UDO is more exception than rule, and the rules are for show. One rule for the haves and another for the have-nots.

    Progressives elect progressives hoping to change that system. Ladies and gentlemen, make the old boys wish you’d stayed home – even more than they already wish you’d stayed home.

    Thumb up 13

  4. Lael Gray says:

    Doug, I wonder if you’re thinking that this question of whether applicants or immediate family of applicants have had a project under consideration by the P&Z board in the past 5 years would be cause to disqualify someone who is applying for this position. I got the impression that all of the candidates for this position had some kind of development related professional life or, as in the case of Ms. Shriner, a family member with development ties. Or are you thinking it needs to just be a matter of full disclosure on the application?

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 4

  5. D. Dial says:

    It’s distressing (to say the least) that an associate of Peterson’s has been appointed by Council to P & Z. I’m a resident of Five Points neighborhood. We fought long and hard against Peterson”s over the top plans for the Deal Buick site. If memory serves me, his plans included a 23 story building…certainly not a project that even remotely fit into the surrounding neighborhood.

    More friends in high places for Peterson???

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 2

  6. Barry Summers says:

    Lael, along with Joe Minicozzi, an urban planner who is not currently working for any local developers, there were two candidates who had no ties to development: Nelda Holder and Hartwell Carson.

    Nelda ranks highly on many of the necessary (or posited) criteria: well versed in serving on government and private boards, a Masters in Resource Management (with focus on regional planning, waste management, air quality, hydrology, & environmental law), past experience on Board of Zoning Adjustment in Middlebury Vermont, familiar with Asheville’s UDO, no ties to developers or realtors, known & respected across the community, former President of the Buncombe League of Women Voters, former URTV Board member, WNC Regional Air Quality Board, former Associate Editor at Mountain Xpress, etc. etc etc., too many relevant experiences & qualifications to list here.

    Nelda is an exceptional candidate for P&Z, yet she didn’t rate an interview.

    Hartwell Carson was the French Broad Riverkeeper, also has a Masters degree and experience dealing with government boards, including the Planning and Zoning Commission. He too is well known and respected in the community, yet he too didn’t even rate an interview, much less a vote.

    Both of these people willing to volunteer their time had no ties to developers, and a raft of qualifications, yet they were passed over in favor of a housewife with absolutely no relevant experience except a hefty financial relationship with a powerful local developer. Something is seriously wrong with this picture.

    Thumb up 8

  7. Gene Johnson says:

    You know, if I hear another yuppie call himself a “progressive” I think I’m going to lose my mind. A century of progressivism in this nation has come down to this? Not labor. Not racial justice. Not poverty. Not working families. Not human rights. Just millions and millions of middle-aged, middle class, over-educated and fantastically self-absorbed white people obsessing over the view from their car as they drive to the coffee shop every day.

    How did so many of them end up here?

    Thumb up 12

  8. Barry Summers says:

    It’s that damn vortex.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 5

  9. Heather Rayburn says:

    Hartwell was a candidate?! They could have put Hartwell on that commission, and they picked Shriner?! This is so bloody irresponsible. Who was pushing for Shriner in the committee that forwarded the names to Council? How did Shriner’s application even make it out of that committee? We’re talking about a board that has to know and articulate the complexities of development law and be able to read architectural drawings.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 2

  10. Heather Rayburn says:

    Yes, the vortex! lol

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 2

  11. Barry Summers says:

    I think it’s safe to say it was Jan Davis who put Holly Shriner’s name forward.

    Gordon, the Boards & Commissions Committee meetings are open to the public, yes? So you won’t be letting any cats out of any classified bags if you confirm/deny that?

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 2

  12. Gordon Smith says:

    Barry,

    I don’t remember who put her name forward. Jan, Brownie, and I serve on the committee, and yes the meetings are public.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0

  13. Barry Summers says:

    To be fair, I don’t know if Hartwell was still interested in a seat on P&Z after the stormwater issue was over. I do not remember when he had applied for a seat. Could be he applied two years ago. I believe that Joe M. first put in his application in 2004(?)… still waiting.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 1

  14. Barry Summers says:

    Given that either Jan, Brownie, or Gordon had to put her name forward, Brownie and Gordon both voted for Joe & Mark, and Jan voted for Holly… I deduce that… j’accuse!!

