Mayor Huether really doesn’t understand the city’s relationship with the two sharing counties

monkey-mayor

“I only attend the important meetings. Now who wants a banana?”

Well you have to laugh when Minnehaha County Commissioner, Jeff Barth says this;

A few of the county commissioners say they cannot remember the last time a sitting mayor spoke at one of their meetings.

He actually went on to say it has been NINE years since they have seen a sitting mayor of Sioux Falls at their meeting.

Commissioner Barth also asked the mayor about the growing crime rate in the city.

But that isn’t the only meetings the mayor has been missing out on. During the Sioux Falls city council informational councilors hammered the mayor about his absence at the county/city coffees the city council has each month with Lincoln and Minnehaha county commissioners and Erpenbach asked why the mayor hasn’t attended the joint meetings lately at Carnegie. After he danced around the question for about 2 minutes he told Erpenbach he has a “Busy Schedule”. You know, it’s hard to pencil in a meeting when you are flying all over the state campaigning(?) for governor. Funny how he has time to go to Yankton, the Black Hills and next week to Brookings, but he can’t drive 10 minutes across town to attend an EVENING meeting at Carnegie. Councilor Erickson also reiterated that the mayor needs to attend the meetings and that they have been very productive. Councilor Jamison went as far to tell the mayor he is a “year behind” when it comes to negotiations with the counties about partnerships because he doesn’t attend the meetings. Huether said he has “got his staff on it.” So now the taxpayers are paying staffers to do the Mayor’s job so he can hop scotch around the state. Nice. Maybe if the mayor wants to spend more time campaigning then actually doing his job, someone can teach him how to teleconference using Skype. Let’s face it, he doesn’t attend these meetings because he is not in charge.

The Minnehaha County Commission also wondered if there could be any (financial) partnerships with the city;

Commissioner Jeff Barth hopes the county sees more benefits from whatever partnerships are in the future.

“The fact is that our revenues are growing at 30-percent of the revenues of the city and the state, and yet our responsibilities are increasing at a greater level,” Barth said.

Ironically, Huether talks the talk, but doesn’t walk the walk. The city could easily give the county a lot more of the kitty by simply cutting them a check for ‘services rendered’. I would much more prefer $24 million dollars of my tax money going to the county for services then purchasing an indoor pool that will only cost us millions each year in operations and maintenance.

Dick Kelly also scrutinizes the city’s use of TIF’s;

Development in the city continues to grow every year, with Huether saying Sioux Falls has doubled its number of TIFs in the last five and a half years. Commissioner Dick Kelly says those impact the county city immediately with sales and property tax dollars.

“We don’t see anything for generally 20 years when that property tax growth comes.  Yet our expenses continue to rise and rise and rise.  I just ask you continue to be very selective in what you do with the TIF programs,” Kelly said.

“You should demand that we scrutinize these TIFs and I will assure you we are,” Huether said.

LOL! We are already past the $500 million mark on building permits for the year and we are setting up to be another record year for them, yet somehow we need TIF’s? Boloney. Developers ask for TIF’s because they can. A great example is when the Lloyd companies asked for a TIF on the School for the Deaf property, then bailed on it when they couldn’t get one, yet another investor came in, didn’t ask for a TIF and has tons of interest in the property from other investors And it’s not like this guy is the wealthiest developer in town, it’s ‘Uncle Bruce’ who owns used car lots. TIF’s are not needed in Sioux Falls, they only have an adverse effect on county and school funding, they need to be eliminated.

Maybe our Mayor would understand the county relationship better if he attended a lot more government meetings instead jumping out of helicopters like he is a monkey.

Denny Sanford wants to teach your kids how to be asexual aliens?

If you think the High School Activities Association had problems before with their trans-gender policy, give it a few years;

In 2014, Sanford first told KELOLAND News about Z, the mascot of the Sanford Harmony Program. Z is a Martian from a planet that doesn’t have boys and girls. He’s supposed to start an open dialogue so boys and girls get a chance to talk openly about gender.

Apparently on the planet Z the storks deliver the newborns. Didn’t we have enough problems with the Tele-Tubbies? While I think it is good to teach kids that boys and girls can grow up to do whatever they want to and to work together, I’m not sure how an asexual alien from the planet Z is going to get this message across? Or how this is going to end divorces? I have often joked if you want to end divorces don’t get married to begin with. Why do we always have to travel to cartoon fantasy land to teach kids things about LIFE?

I bet Denny got the idea from an old Star Trek episode.

City of Sioux Falls plans to sue (non-installer) over bulging EC siding

In one of the most bizarre legal moves by the city of Sioux Falls, they plan to take legal action against an Events Center contractor that WAS not the installer of the siding (DOC: ec-siding-lit)

Dalsin operations manager Jared Kuik has said his company didn’t design, specify or install the panels in question on the west side of the event center and shouldn’t be held responsible for the bulging appearance. Dalsin has filed liens against city proceeds that haven’t been paid out yet for the design and construction of the center, including $452,277.24 for labor and materials and $87,346.84 for work on roof repairs at the Convention Center.

