"Oh! what a tangled web we weave When first we practise to deceive!"Sir Walter Scott in his 1808 romantic poem, "Mamion, A Tale of Flodden Field"
Sir Walter Scott's assessment certainly seems to apply to the Arden Creek Town Center Project. That's the proposal to remodel the shopping center at Arden and Watt, which has been the subject of several blog posts within this page. As last reported, the Arden Arcade Community Planning Advisory Council (CPAC) had appealed the decision. A second appeal has also been added to the case. That one was filed by Julie Linderman, one of the many neighborhood people who stand in opposition, not to the concept of a sorely-needed spruce up of the site, but instead against the way the County is letting the well-heeled developer cut corners despite concerns of the public. She has been bird-dogging the proposal since day one. When she noticed that the CPAC appeal appeared to have left some things out, she filed the second appeal to ensure coverage of the rest of the concerns of the neighbors. The CPAC is not charged a fee to appeal, but private citizens must pay, big-time, for the next step in the approvals process. The County thus socked Ms. Linderman with a whopping bill, $3935 (!), to keep the ball rolling into the public sunlight of an agenda item for the Board of Supervisors.
Keep in mind that this is all happening in the context of a process whereby the County rigged the decision to be finalized by staff -- the Zoning Administrator, despite the fancy title, is just another employee of the County Planning Department. The Zoning Administrator's approval deferred to the advice of his fellow staff members and ignored specific recommendations of the CPAC, the appointed citizen group that is charged with ascertaining the opinions of the community. And the process has become even more complicated by some recent conversations on Nextdoor that appear to have been orchestrated by the developer as a way to belittle the concerns of the community which had been discussed in public meetings and the official project record for months. The appeal, and a request to waive Ms. Linderman's fee, have been scheduled for the Supervisors' October 17th meeting. In the interest of democracy, people are strongly encouraged to send emails to the Supervisors requesting that they grant her request to waive the fee (see graphic, below). It really doesn't cost anything for an item to be placed on the Supervisors' meeting agenda, the CPAC's appeal will be heard at no cost, and, besides, the steep price --which, while possibly burdensome to corporations, is potentially an understandable business expense--is clearly intimidating to individual citizens.
The latest wrinkle, announced at the CPAC meeting last night, is that the Oct. 17th CPAC appeal might have to be rescheduled because none of the CPAC members are available to attend then. And the County staff expressed concerned because that might cause problems for the developer. Let's recap: County lets developer break rules, neighborhoods and CPAC have concerns, citizen appeal costs a ton of money, and rescheduling appeal is inconvenient for developer. Are those the right priorities for our local government? What a tangled web, indeed!