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 1

  15. Harry Hamil says:

    Knowledge is not wisdom, Gordon. And knowledge with the wrong personal character is dangerous. So, the ability to “understand, interpret and apply the UDO” is not nearly enough.

    My years of involvement in the P & Z process in this area (particularly Black Mountain) cause me to have the following requirements for me to truly support a person for a P & Z Board:

    1. Several years of personal engagement in the planning and zoning process.
    2. Demonstrated clear thinking and the willingness to apply that skill to every aspect of the job.
    3. The demonstrated willingness to publicly, carefully question the City’s staff–not just those testifying before the Board.
    4. The demonstrated willingness to put in the long hours (at a given meeting and over the entire term of service) that are needed to do the job well.
    5. The courage and honesty needed to speak the truth as that person understands it despite the fact that s/he might not appear “nice.”
    6. Enough genuine love of Asheville, WNC and the process of planning and zoning to deserve the accolade “amateur.”
    7. Knowledge of the history of Asheville and Buncombe County.

    Conflicts of interest are the nature of good governance and recusal is only one way to deal with it. The other is to state out loud the potential conflict of interest, to lay it on the table so the person’s actions can be viewed in light of it.

    In my 28 year experience here, again and again, I have watched those with the right “professional” credentials shy away from addressing the serious issues raised in P & Z. I believe they don’t because doing so might ruffle the feathers of the wrong people. I have watched good, self-styled “liberal” and “progressive” people disregard clear rules or rewrite them on an ad hoc basis to do whatever they wanted at that moment.

    Thumb up 6

  16. “You know, if I hear another yuppie call himself a “progressive” I think I’m going to lose my mind. A century of progressivism in this nation has come down to this? Not labor. Not racial justice. Not poverty. Not working families. Not human rights. Just millions and millions of middle-aged, middle class, over-educated and fantastically self-absorbed white people obsessing over the view from their car as they drive to the coffee shop every day.”

    FYI, Gene:
    I worked all summer advancing the NC Racial Justice Act (passed) and have participated in Building Bridges multiple times over the years; I have been an outspoken supporter of organized labor for decades; I volunteer and help organize volunteers around homeless issues; I initiated and participate in a jail ministry; I’m chair of the Human Rights Team and a member of the Social Justice Council at my church and actively participate in alternative sentencing programs, judicial reform efforts and ending violence against women; I have tutored an at-risk child in the Asheville City Schools for three years; I’m degree-free and pretty arguably lower middle class.

    But I do care about the view when I walk or bike or drive around Asheville, and since the corporate media poisoned the word “liberal” I’ve labeled myself “progressive.”

    At least at age 59 I’m not middle aged any more.

    My point isn’t to go rah-rah about my work on the issues that happen to matter to me—there are lots of people who as much or more, and many who disagree with every one of the ways I choose to spend my time. Rather I mean to point out that your blanket condemnation of self-described progressives doesn’t pass muster. Many progressives are doing as much as they can to address racism, poverty, domestic violence, rampant consumerism, corporate oligopoly,and more.

    Thumb up 11

  17. who DO as much or more

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0

  18. D. Dial says:

    Labeling people middle aged progressives looking for lattes, is just a way of avoiding this issue.

    Can anyone post a link to the board applications?

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 2

  19. Barry Summers says:

    Gordon – This is the link from the Feb. 23rd Council meeting, which only shows the four finalists to P&Z. The link from the previous agenda, which shows ALL the P&Z applicants is down. Do you know if there’s still a way to see them?

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0

  20. Gordon Smith says:

    Oh, sorry about that. I’ll see if I can find ‘em.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0

  21. Barry Summers says:

    My letter to Council:

    Mayor and Council Members,

    I am among those who are seriously concerned about the integrity of the process that led to the recent appointments to the City’s Planning and Zoning Commission. After the slate of very well qualified candidates got winnowed down, & Council made the selection, it became known that one of the appointees had a serious conflict of interest that was not disclosed during the vetting process. The fact that this appointee has no other discernible qualifications for the seat, re-enforces what should be an unacceptable cloud over her appointment.

