Entries Tagged 'Planning Commission' ↓

Lifescape’s Damage Control? (Guest Post – Jannelle Cain)

Did anyone notice the shout out on KFSY News last night they have a half hour special coming up Saturday night, March 30 from 6:30-7 pm called “Empowered by Lifescape”. It will run every day next week at noon on the CW channel. How does a nonprofit have enough money for a fully produced half hour advertisement in the aftermath of a public lawsuit on the abuse of a resident last summer? And let’s not forget the fiasco of how they tried to force the street closure of Elmwood Avenue and all the bad press they have created for themselves through their tactics not just in the neighborhood but throughout the city.

Are they looking for donations or something bigger?

In the news recently, Sanford Health partnered with the VA for research with a $25 million research grant from T. Denny. Does Sanford have expansion plans in the VA neighborhood?

Lifescape had their orders and failed to get the street donated and made A LOT of people angry in this city.  They may have even lied directly to the City Council about moving. Lifescape has already admitted once in this process they want/desire to move within 5 years, but as these things go, they need a buyer.

I would love to still support Lifescape as a neighbor, but the process they used to close the street has left a bad taste in my mouth and a rather chapped hide. I was denied a meeting with the Foundation, and with CEO Steve and VP Rick DeSanto when I requested it on the safety issue of the parking lot for their employees. I received a call at exactly 5:30 pm, one half hour after my business closes so Rick thought he would get my voicemail, however, I answered personal. It was obvious it was a written/prepared statement 8 hours and 20 minutes after my call to request the meeting and told them what I wanted to discuss.  In the return call I was told “Your intentions are “disingenuous” and that I do not believe in the mission of Lifescape or care about their employees or the people they serve.”  That could not be further from the truth, if they would have taken the time to talk to me, they would know that my aunt and maternal grandmother and grandfather were all crippled from mercury poisoning during my Mom’s senior year in high school.  So by the end of that year at graduation she was working 3 jobs, buying them a house in town, and had her younger sister enrolled in the ND Cripple Children’s School after she was released from the University of Minnesota Hospital.

I wish Lifescape luck on their attempt to the gain positive public opinion and raise money with their half hour commercial. It’s unfortunate that a few bad apples at the organization are over turning the apple cart of an otherwise useful and well intentioned institution.

Sioux Falls Planning Commission, Wed, March 6, 2019

Planning Meeting, 6 PM (Carnegie)

Item#3D, Reifel Middle School Rezone from AG Land

Item#6D, Another Telephone Booth VL Casino, it looks like the Planning Commission is recommending denial of the Conditional Use Permit. It will be interesting to see why. When I viewed this last night, there was a spreadsheet about the incompatibility, It’s not appearing anymore in SIRE.

Item#6F, Avera’s 2nd pot shot at ripping up a neighborhood, this one is about as clear as mud.

Does Avera plan to bulldoze an entire neighborhood?

FF: 4:56 (Ironically the Planning office says they are working with them so they don’t disrupt the neighborhood. Huh?)

Avera has new zoning notices up at 24th and Cliff AND also at 7th/8th  and 24th.

These are pink signs vs. the orange ones that were originally posted for the Feb Planning Commission meeting.  The NEW pink signs are posted at both locations.

Seems like a sneaky strategy to have zoning requests at 2 different planning commission meetings with 24th and Cliff now added in. Why wasn’t this done all at once? Hmmmm.

They own approximately 49 out of the 64 homes in the neighborhood.  It seems they plan to have 8th, 9th and 10th Avenues vacated at some point in the future! Do you really believe they will be able to move ALL of those houses? Not likely.

This cutting up our core neighborhoods like pie has got to end.

In Benders Market Outlook it was mentioned there was a at 9.8% vacancy rate with apartments in Sioux Falls and;

Overall, the multifamily real estate cycle is expected to remain in the recessionary stage.

