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What were they thinking?

Monday, August 18, 2008
Time: 5:09 PM

Seabury_Knapp
At-large Republican councilmen Gregg Seabury and Jack Knapp were thrown under the bus for making what will go down as the weirdest vote in recent memory.


One person is a teacher.

The other is the former chairman of the Zoning Commission.

Together, they make complete fools of themselves in voting in favor of a obvious idiotic land deal between the City of Danbury and a doctor who wants to take city-owned land and use it for PARKING SPACES for his office.

First, a little background.

GoogleMap_84HospitalAve


HospitalAve01


HostipalAve02

Land in question is marked off in red (approximately)


Dr. Fry has a practice on 84 Hospital Avenue and for some time, has attempted to acquire the land next to his property for additional parking. There's one problem, that land is city owned land and is connected to Broadview Middle School.

For as long as I can remember, people have long stated that Dr. Fry knew what he was getting into when he moved into that location and should move instead of tearing down trees for parking spaces. Why? Because the parking lots that are there now conforms to the zoning regulations for the property and if the doctor's business needs more parking, maybe the doctor should consider moving his practice instead of asking the city to accommodate his practice.

If the council would EVER approve such a deal, that strictly accommodate ONE business and ONE business only, the effects of that decision could be devastating as the Common Council would set a president where anyone in a similar situation as Dr. Fry, could come before the city looking for the same deal (you could see the problem that would create as the city would have a rather hard time turning one business down once they approved this deal).

Now, taking that into consideration, let's take a look at the bizarre vote from the former chairman of a land-use board and a TEACHER.

Here's the write-up on the ad-hoc committee meeting chaired by Knapp and attended by Seabury (take note at the sections in bold):

Mr. Knapp stated the charge of the committee was to consider a request to lease land located at 84 Hospital Ave. Mr. Knapp said the report from the Planning Department was negative and asked Mr. Pinter to explain. Mr. Pinter said that the requirement of state law is to provide a report. The council would have to override a negative Planning Commission recommendation by a 2/3 vote. Mr. Seabury said that he didn't ever remember going against a Planning recommendation.

Mr. Iadarola said that the property abuts the Broadview Middle School property. The heavily wooded property is 18 feet by 150 feet, and would have a fence that could be mutually accessible. Public Works has no negative referral, but would like Traffic and Public Works to review it.

[...]

Mr. Seabury moved to recommend to the Council to approve the license agreement with active input from the Director of Public Works and Traffic Engineer. Mr. Knapp seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.

Mr. Seabury moved to adjourn the meeting at 7:35pm. Seconded by Mr. Knapp. The motion passed unanimously.

Now that you read the highlights from the committee report, let's recap:
1. The PLANNING DEPARTMENT report on the "leasing" of the land to Dr. Fry a BIG FAT negative.

2. This is not the first time Dr. Fry has tried to acquire this land from the city with no success.

3. ALTHOUGH Seabury (a TEACHER) stated that he COULD NEVER REMEMBER GOING AGAINST THE PLANNING DEPARTMENT'S RECOMMENDATION, (you know, since the Planning Department would know a bit more about land-use issues than people on the COMMON COUNCIL), he VOTED AGAINST THE PLANNING DEPARTMENT REPORT and in FAVOR of the so-called "lease" agreement.

4. A former chairman of the Zoning Department (a land-use board) went AGAINST THE REPORT FROM THE PLANNING DEPARTMENT and WITHOUT INPUT from the Board of Education or input from the neighbors in the area WHO WERE MOSTLY UNAWARE OF THE LAND DEAL and many (once notified of the land deal) were AGAINST THE IDEA, VOTED AGAINST THE PLANNING DEPARTMENT REPORT and in FAVOR of the so-called "lease" agreement.

Seeing the writing on the wall, knowing that approving this agreement would create a firestorm in the neighborhood, and NOT ONE Democrat would go for something so outlandish as to approve this nightmare, the other Republicans on the council thought twice before falling on Knapp and Seabury's sword.

Now, with that in mind, sit back and watch what I call the Republican majority throwing the new kid (AND FORMER CHAIRMAN OF THE ZONING COMMISSION) and teacher UNDER THE BUS. Take note of how the mayor tried in vain to persuade the council to send the whole thing back to committee.

This is UGLY...



Based on the fact that:
  • Dr. Fry has attempted to acquire the land in question in the past with no success,

  • The public wasn't very keen on this idea that the city give over the land to the doctor AND were not notified of this land agreement in the first place,

  • The Planning Department gave this a NEGATIVE recommendation,

  • Approving such a god-awful land deal would definitely cost one votes from people in the surrounding neighborhood in the third ward come Nov 2009,

...why on earth would a former chair of a land-use board and a teacher ever approve of this land deal in the first place?

When the city is so-called attempting to acquire a certain amount of open space before a set date, why are we trying to GIVE AWAY land and tearing down trees in order to give a doctor a few more parking spaces?

What were Knapp and Seabury thinking?!?

UPDATE: The News-Times wonders what Knapp and Seabury were thinking also. Two words: Thumbs down.

posted by ctblogger at 5:09 PM | Permalink|

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