    Given that the Planning and Zoning Commission will be given even more authority in the process of reviewing and approving development projects, and the recent history of controversies surrounding these issues, one would hope that Council would strive to keep this process free of any discord or suspicion.

    I strongly urge City Council to re-open these appointments, and ensure that all citizens can trust that the eventual appointees to this very important Commission were seated based solely on their qualifications and character.

    thank you,

    Barry Summers
    Asheville NC

    Thumb up 7

  22. Doug Gibson says:

    Can I just say that if we are going to put “ordinary” citizens on P&Z, then they need to be truly ordinary – not family members of people whose controversial projects might come before the board?

    Choosing between knowledgeable people whose work creates conflicts of interest or ordinary citizens outside of the business of development is a judgment call. But choosing people with limited knowledge and experience who also have a conflict of interest seems like the worst of both worlds.

    Thumb up 4

  23. Lael Gray says:

    That’s a great letter, Barry. And thanks for pointing out that there were other qualified candidates that did not make it to the City Council’s vote. I was unaware of that. I can see the logic in wanting to place at least one “ordinary” citizen on a board of this sort, but that citizen would need to have demonstrated an extraordinary ability to grapple with and understand complex issues and to overcome a steep learning curve. AND there needs to be total disclosure on any potential conflicts of interest which then should be taken into consideration when making an appointment. It seems to me that our selection process is flawed.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 3

  24. D. Dial says:

    Very. Questionable. Vetting.

    Thumb up 4

  25. Gene Johnson says:

    Cecil: My hat’s off to you. I’m an even bigger fan knowing that you are, in the truest sense of the word, a Progressive. (And I thank you very much for your book on Medford, by the way.) I was not issuing a “blanket condemnation.” I consider myself a progressive in the sense you describe.

    On another note, I am appalled to read so many people trash this new P&Z member so cavalierly and publicly. Do they know her? Do they know what she knows and doesn’t? (Reminds me of “throw weights”) Is it “progressive” to speak of this person only in terms of her husband? Or worse, label her a “housewife”? Do any of you know enough about her to assume that she can’t “read architectural drawings”? You know enough to allege a “serious conflict of interest”? This seems to me to be, as Mr. Summers would say, a “mean and selfish undercurrent.”

    Thumb up 9

  26. Barry Summers says:

    Gene

    I for one have never “trashed” Mrs. Shriner. I said earlier, and I meant it, that I’m sure she’s a lovely person. She labeled herself “housewife” on her P&Z application, and I for one don’t consider that to be an insult.

    The conflict of interest comes into play when you consider that her family has a serious financial interest in decisions reached by P&Z. The fact that she apparently didn’t think it relevant to disclose this reflects on her judgment. And frankly, that’s the kindest way to look at it. The unkind way would be to suggest that she willingly withheld that disclosure because she knew it would likely sink her chances. I don’t know that that’s the case, but neither scenario speaks well of her judgment and fitness to serve on a hugely important Commission, especially when there were extremely well-qualified candidates without conflicts who were passed over.

    Thumb up 4

  27. D. Dial says:

    I see from the board application, he was in West Palm Beach prior to and during the early part of the resurrection of City Place. If Minicozzi had a part in the development of WPB’s City Place; then in my opinion he was certainly be an asset to guide Asheville’s future growth.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 3

  28. Barry Summers says:

    Interesting article about Joe from 2001, in West Palm newspaper:

    http://www.browardpalmbeach.com/2001-11-01/news/almost-prefect/

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 2

  29. Joe Minicozzi should be a lock for a spot on PandZ and I was interested to serve after understanding how important this process is to making sure our community gets good development. They have a lot of power and it makes sense there should be a representative from the environmental community on the board. There are several developers on the board so that only makes sense.

