Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Council Meeting Overview: 5/17/06

By Dian Woodhouse

They ran out of seating at the Ogden City Council meeting last night. Former Councilman Kent Jorgenson was sitting against the wall, and, upon seeing an elderly lady standing in the back, carried his chair over to her so as to enable her to sit. It has been said that more simple courtesy is needed in that room, and there we had some. Thank you, Mr. Jorgenson.

Mikel Vause from Smart Growth Ogden formally presented a petition signed by 282 residents of the Mount Ogden Neighborhood regarding the formation of a Mount Ogden neighborhood plan to the Ogden City Council. There is an article in this morning's Standard Examiner recounting what transpired next, entitled: "Godfrey Accused of 'End Run.'" In a nutshell, it seems that Mount Ogden residents wish to formulate their plan and have it included in the city's General Plan, where it should be. (As we all know, the city's General Plan has to be amended if the Peterson project is to proceed.) The administration's proposal is to amend the general plan first, it seems, from this in today's Standard by Scott Schwebke:

"Godfrey's proposal calls for amendments to the General Plan, which would be needed before Peterson could purchase the Mount Ogden Golf Course, to be addressed first, followed by efforts to develop the community plan."

Mr. Cook's point was that the Council has already put a public process in place which prioritizes the formulation of a Mount Ogden Neighborhood plan as a first step.

Despite the heat and the crowded room, our Council members were fully engaged in the business at hand. One highlight was the action of Chairman Garcia in allowing concerned members of the public to speak to an issue before the vote. This issue concerned the rezoning portions of 21st and 22nd Streets from Manufacturing and Industrial Zone, (M-2,) to Central Business District Zone, (CBD.) Of this issue, Councilwoman Jeske remarked that it had been discussed in the work session, and that she felt that the rezoning would protect residential owners from having manufacturing near their homes. Three people concerned with this issue spoke briefly, and the motion to rezone passed.

The next item was a proposal presented by Dave Harmer regarding a change in the Junction plan requested by the administration. It seems that, although the site plan has been approved and The Junction named, Mayor Godfrey wishes to have a building on the northeast corner of the site expanded to six stories instead of four. Stated reasons were:

*Will provide increased density downtown, which is what we want.

*The intersection at 24th and Washington has long been viewed as the center of downtown, and we need a Landmark there. A four story building will not be a Landmark. A six story one will be.

*It will give us more office space. These two floors will be premiere office space, thereby providing more lease revenue to the city, because....

The city will be responsible for leasing these two floors. We will be so much responsible that we will agree, if this proposal goes through, to pay Boyer for the leasing of them ourselves until we find tenants. This will cost a little under $400,000 a year. We will allegedly get money to do this from, (you guessed it--BDO lease revenues.) Boyer doesn't want to take this on because it does not think six stories there makes economic sense from its point of view, and therefore, if we want six, we will pay to lease them if we wish Boyer to build them.

Mr. Harmer stated that this was a "now or never" decision, and that if we did not build a six story building there now, it might be another 50 years before the city gets another opportunity. He addressed the obvious question, which is---Why would we wish to do this if Boyer, which is, after all in the business, thinks it not profitable--by stating that Boyer and Ogden City have different views and goals on things of this nature, and the city is perhaps more interested in long term benefits than Boyer is.

Councilwoman Wicks asked what the current vacancy rate for office space was in Ogden. The answer was that this is unknown, but that this office space will be different, being "premiere space." Some council members pointed out that The Junction and the PRI projects included office space, but the rejoinder indicated that there was really not that much being built, and little of this nature.

Councilwoman Wicks also asked, What about the space in the American Can Company? The answer here was that that area is not currently delegated for office space.

As part of this proposal, Mr. Harmer also suggested that the BDO lease revenues be placed in what he called a "Debt Obligation Clearing House" account. This would, one assumes, be an interest bearing account and would ensure that we had money for the site when we needed it. In this context, he mentioned that a major tenant, had left BDO and subsequently had caused a decrease in lease revenues, and such an account would hedge against losses should these things occur.

There was also discussion concerning---Would these plans then have to go back to the Plannng Commission? Would many already agreed upon processes between the city and Boyer have to be sent back and revised? These things would have to be looked into.

Councilwoman Jeske stated that this was one of the issues she had campaigned upon, that the city should not be acting as a developer. Heads nodded at this. The response to this was that "it is not possible to do what we have been charged to do" without acting as a developer.

The issue ended by being tabled for two weeks partially, it seemed, because the ramifications of agreeing to this proposal had not been presented to the Council's satisfaction. The proposal had been presented as having Boyer wishing an answer by today or it was going to start on the previously approved plan. Evidently the project has been held up by the request for these extra floors, and Boyer wishes to get going. So we shall see how it turns out.

(My question here is---Is it possible that these two floors are being proposed to be built with a prospective tenant already in mind? And if so, who would that be?)

I have saved mention of the OPD for last. Many were there last night, in uniform. A brief statement was read concerning current negotiations between our police department and Ogden City. It is to be hoped that we can provide more information on this, perhaps in a separate article, because this issue is a very important one, deserving at least as much, if not more, coverage, as Mark Johnson's Hummer.

As always, if there is anything in the above that needs correction, please do so.

16 comments:

ArmySarge said...

Is this council EVER going to get this mayor under control?? Why is it that almost everything this administration brings to this council MUST be done NOW??!!! I have said it before and I will say it again - what good is our City Council? The mayor seems to do everything he wants to do.

Curmudgeon said...

Thank you again, Dian, for doing the job the Standard Examiner should be doing and isn't.

Several things about this matter [the extra floors], or rather the City's presentation of it, do not ring true:

(a)The city has no idea what the office vacancy rate is? I don't believe that. If the city's development team does not know, it damn well should.

(b) We have hired Boyer to do the mall site development because of its expertise and record of success in this area. In light of which, it makes little sense to me to ignore Boyer's advice and judgement on the matter.

(c) As a matter of general policy, the Council should reject, without discussion or debate, anything the administration brings to it without proper notice and preparation, and which the administratin insists has to be done "right now" because delaying even a day is not acceptable. No well run city operates its planning and development policies that way, and the Council should establish that no similar gun-to-the-head proposals will be approved in the future. Period.

(d) I seem to recall the earlier company chosen to develop the mall site pulled out because, it said, the current administration had unrealistic expectations about Ogden's immediate development possibilities. Sounds like the same ol same ol this time round.

(e) Absent a tenent already in hand, it seems to me adding the extra floors [along with the guarantee to pay rent to Boyer if no tenant appears] will in effect put the city in competition with Boyer to lease space in the new building. Wouldn't Boyer and the city be going after, in effect, the same tenants,each with an interest in making sure the other one did not "get" them?

(f) The potential downside risk to the city [the "rent" it will pay Boyer for unleased top two floors]seems to me [absent any indication that the commercial vacancy rate in Ogden is shrinking noticeably] unacceptable.

(g) The Council has, quite properly, refused to be stampeded and delayed consideration, pending more information, for two weeks. The City administation apparently implied that the decision had to be made immediately. Hence a two week delay will apparently kill the two extra floors and Boyer will proceed instantly with the original plan. If that does NOT happen, and the plan for the two extra floors is presented again by the Mayor's development office two weeks from now, seems to me that will establish that the claim that this had to be done right away, without proper vetting, was.... well, I'll be delicate.... not entirely accurate. Which would motivate me, were I a councilperson, to discount any administration claims about the project, and to vote no.

I am beginning to understand why, if Ogden is such a failure at attracting business development, that is so.

Curmudgeon said...

Armysarge:

Please note, the Council was apparently not stampeded and refused immediate approval. Hizzonah did not get what he wanted it seems. I took that as a sign of an independent Council insisting on what the lawyers call "due diligence" in carrying out its responsibilities.

We'll see where it goes in two weeks I guess.

RudiZink said...

Here's a little WCF background:

Dian and I talked about last night's coucil meeting off and on through the morning and afternoon, BTW.

Last night's council meeting was a complicated event, we both agreed.

There was a WHOLE LOT going on. Framing it was tough.

Here's one issue:

How in the hell does Godfrey have the sack to ask the council to commit $400,000 per year to a lease on a property that doesn't exist, when 50 uniformed members of Ogden's Finest are there in force, to seek a simple meeting about pay?

Dian and I agreed that we should put up a basic article on this. Inveterate and highly-talented wordsmith that she is... she provided the foregoing.

Tom Owens hit the nail on the head during the public comments session when he offered this, after Mayor Godfrey had 'skyed up,' and snubbed the 50 or so fully-uniformed OPD officers who packed the council chamber, asking for training money and a living wage?

"Hi, I'm Tom Owens. I live in Farmington, but I do pay taxes in Ogden City.

I just want to make a couple of points.

It seems to me pretty bizarre that the mayor would sit up here and promote this idea that the city should cough up another 400 grand a year to rent two floors of a building that isn't built yet but that the professional developers and builders who are going to be building it don't think it's worth their investment to do. Because they have different investment criteria? Sure... they're into making a profit. This thing's a money loser. That's why he wants to tag it onto the taxpayers.

And I'll tell you one more thing. I think it says a lot about this guy that he walks out on the cops. This has gotta tell you what this guy is all about. He doesn't have time for the police. Yet he's got time to pitch you guys on some B.S. deal."

We are told Tom Owens directed these comments to Matt Godfrey's by then empty chair, with a predictably favorable result from all sentient beings in the council chamber.

There were many other strange aspects at last night's meeting.

And there were fifty cops attending in uniform, begging the council for some diologue -- probably a FIRST for an Ogen Council meeting.

And then we had the mystified Curt Geiger, (who has interfered in Ogden politics like no other businessman in Ogden history,) asking...with a completely straight face... "Why does everybody call ME for information?"

And then there was the lubugrious and oily Bernie Allen, reeling off the list of downtown properties that he's acquired "at great risk." Is it any wonder he's maneuvering like a madman to make sure his investments pay off to eliminate his family's risk?

Does it come as any great surpise that Bernie and the whole Allen Family are joined in with their son-in-law on the great Godfrey/Peterson landgrab?

A hat tip to Tom Owens from Weber County Forum, for telling the truth, BTW.

And the same to our own Dian, who finally offered her excellent herein report, after much discussion. There's much more to be discussed, however.

We're both awaiting the comments of our gentle readers to 'flesh out' the whole story of last night's meeting.

Chime in, gentle readers... please.

dian said...

The Ogden City Council a few weeks ago passed the following resolution:

A RESOLUTION OF THE OGDEN CITY COUNCIL, DIRECTING THE DEVELOPMENT OF A COMPREHENSIVE PUBLIC PROCESS PLAN REGARDING THE PROPOSED GONDOLA, RESORT, AND PROPERTY SALE FOR A HILLSIDE DEVELOPMENT

WHEREAS,

Ogden City Administration and a private developer have presented the City Council with a concept regarding an intra-city gondola, resort, and property sale for a hillside development; and

WHEREAS,

The Ogden Weber State Transit Corridor Study, done by Wasatch Front Regional Council, Utah Transit Authority, Weber State University, and Ogden City, was presented to the City Council in October of 2005, and

WHEREAS,

In November 2005, the City Council requested the Planning Commission review the Ogden/Weber Transit Corridor Study and provide recommendations regarding it; and

WHEREAS,

The Planning Commission has recommended the following regarding the Ogden/Weber Transit Corridor Study:

1. A rapid transit corridor and system with the ability to make multiple stops is important to link the downtown with the Weber State University and McKay-Dee Hospital area;

2. The preferred location of the transit corridor is along 25th Street;

3. A public process is necessary, similar to that undertaken with the Mall site, including workshops, charettes, focus groups, and public input, as well as the corridor design being coordinated with the General Plan including its effects on land use, urban design, etc., with required amendments to associated community plans and the potential of additional corridor plans, with stakeholders identified and involved with the plan process;

4. Additional information be provided such as an EIS, a traffic study, effects on land use and other factors as well as information provided relating to cost of installation and operation being identified;

5. Mode of transportation not be recommended at this time, only that it be a permanent system, but would have the ability to complement and interconnect with a potential downtown circulation system; and

WHEREAS,

Numerous members of the public, including many from the Mt. Ogden community area, have requested a comprehensive public process take place to include development of the Mt. Ogden Community Plan and updating of established community plans that could be affected by this proposal; and

WHEREAS,

The community has voiced (and will continue to voice) both support and opposition regarding aspects of the proposal and the Council wants to honor that input; and

WHEREAS,

The City Council will be fully engaged in their budget process from April 24, 2006 to June 22, 2006,

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Ogden City Council does hereby direct the City Council staff to develop a comprehensive public process, including development of the Mt. Ogden Community Plan, consideration of updating the Ogden/Weber Transit Corridor Study, and other aspects of a public process for this magnitude of project. The Council directs that this comprehensive public process plan be provided to the Council as soon as practicable.