Head scratcher, right? The only way I think this could be possible is if M.J. Dalsin subcontracted the work to be done by McGrath or if Mortenson did? Don’t know, because once again, transparency is NOT on our side;

The news conference lasted only a few minutes, and Pfeifle said his office, city councilors and staff, and the mayor would not discuss the matter because of pending litigation that was commencing immediately.

Which is also bizarre because if they file the suit today with the clerk of courts, it becomes public record, so not sure what everyone needs to keep their mouths shut about? I hope to attain the paperwork after it is filed. Should be some juicy stuff in their.

Sioux Falls City Council does their job, denies casinos

While the planning department and planning commission think they can hand over approvals of permits to the city council on a silver platter, it seems this time around those two departments were not following the rules and just approving the casinos all will-nilly;

But residents argued that under zoning ordinances, alcohol isn’t to be sold within 500 feet of single family housing, even if the casinos are in a commercially zoned area, and that Soberg shouldn’t get a variance.

Councilor Greg Jamison agreed, saying the council shouldn’t stray from the 500-foot standard it established in its Shape Places zoning ordinance. “We set the standards with Shape Places, and we need to commit to that,” Jamison said. “Just the fact that this is close to single-family homes, it just doesn’t fit. It isn’t right.”

So why didn’t the planning department catch this pesky little rule? Or did they think they were going to slip this by the council? While I am not opposed to bars in neighborhoods (they are actually great meeting places) This is NOT a bar where people sit and chat and hang out, this is a telephone booth VL casino where people become zombified in front of a machine. Also, it is too close to a school bus stop. The council did the right thing in denying this request. But will there be any repercussions for the planning department for recommending this be approved?

DaCola’s cameraman is finally recognized as ‘Press’

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I really think it is because he was approaching the stage . . .

Cameraman Bruce was anointed media by the city of Sioux Falls on August 31, 2015 Sioux Falls Rail Yard Porkfest. Do you know why we are enjoying this? We’ll explain.

At several city pressers during the last year the Mayor has made a public point of being belligerent toward our cameraman Bruce. He likes to ask questions the mayor doesn’t like asked. You know, the kind of questions you would ask if you had the chance. The Mayor shouted him down at Spellerberg Pool. The Mayor gaveled him at a City Council meeting. We won’t talk about the special attention the Mayor gave him back in April (saved for another time). Oh and how about the last rail yard announcement in city hall when the mayor made a special point of excluding Bruce from being a questioner?

There are more, but today we celebrate the acknowledgement of our Southdacola.com cameraman Bruce as city of Sioux Falls official media. At least for the day… Ya gotta start somewhere, I guess.

Get your arcade on!

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I was happy to see my favorite neighborhood bar is celebrating their year anniversary this Sunday! My favorite food truck will be there, Boxcar with their ‘wet’ Italians.

I could go on and on about how great of peeps owners Crickett & Ike have been and how they have made the ‘hood’ better, but I suggest you make an appearance and hear all the first year stories!

The irony of the Warren Buffet invitation to the RR Relocation press conference

I didn’t know whether to laugh or to cry when I read this;

Heather Hitterdal, communications specialist for the city of Sioux Falls, said Friday that Mayor Mike Huether sent formal invitations to Obama and Buffett, but neither is able to attend because of prior commitments.

As many of you may not know, we have to go back into the way-back machine on this project to explain my fat belly laughter I got from this supposed invitation. First off, this project was initiated by Mayor Munson (who is out of town and will not be in attendance today, I am told). At the time, I liked the idea, we would have been moving most of the tracks out of downtown (isn’t this the real reason we should be supporting the project?) Instead, we are handing over $27 million of pork to the RR. Getting polluted land that we may be able to sell for $2-3 million when it is all said and done, and MORE train traffic in other parts of downtown, including just a few blocks from my house next to Avera where there is another switching/staging yard that will still remain with two tracks still running parallel to the 10 acres we purchased. In other words, for those of us who live, work, and travel downtown, we may be experiencing more headaches just so we can free up 10 acres for a parking lot.

Besides the fact this is an obvious boondoggle for the Railroads, this project has morphed into many different monsters over the course it took. There was a big push to move the project along during the debate over the Events Center location. See, these 10 acres would have made a perfect spot for an Events Center parking lot, and with the contamination, it is probably all it is good for anyway. The idea was simple, build the EC next to Cherapa, move the RR project forward and use the land for parking. We would not have had to deal with selling the land or worried about potential cleanup. The group that was behind Build it Downtown were so adamant about their idea for parking, rumor has it, one of the members was able to arrange a very brief meeting with Warren Buffet in hopes it would move the project along a little faster. The city of Omaha was able to garner such a meeting with Mr. Buffet when they wanted to move some tracks, and Warren said, get-R-done. I’m not sure who was all invited, but I do know that Buffet agreed to the meeting (that never happened) because one of the main players that needed to be at this meeting declined to attend. We will let you speculate who that may be.