    Thumb up 7

  30. Al says:

    As I wrote in a letter to MtX, HOORAY for Mannheimer, who has both the deciding vote for same sex domestic partner benefits and sufficient development to develop an affordable housing market as backed by prime contributor Albert Sneed, the most effective zoning opponent in Buncombe.

    http://www.mountainx.com/opinion/2007/how_the_election_saved_asheville/

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 2

  31. Barry Summers says:

    One follow up – on another thread, someone had asked if a Deal Buick site proposal was likely to come up soon. I replied that it might very well come up during the 3 year term that a new P&Z member gets.

    Also, it’s worth noting that the review of an actual site proposal isn’t the only to watch for. The re-zoning of Merrimon will likely come up again, and P&Z weighs in heavily on that decision. Last time it came up in 2007, the Deal Buick investors, led by Foster Shriner and represented by attorney Albert Sneed, argued heavily against re-zoning their parcel. Now, Foster’s wife sits on the very Commission that plays a role in a future re-zoning debate.

    BTW, Joe Minicozzi, then-President of the Coalition of Asheville Neighborhoods, appeared at the same meeting to argue FOR re-zoning.

    Thumb up 5

  32. Heather Rayburn says:

    Well, Mr. Johnson, I met her once when she was serving sandwiches to the neighborhood at a meeting where her cronies unveiled their plans for two 10-story luxury condo towers to my neighborhood (they were actually larger than that given the roof enclosure). This was their corrupted idea of an urban village. You don’t think there’s a component of racial/class justice attached to that? In spirit, an urban village provides a mix of diverse homes/condos/apts, whatever, in varying price ranges and with shops/offices/restaurants. Ideally inclusive of people of all different income levels who don’t have to burn carbon to get to work/play. On the bright side, when Shriner’s team saw the reaction of the neighborhood, they threw us a bone – said neighbors could come use the gated pool at the towers. Lol. You can’t make this crap up. The neighborhood had submitted tons of information as to how that site could blend in … we even gave them environmental input concerning how to best meet energy efficiency with the orientation of their buildings. They ignored our input and wasted our time.

    Your logic is flawed, sir, and you’re doing the exact thing that you accuse people interested in commenting on this issue of doing. You did make a blanket statement. Please direct your anger toward someone who deserves it … the Jonas Brothers, perhaps, for their awful music. I know I don’t deserve it and neither do the people commenting here on this issue. I find that listening to the “Flight of the Concords” on YouTube to be especially soothing. I highly recommend the videos where Jemaine is prominently featured. He’s a very handsome man. Very erudite and virile … however, one of his best videos has gone missing from the Internet. Am v.v. sad about the situation … sorry, am getting off topic.

    Back to the issue – I know that Ms. Shriner and her investors care little enough about the neighborhood that they let taggers turn their buildings into eyesores and let litter pileup everywhere and blow all over. Many of us, including Cecil, worked with Asheville Greenworks to clean the eyesore for them. I didn’t get a thank you note — did you Cecil? So I know: 1) that her idea of an urban village does not match the UDO in any way, shape, form 2) I know that she’s not a good neighbor. 3) I’ve read her application, and I know that she is unbearably unqualified to be on that commission.

    Actions speak louder than words to me. 4) Not revealing your conflict-of-interest is all I need to know about her, really. I think four people on the Council knew about her conflict. There’s no other explanation of how such an unqualified person out of the good-ole-boy network could make it on p&z. A grave injustice has been done to all of us.

    And, dude, caring about what happens to your neighborhood and city’s urban development pattern IS a progressive cause.

    Thumb up 11

  33. D. Dial says:

    Mr. Johnson,
    It’s the internet world now, you can run but you cannot hide. We can easily research backgrounds, affiliations, view the applications and compare the credentials, and share personal experiences.

    I am very familiar with the Deal Buick brouhaha, thanks to the very diligent work of Heather Reaburn and the Five Points Neighborhood Association.. We was keenly aware of how cavalierly Peterson & Shriner viewed us. But we did stop them. Frankly they should be grateful to us, as there are now many high end retail / condo complexes sitting empty around town, and will probably remain empty for years.

    It’s a whole new ballgame now that citizens can easily share information. This smells to high heaven and we know it.

    You can bet on it, many of us are going to be watching what happens and we can be very loud.

