Monday, August 26, 2013, by Buddy Saunders
Last Friday we told you about Mayor Cluck’s plan to put another of his mega apartment complexes on Abram Street. In the face of heated opposition from property owners, the city Council voted 6 to 3 to reject the Arlington Lofts at 815 West Abram.
That should have been the end of this 4-story high-density monster with a 6-story parking garage. But it isn’t dead. Tomorrow, Tuesday, August 27th at 2PM (City Hall, 3rd Floor), Mayor Cluck is getting his ducks in a row for a second vote.
The Mayor’s plan is to rush a reconsideration ASAP before citizens have an opportunity to further organize their opposition. This in itself is a dirty trick, but it’s what we’ve come to expect from a mayor and city council that puts crony special interest ahead of the desires of the citizens.
Why do citizens oppose this plan? Read our article and the many opposition letters appended to the end of the DP13-3 Arlington Lofts document.
A lot of games are being played here at City Hall. Zoning codes have been altered in the downtown area to accommodate apartment developers who want many more apartments per acre.
Here’s another thing. Formerly, when there was major opposition to a development, a super majority Council vote was required. That requirement was quietly eliminated. Property owners learned of this change only after they turned in a petition that previously would have triggered the super majority requirement.
Tomorrow at 2PM the City Council will meet on the 3rd floor of City Hall to decide if they will again vote on the Arlington Lofts plan.
You should be there or at least watch the meeting on TV. If you’ve never done this, you’ll be surprised at how little public discussion takes place, even on issues critical to citizens.
Please note that at the “Special Meeting,” you may speak to Council members before and after the meeting, but during the meeting you can only listen. The meeting will also be rebroadcast on TV.
Almost no one goes to these meetings. If 10 citizens show up, Council takes note. If 20 do, they are nervous. Pack in 30 or more and even Mayor Cluck’s most reliable Council crony will think twice before giving Cluck what he wants.
If a majority of Council votes to reconsider the DP13-3 Arlington Lofts, the new vote to approve or disapprove will likely be another ASAP, with the Tuesday, September 3rd Council meeting being the earliest possible date for a vote.
How the Mayor and Council voted last Tuesday:
Based on what Opinion Arlington knows to date, here’s where we think the City Council members stand on the proposed revote. If you want to stop this plan, email or phone those listed in bold.
Further questions and insights bearing on this issue:
Unanswered finance questions regarding the project.
The reconsideration vote scheduled to take place on Tuesday at 2:00 PM Tues., Aug. 27th
It is somewhat unusual that the reconsideration vote could not be handled at a regular council meeting. The unseemly haste is clearly calculated to minimize opposition. This could fall under the category of “Backroom dealing” or Political Mischief.”
We question the invalidation of Opposition Petitions.
This Council act betrays the property rights of the adjacent landowners. The City Council should look at the petition of those within the 200 ft. radius. Some 40+% were against the project and that is with the city owning some 40%+/- and being exempt. The super-majority should have applied. This is something for the Council to reconsider in the future, unless the Council believes that it alone knows what is best for the citizens and their private businesses.
Why adjacent property owners oppose the Arlington Lofts at 815 West Abram.
The adjacent landowners opposed this case for several reasons beyond the simple mass/scale of the apartments themselves. Not too many years ago, the City wanted the private homes on West Abram Street saved, renovated, and reused as professional offices. The stated goal was to preserve the history of the area. Many professionals and business operators bought the old buildings and the street was revitalized. And it looks really good.
Now it appears that commitments to those investors are being put aside and their property is being put at risk and property values threatened. We do not know of any business corridor area that has seen increased land values because of super high density Student Housing.
This is an important issue regarding the City keeping its word to investors.
The Arlington Lofts at 815 West Abram is an ugly project.
Apart from not being attractive, this architecturally blank project just does not fit with the character of the adjacent area.