Entries Tagged 'Planning Commission' ↓

Is it time to Disband the Inept Sioux Falls Planning Commission?

Ironically, it may be a secret goal of Mayor Poops and the rich developers and banksters that support him.

Over the past year I have pointed out on this blog and during public input to the commission itself that they are a useless body. They have non-elected planning staff pre-approve agenda items, they have conflicts of interest with agenda items and recusals at almost every meeting with multiple members AND they have a serious attendance issue barely making quorum at the meetings.

Add another one to the list, as I mentioned Sunday in my agenda post, they had NO discussion on the items tonight because they put them ALL in the consent agenda even though several were controversial like Item 2A which dealt with changing a whole neighborhood into a Historic District (so they likely can get property tax breaks and other historic grant goodies to pay for their remodels).

The meeting lasted a whopping 13 minutes and if you blinked your eye or turned away to scratch your butt, you would have missed what was discussed.

There is an effort by some state legislators whose districts are in Sioux Falls and City Councilors to streamline the planning approval process, or should we say, take it out of the public eye. Developers have been saying for awhile that they are being hamstrung by the planning approval process because neighbors of their projects are objecting. Hey, McFly, that is why we have the process.

After watching the meeting tonight, if you didn’t know the developers and banksters are running this city, you do now.

They should just paint City Hall and Carnegie Hall Black on the outside to match the blackness on the inside.

Sioux Falls City Council Agenda, Oct 4-6, 2021

The City Council and other boards have a full agenda this week;

• The Audit Committee has finally released some audits, been awhile. On Spectra (the people who provide concessions to several city owned entertainment facilities) they found a ton of non-compliance especially with insurance requirements. On the Midco Aquatic Center they have seen an over 50% drop in attendance since 2019 and around a 40% drop in revenue. They were also non-compliant on several fronts and like the Spectra Audit it seems our own Finance Department is not doing regular checks of compliance. For Travel expenses there was several instances of non-compliance. $137,000 travel reimbursements paid directly to travelers (city employees). Many of these results don’t surprise me. I have said the City Manager (The Mayor) is running a rudderless ship and when you have a poor city manager, it results in poor management under that person.

• The Planning Commission has decided to go full rogue by putting every single item on the consent agenda this month. Now items can be pulled for discussion by the Commission or Individuals from the public but I find this startling considering that all items are recommended for approval by the Planning Department and I am sure several Commission Members will recuse due to conflicts. Folks, this is what true cruise control government looks like. I am still puzzled why we even have a Planning Commission.

• The Charter Revision Commission will continue to review the Charter.

• City Council Informational will review building code changes.

• City Council Regular Meeting;

On the contracts and agreements (Item 6) in sub items 17-18 they are paying this consulting firm out of Florida to do this?

And of course sub item #38 where we are reviewing the Human Relations Commission.

Sioux Falls Planning Commission Member Ervin suddenly concerned about Public Input

While it is no surprise the Planning Commission approved (6-0, 3 absent) the ridiculous Med MJ zoning ordinance with comments about the ‘Safety of the Community’ even though a large majority of Sioux Falls voters supported this, the most humorous statement was from Sean Ervin who suddenly seemed to be concerned about having public input on zoning and planning issues when it comes to selling a harmless plant. In reference to the conditional use process these dispensary owners will have to go through he said this;

‘ . . . there is public input. That’s a real important step for the city of Sioux Falls, it allows people to come and address us . . . and wisdom that comes from this public input for these officials who have to make these tough decisions (councilors) for the whole community, we are trying to protect the community . . .’

I found it a bit ironic that when it comes to a law that was passed by over 70% of Sioux Falls voters and is only approved for medical use, they seem to be trying to ‘protect’ someone with this process. Who?! Yet when it comes to TIFs, tax rebates and handouts and letting developers build whatever they damn well please, where are those protections?

See, Sean, you can’t have it both ways. If you are for Public Input, let’s do it all the way, why not make every single business in this town whether they are selling Med MJ or Cotton Candy come in front of these two bodies and beg for approval, you know, for the safety of the community. I would even argue that Cotton Candy is probably more harmful than MJ.

The rank hypocrisy I see at some of these city meetings is mind boggling. Ironically, I just told Sean and the rest of the Commission at last month’s meeting that their meetings are just some kind of rubber stamp circus, and they didn’t disappoint tonight.

Are Sioux Falls Developers angling to push residents out of the zoning process?

The Argus did a story about how homeowners are not real keen on having apartments built next to them out in the burbs;

“This sentiment that apartment owners and apartment dwellers are scumbags has got to stop in this community,” said Councilor Christine Erickson. “It’s just not what it is.”

I guess it depends on the location and the condition of the apartment. There is also a difference between $1,100 dollar a month apartments and HUD subsidized housing. I agree with Erickson, apartment dwellers who pay their own rent are NOT scumbags, and this city should do everything in their power to encourage more apartment dwellings for working folks.

