Smooth Sailing, Riggy Railing and Carmax Prevailing
One down, two to go. It was mostly smooth sailing at the Planning Commission meeting Monday night because much of the anticipated fireworks did not occur. The commission made fairly quick work of the new condo conversion guidelines by continuing the item to a future study session where, in a more "casual" atmosphere, the more controversial segments of the proposal can be discussed. This was a good move.
We then came to the request from developer Barry Saywitz for a re-hearing on his condo conversion on Victoria Street. The last time this was heard - and approved, by the way - was the date rookie commissioner Jim Righeimer sliced and diced Saywitz mercilessly. During all the turmoil of that meeting conditions were placed on the project which Saywitz was not given the opportunity to address before the the vote was taken. Those conditions, which reduced the number of units from 12 to 9, will make a significant hit to Saywitz' ability to complete the project profitably. The debate on this subject was very interesting. Saywitz made his case for a re-hearing, but old Riggy - like a pit bull with the smell of blood in the air - resisted the proposal with such vigor that Chairman Donn Hall, crusty curmudgeon that he can sometimes be, might have reached over and given Riggy a swat with a newspaper if he could have reached him. The end result, driven by a very logical summary of the actual issues of the situation by Commissioner Eleanor Egan, was that the commission voted 3-2 to give Saywitz the chance to present his views on the conditions at the July 9th meeting. Righeimer and Vice Chair Jim (I'm-a-realtor-here-in-town) Fisler voted no. I don't know what's going on between Saywitz and Riggy, but the commissioner treats him like a chunk of dog poo he can't get off his shoe. Maybe the best solution is to simply put some boxing gloves on these two, lock them in a room and let them sort it out. The meeting on July 9th promises to be more fun.
The long and thorough hearing on the application by the Segerstroms for the placement of a Carmax Auto Superstore at the location of the old Wickes Furniture Store resulted in approval of the project unanimously. Typical of most Segerstrom projects, this one was presented well and defended well by their silver-tongued representative, Paul Freeman and others. The only rocky spot came when Commissioner Sam Clark cockily requested, out of the blue, that the developer pony up to repair the surface of Gisler Avenue adjacent to the site to the tune of $300,000-$500,000. It was obvious that this demand came out of left field and Freeman, smooth as butter, rejected it. It looks to me as though Clark is beginning to take some pages from Mayor Pro Tem Eric Bever's court jester handbook. He's beginning to take his attempts at glib humor much too seriously. My advice to him is to forget the yucks and just do the job you were appointed to do. With the approval it's likely that we'll see this sales tax generator in business some time next year.
This afternoon we find out during the City Council Study Session just how much money our city will be able to spend beginning the fiscal year starting July 1st. Since there have been meetings going on with some of the bargaining units, I suspect there will be some very interesting numbers thrown around. Stay tuned.