Friday, October 15, 2010

Standard-Examiner: How Tall Is Too Tall On Ogden's Historic 25th Street?

Mr. Schwebke's article reveals a couple of interesting new twists

25th Street Business Association President Steve Conlin's proposal to raise Historic 25th Street's building height limits from 45 to 55 feet is back on the Standard-Examiner front page this morning. Read Mr. Schwebke's full story here:
How tall is too tall on Ogden's Historic 25th Street?
Mr. Schwebke's article reveals a couple of interesting new twists:

1) Somebody obviously believes the stakes are high enough that our city council can't be trusted to run their own meeting, so the taxpayers will be paying an unnamed sum for a professional facilitator to "facilitate" the November 4 dog and pony show:
OGDEN -- The city council has hired a professional facilitator for a Nov. 4 work session at which a controversial request to increase building height limits on Historic 25th Street will be considered.
Information regarding how much the city council will pay facilitator Pam Gardiol, president of Gardiol & Associates, was not available Thursday because a contract hasn't been finalized, said Janene Eller-Smith, a policy analyst for the council.
Gardiol, a former chairwoman of Ogden's planning and landmarks commissions, said her experience in those two positions has aided her as a facilitator. "It helped me be impartial," said Gardiol, who declined to say how much she is being paid by the council.
Gardiol has served as a facilitator for the city of Seattle, the Utah Department of Transportation, Salt Lake County and other entities.
2) With an apparent eye to the difficulties arising two years ago, when the Windsdor Hotel project developer submitted garish and zoning non-compliant plans for the Windor Hotel remodel, Mr. Schwebke refers to this protective language contained in the new proposed ordinance:
The amendment under consideration by the city council would prohibit existing buildings on 25th Street from being increased in height through rooftop additions or additional stories unless:
• Documentation is presented establishing that additional height is within the limits of the building's historical construction.
• The addition is not visible from the front of the building or from the sidewalk on the same side of the street or across the street.
Although we've already gone on record as opposing a reopening of this can of worms, we'll defer for the time being to the common sense and diplomacy of Councilman Stephens, who believes there's no harm in taking another look at the issue:
Councilman Doug Stephens questioned whether it is necessary to change the height ordinance, as there is no building project on the table for 25th Street that requires the height extension.
"That doesn't mean we shouldn't go ahead and review it," he said. "The height ordinance isn't going away, so it behooves us to talk about it in a work session. It's prudent for us to gather information to analyze the importance of the height ordinance."
As a consequence we'll be standing by with great interest as ordinance amendment proponents lay their new evidence on the table on November 4, all the while harboring the gut feeling that a blanket height limit amendment is not a sufficiently prudent approach.


Drifter said...

Lying, snake in the grass Alan Franke has told many people that it's way too hard for the city council to hire a consultant, so they must always rely on his master, Godfrey's, analysts, rather than hire their own.

Funny how easy it was for them to hire this "facilitator", no?

See you in Hell, Franke. Good riddance.

Curmudgeon said...

According to the story, it's the Council that decided to bring in a professional facilitator with [apparently] to make sure that at the work session the Council gets to see/hear the arguments and evidence on both sides of the question. As I recall, people have noted here and elsewhere in the past that one of the problems with how Ogden government operates is that the Council has few resources for developing its own information and data, and so ends up discussing issues often, and making decisions, based almost entirely on data presented by the Administration.

That works if the administration involved has a firm grasp on and understanding of what ethical conduct requires of those in office. Otherwise, it doesn't.

So, if the facilitator acts as an impartial traffic warden [so to speak], making sure that the full range of opinion, idea, evidence, data is presented to the Council, this may be a good idea. If the facilitator however operates as a partisan pushing one particular outcome or another, then it won't be. We'll have to see how it works out, and ought to withhold judgement on that until the work session meets.

My experience with facilitators is not good, but then, it's largely been with facilitators brought in to work a public meeting and bring the crowd to the conclusion the organizers want it brought to. But my experience with facilitators is pretty limited, and I'm willing to withhold judgment to see how the work session pans out, to see if a full development of both pros and cons is placed before the Council members for their consideration.

[And kudos to the SE for headlining the story and bringing to its readers' attention information about city government proceedings not otherwise readily available.]

South Bench said...

"...addition is not visible from the front of the building or from the sidewalk on the same side of the street or across the street".

This is not good.

a little thought before you post said...

Actually, Drifter, you have it WRONG. Franke answers to Cook, who answers to the City Council. Only the CC can fire Cook & Co., and they serve at the CC's pleasure, NOT the Mayor's.

As for hiring consultants, facilitators, etc., it's all determined by a Council vote and the Council funds to do so. Therefore, Drifter, there are times that certain consultants and/or facilitators won't be brought aboard due to votes and budget constraints. Also, much of the "analysis" should be done by the Council members once they've received their Friday agenda packets. Plenty of time to do the homework but occassionally, on an issue like this one, it probably wouldn't hurt to get some impartial guidance before making a decision. Just a thought.

Damn, it would be nice it some knew what he or she was talking about before they went out and lynched someone else.

Drifter said...

Hey A Little Thought,

I think you chose your moniker well.

Franke reports to Cook, but both of them effectively take their orders from Godfrey. If you paid attention more and condescended less, you'd know that.

Franke is Montgomery's protege, and was planted on the city council staff to act as Godfrey's inside man. He relentlessly sides with Godfrey, often assuring the city council that Godfrey's is, alas, the only way.

I suspect you are in fact, actually either Cook or Franke, since no one else in Ogden who understands the situation would defend either of them, other than for themselves that is.

Once Franke became flagged for what he is, he was of no further use to Godfrey, the die was cast, his fate was sealed.

But then, you already knew that, didn't you?

Ozboy said...

Most excellent comment jumped straight to the WCF front page

Hindman said...

Maybe this is too simplistic but if someone wants to build on a vacant lot on 25th St why can't they just abide by the 45 foot height requirement and if they want to build taller than 45 feet trust me there are enough vacant spaces and taller buildings already in the downtown area that can accommodate.

Why waste money on a facilitator? Stupid reasoning from all involved here.

S. Sales said...

Yeah, sure. And, if they buy the piece of property on 25th, and want to build something luff and touch historic, why should they be restricted by some partially arbitrary, obviously ill-conceived ordinance?

I am all for keeping the historic designation as if everyone involved, but other than that, property rights play the high card.

a little thought before you post said...

It's obvious, Drifter, that the lack of understanding is yours, not mine. AGAIN, Cook nad Franke serve at the pleasure of the City Council, are almost an entity unto themselves, and take NO orders or direction from Godfrey or the Administration. Don't believe me, but run on down to City Hall and take a look at the structure documents that will show you to be wrong. In fact, look at the City website and you can read it there.

This department, the City Council, is the ONLY department in the City structure that is not under the mayor's pervue.

Other than that, you've still got some work to do on calling Franke a snake in the grass or whatever insult it was that you disparaged him with. I'll say it again, know what you're writing about before you castigate people erroneously. You're only showing your ignorance.

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