Last Tuesday, the council voted 5-3 to postpone the change until April 1st (a week before the election). I have a feeling there was a discussion after the vote with the two swing voters (Dean & Sue) to try to get them to change their votes for this Tuesday.
It begs the question, “What is Michelle, Mike and Jim trying to hide?” This is all about transparency and ethical practices when it come to elected officials. It is no secret that Huether and his wife are investing in properties throughout our city. But why are Michelle and Jim so concerned about this?
Remember, Jim has property adjacent to the new Events Center and Michelle’s donor list reads like the ‘Who’s Who’ of SF developers. Either these three are trying to protect someone’s investment or their own.
While the chamber supports Shape Places, board members agree with Save Our Neighborhood on one point. They recommend the city review the ordinance to address concerns about how the new rules would change the opportunities for the public to give input on a project.
Palmer said the best way to ensure that happens is to revisit the ordinance.
“Voting No on Shape Places in April will give the city and interested parties the opportunity to work together to make the necessary changes before it goes into effect,” Palmer said.
Palmer is right, if it passes in it’s current state, there are NO guarantees the new city council and mayor will ‘fix’ those problem areas. There is one way though the public can make sure they do, and that is by voting NO. This will force the city to re-visit the ordinance, and fix those problem areas before passing new zoning rules. Like I said in the past, it is a good piece of legislation for the most part, but there are some areas that need to be tweaked before implementing it.
Jamison raised concerns last fall after learning that the mayor’s wife, Cindy Huether, was one of the investors in a TIF project, the Bancroft Place apartments in the Whittier neighborhood.
Jamison is running against incumbent Mike Huether in the race for mayor this spring.
“This amendment is about one person,” Councilor Michelle Erpenbach said. “I don’t appreciate the way this conversation has been going.”
She said the investments held by an elected official’s spouse should not be open to scrutiny.
“You elected me; you did not elect my husband,” she said.
I found it baffling that Michelle felt she had to defend the mayor’s wife or the mayor, and tried to make this into a political football.* Michelle, this is about transparency and ethics, this isn’t about an election. Secondly, are you admitting that your husband has made investments with properties that have received TIF’s? I found that statement interesting. It got heated at times, Entenman was almost scolding and yelling at the rest of the council (gee, I wonder how many property investments he has made around town?) Then in one of Karsky’s misguided moments, he asked for the vote to be postponed. Not realizing the can of worms he had opened (They won’t vote on it until a week before the election) four councilors voted for the postponement, and of course Karsky realized he had to follow suit, since he proposed it. Michelle and Mike WERE NOT happy.
It got comical at times, especially when Erpenbach came to the defense of Huether, he looked like he was melting like an ice cream cone in his chair, and looked like he was going to start crying at any moment. It was theatrics at their best between Erpenbach and Huether, it was almost like it was rehearsed. See seems to be very concerned about hurt feelings, but doesn’t give a damn about ethics. *What this is really about is Huether’s re-election. It is crucial to Michelle’s political future that Huether is re-elected, especially if she is. Everyone knows Michelle’s plan in four years is to run for the empty seat of mayor and for Huether to run for governor. So if Michelle is re-elected (let’s hope not) she must have Huether re-elected to follow through with her plans.
The other part of the discussion that disturbed me was testimony by Darrin Smith claiming we have to give TIF’s to develop land for the public good, and brought up the COSTCO site that wasn’t developed for 25 years. First off, that property sitting empty hasn’t hurt or helped citizens in our community either way. There was very little public benefit to developing that land, and not developing has not been harmful either. Ironically, as Smith brought up the COSTCO TIF, he admitted that COSTCO has asked to not use the TIF that was granted. So basically admitting that a TIF was not needed to develop the land. But yet we need them? Huh?
CITIZENS FOR INTEGRITY PILE IT ON
Also worth checking out is public testimony from myself and Bruce about the city’s ‘ADVOCATIONAL’ videos and meetings, (FF: Public Input) and the possibility of breaking state law.
A new ballot question committee, Save Your Neighborhood, registered with the City Clerk today. The Save Our Neighborhood group submitted the registration under a slightly different name, Save Your Neighborhood, to reflect the fact that the issues it faces and have addressed, affect neighborhoods throughout the City.
Save Your Neighborhood’s aim is to educate the public on the FACTS surrounding the rezoning of the land at 85th Street and Minnesota Avenue.
While Save Your Neighborhood lacks the financial resources of Walmart, it encourages the citizens of Sioux Falls to look past the vast funds that Walmart is expending to influence the voters’ decisions. The group encourages citizens to discover the FACTS regarding the rezoning of this area, including the impact that rezoning of this area will have on the residential area next to it and the impact that the City’s decision will have on neighborhoods around the City. If the City allows Walmart to buy zoning to allow it to build a commercial development next to this residential area, it makes every neighborhood in the City susceptible to the whim of developers.
