Charis House at Plan Commission recap

The Charis House and subsequent Plan Commission meeting wrapped up about 8:40 pm tonight.  Here’s a recap of the events.

One of the first things that was mentioned during the presentation of the site plan, was that the City is looking at the best way to deal with “de-watering” the area.  The impression that I received was the City would be paying for this.  Whether it was having a permanent pumping station built, or merely insuring that a temporary pump could be moved into the area as needed.  If this is the plan, then for me the question becomes, “Why should the City have to pay for this?”

One piece of good news is that the huge billboard on the property, I don’t have the patience to search for a photo tonight, will be coming down soon.  CBS’s lease has expired and will not be renewed – they will remove the billboard at their expense.

It was stated that numerous letters had been received by the Plan Commission in support of the project.  When asked for a showing of hands of those speaking in favor and then those speaking in opposition, those opposed outnumbered those in favor 2 to 1.

If I had to sum it up the evening’s theme in one phrase, I’d have to say, “Why have Community Development Action Plans (CDAPs) if we’re not going to follow them.

Carolyn Devoe, an advocate, said that over 5,000 hours were spent by citizens to make sure that ordinances line up with CDAPs and further developing the CDAPs.  She added, 

…the manner in which you rule on this will give all CDAPs an indication of the manner of cooperation they may expect.

I wouldn’t be surprised if all of the Plan-It Allen! hadn’t been read into the record by the end of the night.  Ok, perhaps I’m overstating it.  But the majority of those speaking against cited some part of Plan-It Allen! or an individual neighborhood’s CDAP or vision statement.

Councilman Tim Pape spoke stating that Councilman Tom Didier could not attend the meeting, however he was also not in favor of the plan going forward.  Councilman Pape in part said, 

…the CDAPs are a deliberate decision to say that we have to say what works and fits with the long-term character of the community.

…Although there may be attractive developments and projects…in the long term, does it rob us of our character?

Dan Wire spoke about CDAPs and then proceeded to stack all of them on the table.

The Plan Commission meets next Monday to decide the Charis House site plan.

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  1. Ok So didn’t the Rescue Mission Lawyers do diligence here? I was at the meeting also and There was a lot of NIMBY people there.
    Let’s face facts the property is a waste land, even the lone hold-out lot that is so important hasn’t had the grass mowed this year and those great quonset huts are a fire hazard waiting to happen. Then they are worried about the fabric of Wells Street being destroyed? Please, 3 businesses on Wells don’t even speak English! River-front development? Where has that been? 2 years from now when we drive past that empty field we are going to wish a shelter was there to protect the weakest of us.

    • What does the fact of whether a business speaks English or not have anything to do with this? I could add that at least those businesses are generating tax revenues for the City and State. I’ve been in the stores and they do speak English.

      As far as doing their due diligence, that’s really debatable. Going solely to the City for an answer and not obtaining an independent opinion on the matter is not doing a full investigation.

      The other thing to consider is yes, the City will have to pay to protect the area from flooding. At least if this was a residential or commercial project, the City would recoup some of that investment from property taxes. Instead, we foot the bill and receive very little. And all this to save some trees. Perhaps instead of saving those trees, switch the sides, plant some new trees and give it some time.

      As Tim Pape said, to accept development that doesn’t fit into the CDAP just because it’s the first and only investment offered is unacceptable. Again, the reason this property sat for so long without development might have something to do with the original asking price and potential zoning issues.

  2. The point about the English, it shows how eclectic the neighborhood is. Nothing else.
    How is it all these regular citizens have access to all those CDAPS and yet the Rescue Missions people didn’t? And so what is the property good for?

  3. If you’re able to get on this blog, you’re able to access the CDAPs. They’re on the City website. Those in the neighborhood have frequently mentioned CDAPs before when talking with CH officials. Due Diligence not only concerns the law, but surrounding neighborhoods and how a project fits in.

    It was mentioned by one of the CH speakers about a meeting earlier this year in which, according to them no concerns were mentioned. Wrong. In fact, I innocently asked why the building had been set back so far from the curb and how this fit in with downtown design guidelines. Now I haven’t attended all the meetings with the neighbors and CH people, so I can’t speak to the veracity of either side’s claims about timeline. I do know that the CDAPs were out there before this project was conceived.

    As far as what the project is good for, I would say it’s only limited by your imagination. In fact, if you read this post:

    I specifically asked what the project could be used for without mentioning any of this controversy. There were some very thoughtful suggestions.

    • Hi Mark, I know that I ruffled a few feathers when I posted the question, because I didn’t reveal the Charis House wanted to actually build there until a few days later. The reason I did it was to see what ideas were out there without clouding the issue. I thought some imaginative things came out of it.

      I do appreciate your comment. There is a lot more to this than it just being a NIMBY issue or people not wanting it in their neighborhood. It’s an issue of planning and of zoning laws in need of clarification. I honestly think it could have been handled a lot better.


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