    Thumb up 6

  34. Al says:

    Barry, was this rezoning proposal that Sneed opposed a zoning increase or a zoning reduction??? That matters a great deal to your argument, although it doesn’t necessarily make Sneed a hypocrite because lawyers in their professional capacity do routinely argue against their personal positions.
    Only if they argued against a zoning reduction would that imply hypocrisy as a zoning reduction on the Merrimon bus line would be consistent with all 3 smartgrowth, property rights, and an affordable housing supply and market.
    Gene Johnson is right that it is only elitist, NIMBYist, segregationist neighborhood interests that support conventional zoning in Asheville as represented by the current UDO. The real environmentalists are with property rights for allowing high density hirise construction with no parking requirements.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 1

  35. Barry Summers says:

    Al -

    I never said that Albert Sneed was a hypocrite – not sure where that came from.

    As I understand the Aug. 2007 zoning discussion, a lot of disparate groups proposed zoning all of Merrimon to Mixed Use District, or MXD. One of the arguments was that it would actually increase density in most areas. The Deal Buick interests argued for an exemption, wanting to keep their Highway Business (HB) zoning. They were proposing an ‘Urban Village’ project for that site, so it perplexed some in the debate at the time, because they would have to apply for a zoning change down the road anyway to actually build what they claimed they wanted to build, so why oppose/complicate the entire Merrimon MXD rezoning? Cynics might say that while they could easily go ahead & do the Urban Village project if Merrimon were rezoned MXD, it would preclude them from changing their minds later & simply selling the whole thing to a big box chain, which is allowed under HB.

    As I remember it, the whole thing sputtered to a close without any zoning change, but sure to come up again, perhaps motivating Mrs. Shriner to apply for a seat. But that’s the cynic in me talking…

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 1

  36. Alan says:

    So you are saying MXD allows higher density than HB? HB has a density limit of 32 units per acre (plus affordability bonus). I’m having trouble finding any “MX” district and think it might be a general category of a number of districts.
    HB allows high density mixed use and is one of the most compatible zones for bus density smartgrowth.
    This brings me to another related point. It is elitist and therefore unprogressive to make regulations that are difficult for amateurs to understand and especially if it makes it difficult for homeless people to legally site and build their own homes without paying consultants.
    If ordinary citizens can’t administer the regulations, that is not a problem with ordinary citizens. That is a problem with the regulations. Any regulation that is beyond the ability of an average housewife to administer should be immediately repealed for that reason alone.
    obviously if only a few rich people can understand the regs, then only a few rich people will be able to build their homes in Asheville.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 1

  37. Barry Summers says:

    ..obviously if only a few rich people can understand the regs, then only a few rich people will be able to build their homes in Asheville.

    Hahahahahaha!! Pearls of wisdom. You’ve figured it out! What do we have for him, Johnny?

    Well, to start him off, let’s give him a copy of our home game, so he can run the zoning maze for hours & hours with friends & family…

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 1

  38. I just skimmed the applications. Thank you for the link, Gordon. There were only four, not a big pool to chose from. Mr. Minicozzi’s resume is impressive.

    Were the candidates vetted beyond their applications? How much and by whom?

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0

  39. Gordon Smith says:

    Adam,

    There were more applicants initially. The four you saw were nominated by a member of Council to come in for an interview. The interviews were only about eight minutes long.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0

  40. Barry Summers says:

    I spoke to Jan Davis, a guy I quite often disagree with on the issues, but I like & respect him & don’t think he’d lie.

    He claimed that he knew nothing about Holly Shriner’s connection to Deal Buick when he voted for her. Furthermore, he said he had no idea that Nelda Holder had applied for a P&Z seat until I told him yesterday. He’s known Nelda for years & says she would have been a great pick for P&Z, oh, if he had only known…

    I have lost all trust in this process. Someone needs to tell Mrs. Shriner to resign this seat, or it will be the thorn in everyone’s side for the next three years, starting with the DMP discussions next month.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 3

  41. D. Dial says:

    I’m willing to give some benefit of doubt, as to the Council members being busy people. However it seems that on IMPORTANT boards like P & Z, they have an obligation to research closely and vett more completely. Council needs to understand that thanks to technology, there is a much more aware citizenry. The old way of doing things is just not gonna work anymore.

