Entries Tagged 'Sioux Falls' ↓

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!


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.

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.


‘Ask an Atheist’ radio show

I did not attend the Skep Dakota conference yesterday, but did make it to a recording of the podcast and radio show, “Ask an Atheist” last night. While I am NOT an atheist, I find their conversations about humanism and science interesting. They got on the topic of racism and sexism within the upper leadership of the Atheist movement. I think I asked a question about atheists being no different then right wing Christians in their beliefs about mankind.


National Weather Service; Half the rain Thursday night came from the mayor’s tear ducts

More sarcasm and satire to come . . .

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Mayor Huether to give same presentation to Minnehaha County Commission and Sioux Falls City Council on the same day?

So this is interesting, our Crybayor is going to address the county and city elected legislators on the same day, which apparently looks like the same presentation;



The details to both presentations are mum, I guess. But the running joke is that the mayor will be bragging about the $75K bathroom money for the fairgrounds.


Federal Government ‘Pork’ press conference on Monday

Had a great question posed to me yesterday about the press conference planned for Monday about the RR relocation project;

“Would Sioux Falls taxpayers approve spending $27 million of city money, essentially on a 10 acre parking lot? Or is it okay because it is Federal money?”

This wasn’t from a fellow Joe-Six-Pack, but from a local elected official. My response was that I am fine with receiving FED money for ice storm cleanup, needed infrastructure, etc., but this is simply a handout to the Railroads. Because we know at the end of the day the city will probably only get about $2-3 million back from selling the land.

I am also puzzled about this being a celebration? Why would we be celebrating handing over $27 million of Federal taxpayer money to a private industry?

A social will follow, sponsored by the Sioux Falls Area Chamber of Commerce and Downtown Sioux Falls, Inc. (DTSF). The social will include hors d’oeuvres, punch, and jazz music by the Jim McKinney Quartet.

For $27 million, there better be some caviar.

Is Sioux Falls becoming more Hip?

Well it may not be as cool as San Francisco (trust me, I have been there several times, and one of my favorite city’s) but it is getting better.

Some friends and I (close to my age) joked last night when we were at the block party that it’s too bad Sioux Falls wasn’t this cool when we were in our 20’s (I still think it was). But yes, it is getting much more fun. Don’t tell Huether though, he may throw a press conference about how hip he is.