I have a few quick takeaways about last night's meeting. I will write a longer version with highlights and clips later in the week.
1. The citizens of Germantown are amazing, as they showed up in droves to witness and eloquently speak at the live BMA meeting last night.
2. The City did not have enough "Citizens to Be Heard" forms, as they ran out of those early. Although Alderman Owens said more would be printed, none ever appeared. As a result, people that showed up and wanted to speak were denied the opportunity. I will obtain a copy of this form and include it in my blog so that interested parties can print their own copy to take to meetings.
3. Channel 3 does a poor job of crowd estimation. There were far more than 100 citizens at the meeting. Because I was busy posting the NextDoor poll yesterday afternoon, I arrived "late" (which was still fifteen minutes before the meeting). Along with approximately forty other people, I was relegated to the lobby. The walls inside the room were lined with standing-room-only attendees, as every seat was occupied.
4. The BMA took action stating that the Triangle at Neshoba and Cordova Road should return to single family residential. Apparently, however, the removal of T4 Smart Growth overlay from this area must begin with the Zoning Commission. I am sure the very active Neshoba North neighborhood will keep us abreast of this story. In any event, it does now appear that apartments will not be constructed in this location.
5. Alderman Massey wondered why the BMA is singling out the Triangle area for favorable treatment. Not surprisingly, however, his amendment to extend additional protections to all other parts of the city was rejected by the usual 3-2 vote.
6. The loophole-filled moratorium passed.
7. There was a lot of gavel banging, crowd shushing, and bottles of water consumed.
8. The Mayor continues to throw out red herrings. Honestly, it is embarrassing that he keeps doing this, especially now that the tactic has moved from his emails to the news media. Check out how he is publicly characterizing the 94% of Germantown citizens who want apartment development halted, at least for now. "I got many emails that really betrayed people in multi-family." Goodness! I may have to put in an open records request for these emails. I want to know who "betrayed"........ ME!! Somehow, though, I don't feel betrayed by the 94%, even though I live in a multi-family development (condominium). If a citizen emails the Mayor and says, "Apartments will bring more crime," does the Mayor interpret the citizen's email as a betrayal of apartment dwellers? My take is that such citizens are concerned about protecting all of us, including apartment dwellers, from increased criminal activity that dense development may attract.
Many opinions were expressed last night; however, not one of the speakers said anything remotely close to "betraying" any multi-family dwellers. Not only were the Mayor's remarks inaccurate, they were unnecessary. They were not only unnecessary and inaccurate, they were astonishing. His remarks also throw 94% of our citizens under the bus, by implying that they "betray" apartment and condominium dwellers. Why did he do this? Perhaps, out of the hundreds of emails he received, one or two citizens asked, "Why do we need more apartment dwellers in Germantown?" If in fact he received such emails, what was the point of giving these outliers, who in no way fairly represent the 94%, media attention? Don't you know that Channel 3 loved the opportunity to get in a dig? Did he do this to marginalize the well-intentioned citizens who are justifiably concerned about rapid manner in which dense development is taking place? It is unbecoming to divert debate from the real issues, by publicly scolding citizens for views they do not even entertain.
The Mayor's entire remarks were actually more extensive than depicted by Channel 3. Lumping condominium developments together with apartment complexes, he read off the names of every multi-family development in the city. AGAIN, NOTE TO ALL CONCERNED: I DID NOT FEEL BETRAYED BY THE 94% WHEN THE NAME OF MY CONDOMINIUM COMPLEX WAS READ. Furthermore, the Mayor has no power to force me to feel betrayal or shame against my will. I encourage all condominium and apartment dwellers not to fall for this line. Politicians should not promote divisiveness, and I resent it. Nor am I a fan of "public shaming". When a politician publicly calls out the citizens of his own city, it is jaw dropping.
And, of course, by confusing the issue and lumping all condominium and apartment complexes into the same multi-family pot, he comes up with a 15% figure for multi-family units in the City. A more accurate respresentation is in my January 5 blog post -- 7.5% condominiums, and 6.5% apartments. He will probably continue this confusing lumping process. I pointed out another example of "lumping" in this 12-20 post.
To be fair to the Mayor, there were aldermen that played the same "red herring" game. Their statements just happened not to make it on the evening news. I'll have clips of these later, and you can see if you agree with me.
8. The bottom line is we are all going to have to remain vigilant. Our concerns about the limited nature of the moratorium were ignored last night, despite obvious overwhelming opposition to doubling the number of our apartment units during the past couple of years.
The meeting may be viewed here: