Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Council Puts Off Bond, Zone Ordinances

A controversial $1 million engineering bond ordinance was among three items deferred at Monday’s City Council meeting.

The no-bid contract would have gone to Remington & Vernick, the firm the administration chose last year to replace the former in-house engineer. Professional service contracts are exempt from bidding, but Councilman Cory Storch had questioned the size of the contract as well as the plan to use a bond ordinance to finance it. The firm would have been asked to re-examine city streets to determine priorities for repairs. A citywide road repair program was based on a 2004 study by another engineering company, but officials said the rankings needed to be reviewed and possibly revised.

Also deferred were resolutions to use $345,000 in Urban Enterprise Zone funds for the third phase of a sign and façade program and an ordinance amending the city’s land use ordinance to create a transit-oriented development zone at South and Leland avenues. Storch had questioned the zoning changes that included increased height and density at the location, which is near the Netherwood train station. The ordinance appeared to be pinpointing one location and setting the stage for a developer who so far has only sought conceptual approval for a plan for residential and commercial development at the site.

Only four of seven council members were present Monday. Council President Harold Gibson and Councilmen Elliott Simmons and Rashid Burney were all on vacation, and neither City Administrator Marc Dashield nor Corporation Counsel Dan Williamson were present for the meeting. Council members Cory Storch, Linda Carter, Don Davis and William Reid made up a quorum, but Storch voted “no” on a resolution seeking $100,000 in Urban Enterprise Zone funds for extra downtown maintenance, causing it to fail.

A “no” vote from Storch also sank a resolution approving a list of qualified vendors. The list was made up of vendors who responded to a request for qualifications that appeared only on the city’s web site for a brief time and in some categories yielded just one name. The request for qualifications was not published in any newspapers, but city officials said vendors knew to check the web site and the practice of using only the web site was common in other municipalities.

A resolution transferring a tax abatement from Netherwood Village Apartments LLC to the new owner, a Connolly Properties affiliate, was tabled.

The council is on summer hiatus and only holds one meeting per month instead of two. The next agenda-fixing session will be held Aug. 11 and the regular meeting will take place Aug. 18.

--Bernice Paglia


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like Cory. He's got guts and smarts. Hopefully, once Annie and Adrian get in, we'll have a smart council who will get things done.

10:07 AM  

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