I have often argued that many developers in Sioux Falls don’t have a long term plan with their properties, I maintain they are only looking on how they can make money TODAY without worrying about the future. I think by cutting up these core neighborhoods with affordable first time homebuyer houses they are forcing more younger families and seniors on a fixed income into rentals. I have even heard a planning official say that living in an apartment is appealing because it is a maintenance free lifestyle. What they don’t mention is when you move out of that apartment, you get $0 back for investing in someone else’s property. As a city we should be promoting home ownership over renting at all costs and we need to put the brakes on bulldozing our affordable neighborhoods, we also need to end TIFs for apartments and invest that money in saving our core neighborhoods.

Has the Midco Aquatic Center caused parking issues around the VA?

I won’t get into the argument about whether we needed an indoor public pool or not in Sioux Falls, that ship has sailed. But I do know the neighbors of Spellerberg opposed the location, mainly due to parking issues with the VA. We all knew at the time that the VA wasn’t going anywhere and was expanding. We also know that the VA has a quit claim deed on Spellerberg, so if they want to expand either buildings or parking, they have the right to do so in Spellerberg park. SAVE Spellerberg warned of these issues before the vote. They fell on deaf ears. Now we have an expanded VA, which needed more parking, so they cancelled their lease with Lifescape and we have an indoor pool with a parking lot next to the VA that sits empty most of the time. Earlier this week, a member of SAVE Spellerberg and a Veteran and Volunteer at the VA sent an email to the City Council, here is a portion of it talking about the parking issues;

Parking is a problem with all city projects going back decades.  The city and NFPs intentionally build where there is insufficient parking expecting residential street parking to be a cost savings option.  City leaders have routinely handed over streets to business for their convenience, making homeowners/taxpayers second class to the business of city hall.

Not only do I personally think Spellerberg Park was a bad location for an indoor pool, the evidence is showing that it was a HORRIBLE location. Destroying a park for larger parking, and not having any space for expansion of the facility.

I truly believe if the pool would not have gone in there, the VA would have been able to expand parking to accommodate their future needs as well as Lifescape. I found it interesting that NO ONE brought up the reason why there is congestion, because all of the facilities next to each other. Maybe this SAVE Spellerberg person is right;

Lifescape’s poor planning the last 30 years has caused them with the help of city leaders to promote the decline of the very neighborhood that has supported them.

Maybe this is one of the reasons they put Midco at Spellerberg, so they could institutionalize the neighborhood. Seems their plan hit a snag Tuesday Night.

Mayor TenHaken’s office sends out bizarre photo to advocate for the closure of Elmwood Ave.

You can’t make this stuff up. The mayor’s office sends out the above photo to the city councilors to advocate for the closure of Elmwood Avenue. Saying this;

02-08-19 Update: Mayor Paul TenHaken stated that Erica Beck, Chief of Staff had sent an email to council outlining the administration’s analysis of the street vacation request. The administration supports the vacation, and is not obligated to be neutral. The Crippled Children’s Hospital and School was built in a corn field and predated the neighborhood.

Their argument that they were their first is ridiculous. First off, zoning laws have changed numerous times since the hospital was built. The neighborhood has also changed. The hospital and it’s ownership has changed names at least 4 times since it was built. On top of the that, the current facility plans to sell within 5 years with no idea who will move into the facility (though the rumor is Sanford wants to snatch it up).

While I disagree with some things in our current zoning laws, street closures should NOT occur because someone or some entity with the most money wants it closed. It should be based on what is best for the neighborhood, which is obvious, keeping the street since Elmwood is the only street in that neighborhood that goes all the way through.

But I have an even bigger issue with the Mayor’s office trying to advocate for a private business and influencing the council’s vote before they have the appropriate hearing. This is what happens when your Deputy COS comes from a right-wing partisan-hack background that doesn’t understand how non-partisan, municipal government works. If PTH wants to veto it after the fact, fine, but him and his staff are not acting ethically in this matter, and it’s a damn shame.

Why does the Sioux Falls Planning Department continue to advocate for private development?

