In my previous post, I mentioned that Citizen to Be Heard forms were unavailable for many of the citizens who wanted to speak. I therefore recommend that anyone who plans to address the BMA during "Citizens to Be Heard" print their own form, and take an extra one along for anyone else that happens to be looking for one prior to the meeting. Fortunately, I have one
Click Here for Citizens to Be Heard Form
Future posts will consider other aspects of the recent BMA meeting, but I really wanted to focus solely on honoring our citizens, both unheard and heard, in this post.
PART I SPEAKERS WHO WERE UNHEARD
First, a little background is in order. As stated in an earlier post, on January 8, the day of the meeting, I hurriedly got ready and rushed to City Hall after posting the results of the NextDoor Poll and Petition Drive. I finally found a place to park behind the police station, and arrived in the lobby at about 5:45 for the 6:00 meeting. I immediately went to the table with the Citizens to Be Heard forms. There were none in sight! Although I wasn't planning to speak, I did see a friend who was looking for a form. Alderman Owens was walking down the aisle after the Executive Session, so I suggested she ask him for some more forms. I overheard him say that yes, they were making more copies. I assumed there would be no further issue. The crowd was enormous. I was not sure why they had only printed a few forms for that many people.
I was looking around for a seat or place to stand against the wall, and I lost track of my friend. I failed to find any room, and I moved to the lobby. I should have snapped a photo of the spectacle of the overflowing BMA meeting. One young couple had a baby asleep on the dad's shoulder! The meeting began, and I could not hear from any vantage point. I therefore went home to watch online. As I left, people were still filing into the building.
It was only later that I learned that, despite being told of the lack of forms, the BMA did not provide new ones until the break, which inconveniently (or conveniently?) came after the Citizen's to be Heard was over. Neither the Mayor nor Forrest Owens acknowledged the lack of forms, nor did they ask if there were any additional citizens who wanted to speak. Thus my friend was out of luck. I later learned of two others who were unable to speak for the same reason. The three people whom I know that were unable to speak at the meeting are Vicki O'Brien, Renee DeGutis, and Tex Sharp.
If any of the readers had the same difficulty, I would like to add your names to the list, so please contact me.
Tex Sharp plans to attend as many BMA meetings as he can this year. "I plan to have my time and be heard." I hope he remembers to take a spare form along.
How many others missed out on speaking? I don't know. Three "unheards" is three too many.
I was baffled by the way the lack-of-forms issue was handled. Given the circumstances, it is tempting to jump to the conclusion that there was a purposeful attempt to limit the number of speakers. I won't do that, due to lack of proof of motive-- I will go with gross negligence instead. Above all, this blog is devoted to transparency, and this is a transparency issue. The surprising and disappointing shortage of forms kept all of us from hearing fellow citizens.
PART II THE SPEAKERS WHO WERE HEARD
Here are the speakers who arrived early and snatched up the forms when they were available, and my very brief notes about the content of the remarks of each person. A commercial banker spoke first. The YouTube clip links are included.
Richard Marsh-- A commercial banker with no ties to these specific projects supports careful multi-family in mixed-use development due to research from nationwide Harvard study and other places which shows fears of residents generally not an issue. YouTube Link
Margaret Jackson - Stated facts and figures showing schools are over maximum capacity, and the new school is not large enough to handle both this overcrowding and new students from all the new development. Make it a real moratorium to have excellence everyday, excellence always. Applause. YouTube Link
Marlene Strube - Cited polls showing people don't want rapid buildup of apartments, the moratorium is too late, too little. It will cost us $$$ due to having to build new school from rapid pace of development, and taxes will rise. No checks and balances in approval process. Didn't get what we were promised with Smart Growth. Was supposed to be lofts, condominiums and townhomes, but getting only apartments. Slow the train. Applause YouTube Link
Steve Shields -- Infrastructure, budget, schools and safety the issue in Cordova Road Triangle, and everywhere in Germantown. Should not be exceptions to moratorium. There is data to support anything, but data must have context. Look at Germantown situation, not some other part of the country. Applause YouTube Link
Jim Jacobs -- Citizens feel betrayed over the years, when Smart Growth started at the Triangle. Consider the citizens and how they feel about their neighborhoods. Do not disappoint anyone in audience. "We will remember." Applause YouTube Link
Jaime Picunko-- Presented petition 2500+ votes in 60 hours saying strengthen moratorium to stop more apartments. Smart Growth has allowed dense development, Small Area Plan called for 278 apartments, and Watermark already 310. Viridian has 300. The Viridian is located in the area where the neighborhood was told there would be trails. Consider petition signers and comments! Applause YouTube Link
Don Lossing --Thanks to the crowd, Asks crowd--does anyone want more apartments, Crowd says no! Is traffic getting worse--yes! He was corrected by the Mayor for engaging the crowd. We are citizens, not developers, citizens do not make money on developments, your job is to protect us. Applause YouTube Link
Barry Britton-- We are getting to be extension of east Memphis and that is not what we want. Are we paving the entire city? Brought pride, not notes to podium, Germantown needs nothing else developed, stay Germantown. Applause YouTube Link
Patsy McLaughlin-- Everything coming too fast, the poor people near new parking garage and large building (applause) How many people want more apartments in Germantown? Can't ask the audience. Admits she is a treehugger. BaZOOM all the trees went down and the buildings go up. Who voted for that? Who is zoning all this? Doesn't want apartments and buildings, wants to save trees Applause YouTube Link
John Peyton- Germantown remains the same, has codes and rules, now relaxing building codes, vastly overbuilding what we can support, loopholes in moratorium should be closed, should include mixed use, reports NextDoor poll showing 94% against more apartments, and other NextDoor poll only one person ok with more apartments, there is a pillaging of quiet bedroom community. Applause YouTube Link
David Dickson-- Said there were good speakers tonight, he is against more apartments. Applause YouTube Link
PART III FINAL THANK YOU TO CITIZENS:
I thank all citizens who attended, who were either heard, unheard due to insufficient forms, or simply watched and applauded, whether seated or standing, whether in the room, or in the lobby. Thank all citizens who watched online as I did, or who watched the replay.
And finally, thank all citizens who read this blog.
I love Germantown. More to come!