A technicality knockout?
In what can only be described as soap opera turn of events, it would seem the Campana Building redevelopment project at Fabyan Parkway and Route 31 in Batavia is dead in that nearby Fox River water.
At least for now.
To fill in the blanks, the Evergreen Real Estate Group is seeking to turn the former Campana factory into approximately 20 regular and 80 Section 8 apartments. As you might imagine, those Eaglebrook subdivision Genevans are rending their garments, gnashing their teeth and weeping uncontrollably over the prospect of poor brown children attending THEIR D304 schools.
The rest of ‘em aren’t too happy about brown people living next door, either.
Please note! I stand by my prediction that this project was a done deal as that 9 to 5 Batavia City Council committee of the whole vote clearly indicated. It’s just that, while the four vote margin hasn’t changed, but the rules have!
In yet another fascinating Tri-Cities irony, after all sorts of citizens tried to derail this conversion based on bad windows and a lack of access, someone discovered the kind of zoning technicality that means the project suddenly requires a two-thirds city council supermajority.
If you do the math, you’ll note it’s suddenly one scant vote short.
There are just two Tri-City non-attorneys who could’ve come up with this kind of technical challenge, and since it wasn’t me, I’m 99 percent sure of who the culprit is. But since he or she hasn’t provided their express written consent, I won’t be divulging their identity today.
So, here’s how it worked!
Robert Byrnes, the owner of the adjoining property at 1950 and 2000 S. Batavia Avenue (Route 31), filed a zoning protest just three days before the Batavia City Council was to take that fateful final vote. Since the Campana Building and his office plaza share more than 20 percent of the frontage, that gave him the right to issue the challenge.
And when the Batavia city attorney deemed it valid, it triggered the two-thirds majority vote requirement.
So Evergreen asked the city council to table the motion in the desperate hope of swaying one of those five nay voters, but insiders tell me they’ve been utterly able to do so. If the status quo remains, much to everyone’s surprise, this project will not fly.
This is why I love politics people! It’s always a fascinating proposition.
It’s just like herding cats
Every now and then I get the hankerin’ to run for office and I’ve discovered the perfect antidote for that kind of horrifically misguided thinking is to attend any Kane County Board or committee meeting.
So, in anticipation of a possible showdown between Chief Judge Susan Clancy Boles and those judicial and public safety committee members over the demise of the criminal defendant home monitoring program, I put down the LSAT prep stuff long enough to haul my bony white butt down to Building A.
When everyone basically behaved, I started wondering if it was gonna be another hour-and-a-half of my journalistic life I’d never get back. But just when I was about to pack up and leave, leave it to Public Defender Kelli Childress to make it all worthwhile.
During her turn to speak, Childress lashed out at the committee over the $150,000 efficiency study the County commissioned to determine how they might trim that former $6 million deficit. “It’s wrong. It’s just wrong,” Childress said, “I’d like to know who the sources are for this information.”
She pointed out inconsistent comparisons to the wrong collar counties, incorrect employee head counts and that the number of annual cases her office handles was off by a thousand. She called the report “misinformation” and “totally inaccurate.”
Of course, that tirade incited Court Services director Lisa Aust, Coroner Rob Russell and Sheriff Don Kramer to join in the fractious festivities which put Chairman Chris Lauzen and those committee members in a really good Thursday morning mood.
Yes! For that amount of cash, that report should’ve been a wee bit more accurate. But the bottom line is, the Chairman asked every department and every elected official to make the same 3.6 percent budget cut, so those inaccuracies didn’t matter. There was a financial hole to fill and that’s what it took to fill it.
It’s not as if that kind of temper tantrum would make that missing revenue magically reappear.
As I’m prone to noting, we have two massive ironies here that make it difficult to focus on those LSAT logic questions.
The first is, the efficiency report concluded that the PD’s office should actually get MORE money. But when Childress went off on that committee – again – one of the board members pulled me aside and said, “Oh well! If she asks for more money, we’ll cite that ‘inaccurate’ report as the reason not to give it to her.”
And the second one is, because I hold the PD’s office in such high esteem, I’ve been working on the Chairman and a couple of board members to restore their funding – and I’d actually been making headway. After all, a well-functioning public defender’s office is critical to justice being served.
But after yesterday’s amusing performance, Childress aggravated absolutely everyone to the point that my budgetary crusade completely crashed and burned. Not even my amazing charisma and perpetually polite and professional personality could sway those folks now.
It’s called politics for a reason people! All I can say is, I hope that rant made her feel good because, to quote the late, great Walt Kelly. “Ms. Childress has met the enemy and it is her!”