The problem here is NOT the homeowners complaining, the problem is the location of the apartments. The large developers want to make a quick buck, so they prefer to build next to homes in a cornfield instead of in the core of the city where we should be building up density. This is what happens when you allow a hospital to bulldoze an entire core neighborhood instead fixing up these core neighborhoods. I know, I sound like a broken record.

As for the neighbors complaining, some of their statements are pretty ignorant. I lived in 7 different apartments in Sioux Falls before I bought my home, there was nothing wrong with it, and there is nothing wrong with me living by apartments now in my home. The bigger issue with these ignorant (and sometimes racist) complaints is that it is helping the developers that are pushing to skip several steps in the zoning process;

There’s always been hesitation from neighbors when they hear an apartment could be going up nearby, said Jill Madsen, vice-chair of the South Dakota Multi-housing Association.

But once all the meetings and votes are done, the construction is completed and the tenants have moved in, she said, “most people don’t even … there aren’t any issues going forward.”

There has been a rumor going around that this organization along with developers are pushing to change city ordinances and state law so that developers no longer have to ask for permission from the neighbors and can just go directly to the planning office to rezone the property and get building permits. No notification and no neighborhood meetings. This of course goes against how things have always been done, but it also lacks transparency. The proponents of this supposed change will of course use all the dreadful comments from homeowners to plead their case for less transparency and essentially ruin the process for the rest of us.

I have felt the planning department has wanted to sidestep the commission and council on a whole host of things. Just look at TIFs, they used to be for only blight and affordable housing until the state legislature changed the law to pretty much make them for anything, and since then they have been handing them out like candy in Sioux Falls, raising the taxes on the rest of us while getting NO economic benefit from the projects. If we allow the state legislature to make these new guidelines you will see apartments go up on every street corner and rent go through the roof;

With a housing market that’s often pricing out even those lucky enough to actually find a home for sale and multiple companies touting the thousands of jobs they hope to bring to Sioux Falls in just the next five years, city staff say qualms about multi-family housing simply don’t mesh with the reality of what the city of nearly 200,000 people needs.

The city administration is getting nervous because they have enticed all these employers with ridiculous tax breaks and now they have no workers and no place for them to live, so they will try any desperate attempt to get up apartments as fast as possible. I have also felt that homebuilders and realtors have artificially inflated home prices, which is going on across the country. The value of my home went up around 37% in ONE YEAR!

I can almost guarantee the Amazon parking lot will be one big campground when it opens.

Slow, measured growth is way better than the fire sale we have been having. Growth for growth sakes never turns out well, and we are in for quite a ride over the next few years.

City of Sioux Falls’ settlement for Midco Aquatic Center windows

I wasn’t sure if the city did a press release on this or if this was in the media, so I requested a copy of the settlement from the city in which I received last week. Pursuant to state law, settlements have to be released to the public.

LETTER from CITY, COPY of SETTLEMENT

While the city providing me a copy of the settlement was good, the settlement itself was questionable.

Basically the city didn’t get a CASH settlement so they could hire another contractor to fix the issue. This would have been the best way to go. Instead the contractor that built the facility agreed to replace the windows at NO cost. The kicker is they are taking NO responsibility for the 24 windows being defective, and will not guarantee or warranty the replacement work. Like I said, it would have been better to get a CASH settlement from them so we could hire a NEW contractor to FIX and WARRANTY the windows. We should also acknowledge that the contractor did shoddy work and exclude them from working on future city projects.

You will also see the conflict of interest in the settlement with a Planning Commission member signing off on the architectural portion.

While this settlement won’t rock our city to the core, it certainly wasn’t handled correctly. We should have sued them and hired a reputable contractor to do the job correctly.

Kevin Smith returns to the City of Sioux Falls Planning Department, with a promotion to boot

Only in the bizarro world of cruise control government these things occur;

Smith will serve as assistant director of planning and development services under director Jeff Eckhoff.

So Smith works in the private sector for 6 years and returns to public service with a promotion. WOW. Only after some certain people have mysteriously disappeared and rumors of several retirements the chess pieces start to move around. It seems Paul’s administration is getting so desperate he is calling up old employees to come back. Pretty soon he will hire MMM to be his consultant 🙂

Mayor Stoneless wouldn’t know leadership if he was hit with it over the head with an Ironman medal.

And nothing against Kevin. I heard last month he was returning. I learned a long time ago, most city managers, especially directors and assistant directors are animals of opportunity. I was surprised Kevin lasted 6 years in the private sector.

I heard our former, former, Fire Chief mows golf courses.

