I finally gave up my watch of Metro Council proceedings this morning at 1:00, when they were into their fifth hour with no end in sight. That was weird enough.
But after the ugly Sylvan Park overlay consideration and the less traumatic Whitland overlay deliberations, I witnessed two bizarre public hearing moments involving Salemtown zoning changes.
The first moment involved the rezoning bill for the proposed townhouse development at the corner of Hume St. and 6th Ave., North. When Vice Mayor Howard Gentry opened the public hearing on the bill and asked for proponent and opponent speakers, none stepped up in the gallery; so, public hearing closed without feedback. I have to admit that I had a hard time understanding myself why the developers were not there to speak on behalf of their project, but I have a harder time understanding what happened next in Metro Council. The bill's sponsor, Ludye Wallace--a representative notorious for not showing up for important events in his own district--expressed what seemed to me to be irritation that the developers were not there to speak on behalf of their project. The bill passed on second reading; but the hypocrisy did not escape my attention.
The second bizarre moment involved the Salemtown Gardens rezoning bill. When Vice Mayor Gentry opened the public hearing, two proponents--one of whom was the developer--and one opponent rose to speak on the bill. In his remarks, the developer spoke of their meeting with the neighborhood association, Salemtown Neighbors, in attempts to inform and get feedback from the neighborhood. Nothing bizarre in that. But then the opponent rose to speak against it. I recognized her as one of the Sylvan Park residents (Wyoming Av.) who had spoken at great length and with much verve about how the Sylvan Park overlay threatened people's basic freedom of choice. Once again, she launched into her opposition "to this overlay," at which point Vice Mayor Gentry stopped her and ruled her opposition out-of-order with regard to the Salemtown Gardens bill. Either she confused the "Urban Design Overlay" changes to the Salemtown Gardens property with Sylvan Park's conservation overlay questions or she just opposes any use of the term "overlay," thinking that it fundamentally undermines basic freedoms, or she was spoiling for a fight after watching her side go down on the conservation overlay bill. I don't know. As this bill passed on second reading, I simply shook my head thanking my stars that I do not have to live in the current interpersonal mess that is Sylvan Park.