Train wreck

A penny placed on the track can derail a train, and three pennies laid on the track of progress derailed Charterwood last night.

Donna Bell was absent last night, so Gene Pease moved that her absence be excused so that her empty chair did not count as a “yes” for every vote council took that night. That being accomplished, Matt Czajkowski wondered if Bell’s absence would put the Charterwood applicant, requesting a rezoning and special use permit approval, at a disadvantage. A protest petition had been lodged against the project (anyone who knows the whys and wherefores of protest petitions, please chime in), thus requiring any votes to reach a three-quarters majority to pass. Town attorney Ralph Karpinos looked it up and said that Bell’s absence wouldn’t affect the vote – with her, 7 of 9 votes would be needed; without her, 6 of 8.

After more than three hours of PowerPoint slides, community members speaking for and against the project, legal arguments and hastily added stipulations, council voted 5 to 3 in favor of allowing a rezoning, one vote shy of the six needed to pass.

Laurin Easthom voted against it, perhaps because state regulations prohibit rent control, so the town could not designate a certain percentage of the 154 rental units affordable. Or maybe she objected to developers leaving a voicemail message for her, trying to win her vote. The developers met with Karpinos from the outset to learn how much contact they could have with council members outside of official meetings, and the developers stayed scrupulously within those limits.

Lee Storrow voted against it. He objected to developers restricting rentals to those under 21 years old. Developers put in that stipulation to appease homeowners of the single-family houses in an adjacent development who objected to undergraduate students moving into the rental units.

Ed Harrison voted against it, maybe because he was having a bad day. He seemed churlish throughout the meeting, and as I look over my notes, I can’t see any concrete objection he had, other than the developers made oral stipulations that had to be put in writing, a time-consuming ploy that Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt admonished them for.

So once again we have a mixed use project (which council says it wants to see more of) that was years in the making, that had been approved by every advisory board weighing in, that had worked diligently with nearby neighbors to win their support, and that would fill a market need in the town. And enough short-sighted members of council attended the meeting to quash it.

Why do investors even bother?
– Nancy Oates

Share and Enjoy:
  • Print
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • Facebook
  • Yahoo! Buzz
  • Twitter
  • Google Bookmarks
Previous Post
Leave a comment


  1. Jon DeHart

     /  January 31, 2012

    That is a good question . I hope everyone is looking forward to higher taxes …

  2. Mark Marcoplos

     /  January 31, 2012

    Reminds me of the last Town Council campaign when Matt Cz made criticism of a half-built East 54 project a major issue, despite many, many months of public discussion to build just such a project.

  3. DOM

     /  January 31, 2012

    My God, is there NO WAY a developer can work with the whims and fancies of local politicians and special interest groups that mask themselves as concerned citizens?

    Mr. Christian spent a million dollars trying to placate a council that seemed encouraging through almost the entire process (I know, I attended every meeting). In the end, the council members speak with so many mixed messages, everything just becomes incomprehensible and meaningless.

    I fear all the hoopla around a 2020 comprehensive plan will just devolve into more of the same: A small minority of screamers screaming loudest that always ends up being the only sound heard by a whimsically inept and narrow-minded town council.

    Let’s face it, neither the local taxpaying public, nor a local developer, stands a chance in this environment.

  4. Joe

     /  January 31, 2012

    I don’t understand. The Town keeps talking about wanting to encourage business activity and growing the tax base and not being perceived as “anti-business”, yet they do this kind of stuff?

    Oh, and people who live in the city limits complaining about college students should simply be ignored. I have zero sympathy from people who benefit mightily from the University and all that it entails, yet complain about the students. These are the same people who’d move to the coast and then complain about the ocean being too wet.