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The OAO – A Tragic Comedy

Our new city commission has held four work sessions on the Orange Avenue Overlay (OAO) after they rescinded the previously approved overlay ordinances on March 30, 2020. Rescinding the OAO threw away years of professional planning and hundreds of thousands of dollars. As predicted, they now waste even more of our money and resources.

Links to videos of these work sessions are below. Watch them if you enjoy a good tragic comedy.

April 23, 2020 Work Session
April 30, 2020 Work Session
May 27, 2020 Work Session
June 25, 2020 Work Session

Please email the city commission and tell them to STOP wasting our money and resources on the OAO. They should recognize this is a lost cause and move on.

On June 25th Carolyn Cooper, Todd Weaver, and Sheila DeCiccio made it clear they intend to vote to prohibit transfer of residential density for OAO properties owned by Demetree and Holler interests (areas D and J). DeCiccio mentioned waiting for irrelevant parking information but density transfer is clearly dead.

Density transfer is the foundation of the OAO. By removing this density Cooper, Weaver, and DeCiccio make it clear they do not share the OAO vision of replicating and building upon the sense of place and quality of Park Avenue and Hannibal Square. It is exactly this concentration of residential density that incentivizes investment in the two OAO bookends (areas D and J) that makes the OAO work, creating the human presence needed to support compatible redevelopment on the rest of the OAO property over time.

Cooper, Weaver, DeCiccio, and Sullivan have already committed significant consulting fees and at least a man year of our planning department resources on their folly. It is time to STOP pretending and move on.

Cooper (with the most strident anti-density position) oddly pushed to spend more than $140,000 for consultants on OAO related reports. She spends our money on consultants to support her rationale for killing the OAO. Think about that for a minute.

The OAO is dead without density needed to incentivize development. Thus, the civic amenities and tax revenues to be paid by the now lost development are also gone, kaput, deceased, killed, lost, departed, expired. These include:

GONE – Over two acres of new public open space.
GONE – Fairbanks right of way at Denning for turn lane.
GONE – Orange Avenue storm water improvements.
GONE – Harmon Avenue realignment.
GONE – Multi use path along railroad right of way.
GONE – Shared public access parking.
GONE – $500,000 per year or more in new taxes and fees (100% FAR at $300/sq.ft.).
…and more…

Yet, Cooper, Weaver, DeCiccio, and Sullivan continue to schedule work sessions and spend money and resources on other aspects of the OAO. They waste our money on consultants while seemingly wanting us to pay for improvements OAO property owners will now not be paying for.

Tell them to STOP wasting our money and resources. The OAO is dead and gone. Time to move on.

Regards, Pete Weldon

Posted in Development, Policy.

One Response

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  1. Pitt Warner says

    A tragic comedy is so true. Why not just admit it’s over, put the plan on the shelf, save a few hundred thousand $ and wait for more forward thinking commissioners? Trying to keep OA in a time bubble is short-sighted.

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