Tonight was an very interesting meeting. Let’s start with the good stuff. The Chick-fil-a is going to expand. They are going to tear down the store on Collins and buy the building to the east of their property and demolish it. This will allow for an expansion and increased parking. Carmenza Moreno will continue to use her parking lot to benefit charitable organizations by using it for event parking on Sundays when Chick –fil-a is closed. She is investing heavily in north Arlington and it is much appreciated. We need more business owners like her.
Next was a senior living facility by Grey Star. This will be a much needed 176 unit complex across the street from the Highlands shopping center. This is an untapped market and these types of facilities need to be replicated throughout our city.
The third item was a bail bonds issue that was very difficult for me to decide. The Unified Development Code, UDC, was adopted in June of 2014. In January 2015 an individual put in for a bail bonds business in an area next to the jail. The current zoning under the new UDC does not allow this use. But the certificate of occupancy was issued by the city. In March the city revoked the CO, bringing attention to the zoning error. The applicant had spent tens of thousands of dollars and now had to shut down his business. So he appealed to the Planning and Zoning Commission, P & Z. The vote to deny was split 4-3. So he appealed to the Council to hear his case. The lawyer for the applicant pointed out that the attorney opposing the case was in fact a part owner in a bail bonds business. I can’t tell you how polluted it made the case for me. I had decided that I was going to rule in favor of the applicant, but when I heard this it made my decision very easy. The vote was 8-1 in favor of the applicant.
Lastly, was Kelly Canon and Richard Weber. Mr. Weber stated that the minutes of previous meetings were illegal because Citizens Comments were not televised nor were the comments published in the minutes. Kelly Canon stated that she was taking this issue to the State Attorney General because we were conducting illegal meetings in violation of the Open Meetings Act. Ms. Canon gave us a sheet that stated that a “deliberation” is being conducted and needs to be recorded either by video or in the minutes. That’s all well and good except that there is no deliberation! The Council cannot not speak because the subject that the citizen brings before us is not on the agenda, ergo no dialogue and no deliberation. The purpose of Citizens Comment is to allow access to the entire City Council at one time in an effort to hear any subject that is on the citizen’s mind. If there is something that can be fixed, we send a staff member to the address to solve the issue. The problem, according to several Council Members is that certain people were using the city videos to post on You Tube to further their issue, without Council D-E-L-I-B-E-R-A-T-I-O-N. The definition of deliberation is – a verbal exchange during a meeting between a quorum (a lot of Council Members) of a governmental body and a person. Well we had the person, and the quorum, but no exchange. The right to address the Council is covered under the 1st Amendment and I love to hear from the citizens in case we can do something for them. There is no right to be on TV. It is a shame that certain folks abused the privilege to further their personal agendas. They can still post on You Tube but they have to make the recordings themselves.