Keep talking

A certain peevishness has settled over Jim Ward this term. He snaps at his colleagues and makes motions and calls for votes before discussion has barely begun. It may be a manifestation of what many of us felt upon turning 50 and realizing that after working for 30 years, we’re tired, and we still have half again as many years to work before we can stop. He seems to have a low-level frustration that, if he doesn’t check it, could lead him to make decisions based on expediency rather than for the good of the community.

Like his vote last week on the bus ads. Ward said, sincerely, that weighing in on the bus ad policy was one of the times he appreciated being on council, because it made him think through the issue and get off the fence. He landed on the side of silence rather than forbearance. Some people do deal with discord in relationships that way – just don’t talk about it and everything will be fine on the surface. But to preserve a strong connection with one another in the community, we need to accept that we will disagree, sometimes passionately. Even when the viewpoint we support doesn’t prevail, we must continue to respect and interact with one another.

Then again, Ward simply might be tired of hearing everyone’s opinions. If so, tonight’s Town Council meeting may be torture for him. It’s public hearing night, and the agenda is packed with five of them. Some are straightforward administrative matters, but that won’t stop people from expounding.

First up: a LUMO text amendment that would relieve single-family and two-family homes of the expense of strict stormwater management standards that developers of higher-density developments must adhere to.

Next, a LUMO text amendment to realign stream buffer widths in resource conservation districts with Jordan stream buffer regulations. The town is expected to adopt the Jordan rules next month, instead of waiting another two years, as the General Assembly allows.

After that comes a zoning atlas amendment and special use permit application to allow the redevelopment of University Square. Plans for replacing the buildings at 123 W. Franklin St., while retaining Granville Towers as is, have met with relatively little community objection so far. The SUP application, however, does pare the width of the public right-of-way by a third, which would not allow two travel lanes and parking. It also requests a streetscape building height increase of 10 feet, making the buildings along E. Franklin Street 54 feet tall, and an increase in the height of the inner buildings from 120 feet tall to as tall as 138 feet, 40 feet taller than Granville Towers.

The requested payment-in-lieu for the multimillion-dollar project is only $60,000, not enough to cover the cost of even one affordable housing unit.

That alone is enough to make anyone peevish.
– Nancy Oates

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