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Flood Alert: We Need Immediate Help on the Riverfront! PDF Print E-mail
Commentary/Politics - Editorials
Tuesday, 17 April 2001 18:00
The businesses on River Drive and 2nd Street need your help!!! The flood is coming and there is a lot of work to do to save these properties and businesses from the ravages of flooding. Businesses such as MidAmerican Glass (call Michelle Magyar—they are located at River Drive and Sturtevant); the Peterson Paper Building (call Internet Revealed or the Reader); Trissell, Graham & Toole; the QC Steamwheelers; Peterson Hagge Furniture; the old Silvia’s building; the Rummage Closet; and the Redstone are but a few examples of those properties in trouble, which need all the help we can get sandbagging and building water barriers. We would be grateful for any amount of time you can give. We have a monumental job in trying to prevent and mitigate the damage the flooding does to these riverfront properties. From our hearts, thank you in advance for your efforts on all our behalves.

Self-Supporting Municipal Improvement Districts for New Development Not Necessary

This week, the Davenport City Council will vote on the “First Consideration” to approve the creation of two Self-Supporting Municipal Improvement Districts (SSMIDs)—one south of 53rd Street and Elmore Avenue, and one just north of the same intersection. These SSMIDs will allow a single developer, THF Realty, to use a public financing mechanism to pay for infrastructure improvements it is required to construct as part of the privilege of developing property in Davenport.

However, nowhere in the state of Iowa, and perhaps the entire nation, has a SSMID been created for the sole benefit of single for-profit property owner to pay for infrastructure obligations that strictly benefit new development. SSMIDs were designed to help eliminate blight and provide a means to improve established, albeit deteriorating, neighborhoods. Once again, the Davenport City Council has decided to subvert the intent of a law that should be used to help poorer neighborhoods redevelop. Instead, they are twisting the law’s purpose to serve the unobstructed greed of the few they serve.

Even more objectionable is that the Davenport City Council is proceeding with these SSMID considerations (the law requires approval of three considerations before passing) outside the law. In order to approve a SSMID, the proper zoning must be in place first. This is not the case with THF’s property. The law states that SSMIDs can only be created for properties zoned commercial. Much of THF Realty’s property is still zoned agricultural and only a portion has a type of commercial zoning in the form of a Planned Development District (PDD). (It is interesting to note that the Comprehensive Land Use Plan [CLUP] calls for the PDD to be limited to office use, not retail. In order to put in the Super Wal-Mart, the council must waive the restriction and allow for rezoning of part of THF’s property to commercial. It is hopelessly hypocritical on the council’s part to allow this variance, especially when they used complying with the CLUP as the very reasoning to deny developer Niky Bowles her rezoning request.)

Currently, the council is in the process of approving THF’s two rezoning petitions. Aldermen went so far as to simultaneously hold both public hearings on the two SSMIDs before they have even finished fast-tracking the necessary rezonings. This conduct is deliberately circumventing due process and stretching the limits of the law. Now the public hearings will have to be rescheduled once they have the proper zonings in spite of their obtuse behavior.

At the same time, they are moving forward with other rezoning petitions, including Jersey Farm Partners, that will constitute aggregate development of nearly 300 acres of land north of 53rd Street, creating traffic that will all funnel onto 53rd Street within the next few years. There isn’t a visionary on this council, with the possible exception of Alderman Hean, who bothers to contemplate the enormous burden and potential danger that they are deliberately perpetrating on the citizens of Davenport. And who is going to stop them? How can we demand that these individuals engage their questionable intelligence to oversee these issues competently? Why are these potential dangers so hard to perceive for this council? Why don’t they care about the unanswered questions? Why aren’t they taking their stewardship seriously enough to thoroughly examine the development projects before them? What are they afraid of? And how are these various developers able to so completely mesmerize (or is the operative word intimidate) these individuals?

Meanwhile, the highest priority campaign issue that most of these councilmen promised taxpayers was more open government and the protection against the abuse of our tax dollars through manipulation of such things as TIF, which they utterly betrayed when they granted TIF to Sentry Insurance. Now here we go again with the creation of two SSMIDs for the benefit of one large developer, yet another betrayal of the public trust and the intent of a law that was supposed to help eliminate blight and give neighborhoods a helping hand. Beyond that, this council went so far as to actually impose a policy of censorship against the public by not broadcasting the “Public with Business” segments of all council meetings—an unprecedented action by any Davenport council. And isn’t it ironic that the sole reason for censoring “Public with Business” was to silence one particular citizen, Niky Bowles. To that end, the council’s censorship policy has been a dismal failure. In fact, Ms. Bowles has even more opportunity to expose their endless incompetencies. No matter how much the council discriminates against this citizen, they cannot refute the accuracy of the majority of her information. There is comfort in knowing that they cannot censor truth, let alone their own bias and relative bullying tactics.
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