Monday, February 25, 2013

Op-ed: The Emperor Has No Clothes

Amy_Cosner_web… and “There Goes the Neighborhood”

From my observations on February 19th seven Council Members listened and three people actually heard and understood what the people asked. A few of the Council Members were under the impression that this was a tough decision. So obeying what the people want is a “tough decision?” How is it “tough” to see how senseless it is to build a Hotel in our neighborhood? To us it seems unconscionable the way the rules have not been followed.

One of the most disturbing comments made by Bill Bestpitch was that “this is for the future of the children.” How is a hotel for the future of the children? The last time I studied public administration in college, schools and playgrounds are made for children—not hotels. After tearing down what was intended for the children in this neighborhood by Mr. Huff himself, the children are lost.

The last time I studied the law, the environment and the children were the ones who needed protection because they did not have standing to sue—there was no one there to protect them. It is therefore our civic duty to protect and honor both. Not to mention the elderly and disabled who have no transportation to drive to the greenways and then walk. Oy Vay! Look around you.

At some time in the past there was city planning for sidewalks and nearly half of them were put in, but now a trip to the store is like taking your life in your own hands. I thank God that have a car—but that is one of the reasons I located on the bus line—for a time when I don’t drive anymore. The 80s “heydays” are over, and we need to stop acting and building like it is still the 80s.

All Malls eventually become ghost towns. First it was Crossroads, teaming with stores, including Waccamaw, only the second store of its kind. Then it was Tanglewood, followed by Towers. Soon ValleyView will be out of style and we will be left with concrete when the site becomes less attractive for shoppers—hard to believe now, but it is inevitable because people are fickle.

As for the traffic “pattern” if you want to call it that, a hotel in ValleyView would cause even more of a CF than already exists. Thanks, Honorable Mayor Bower for mentioning the absurdity of it all. I hope it didn’t fall on the deaf ears of some of your colleagues. I hope they will think and pray about all of this nonsense. And what of ValleyView Mall being in the flight path of the Roanoke Regional Airport, which is also growing by leaps and bounds?

As far as the comment made by Bill Bestpitch that “no promises have been broken,” I beg to differ. One of the most recent ones in this whole process was when Court Rosen “courted” the neighborhood for his vote by attending Neighborhood Watch meetings and representing that if we voted for him he would, “take care of the neighborhood.” If this is his way of “taking care of us,” we vote and we don’t want any.

The attitude that “it’s the hotel or else,” is bullying. A couple of the council members even pointed that out, in so many words. As I have stated over and over, there was no dialog ever. A dialog infers more than one person talking and there is the sharing of ideas. Instead, lines were redrawn and plans were made without regard to what the neighbors wanted, which is unconscionable.

Then, the builder falsified and misrepresented itself by stating that the only concern was for the height of the building, which it really didn’t change. As Ray said, “So if I understand you correctly, you have made a five story hotel into a…five story hotel. I could not have said that better myself. The bottom line is that the whole “team,” including certain members of council, put the “cart before the horse” by putting forth hotel plans when the property hadn’t even been zoned commercial.

One humorous comment made by a neighbor who opposes this hotel was “This ain’t no Disneyland.” Bravo. Besides that, someone staying at that hotel would experience the traffic and water run off (if it rained during their visit) and say, “That was a nightmare; if we come back we won’t stay at that hotel.”

One “patsy” who lived outside our community and spoke while Bestpitch hid behind an old picture went totally the opposite direction with his comments than what was expected. He first pined about all of the land we had lost over the years and then stated that building this hotel was progress. At least I think that was the misguided thing that he was saying. Was that his point? I dun no.

The only other “dissenter” out of twenty-some speakers did not understand that the hotel didn’t have to be the only revenue for Roundhill. In fact, the argument that Huff Lane should pay for Roundhill school is just a ploy to pit the neighbors against each other. It didn’t work. We are stronger than ever.
On the next page is a review of some of the neighbors’ points:

  • It’s not progress
  • It’s not for the children
  • It’s not a ‘win/win’ it’s a ‘lose/lose’ especially the way you’re doing it.
  • Council Members should listen to Mayor Bowers, Elder Lea, and Anita
  • It’s not timely—we are not having an economic boom here.
  • We don’t have to do something now with the property (Thanks Elder Lea).
  • We’re the people who vote you guys in and we remember.
  • The “times” are to be GREEN AND NOT BUILDING MORE— we are a not a bunch of tree-hugging ‘liberals’ who don’t understand progress—this project just doesn’t make any business sense. Our neighborhood is poised to lose everything.
  • Rather than promote education, this project proposes to destroy education. Please stop billing it as “educational” because that is just a slap in the face to the neighborhood.
  • In fact, this project is destroying education and “going Green” in order to house football fans a few times a year. Our neighborhood is not ready to make that kind of leap. Football is not educational; in fact, it destroys the brain, starting at a very young age. Some of us prefer baseball…

Appeal to the Attorneys involved here: Use Issue, Rule, Analysis, Conclusion:

Issue: Whether or not to be rezoned commercial.

Rule: Must obtain zoning before plans for hotel are even set forth.

Analysis: This is not a “win/win” situation—stop billing it that way. It is altogether arrogant to assume you should have zoning (cart before the horse). (See arguments above) There is also precedent against the rezoning: The zoning commission voted unanimously against the rezoning.

Conclusion: It would be a travesty of justice to go against the zoning boards (advice) and the people’s choice and the logical conclusion should be to deny rezoning and go back to the drawing board as stated by three council members: Elder Lea, Price, and Mayor Bowers. The people need the hotel issue off the table so we can begin a true dialog of what we all want to take place.

On the following page is the neighborhood’s conclusion:

Because of the economy, RVing and camping is the new youth movement and not hotels. Also, please make better use of space at the mall, like parking decks. Or just send it all out to Botetourt and avoid the conflict altogether. Shopping Centers come and go, like fads, but our children, the environment, and our neighborhoods are here FOREVER if we make the right decisions NOW.

There is enough property at Valley View to build conservatively as the buildings turn over. They have their space which was designated years ago and we have OURS. Don’t tread on us: This is all about boundaries.

One disturbing comment that has been made in this whole process was that “people who move in next to a mall should know what’s coming” That deeply disturbs us and makes us wonder that if you are so callous as to BREACH the neighborhood boundaries with a hotel, what will you do next? Take all of our property by eminent domain? And who else is not safe? What next?

If necessary, we will hire an attorney to get an injunction to enjoin you from any further commercial actions we hereby implore this City Council to stop the madness that some are calling “Progress.” WE were here first and we will defend our ground by legal and any other grounds necessary.

We are so sick and tired of the promises breached, implied or otherwise. When you buy into a neighborhood, you expect certain things will or will not happen…that is implicit in the fact that it is a neighborhood and NOT a commercial zone.

The people have spoken. Whether you understand that or not is YOUR issue. The fact that the builder hired an attorney gives us no other choice than to do the same and I will proudly represent the neighbors along with an attorney of their choosing. We feel some of you have declared WAR on the neighborhood.

I remain,
Sincerely yours,

Dr. Amy Colleen Cosner

Posted By Valerie Garner

Categories: Commentary


Comments (1)

Bubba Greene

February 25th, 2013 at 6:55 PM    

Now now, Dr. Cosner. You do not seem to understand one of the basics of politics. Once you play the “for the children” card it’s lights out. Done deal! No argument God (sorry Val, some people foolishly still believe) or man ever came up with can overcome “for the children”. Second point. If you voted for any of these jokers, as your letter implies, then the joke is on you!

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