Archive for Monday, February 8, 2016

Your view: Another perspective of the Vantage at Shawnee protesters

February 8, 2016

Editor's note: Reader Ray Erlichman submitted this column to editor@shawneedispatch.com in response to a Your View column written by Shawn Peterson titled "A big thanks to those who stood against Vantage apartments," published last Wednesday.

As Mr. Peterson says, everyone is entitled to their opinion. So guess I’ll just jump in with mine.

He seemed to be proud of the folks who stood up against the Vantage project, and upset with the mayor for the manner in which she wielded the gavel. Well, Mr. Peterson, sometimes order and decorum need to be maintained.

Was he proud of the way that opponents of the project attempted to shout down those in favor of it? Was he proud of those who opposed the project for mouthing and yelling obscenities at the mayor and certain council persons? Was he proud of the individual who threatened bodily harm to some of the proponents of the project and also to the mayor? The police department was so concerned they insisted on escorting her to her vehicle.

At the December meeting, many of the opponents embarrassed themselves instead of acting as concerned citizens. She never gaveled a resident down, only the unruly behavior of the audience. In actuality, she would have had every right to have the unruly audience members escorted from the meeting. Maybe he needs to read PS-7. Everyone was allowed the full allotted time to speak. She was well within bounds to have people escorted out, and she didn't. She never belittled or bullied anyone. I have been to more council meetings than half of the currently sitting city council. That's not who our mayor is, folks.

Other than this project, I would ask how often have these fine upstanding individuals appeared at City Hall to voice opinions on other matters of concern to the city?

One thing that cannot be disputed was the financing arrangement for this project, as compared to Cobblestone. Cobblestone had a 20 year TIF associated with it. Translation: Any increase in property tax values would have remained with the developer and not come to the city. The Vantage project was going to be built with no incentives given to the developer. This could have a negative effect on the city and not just at that location. Most developers (like Cobblestone) are always seeking tax incentives to build. Now think, for a moment, what will be the reaction of another developer (and it does not have to be at that location) who wants to build, with a tax incentive? A new developer is going to say, “Whoa, if Shawnee wouldn’t OK a project with no incentives, how are we going to get one approved with incentives?” We may have shot ourselves in the foot.

What I found interesting at the last meeting was that the mayor showed she sympathized with the residents when she had taken the time and researched every concern that had come to the council in regard to the project regarding crime, property values, pool and library usage, etc. Also, the info from SMSD as to school classroom availability. These bits of information seemed to contradict the doom-and-gloom folks.

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