Like I said, I know very little about the details, and maybe this is all folklore and such, but if it isn’t, it sure makes the mayor’s invitation ironically funny.

Visually Interesting and amazingly deafening

Speaking of boondoggles, let’s talk siding, you know that stuff clinging to the Events Center for dear life.

For the record, I KNOW NOTHING. I have heard about 4 versions of what is being done, and to tell you the truth, not sure what to think of any of them, so I will keep those conclusions to myself.

The reason I mention the siding (in another ironic move today by the mayor) while everyone will be celebrating the big $27 million dollar pork sandwich to the Railroads today, today is, as I understand, the year anniversary of the city taking over occupancy of the Events Center (or maybe it is tomorrow?). In other words, the hammer on the EC siding mediation needs to come down this week. Like I said, I have many opinions of what should happen (ideally be replaced and paid for by Mortenson) I am clear about one thing; whatever is decided, the public should be told in an open meeting, and the council should vote on a resolution to approve the decision (or not to). At the end of the day, it is really about transparency and the public deserves to know who is responsible for signing off on the siding for our $180 million dollar investment. We’ll see how the administration and Fiddle Faddle play their fiddles on this one.

When the super wealthy screw taxpayers, they are protected

Just another rich developer/banker in Sioux Falls getting out of paying up;

The city’s lawsuit seeks to recoup $279,000 in utility costs from the high-end Arbor’s Edge development, where Kent Vucurevich was a partner in the project.

When asked what an insolvency would mean for the city’s lawsuit and the taxpayers who funded the improvements at Arbor’s Edge, Diane Best, an assistant city attorney, declined to comment.

Yeah, we have no comment because we would hate to admit the taxpayers are getting screwed out of this money. But when the SFPD Swat team blows out windows of innocent property owners or fire hydrants destroy businesses, we save the city a lot of money by not paying out risk management insurance claims. Besides, we need to spend that money on unwinnable lawsuits in Indian country.

Open Flood Gates

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Billion Re-Zoning, (Guest Post Greg Neitzert)