UPDATE: Sioux Falls City Council Agenda August 3-4, 2021

UPDATE: The Planning Agenda is NOW posted, if you go to the Med MJ Item 5B, you will see how convoluted they have written it. Read the final two paragraphs first. Basically, they want any dispensary to apply at the 1000′ foot variance, but they can request to be at 500′ feet through conditional use. In other words, every dispensary will have to go begging to planning and likely the city council for the variance. They have made this much more complicated than it needed to be. They should have just reduced to 500′ feet for ALL dispensaries. There is NO difference between Bob’s MJ Dispensary or Mary’s MJ Dispensary, they do the same thing, why would the variance change from store to store? This is what happens folks when you have legislators not listening to the public, a big fat cluster.

Notice the agenda for the Planning Commission meetings have NOT been posted yet. This is not unusual, they have until tomorrow to do so for the briefing. Remember, the Planning Commission is scheduled to vote on the zoning restrictions for Medical MJ on Wednesday. The proposal is for 1000 feet, but advocates have asked for 500 feet. I have no ideas what is going on behind the scenes. I have had radio silence with ALL councilors, city officials and moles and planning commission members. My guess is that there are some very ‘delicate’ negotiations going on. Hopefully we will know more Monday afternoon.

On the council agenda is the budget hearings and the regular council meeting.

Item #6, Sub Item #13, More money for screwing around with SAM on demand, $140K. Interesting that we have NO idea how the first round went, too bad they couldn’t have a PTAB meeting to tell us, oh that’s right, they couldn’t because that would have been a violation of open meeting laws for not posting an agenda 24 hours in advance.

Item #41, 1st Reading, TIF for Cherapa II. As you know I am opposed to this, as I am with ALL TIFs in Sioux Falls that don’t help with affordable housing. If you glance at the 92 page document attached to the item, you will notice that the land purchase agreement was signed back in November of 2019 by the mayor. Once again not only are we giving TIFs to wealthy developers who have the resources to do these projects on their own, we hold onto the land for them for almost 2 years tax FREE. You know who owns and runs this town, and it ain’t you and me.

Joint Minnehaha County / Sioux Falls Planning Commission votes against small addition to wedding barn due to city greed

An official called me Monday night after the joint meeting in which the commissions were voting on an additional building to be added to the property of the wedding barn by the Veterans Cemetery. The applicant wanted to add a smaller building to the property for smaller receptions for funerals at the cemetery.

The MCC voted unanimously to approve, the SF Planning voted 3-2 to not approve because they felt the applicant needed to pay multiple platting fees for the building on one piece of property.

Commissioner Johnson made the same motion for the city planning commission to approve the
Rezoning #21-01 request. The motion was seconded by Commissioner Kittams. Commissioner
Luetke commented that he would be voting against the request because he believes everyone
should go through the same process. A roll call vote was taken and the motion was rejected with
3 votes against the motion and 2 votes in favor of the motion. Commissioners Norman, Luetke,
and Paulson voted against the motion and Commissioners Johnson and Kittams voted in favor of
the motion.

You must also remember this is in the joint jurisdiction area and many city services are NOT provided out there. The multiple platting fees would make sense if this was a well developed area, but it is not.

It is time for Minnehaha County to revoke their joint jurisdiction agreement with the city and let county residents who don’t live under the dictatorship of the City of Sioux Falls to be FREE.

The item will move onto the full council and commission.

Does the Sioux Falls Planning Commission have too many conflicts of interest?

Imagine my astonishment tonight when at the beginning of the Planning Meeting, 3 members of the board including the chair recused themselves for several items on the consent agenda, one member said he had conflicts with 2 of the items. And in the regular items a separate board member recused themself. Can we even have a functioning commission with this many conflicts? Are they volunteering on behalf of the constituents and the city or for their own business interests? And further more, isn’t it interesting how their conflicting items got on the consent agenda. It was astounding.

The application for the casino on the loop was also withdrawn by the applicant with NO explanation. I have heard there was quite the blowback from the neighborhood and knew if it made it to the full city council it would be DOA.

Here were the recusals;

John Paulson 2I,

Kurt Johnson 2F & 2H

Erik Nyberg (Chair) DID NOT say what item only commented that it was ONE of the items

Bradyn Neises, 5B

Core Neighborhood Opposed to Casino in high crime area

From Egg Rolls to Aces

I guess the Pettigrew/Cathedral neighborhood was a bit surprised when this popped up on the agenda;

Petition: CU-014556-2021: Conditional Use Permit for an On-sale alcoholic beverage establishment within 500 feet of a sensitive use located at 523 W 10TH ST.

Notice staff has stayed out of making a recommendation;

While the zoning is appropriate for an on-sale alcohol use, staff are reluctant to provide a
recommendation as the subject area has enough societal challenges with such establishments in
the immediate vicinity. Management of this facility plays a pivotal in being a good neighbor by
educating staff, enforcing policies, and being proactive with law enforcement.

Well that is certainly refreshing, they shouldn’t be recommending approval for any project.

Many in the neighborhood have asked me how this even got on the agenda. This will be an interesting one to watch, but if I was a betting man it won’t pass.