Monday, November 23, 2009

The Cliffs and the Non-vote Vote

On December 9, 2009 (I believe this is the date), the Ada County Commission will address the request of the Cliffs Planned Community, to extend the preliminary plat of the Adelaide North Subdivision for two years. You see, since the original approval of this preliminary plat in July 2006, the economy has kind of tanked for new houses and the developers wish to keep this application alive for two more years in the hopes that something might happen.

The bigger issue however is that the Cliffs has no road access and has never had any access. How this development ever got approved by either Ada County or ACHD is beyond me. In fact, that is precisely what I said on November 18 when ACHD staff gave an update on the extension. Apparently, ACHD just follows along granting extensions if the land use agency does.

I argued that this planned community/preliminary plat is different. ACHD should never have approved the application without access and currently, ACHD should not approve an extension because there is no access. If the developer's ever get their request approved by the State of Idaho Department of Transportation for access then they could come back.

By approving this extension, ACHD and Ada County will be codifying the rights established and vested in a preliminary plat. By denying this extension of the preliminary plat, both ACHD and Ada County could return this area to sanity by requiring an access before anything happens.

Alas, my arguments did not win the day. But what was most illuminating was that in this pre-commission meeting, which is not taped, we actually had a vote and it came out 4-1. President McKee may not have thought she called for a vote, but she said who's in favor of doing what staff recommended and it came out 4-1.

Now it's been evident that that real work of the commission gets done in the "pre-commission" and "post-commission" and "work session" meetings and these meetings are not taped or recorded for posterity. I have asked over and over that we tape these meetings. Oh no, is always the answer, we don't take votes in these meetings.

That fiction has now been definitively shown to be just that, a fiction. Why the heck are the other members of the commission afraid to tape the meetings?

Monday, November 16, 2009

Fairmeadow Redux

UPDATE: It does pay to persevere. The ACHD Commission went with the neighborhoods recommendation (see below).

In March, Winco wished to get permission to expand their store at Fairview and Milwaukee. At the time, ACHD staff (for the 3rd time) wanted to have Winco's parking lot drain to Fairmeadow St. instead of Fairview Ave. The neighborhood (for the third time) rose up and defeated that idea.

But what the neighbors also said was that there is a lot of cut through traffic which goes from Fairview to Maple Grove via Fairmeadow St. The neighborhood wanted to make that cut through less easy. In fact, the original staff report stated that there would be stop signs placed along Fairmeadow.

Well, here we are in November, 8 months later, and we are still talking about where the stop signs should go. There was a meeting in August between the neighborhood and the ACHD staff at which the neighborhood unanimously voted on installing 4 way stop signs at Fairmeadow &
Stonehaven AND at Fairmeadow & Wilmington and 2 way stops at Fairmeadow &
Springhurst AND at Camden & Middlefield.

The staff is trying to avoid stopping Fairmeadow at either Stonehaven or Wilmington. The neighborhood feels these are the most crucial stop signs to solving the traffic problems in the Fairmont Park Subdivision.

The ACHD meeting on November 18 has this item on the agenda. The neighborhood should be out in full force which is a shame, because this issue should have been resolved much earlier and without the commission having to intervene.

We need to get to a point in government when the citizens don't have to continually feel they must be ever vigilant - that when a decision is made, the decision is implemented.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

I Agree With Dick the Butcher

Yesterday, ACHD and Settler's Canal Co went before Judge Wilper. At issue was ACHD's motion to force Settler's to follow through on their acceptance of a settlement agreement to end the lawsuit that has been filed and counterfiled by each party against each other. ACHD lost the motion.

This dates back to the construction of the Maple Grove Rd extension - it's been what? 4-5 years?

You know, it doesn't much matter what the issues are in this whole talkfest. Oh they're important to be sure, but what has become apparent is the colossal waste of money spent on lawyers.

Literally millions in legal fees have been spent on both sides, and guess who's pockets they come out of? Pity those poor souls who live in both Ada County and the Settler's Canal Irrigation assessment area. They get to pay both sides of the lawsuit - they're suing themselves and countersuing themselves and defending against themselves.

So now we go to trial in June 2010 unless something happens and those from both sides realize that spending legal fees is ridiculous. Unfortunately, or fortunately for the lawyers, spending other people's money on legal fees is easy for the boards of Settler's and ACHD.

We had a settlement agreement. Both sides should accept it, sign it, get over the bad feelings and move on. If we can't do what Dick the Butcher recommended, at least we can do that.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

So That's Why

Today at our meeting, we had a citizen stand up at the public communication portion of the meeting and ask that the Commission essentially find a way to tape the pre and post commission meetings as she so rightly indicated that that is when most of the real work gets done. Just so you'll know, our officially taped meeting began at noon, the public communication is at the end of the agenda and we got to it at around 12:02pm. We spent the previous 1 1/2 hours talking about the five year work plan and a few other items.

Once the "public" finished her "communication" the meeting was adjourned without any discussion of what she had asked. Apparently public communication only goes one way - from the public into the ether. Will we ever tape these meetings, will we even discuss taping the meetings? If I had to bet real money, I'd say no because.....

We adjourned from that meeting into a post commission meeting where we discussed Ada County Commissioner Sharon Ullman's blog posting of October 29, 2009 "Say It Ain't So, ACHD". From the tenor of the discussion, one would think Commissioner Ullman advocated drinking the blood of children under the age of 2. What she did instead was report on a Valley Ride Transit employee bringing to the VRT Board of Directors what she (the VRT employee) felt was a demand by ACHD's attorney to force VRT to spend money on ADA requirements.

If you read the blog entry, you'll see it was first straight reporting of what happened at a public meeting and second her opinion that the project was not cost effective.

The real issue of ADA compliance is a moot one, since things have been worked out between ACHD and VRT. No, what the commission discussed was how awful Commissioner Ullman was to even report this. She should have come to the ACHD President if she had any concerns. She shouldn't (and I guess by extension anyone who blogs, even or especially yours truly) even blog because one would surmise from the tone that it's irresponsible to report on what happens in public meetings and besides she didn't have all the facts. She attacked a staff member and that is just out of bounds. She went behind ACHD's back and spoke to ADA activists who work with ACHD and that makes ACHD look bad.

Let this be a lesson to anyone who says anything bad about ACHD.

Really the whole thing was stunning.

PS Commissioner Ullman, strong letter to follow.