Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Promises re: Cordova Triangle Obscured in "Official" Records?

Ownership of Cordova Triangle; Fleet Equipment is owned by Woody Welch

At the BMA Meeting January 8, Mary Anne Gibson proposed a two part change to the moratorium on building apartments proposed by Mayor Palazzolo. One proposal involved a change in the language of the moratorium. The other proposal was to have City staff find a way to remove the Cordova Triangle from the central business district, effectively removing the T4 overlay over the area, and returning it to single family residential zoning.  

Below are the various links to the video of the statements about the Cordova Triangle from that meeting:

Mary Anne Gibson states that "I plan on bringing forward an amendment that will amend that resolution........(snip) well as a proposal that I will bring forward about the Cordova Triangle, specifically being removed from the Central Business District, which would allow that to remain, not to remain, but to revert back to single family." Link 

In "Citizens to Be Heard", Don Lossing states he is tempering his comments due to Mary Anne Gibson's statement. "Do not disappoint me. Please do not disappoint the rest of the people here." Link   

Mary Ann Gibson  "First the proposal, I'd like for staff while they are doing their analysis to come back to us with a proposal to remove the Cordova Triangle from the Central Business District leaving it strictly a single family residential.  I know that you are prepared Mr. Ross, I know you I have been in discussions with you and Attorney Harris, I know you are prepared to work on this immediately, and I want you to pay particular attention to how this T4 removal, which would basically revert back to residential only affects those buffer zones because it is different. Those landscaped preservation areas which would no longer exist without the T4 designation.  Link  

Mayor Palazzolo (when discussing amendment/proposal) "I will just state that personally and on behalf of the City staff and administration we have no issue with either one of the proposals. We will direct staff to begin the work with due diligence to look to safely and legally to remove the Cordova Triangle from the Central Business District." Link 

Attorney Harris (when discussing amendment/proposal) "Back to the Triangle. Let me just walk you through that process. The Smart Growth Overlay that is superimposed on the Triangle currently is a part of our zoning code, and so, in order to change that, the process would be to go back to the Planning Commission with a proposed amendment to our zoning code. If approved by our Planning Commission, that would come forward to the BMA and that would be approved on three readings. If the Smart Growth overlay was removed from the Triangle, the underlying zoning remains, and my understanding is its all residential."  Attorney Harris then answers a question, and Mayor Palazzolo states "As stated, We will direct staff to make this a priority."  Link 

Below is the entire meeting: 

Note that in the official minutes of the meeting, there is no mention of anything related to the Cordova Triangle. You may access them here.

Following this meeting, the Planning Commission Subcommittee met on February 21 with interested neighbors of the Neshoba North neighborhood, and selected investment ownership owners of the Cordova Triangle (specifically the Jack Owens Trust and Woody Welch). 

There was no report to the Planning Commission of that subcommittee meeting. The neighbors were dissatisfied with the tone and substance of the subcommittee meeting, which they said merely extolled the virtues of the Smart Growth overlay.  

I learned that Alderman Barzizza raised these and other issues, including that a resident of the Triangle was not notified of the meeting. 

Alderman Barzizza wrote to the Mayor and City Administrator

March 19, 2018 

Dear Mayor and Patrick,  

On January 8, 2018, before a packed audience of citizens at the meeting of the Board of Mayor and Aldermen, Alderman Mary Anne Gibson publicly proposed the following: 

“I have a proposal to offer specific to the Cordova Rd Triangle and an amendment to the moratorium. First, the proposal. I would like for staff, while doing their analysis, to come back with a proposal to remove the Cordova Rd Triangle from the Central Business District leaving it as strictly single family residential. I know that you’re prepared, Mr. Ross. I’ve been in discussions with you and Attorney Harris. I know you are prepared to begin work on this immediately. So I want us to pay particular attention to how this T4 removal, which would basically revert it back to residential only, effects those buffer zones because it is different--those Landscape Preservation Areas which would no longer exist without the T4 designation. So that being one.” 

I have three major questions, first to Mr. Don Lossing point, where are we in the process with the proposal to remove the Owens Triangle from the Central Business District leaving the property strictly single family residential?  

Second,  Why is it that when the stakeholders were assembled that not all of the ownership of the properties, only represented were the Owens sisters and Woody Welsh?  What about Yacoubians who stated to me that they were not notified at all?   I strongly question why this happened, they should have been in attendance to this meeting.  

I also understand that a meeting the last week of March of the two neighborhoods only some of the HOA officers of Nashoba North and Germantown Heights have been asked to attend a meeting called by Vice Mayor Gibson and Alderman Owens, which by their attendance together is a clear ethics violation.  Also, not all of the stake holders were invited but a chosen few leaving out the Yacoubians again.  And too, has this meeting been posted in the media as required by the Tennessee Open Meetings Act considering two aldermen will be in attendance together?    