The Council further directs Council Staff to meet with representatives of other applicable decision-making bodies to determine their timelines and decision points, e.g., Ogden City Planning Commission, Weber State University, Weber County, Wasatch Front Regional Council, Utah Transit Authority, Utah Department of Transportation, etc. The information gathered is to be incorporated into the comprehensive public process plan.

Due to the many dimensions and complexity of the proposal, the City Council intends to gather facts, receive public input, and collect data consistent with the Council's due diligence prior to making any decisions on this far reaching and very important proposal.

PASSED AND ADOPTED...

Joe Mama said...

Thanks, Dian!

And we all thank you for your lead article.

You should all be aware of an interesting link on the subject of a proposed timeline for the "processing" of a Mt. Ogden community plan.

This comes from directly the front page of the Ogden City website:

Suggested Public Process for Mt. Ogden Park

Curmudgeon said...

Joe:

Thanks for the link to the mayor's Planning staff proposal.

The slimey bastards. All important decisions regarding the sale of open land which is in Mt. Ogden Park neighborhood will be made first, if the planning staff has its way, and then the Mt. Ogden community can have their little "input" meetings.

Why am I not surprised?

dian said...

On the Ogden City Web page, there is a Suggested Public Process for Mount Ogden Park, which I will link at the end of this. It includes such sentences as

We suggest the following steps regarding the public participation process:

and I draw your attention to point 10, which states:

10. Based on general plan amendments, work on other info for Mt. Ogden Community Plan. (October)

Thus the Schwebke article, stating that the administration wished the general plan amended before the completion of the Mt. Ogden Plan. Should that happen, it would clear the way for the sale of Mt. Ogden Golf Course much earlier than we have anticipated.

I do not think that the Ogden City Council had anything to do with the compilation of this web page. I believe the word "We," referenced above, refers to the administration. (I personally think this should be made clear--use of the city web page in such a manner communicates that the entire city government is in accord on something, whereas the opposite might be the case.)

I see a conflict here between the resolution passed by the Ogden City Council and this Suggested Public Process. To me, it seems that the Council has been painstakingly meticulous in making sure that the process dealing with this project was inclusive, and, (also to me,) that means not only development, but inclusion of the Mt. Ogden plan in the General Plan before there was any attempt to amend that General Plan.

But the response to that will undoubtably be----You only resolved to Develop it, you didn't say it had to be Finished and Included.

If this is so, then, in my opinion, the Council must make efforts to amend that resolution, if it were indeed its intent to let the residents of the Mount Ogden Neighborhood have a voice in this proposed development, to include the words, "Finished" and the phrase, "Included in the General Plan." Because it is their neighborhood that will be affected by it, for better or for worse.

Or perhaps it could send a letter to the administration stating the intent of that resolution, if I am interpreting it correctly and the web page about Suggested Public Process does not conform to that intent.

Because, as we all know, if the golf course is sold before the completion of the neighborhood plan, this will effectively officially silence the voices of those in the neighborhood where the golf course is located as to their opinions as to this sale.

Suggested Public Process For Mount Ogden Park

Just saw your posts, Joe Mama and Curmudgeon. Yes, indeed. Will go ahead and post mine, too.

Anonymous said...

Wow, thank you for the excellent coverage! Too bad this information isn't more readily available. One interesting point: the lease obligation for the two proposed floors of office space is $400,000 a year, which is somewhat higher, but in the same price range as the operating costs of the Mount Ogden Golf Course (roughly $380,000 a year, if I recall correctly). There! "Problem" solved mayor Godfrey! We just found enough funny money to cover your funny expenses!

Oh yes....

Because the golf course "costs" X dollars per year, it is therefore a liability. Selling it to buy a gondola is good sense because the gondola will not be a liability. What the hell kind of logic is this? If I have a house which is paid for and is worth $100,000, is it a liabilty because I have to pay $1000 in taxes on it each year? I should logically sell it right away, even for less than it is worth to minimize my exposure to this liabilty? Holy cow! If the people of Ogden buy this line of garbage....well, I'm at a loss for words.

Another Anonymous said...

That's a great analogy anonymous.

Anonymous said...

