Tuesday, October 27, 2009

No to Video Gaming in HP

The City Council voted to prohibit video gambling in Highland Park. I thought this vote was a no brainer since I have not spoken to anyone that would want to see any gambling in our restaurants. If people want to gamble they have many opportunities on the boats or across the border at casinos.

New Dog Ordinance passes at Council

We have travelled from a very unpopular "Pit Bull" breed ban proposal to a very well vetted updating of our dog ordinance. This ordinance was discussed at several public hearings and took in comments from animal experts, state lawmakers, citizens, and dog owners from all over the country.

I think our staff did a great job taking a non-starting point of a breed specific ban and turning their efforts to a fair ordinance that does protect not only the citizens from vicious and dangerous dogs but also protects dogs from bad owners and other dogs that are aggressive .

In dealing with dogs we still must use reason on how we approach and communicate with them. We can't expect dogs to be smarter and more understanding than PEOPLE.... or can we? RUFF!

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Hotel proposal gets financial look from Council

The Park Central project would be located on McGovern where the Clark gas station currently exists. This hotel mixed use project would extend South to Laurel Ave around the church. The proposal includes a 135 room hotel, 500 seat banquet hall, restaurant for 150, 78 residences, 10,000 sq. ft. of commercial space on Central, and 32,000 sq. ft. of office space. Parking would accommodate some 380 spaces and would offer public parking for the uses within the development. The proposals height peaks out at between 6 stories and 8 stories (99 feet) which is well over the 4 story 45 foot height staff says is currently allowed.

On the Financial side the developers are asking for 18.5 million dollars of financial assistance from the city.

WHERE DO I START ?? Ya think TOO BIG? Ya think TOO MUCH $'s ? Well, as I expressed at the Council meeting, I think there is way too much here and am not interested in financing the project. While I won't mention names, one Councilman said we should not worry about the development aspects now, we should just run the numbers with staff and see if this project makes sense to us. Run the numbers on WHAT ?

I suggested that we thank them for the presentation and move on.... BUT 6 others on the City Council suggested that the staff look into this matter and report back to the City Council. The good news is the City Council did seem split on the development size. What valid numbers are there to look at when the project has over double the density and height than we currently allow. I don't want a hotel this bad! As a matter of fact, I don't want a hotel at all if it means changing our zoning laws and historic vision of our city.

Read more about this project by downloading September 30th City Council Packet . It is under the 4:30 meeting item V (scheduled business 1.). Please give me some feedback on this proposal. These downloads are about 10mb so it can take a while to get... So be patient.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Ugly Brick Cement Mail Box Structures on our Public Streets

Several weeks ago I received a call from my friend Louis who told me someone had constructed a Brick Cement Mail Structure one foot away from the pavement on Spruce Street. Louis wanted to know if they had received a permit and followed proper procedures.

We found out that no permit had been issued for this stucture and it was illegally placed on the public right of way. Staff's response was to ask the builder and/or owners to submit the proper documents for approval. They seemed to convey to us that this was just business as usual. I asked staff not to approve this structure until the City Council had a chance to weigh in on this matter. I have made it clear to all that I am not in favor of allowing any private structures on our public ways other than approved standard mail boxes on 4x4 posts. Current law allows someone to get a revocable license from the City to put a structure on the right of way. What is wrong with just natural green elements on our parkways? I will say that Councilman Rotering, Levenfeld, and myself represented that these structures should not be placed on the right of way.

Many years ago another structure was placed on Spruce and the City Council immediately asked it be taken down.....Staff has said they thought these structures were proper, not a safety hazard (This one is hard to believe), and informed us that dozens more of these have been put up without a permit throughout the city (even harder to believe). Tell me how we have let these things go up throughout the city without a permit on city right of way and have not objected? This has taken place mostly in front of new construction where staff has to give occupancy permits.

At the last meeting I suggested that I build a Brick Cement Structure one foot away from St. Johns Avenue where I live at 2157 and see how it is received. I am assuming that staff would not object since they have not on all the others. What do you think?