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Plans to tear down old Cole County jail and sheriff's house move forward April 16, 2014

Your Opinion: Proposal withdrawn, but red flags remain

Dear Editor:

The democratic process worked through the ballot as people gave voice to the city’s “Transformation” Plan. Some 60 percent of voters reminded their elected City Council that they are acting as trustees for the benefit of the people, and not for the benefit of special interests.

City Council members must be held to a high standard of trust. This diverse group of 10 is held to this essential trust by their individual integrity and character, traits that have guided them in many past decisions for the good of our city.

This trust was to be tested Monday when City Council would have voted on a rezoning request of 10.86 acres, on which property owners, Rayma Chinn and Dick Otke, intend to build a 15-lot single-family residential subdivision. However, the developer again suddenly withdrew the proposal before either party could give voice to the City Council, leaving us for the third time in three years in limbo.

Most do not oppose the infill development. We do, however, oppose the poor planning and zoning conversion of a residential driveway at 1606 Hayselton into the subdivision’s only access street.

The entire proposal and zoning process should raise red flags for all residents since subdivision infill is a primary objective of any city’s long-range development plans, in any neighborhood. Secondly, subdivision zoning codes, supposedly based on sound precedents, were indiscriminately set on the two adjacent residences, allowing for extremely limited set-back dimensions (less than half of 25’ code) from the proposed street’s right-of-way and sidewalk encroachment. As a result of such arbitrary rulings, the affected property owners are afforded no equal protection.

The proposed street’s intersection with Hayselton Drive on a hairpin-curve and steep incline poses safety concerns from severe limited-sight distances, deemed dangerous enough for the city to erect a “Caution Curve” sign. Also, safety issues for drivers and pedestrians arise from 144 additional daily vehicular trips clogging congested Hayselton and Circle drives, as well as Boonville and West Main rush-hour outlets.

With Otke’s withdrawal, our neighborhood’s public voice to the council is silenced, as is the council’s public vote. A “no vote would have protected our historic neighborhood and provided the developer, city, and area residents the opportunity to cooperate in reaching viable alternatives for the subdivision’s access street on West Main.

We hope that such cooperation will still foster a sound trust between city leaders and their constituents from all neighborhoods.

Issue-oriented letters to the editor in response to this or about other local topics are welcome. All letters should be limited to 400 words. The author's name must appear with the letter, and the name, address and phone number provided for verification. Letters that cannot be verified by telephone will not be published. Send letters for publication to editor@newstribune.com

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