The church offered to pay the cost of the new Environmental Impact statement so long as the engineering firm that did the last one—which was 95% BS—prepared the new one. We just discovered that this engineering firm has had a lien on the property for the entire cost of their work since the beginning. So they have their own reasons for wanting to continue since they seem to think the property has no value unless rezoned. Even so, the amount the church is willing to shoulder represents only about a third of the cost the city will incur going through the process again. My theory is that someone, most likely the Pastor’s son—a former council member, now political consultant—put the screws to his two political proteges who broke ranks and voted to stop the bleeding at the October 14 council meeting. These two council members and the two who remained true to the cause came to last night’s council meeting united in the suspicion that the large cost estimates they were given earlier were the result of a conspiracy between the new mayor and the planning department staff—a conspiracy intended to bring the issue to an end. The mayor responded that he had been taken aback by the numbers in the estimate himself, and had questioned the staff extensively on their reasoning for those numbers. One of the more perceptive council members pointed out that these four united council members had, earlier in the year, heaped praise on this same planning staff for ushering through the failed EIS, but now when their cost estimates do not support continuing with the rezone effort, the staff’s numbers are suspect. The reality is, as with most government estimates, they are probably low.
As usual, I took up my entire 5 minutes, down to the second. I mostly pointed out that the huge legal costs to the City were the result of their acceptance of the many obvious inaccuracies and deceptions in the first EIS and that it really didn’t seem prudent to give the same firm another go at it. No matter, at the end of the meeting, one of them announced he would move to rescind the October 14 decision at the December 2 council meeting. It looks like I am in for another year of this. The chances this property would or even could be developed commercially seem almost nil, but my experience in this saga tells me that trusting government officials to act in the best interest of the community, in accordance with law, or using common sense is a bad bet.