And every other park, the cemetery, the amphitheater, and other city properties are liabilities by the same standard.

Maybe Godfrey wants to sell all those too?

Asque said...

I see that I am not the only one wondering why Godfrey left his part time job to go to the one that he thinks is his full time job. Yep, he left to do another dog and pony show about the gondola.

Bernie said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
dian said...

So what should happen?

Here is how the situation appears to me. The Council passed a resolution directing staff to develop and then implement a public process which includes a variety of meetings, etc., between organizations and individuals. This involved process may still be in development.

The administration is suggesting a different process which it may soon begin to implement.

What's the next move?

Curmudgeon said...

Thinking on Ogden's problems:

Mulling all this over, along with the fact that it is hard for most folks to keep up with what is happening in Ogden public affairs, it occured to me that what Ogden needs [among many other things] is its own commercial TV station and regular Ogden news show.

Most Ogdenites do not read the Standard Examiner. Most do not read any newspaper. The three major SLC channels do nightly news shows, but they consist largely of covering the latest murders, attempted murders, abductions and car crashes in and around SLC. Ogden news almost never gets covered, unless the goriest shooting or crash of the day happened to be here.

In many small cities [and large ones for that matter], newspapers produce, in concert with a local TV affiliate, the local news. I wonder how much Ogden civic life might be improved by a local tv outlet. Such would also permit local businesses to advertise locally, without facing the prohibitive rates charged by SLC media since most of the SLC channel viewers would not be local customers of Ogden businesses.

Is a start-up small independent commercial TV station possible for Ogden? Financially feasible? What would the upside potential of a local TV station be for promoting Ogden business? Would it matter much if Ogdenites had a regular "The Ogden Report" news show [daily] to turn to for local news?

I wonder if the SE would be interested in producing a daily 30 minute "Ogden Report" if there were a venue for showing it locally?

Just some random thinking along the lines of what might help Ogden businesses grow and help the general public keep informed about civic affairs hereabouts. Not to mention help foster a greater sense of community in and for Ogden.

Feasible? Practical? Possible? Beats me, but I thought it worth at least raising the idea.

Stan James said...

I was going to reply to Bernie's post, and when I came back to do so it was gone! Probably a good thing considering it was a bunch of Godfrey inspired nonsense.

I was at the CC meeting the other night and "Bernie", and I am assuming it is the same Bernie, got up and urged the council to continue to be good soldiers in the Mayor's army. I was amazed that he said that he had been buying up buildings on Washington Blvd at a steady clip over the past couple of years and the city should hurry up and make things happen! He apparently doesn't see any conflict in being related to the Mayor, being a huge booster and appologist for the mayor, and being in line for a huge payday if he can only help the mayor get the tax payers involved in some highly suspect and risky financial schemes. He represents himself as an honorable civic minded citizen and yet in his arrogance he cannot recognize his own greedy motive in his attemps to get the city to take this huge and dangerous financial gamble at the expense of the tax payers.

It certainly makes me wonder who else in the extended Godfrey, Allen and Richards clan is going to make enormous financial gains as a result of this Gondola nonsense.

Most people in attendance seemed to be a bit suprised at his apparent cluelessness, and were put off by his oozing arrogance. His delivery was lawyerly however! (smooth and oily)

The guy from Farmington got the audience back on track when he delivered one of his infrequent but stern lectures to the Council and the Mayor's empty chair. He was way to brief and the folks in attendance seemed to wish he would have said more. As it was, he got a bunch of high five's and slaps on the back in the hall way after the meeting.

The thing he pointed out, which I thought was the most news worthy subject of the meeting, was that our Mayor ducked out on the police when they showed up to address their problems with the city. Godfrey would not face them and hear them out. It was more important for him to go to yet another ra ra pep rally for the gondola supporters than it was to listen to our police! I agree with Owens, you don't need to know anything more about Godfrey than that to know what kind of a man he really is!

It would be very interesting to see what part of his official time that Godfey spends promoting this private venture of Peterson's. How much city money is being spent in his propoganda efforts that are directed toward the very tax payers that are footing the bill? It is like making us pay for the bullets he is going to shoot us with!

Is this what a Mayor is supposed to do? Is he supposed to be out their representing the interests of a private developer at the expense of the citizens of Ogden? Who's side is he on? Does he represent us tax payers, or does he represent Chriss Peterson and their respecitive father's in law?

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