The rezoning proposal for Billion Auto at 41st and Duluth is now online.  Here is my analysis.
As I suspected would be required, the proposal is to rezone the block (excluding the dental office which Billion does not own) to C-4 commercial.  This is the most intense commercial use (regional commercial).  It needs to be repeated that the proposal is to rezone to C-4 commercial, the most intense commercial use there is, which will be across the street (literally) to single family residential uses.  It also should be noted across the street is about 54 feet, a non-standard local right of way.  We’re not even talking about across a collector (80 feet) or an arterial (100 feet).  
Per the comprehensive plan and zoning ordinance, it does not mean you CANNOT do it, although you could.  What it does mean though is that the buffering will have to be extensive and the most extreme to mitigate the incompatibility.  The staff report indicates a compatibilty rating of 2 between this C-4 and the single family to the east and north.  Based on what is really there (single family) it should be a 1 (the least compatible) but it is scored a 2 because the zoning districts next to each other determine the compatibility rating, and these homes have the bad luck of being zoned RD-1 (twin home) district.  Remember the Twin Eagle Estates neighborhood at 85th and Audie?  Anyway, based on what is really there, it really is a 1 for compatibility, but based on the compatibility chart, it is scored a 2.  But we should look at what is really there, which makes it a 1.  They then print the description of a compatibility of 2, instead of 1.  That is correct based on what the chart says, but its too bad we don’t score it based on what is really there.  A score of 1, which this really is, gets you this guidance from Shape Sioux Falls:
“High Incompatibility: The new zoning district is incompatible with adjacent land uses. Any development proposal requires a Planned Unit Development and extensive documentation to prove that external effects are fully mitigated. In general, proposed districts with this level of conflict should not be permitted. Examples include heavy industrial uses proposed on sites adjacent to low- or medium-density residential uses.”
Interesting to note that if it was scored a 1, the comprehensive plan says this generally should not be permitted.  
There are 420 new parking spaces indicated for parking and display of cars for sale.  Parking this large requires a C-4 designation, so C-4 is the appropriate proposal in that regard.
As I had stated a few weeks ago, a level D buffer yard is required on the north and west side of the development, the biggest buffer yard, because there is C-4 proposed to be next to single family.  The Level D Buffer Yard is 45 feet of green space, landscaping, and berming/fencing.  However, the buffer yard can be reduced by 50% if there is a right of way (ROW) between the incompatible uses (which is true here).  So they could technically do a 22.5 foot buffer yard on the west and north side.  They are proposing a 25 foot buffer yard with a 4 foot berm adjacent to the parking lot and a retaining wall to support it.  I had indicated previously I did not think this buffer yard cut in half was enough.  Staff indicates that they believe the default buffer yard is not sufficient as well:
“Although, the submitted landscape plan appears to meet the buffer yard requirements, with the Compatibility Chart as a guide staff feels a project of this magnitude within an established residential neighborhood warrants significant buffer yard, screening and landscaping plans. Therefore, staff feels an alternative site plan should be approved by the Planning Commission. This should allow more time for staff and the applicants to come up with a landscape and buffer yard plan that will address the neighborhood concerns.”
Staff makes the following recommendation:
“Because the subject application is consistent with the Shape Sioux Falls Comprehensive plan and potential incompatibilities can be minimized with the required buffer yard, staff recommends approval of this rezoning, with the following conditions;
1. An alternative site plan including detailed buffer yard plans, be approved by the Planning Commission;
2. The proposed 113 employee parking spaces (61 within the new parking lot and 52 behind the existing Billion Auto-Kia building) will be permanently marked and reserved for Billion employees only.”
My thoughts and concerns regarding the recommendation from staff:
1.  I would add a third condition, that no structures be allowed on the newly rezoned portion.  There is absolutely nothing stopping Billion from adding structures at any time in the future once it is rezoned.  They could be quite large as well with C-4 zoning, as long as they could meet the parking and other standards.
2.  Hopefully the required parking for employees is enough.  This will only work though to the extent that the applicant actually enforces this and makes their employees use them, and/or the city enforces this condition.  I’m not fully convinced about this.
3.  The city indicates that they recommend approval based on requiring an alternative site plan.  Shape Places allows a rezone with conditions – 160.650(e), and one of those (2) is conditioning an alternative site plan to mitigate incompatibility and transition to other zoning districts.  They also indicate it would give staff more time to work on this.  To explain this, mechanically there would be a rezone, which must be approved by the city council, which would have this stipulation (requires an alternative site plan).  Next, the applicant, before they could proceed, would have to bring an alternative site plan to the Planning Commisison for approval, which would depict and outline an alternative buffer yard proposal, for example bigger berms, more green space, different fencing, whatever.  The problem I forsee with this is that an alternative site plan goes to the Planning Commission who has final authority.  It does not go to city council, nor is there an appeal to city council available like there is with a conditional use permit (an appeal procedure) or a rezone.  Therefore, once the council approves the rezone with the stipulation that an alternative site plan has to be approved, they lose control of the details, because it won’t come back to them.  They then have to trust that the Planning Commission and staff will bring something forward and approve something that they are satisfied with.  They have no power once they rezone.
Personally, I wouldn’t have vacated Duluth.  But we’re here now.  If we go forward with this, I believe the buffering has to be extensive.  Either it has to be an extremely large buffer yard, or, perhaps a portion to the west could be rezoned to something else to transition between Billion and the single family.  I guess if I was going to approve it, I would require a 45 foot buffer yard, with a 6 foot berm, and extensive landscaping at a minimum.  I think the major issue that the council will have to deal with is losing control of the details if they rezone it.  I think they need to figure out how to stipulate what they desire in the rezone.  Perhaps they will need to stipulate certain minimum requirements for the alternative site plan in the buffer yard in the rezone, for example “rezone to C-4 with the condition that the alternative site plan incorporate a buffer yard of 45 feet and a 6 foot berm” (as an example).
The council needs to ensure that if they approve the rezone, that they stipulate the conditions necessary before they lose control of the process.  I believe that point is at the rezone itself.  By agreeing to vacate Duluth Ave, they have a responsibility to the homeowners and neighbors.  It is up to them to protect them and to ensure that sufficient conditions are in place to mitigate such an extreme incompatibility.  Once they rezone, I believe they lose control.
Another option, which may be best, would be to defer final action until they can be shown an alternative site plan, which they could condition the rezone on the Planning Commission adopting that specific alternative site plan that they see (and get a chance to even modify) before it goes to the Planning Commission.
UPDATE: The neighborhood next door is zoned RD-1 (Twin home) even though they are single family, since they are zoned RD-1 they get scored as if they were twin homes on the compatibility matrix.  That means they score a 2 which is medium incompatibility.  A 1, if they were scored as what they really are, single famly homes, is high and the description says that in general this high of incompatibility should be denied.

They have the bad luck of having been zoned twin home district.  If they were zoned RS or RT-1 (residential traditional single family) they would have a 1 score and have more protections per the comprehensive plan.
This proposal probably should not happen at all, and if it is going to the mitigation needs to be extreme.