There is a whole host of reasons why public employees SHOULD NOT be advocating for private business, but that is a rabbit hole I don’t want to go down tonight. But one of the biggest reasons is because I am paying their wages and they should be looking out for the best interests of not only business, but citizens and the city as a whole.

I guess it shouldn’t be any surprise that the Planning Department is advocating for private development when it comes to the street vacation of Elmwood, they have been doing it for years and learned it from the master, Steve Metli. As the old joke goes, there are three types of zoning in Sioux Falls, C-1, C-2 and C-Metli.

During last Tuesday’s city council meeting (during public input at beginning), the neighbors brought up their disappointment in the Planning Department advocating for the street vacation, they also pointed out that Lifescape doesn’t plan on staying for more than 5 years, Elmwood is a main thoroughfare AND the safety of the kids is NEVER compromised because the bus pulls right up to the building to pick them up.

But it didn’t stop the city from sending this letter;

(Click to enlarge)

Today, COS and Part-Time Mayor Beck sent out an email talking about all of the benefits of the street vacation. It’s so long I wondered if Neitzert wrote it? Here are some highlights;

We are also recommending support of this right-of-way vacation for neighborhood and community-wide reasons:

• City staff have long supported neighborhood preservation.  This includes the preservation of our core community institutions.  It is unfortunate that this right-of-way vacation request has perpetuated the perception that this is a LifeScape vs. the neighborhood issue, when in reality, LifeScape is an anchor in this neighborhood and has been since they broke ground in a corn field on the outskirts of Sioux Falls in 1948.  (Please see attached photo of the groundbreaking event for LifeScape, then named the Crippled Children’s Hospital and School).

• While balance has been and will continue to be important between commercial and institutional growth and adjacent residential housing, it is critical that we look at the macro of these situations and what is possible with and without investments like that of LifeScape’s.  City staff will continue to work diligently on the ‘preservation’ of neighborhoods so that we do not see continued need for new areas in which public investment is required for ‘revitalization’.

• Our core institutional campuses are vital anchors to not only their neighborhoods but our community as well.  Through their growth and success, our entire community flourishes.  Please know that these folks are at the table, hand in hand with us ready to re-invest into our housing stock and we are looking forward to bringing those ideas to you in the very near future.  They know firsthand how challenging workforce growth is and the key to that often lies within the realm of housing.

• Our team also believes that the challenge associated with on-street parking and the overall safety concerns for clients and employees of the LifeScape campus are not isolated to LifeScape as a business but to the site as a whole.  An attractive, well-maintained and safe property is just as important today as it will be 5, 10, 15, or even 20+ years from now.  The overall parking demands and traffic safety challenges related to the campus will not suddenly be alleviated should LifeScape determine to move elsewhere and another business occupy the space.

Next steps:

• Our Planning staff has reached out to the three neighbors adjacent to the future parking lot.  This effort has been made to ensure that there is dialogue between the neighbors and LifeScape with respect to our landscaping standards versus specific needs of the three adjacent neighbors.

• Our Engineering staff is hosting an open house on Monday night, February 11 to discuss with neighbors that could be impacted by the right-of-way vacation, why the administration is not in opposition to the request.

• Our Planning and Engineering teams will be in attendance on February 12 at the Council meeting to present the request, along with our analysis into the traffic impacts from the proposed right-of-way vacation.

Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Best regards;


Erica L. Beck

Chief of Staff to the Mayor, City of Sioux Falls

As you can see, there is strong language that the administration supports the street vacation. They should not be taking sides. You could almost argue there are pros and cons on both sides. It is NOT the job of the city, it’s employees, the mayor’s office or city councilors to advocate one way or the other. Their job is to make a decision based on what is best for the citizens. It is pretty obvious that closing Elmwood would not be good for the residents, but I guess it is their fault for not requesting a C-Metli rezone.

City of Sioux Falls claims they will be doing a national search for new planning director

While I believe they are conducting a national search, I wonder how that will really turnout?