Save Your Neighborhood is not opposed to the City’s growth, but maintains that such growth must be logical and consistent. Further, the group welcomes commercial development and a Walmart to the south side of the City, but maintains that a large commercial development is inappropriate at this particular location. There are far more appropriate building sites in southern Sioux Falls for this store. Those locations would replicate the same proper buffering and improved access that our fellow citizens will soon enjoy at the new Walmart at 60th & Marion.
Save Your Neighborhood urges the citizens of Sioux Falls to send the City a message: that our neighborhoods are not for sale to the highest bidder and zoning in this City cannot be bought. Vote “NO” on Referred Law 4.
While I think there is many good things about Shape Places, I am also encouraging a “No” vote. Why? I believe if Shape Places fails, it doesn’t mean we have to shelve it and start from scratch, it just means we can tweak it. First thing I would like to see is it split up into sections, and have the council amend it (require CUP), study it and discuss and debate it in these sections. And instead of voting on all the sections at one meeting, Break the sections up into several meetings, so the council has time to focus on the different areas of Shape Places. Presenting an over 300 page document at two meetings then expecting the council to vote on the entire thing in one quick swipe was short sighted. Most of them confessed they didn’t read most of it because of it’s size. Of course, I believe that the Planning Department did this on purpose so the council wouldn’t bother with amendments or actually studying the document, I guess they were depending on good old apathy from the council, as usual, and the bigger rubber stamp, except, they didn’t count on SON referring it. I hope they learn a lesson from this and presenting legislation in such a half-ass way.
The first talks about a conditional use permit going before the planning commission concerning unhappy neighbors near The Banquet objecting to the proposed Catholic diocese homeless shelter. If SON had not referred Shape Places, these folks wouldn’t even have the opportunity to voice their current concerns to anyone. SON has said all along that if the city can do this in their neighborhood, they can do it in yours too.
The second story by Don Jorgensen demonstrates the complete lack of integrity by Sioux Falls City Planner Jeff Schmitt as he continues his “educational” crusade to convince people that somehow the Walmart at 85th and Minnesota is NOT related to Shape Places. In his words, they “just happened” to be before the city council at the same time. Sure Jeff.
Just like the story concerning the proposed homeless shelter above, had SON not referred Shape Places when they did, there would not be an opportunity for citizens to voice their concerns over the proposed Walmart, and the good folks at Henry Carlson Company like Meredith Larson, Diane Derry and Dawn Hass (or is it Haas?), would be rolling in the dough.
Meredith Larson, the vice president of preconstruction services for Henry Carlson Co., has been on the commission for 10 years. He was one of four commissioners this week to vote in favor of the rezoning on a 4-2 vote.
Henry Carlson has done millions of dollars of work for Walmart here and in the region over the past several years. But, Larson said, all of that work was earned through a competitive bidding process. And any work that Walmart awards in building two new stores in Sioux Falls — including the controversial store at 85th Street and Minnesota Avenue — also would be awarded through a competitive process.
Jeff, who serves at the pleasure of Mayor Huether, keeps telling people if Shape Places doesn’t pass, Sioux Falls is headed straight back to 1983. Nothing could be further from the truth. The current Sioux Falls zoning ordinances have been continuously improved and amended since 1983 hundreds of times. These are the same zoning ordinances that have served the city of Sioux Falls well through record growth for years now, (i.e. nearly $600 million in building permits last year).
Under the proposed Shape Places, the Conditional Use Permitting (CUP) process will be removed. The folks with SON realized last spring that if Shape Places passed they would no longer have any input under the CUP Process as it related to the proposed Walmart at 85th & Minnesota. Before referring Shape Places last spring, SON asked the city council to please keep the CUP process as part of the proposed Shape Places amendments to ensure continued citizen input as it relates to development near their property (see above story again concerning the homeless shelter if you forgot how important that is). The city council, Jeff Schmitt and other planning staff told the people with SON ‘NO’ when Shape Places was passed. Not to be ignored, that decision was subsequently referred to a vote by SON.
The rest is history. So, for a short while at least, the citizens in Sioux Falls, like those living near The Banquet will still have the right to voice their concerns over proposed developments in their neighborhoods thanks to the efforts of SON. A vote No on April 8th against Shape Places will allow that long-standing input from our fellow citizens to remain a part of our city’s future for years to come.
And to further comment on the Whittier neighborhood situation. I do agree with the Diocese that there needs to be a ‘DAY’ warming facility. But a more appropriate place would be by the county shelter Downtown by the jail and courthouse. Or even a better idea would be to move the Diocese’s humble servant, the Bishop into a more appropriate living arrangement, like a one bedroom apartment and convert his home into a shelter
I have felt all along this is a political move, the downtown developers don’t like the Good Shepard facility only a few blocks from all of their luxury condos they are building, so why not move the shelter to the poorest neighborhood in the city, right next to the The Banquet? Let someone else (the working poor, who don’t already have enough problems in this crappy economy) deal with the homeless.