Third,  after listening to Mr. Don Lossing’s comments at the BMA last night Mar. 12, 2018, I decided to check the minutes of January 8, 2018. Why is it that the written minutes do not reflect the quote of Vice Mayor Gibson and you, Mayor?  What is going on here?  There is a serious issue here regarding the recording of the minutes.  

I would like to amend the minutes of January 8 to reflect the Vice Mayor’s and any other comments made regarding the Owens Triangle discussion comments, thus I am making the motion for the March 26 BMA to include your comments, Mayor and those of Ms. Gibson as recorded in the video.  

In general I am concerned that the minutes of the BMA and other meetings such as the Planning meetings do not reflect a accurate record of the discussions of what actually transpired at meeting from the BMA and the citizens of Germantown.  I made the similar comments two years ago that the written minutes be exact with nothing left out from the video recordings.  You said at that time, Mayor, that the official minutes are the video.  State law does not determine which is official.  If there was a decision of a citizen to challenge the BMA for whatever reason, the citizens would have to get a court reporter to transcribe the minutes.   I will add that at one of the Planning Commission meetings the video was so garbled that no one could understand what was recorded.  So in this case, the written minutes if summarized do not reflect the actual meeting.  I hope there was not an attempt to hide something.     

Thus, my formal motion for the BMA for the March 26 BMA is,  “I move that the exact quotes of all concerned regarding the Owens’ Triangle be admitted in the minutes of the BMA of January 8, 2018”.  Anything less would be contrary to good government. 

I expect your kind reply regarding these issues as soon as possible. 

Thank you,  John Barzizza 

Indeed, I see from my graphic that the Yacoubians are homeowners on the Triangle, and it is puzzling that they would not have been informed of a public meeting about the property that they call home.

Also, any meeting with two aldermen present is a meeting that is subject to the Tennessee Sunshine Laws, and is a public meeting. The meeting with Aldermen Gibson and Owens at the end of March must be announced to the public! They cannot limit this meeting to selected citizens. I am sure that they know the Sunshine Laws and will comply with them. 

***Update re: meeting mentioned above in next blog post--Alderman Gibson is not attending*** 

Patrick Lawton wrote the following response to Alderman Barzizza:  

Alderman Barziizza , the planning commission is currently considering  the proposal to remove the cordova triangle property from the smart growth zoning district and will  make a recommendation. Regarding the meeting with the neighborhood leadership , Cameron facilitated the establishment of meeting and reached out to the HOA leadership. I can't answer your question regarding Aldermen participation because I don't know . The January minutes you are referring to were approved by the BMA on January 22nd. The minutes of the BMA or any other commission represent the written record of the meeting . They describe the issues discussed and action taken by the body for the record. The minutes are not verbatim . The city clerk or any of the administrative assistants assigned to a board or commission will continue this established practice.  

I confess that I am not a student of Robert's Rules of Order.  I did find How to Correct a Mistake in Minutes Using Robert's Rules of Order.  According to the link:  

The minutes of a meeting are the official records of what transpired in that meeting. They're the documentation of motions, votes and committee reports. For the most part, the minutes are a record of what is done at each meeting, rather than what is said.

Mr. Lawton is obviously taking the position that Ms. Gibson's "proposal" was not put to a vote and need not be cited in the minutes . However, please note that every Citizen to be Heard had their remarks summarized in the minutes, and no vote was taken on them. Surely a directive from the Mayor to the staff is of more importance to the public record than a summary of remarks of each citizen-speaker, and qualifies as something "done" at the meeting. This proposal changed the tone of the meeting, as Mr. Lossing stated that he was tempering his remarks in "Citizens to Be Heard" due to the proposal. Because the two proposals were listed together, it was assumed by the audience that the amendment to the moratorium included the proposal on the Triangle. When the moratorium amendment came up for discussion, questions were asked about the Triangle proposal, and answered by the City attorney.  

The minutes have already been approved by the BMA, but the above link states the following (for correcting minutes that have already been approved):  

To correct a mistake in the minutes after they have already been approved, a member must make a motion to "Amend Something Previously Adopted." 

Input the exact wording of the motion to "Amend Something Previously Adopted" in the minutes of the meeting at which the motion was raised--and whether it was accepted or denied. 

It would probably be advisable to have the wording of this motion prepared and checked by an attorney prior to presenting it at the BMA meeting.  

And, of course the neighbors are wondering why the City is dragging its feet on following through on the proposal to remove the T4 Smart Growth Overlay from the Triangle.

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