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The Trent Rice Show

City Council live blog 07/08/14

 

Good evening and welcome to the first regular Ames City Council meeting.  As we've talked about on the show for the last two days, the big issue this evening is the council's consideration of the compromise plan for Breckenridge Land Acquisition's development for the old Ames Middle School land. The compromise plan calls for residential medium density housing on the south parcel, high density housing in the north, and low density (single family housing) in the middle.  I will tell you that the room is full this evening, and passions are running high. Representatives from the company and neighborhood are all in attendance.

7:15PM--We are to the Breckenridge issue (already!). Ames Mayor Ann Campbell is reading an opening statement, recalling the history of the issue to where we are tonight.  Has mentioned the company's lawsuit against the city, states that everyone (staff, council) has had the city's best interest at heart, and are simply playing the "unfortunate" (her words) hand they've been dealt.

7:20PM--City Attorney Judy Parks is laying out the Breckenridge proposal. Says that the public will have many opportunities for input, should the council approve the plan tonight.

7:30PM--Breckenridge's Charlie Vatterott is speaking to the council. Speaks of removal of old middle school building.

7:35PM--Well played--Vatterott mentions that the addition of single family homes to the development will add kids to Ames Community School District, speaks of enrollment issues.

7:40PM--Breckenridge attorney Brian Torresi speaks now, says the suit against the city wasn't being used as a weapon. That council isn't "giving in" if it approves plan.  He's trying to get in front of what is sure to be a litany of grievances about the plan.

7:40PM--Public testimony begins now.

7:49PM--Neighborhood spokesperson Sharon Guber has been speaking now for eight minutes. Accuses Breckenridge of practicing "fog, fraud, and fear"--that some council members are being swayed at the threat of the lawsuit.

7:56PM--Mrs. Guber throws members of the Ames School Board under the bus for selling the land to Breckenridge, calling members out by name. She just concludes her remarks after more than 13 minutes to applause from the crowd. Mayor Campbell admonishes crowd.

8:00PM--ISU Business and Finance Vice President Warren Madden restates the university's position that they do not favor high density housing on the south parcel--land they once owned.

8:05PM--Two consecutive members of the public speak in favor of the plan.  Raises a question on how much "rallying of the troops" Breckenridge did for tonight's meeting.

8:15PM--We've just turned the one-hour mark on the agenda item.

8:45PM--Closing in on the 90 minute mark, public is still testifying.  We are 17 people in, a vast majority people speaking live in the area and are against the plan.

9:15PM--Two hours into the Breckenridge issue.  25 members of the public have spoken.  Still mostly against the plan.

9:20PM--End of public testimony.  Council takes up the issue after it's five minute break.

9:30PM--Council back in session after a 10-minute long, 5 minute break.

9:30PM--Mayor Campbell asks City Attorney Parks about what happens if council doesn't approve tonight.  She says it reverts back to Breckenridge's original plan--"cottage style" development that will not be owner-occupied.

9:40PM--3rd Ward Council Member Peter Orazem says the "compromise plan" give the council an option that it didn't have before.

9:45PM--At-Large Council Member Amber Corrieri says she never "feared for the lawsuit" in her deliberations.

10:15PM--Three hours?  Three hours.  Council still deliberating and debating. 

10:30PM--Wow.  In the end, the issue comes down to one vote, and it's not where I expected the vote to come from.  The council deadlocks 3-3 on directing staff to draw up a formal developers agreement.  No votes from Gartin, Betcher, and Goodman.  As it was a simple motion, Mayor Ann Campbell breaks the tie.  Bottom line--the compromise plan is still alive, but only just.  There is a long way to go before the issue comes back before the council, and there is not certainty that it will go forward past the next time the council takes it up.

 

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