    Last summer Council was ready to appoint a very unqualified woman to a Board I am very familiar with. Based on the (very questionable) “recommendation” by the ED of the organization that the city appoints two members to. We were able to stop that appointment by pointing out in advance of the council voting on the decision, some of the troubling issues this woman had. She had simply not been properly vetted. Based on that experience I am wondering just who might have “recommended” this woman to the Boards & Comissions committee????

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0

  42. D. Dial says:

    I’m willing to give some benefit of doubt, as to the Council members being busy people. However it seems that on IMPORTANT boards like P & Z, they have an obligation to research closely and vett more completely. Council needs to understand that thanks to technology, there is a much more aware citizenry. The old way of doing things is just not gonna work anymore.

    Last summer Council was ready to appoint a very unqualified woman to a Board I am very familiar with. Based on the (very questionable) “recommendation” by the ED of the organization that the city appoints two members to. We were able to stop that appointment by pointing out in advance of the council voting on the decision, some of the troubling issues this woman had. She had simply not been properly vetted. Based on that experience I am wondering just who might have “recommended” this woman to the Boards & Commissions committee????

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0

  43. Michael Muller says:

    Barry,

    Nelda’s application was a part of our packet for the Boards and Commission Committee meeting as well as our City Council agenda packet.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0

  44. Gordon Smith says:

    Oops – I left that last comment from Michael Muller’s computer.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0

  45. Davyne Dial says:

    Sorry for the duplicate posting.

    Rate this comment: Thumb up 0

  46. Barry Summers says:

    Gordon said: Nelda’s application was a part of our packet for the Boards and Commission Committee meeting as well as our City Council agenda packet.

    I know that it was part of the public pdf linked from the Council Agenda. I read Nelda’s resume & learned some things I did not know, even though we’ve been friends for years.

    Speaking of, Jan & Nelda have apparently been reasonably well acquainted for years, according to both of them. It’s just a kick in the head to hear Jan say he had no recollection of seeing her name in the list of applicants, in spite of what an important appointment was being made, and how stellar Nelda is for the job. This story gets weirder, and you have my sympathy in trying to persuade folks that this was totally on the up & up. I am just sorely disappointed how Keystone-coppie this very important Commission seat was doled out, and for it to go to perhaps the last person in the world who should get it: someone with millions riding on P&Z decisions & an extremely loose grasp of full disclosure and conflict of interest.

    Thumb up 6

  47. Heather Rayburn says:

    Question 1: Jan was on the nominating committee with Gordon & Brownie. Yet Jan said he did not know about Nelda’s application. What gives?

    Question 2: Was it discussed in the committee that it was imperative to have another woman on p&z? If so, why didn’t Nelda’s name come up? Nelda is qualified. I like to see more women on powerful boards but, of course, putting an unqualified woman on a commission does not promote womankind.

    Comment #1: I know that Joe has been working on huge grants (at least one is a multi-million dollar grant) to help the city save money — all on his free time and AS A VOLUNTEER. If I had been treated the way he has been, I would file those grants in the trash can. Thanks for nothing people who voted against him.

    Comment #2: The appointments need to be revisited by Council. This injustice cannot slide. This is the kind of thing that makes people lose faith in government.

    BTW, HB (Highway Business) is the lowest form of zoning — it’s basically box store, truckstop, car lot and is not appropriate for Merrimon (you can read all about it in the UDO, which is online). The MXD-use proposed by the citizen workstudy group for Merrimon was not in the least elitist … There were many public meetings with lots of citizen input that went into the recommendations. The rezoning would have protected the area from suburban sprawl-type development like Staples and promoted integrated and appropriate density as well as proper transition from business to neighborhood, walkability, better transportation, a psychological sense of well-being in design, etc. It would have been an up-grade of zoning and make for a better place for all had the good-old-boys not thrown their weight around at the very end. Two years worth of hard volunteer work done in good faith was squashed by the old-school monied ideologues.

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