Open letter to Jazmine Early on the Trip to Colorado


Some local residents have made much ado online and at a recent city council meeting regarding a trip being made to Lakewood, Colorado by members of the Planning Commission, City Council, city administration and others.  The official reason for the trip is to determine how the site made its successful transformation from a dying mall (similar to Lakeside Mall) to a thriving destination in metropolitan Denver, and to parlay that information into a PUD ordinance to be publicly heard and voted on by the Planning Commission and City Council this fall.

The PUD ordinance will lay the groundwork for developers to come in and pitch proposals for how the site might be redeveloped.  We anticipate that the current owner of the mall will work with nationally known developers to redevelop the site; having the legal framework in place for them to do so is an important step of the process.

The residents I mention have spoken out against this trip as a waste of taxpayer dollars in a technological era where distance learning is possible via remote presentations and meetings.  It is an interesting question, and one that I have been giving consideration myself.

One prominent resident, Jazmine Early, a candidate for office in the Michigan Legislature, has taken to Nextdoor.com, posing questions about the trip, implying the trip is unnecessary.  Since the Nextdoor website is inaccessible to non-members, I will reproduce her initial post here:

I would like to take the opportunity to respond to Jazmine with some questions of my own via the following open letter:

Dear Jazmine:

It appears you have convinced yourself the Partridge Creek concept is similar enough to the Belmar site that you wouldn’t need to travel to Lakewood, Colorado to get a sense of what it is like.

It seems this sentiment resulted in your making a  judgement call as to whether or not the trip to Colorado by city officials is worth the expenditure of taxpayer dollars.

I find your conclusion interesting.  Since at least some people share your sentiments, I would like to ask you, as a prominent citizen and candidate for public office, for some information and advice.

First, I would like for you to provide your thoughts regarding the wording of the PUD the city will be preparing and presenting in public forums this fall.

If you have been certified as a Michigan Planner, as I have, I would be especially interested to hear your thoughts with regard to the mixed uses that are being contemplated for the PUD for the Lakeside site, and any input you might have regarding the proposed layout, building materials, setback requirements, parking requirements, building heights, traffic flow, and other design aspects to be encoded in the PUD.

Further drawing upon your planning expertise, could you please give the other readers of this site a summary of what a PUD is, including what the provision in the law seeks to do and why it is a useful in a Planner’s arsenal of strategies?

While you’re at it, I would appreciate your informed commentary on how the Partridge Creek development is doing financially and how that relates to the Lakeside site; please include sourced information regarding the revenues, targeted markets and demographics, as well as a comparative analysis between Lakeside and Partridge Creek.  (Of course, as a candidate for office and a tax paying resident, you are privy to this information, right?)

Could you please provide me with the cost of your proposed remote site tour vs. the cost of the tour that will take place next week?   Which vendor(s) might be able to put together such a remote learning presentation?  Please include the itemized costs for aerial photography, teleconferencing from multiple sites, and a narrative explanation of what we are seeing.

Can your preferred vendor also arrange for a teleconference with public officials, representatives from the Belmar site, and members of the public in Colorado during the business day for questions?  Please include the costs for that as well, if possible.

With regard to the people we would be meeting in person, and the visibility of all of the design aspects in person vs. via teleconference, would you please provide a cost/benefit analysis comparing the two approaches?

In your response, I’d also like to see a comparative analysis between the Belmar site and the Partridge Creek site with regard to their uses, local market conditions, geographic considerations including transit, accessibility to major highways, and the retailer mix.  Please then explain how this relates to the Lakeside site in particular.

And finally, could you please comment on at what point the cost of educating public officials becomes unreasonable, and where the public expenditure of $675 per official falls on the spectrum between “minimal” and “too much?”

If you do not feel that $675 is unreasonable on a per individual basis, perhaps as an alternative to a remote teleconference we could instead just send some of the officials, rather than all of them.  Could you please tell us, if we were to take this approach, which public officials who have a vote on the issue should be given the training firsthand and who should receive it secondhand from the people who attended?

To clarify, I mean to ask, should only the mayor and elected officials go?  Should it only be members of the administration?  Should it only be Planning Commissioners?  If you feel it should be a mix of these, could you identify the individuals who should receive the information firsthand vs the ones who should receive the information secondhand?  I would like to know which of the individual votes cast on the PUD will be less important than others; that should help narrow down the list of attendees.

Thank you in advance for your thoughts, information, analysis and conclusions.  I look forward to reading them in detail.

–Geoff

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Posted on June 21, 2018, in Issues and views, Paul Smith, Planning Commission, Where does the money go?. Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on Open letter to Jazmine Early on the Trip to Colorado.

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