How dare the ‘Specials’ who live downtown or even the Cathedral neighborhood elites have to look at or deal with the homeless!
While I commend the Diocese for wanting to fill a void in our community, I also commend the Whittier neighborhood for standing up to it. We can do better, and find a more appropriate location, but it’s so easy to kick the little man when he is down? Isn’t it? Heck they even kick the bigger man (upper middle-class SON neighborhood) because while they are partially ‘Special’ they are not ‘Extra Special’ like the biggest ‘Specials’ of our community.
A South DaCola foot soldier contributed to this post.
Before the first reading of the amended TIF application process was even presented, city councilors were already buckling (video) including mayoral candidate and city councilor, Greg Jamison (article);
Councilor Greg Jamison presented an amendment to the TIF ordinance but is planning a few changes before the next reading.
Instead of requiring each investor to list his or her name on the application for TIF financing, he’s asking that those with a stake of 10 percent or more disclose that they’re invested in the project.
Basically, if it is a $3 million dollar project and you invest $299,999.99 to the project, your name will be left off of the investor list. What’s the point of doing it at all? While I don’t think the legislation had much of a chance of passing the entire council anyway, this watered down version, even if it passes, will accomplish little of the original goal; TRANSPARENCY to THE PUBLIC of who is asking for government assistance through a tax rebate program. This isn’t about the developers, it’s about the public knowing who is benefitting from the programs. Jamison mentions in the meeting that the developers have told him that their investors are their ‘intellectual property’ and they don’t want to give that up. Well guess what? You don’t have to in a private development, but once you ask to borrow or take away from the citizens ‘intellectual property (our tax dollars)’ then it is no longer a ‘private deal’.
Obviously it is no secret that Huether and his wife have made property investments in this community. It is also no secret that Erpenbach is personal friends with some of these developers (Mike Crane comes to mind) and has received buckets of money in campaign donations from them (even though she doesn’t have a challenger). Some have asked me what kind of property investments her or her husband may have, heck people have asked me about the other councilors. Maybe this isn’t about protecting the ‘intellectual property’ at all but about protecting the council’s private investments in property?
Also, I am getting tiresome of the lip service the council keeps giving us on amending city ordinance. It reminds me of the ACA and the stripping of the most important part of the legislation, Single-Payer option.
Why does this council continue to propose amendments then bail or water down those amendments at the second reading? Lip service. It makes them appear they are ‘making changes’ when all they really are doing is shuffling papers.
Besides the investors being listed, the bigger, better change would be limiting TIF’s for their intended purpose, affordable housing and cleaning up blithed areas. That intention has been thrown by the wayside a long time ago.
I do know that Jamison, Staggers & probably Anderson will vote for the change. I know that Rolfing, Karsky and Erpenbach are against the change. But the debate on both sides will be interesting to listen to, especially those that are up for re-election. I can’t wait to hear Erpenbach’s defense of the lack of transparency. It might just get a challenger to crawl out from under a rock.
The residents of Prairie Meadows subdivision get many of the benefits of living near Sioux Falls.
They drive the streets, their kids go to Sioux Falls schools and they have city sewer service.
But the 75 homes in the subdivision near 41st Street and Tea-Ellis Road aren’t in the city. Technically, they’re in Wayne Township.
“They should be part of Sioux Falls,” said Jeff Schmitt, head of planning and zoning for the city.
If that happens — and the 89-acre area has been the subject of annexation talks for years — residents could pay $25,000 per lot for improvements to streets and utilities.
Not sure what to think of this, but when the city/state is willing to put millions into infrastructure/traffic upgrades for Walmart then turn around and charge thousands for the same thing, makes you wonder a bit.
“We are pleased to award $350,000 to Grandview LLC, owned by Mr. Ken Dunlap, for the purpose of constructing Westwood Apartments,” Community Development Director Darrin Smith said.
“We have heard for a long time about the need for affordable housing. Well, I call that the talk. Doing the talk. But I think what we’re looking at today is kind of doing the walk with it,” Ken Dunlap with Grandview LLC said.
Darrin Smith with Community Development says the money from the city will be given as a loan, to be paid back over the next 32 years.
Hey, sounds like a great program, and it is, BUT . . . am I the only one that thinks this is a conflict of interest that the development company Planning Commission Chair Ken Dunlap is involved with is getting this loan from the city?
Yes, his position is a volunteer one, but a part of me just says this isn’t right (ethical). I’m starting to wonder if there is any board/council member in this city anymore that is simply doing the job for the value of good government instead of self-interest?