With Cooper retiring in April, the city has started a nationwide search for his replacement.

“To maintain the growth we’ve had in the city and to keep that moving forward, this position is responsible for that, so for all intents and purposes, it’s one of our biggest positions,” Mayor Paul TenHaken said.

I have maintained for awhile that if you bring in a new planning director from out of state they will not have the historical knowledge of how planning and development is done in Sioux Falls. As we know, developers and the hospitals run the town, they pretty much admitted that during the Citizens Planning Academy when a citizen asked why Sanford and the other big developers get what they want. Those with the most money win!

I think the new position will be a Co-Director position that will manage the department, but I think the new director will have to answer to a higher power who has the historical knowledge. I think the department will ultimately be managed by COS Beck.

Another Funeral, uh I mean, Wedding Barn

Here we go again (Presentation at the beginning of meeting above) another Wedding Barn. This one is near the new Veterans Cemetery. I guess quite a few neighbors showed up to say they didn’t want it there (Joint jurisdiction with the county and city even though those opposing the barn do NOT live in city limits).

One of the reasons is noise from bands, and the fact it is a heavily traveled gravel road already and people are wondering who will pave it and pay the cost. One of the biggest complaints the neighbors had was that they were never notified or asked if they wanted to live next to a cemetery (they were not notified of the re-zone from ag land) and they were pretty perturbed that the cemetery is going in so close to their residences. I guess when the city wants to rezone they don’t have to get permission from the county, but it seems it is the other way around when the county wants to rezone.

While I wasn’t opposed to the cemetery I still think the Feds or the State should have paid the good taxpayers of Sioux Falls for the land.

Sioux Falls City Council Agenda, MONDAY, Feb 4, 2019

Council will be going to Pierre on Tuesday for some kind of Municipal event. Hopefully Haugaard will let them in the Capital so they hang out with the rest of the buffoons and wackies.

City Council Informational Meeting, 4 PM

There will be a presentation about building code changes (sprinkler systems and deck footings).

LSS will also do a presentation about stats on Refugee resettlement in SD. The numbers are actually way down.

City Council Regular Meeting, 7 PM

Item #40, Ordinance, 2nd Reading, Audit Committee Changes.

Planning Commission Meeting, 6 PM (WED 2/6)

Item #3D, Re-Zoning for Slavery HS.

Item #6A, Ethiopian Restaurant (That will make THREE! Woot! Woot!)

Item #6B, Permit to build a Westside Banquet. Must be a lot of Federal Employees on that side of town. It is next to a couple large trailer parks . . . not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Item #6C, Taco Hell converted into Taco Yummy!

Item #6D, Just what we need, another Casino in a Gas Station. NOT!


Will there be a NEW Planning Director for the City of Sioux Falls?

I have been speculating for awhile who will take over as the new planning director. Last week I proposed Jeff Schmidt. (FYI, City Hall readers, I threw that out as a curve ball, hope you got some good laughs out of it).

I have noticed there have been quite a few terminations and ‘retirements’ over the past couple of months. Someone in the Attorney’s office recently got the boot from the man in the corner office (I’m still gathering more info on that one).

I think with all this reorganization (which is to be expected in a new administration) that the Planning Department will see some major changes.

I don’t think they are going to hire a new director from a promised ‘national search’. It would be almost impossible to bring in a new director from outside of Sioux Falls or the State, even with a stellar resume, they would lack historical knowledge of planning in SF and would have to do mountains of research on day one.

So what do I think will happen? This of course is pure speculation and NOT based on any information I received, but I think they will appoint a Deputy Planning director internally and COS Beck will be the overseer of the Department, essentially getting her cake and eating it to. I think with the high salary Beck is receiving and the enormous amount of power I heard TenHaken gave her to make decisions in his absence (which is quite a bit) that she will start putting a lot of these departments under her authority.

Would love to see those Executive Orders.

Like I said, pure speculation at this point, but the stars seem to be aligning.