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2 CITY



Thursday, January 21, 2016 • CentralSpeaks.com Print Edition

Answer Raises Questions

Why Public Records Access Matters


After reading the email
(see page 1) from Central’s expert
planning and zoning attorney
Mark Balkin to Mayor Shelton,
I’m wondering how anyone
involved in the approval of the
Shoe Creek TND, with 10,000
square feet of commercial space,
447 houses, and 250 apartments,
could read that email and still
support the project as proposed.
There certainly must be a better
explanation.

In a nutshell, way back
in April, Central’s attorney
and zoning expert Mr. Balkin
indicated that the additional traffic

of the Shoe Creek TND posed
a problem. Balkin stated that
the development would require
more than a couple of entrances
onto Sullivan Road and the one
through Morgan Place (which
the council has since prohibited).
His email calls for an extension
of Wax Road to Hooper Road to
handle the TND traffic. However,
the project was approved with the
only entrances leading to a short
stretch of Sullivan Road.

I won’t tell you I know
everything
else
that
may
have factored into apparently
disregarding the advice of the
city’s own zoning expert.
I
do know that Balkin’s email
was sent to Mayor Shelton and
Planning and Zoning Director
Woodrow Muhammad. I don’t
know whether it was ever shared
with the Central’s city council
members.

I also must confess that
our elected officials and I are not

real chummy lately, so until better
explanations surface I’m left with
these questions:

Why would the city
council vote to prevent traffic
through Sagebrush Avenue if
they knew of Mr. Balkin’s email
advising that Central’s streets
could not effectively handle the
traffic of this TND even WITH
the Sagebrush connection?

Why
did
Central’s
Planning and Zoning Director
Woodrow Muhammad, at Mayor
Shelton’s request, ask EBR
traffic engineers to approve
the Shoe Creek traffic study,
telling them that the Sagebrush
Avenue connection “has not
been eliminated,” after receiving
Balkin’s email which all but
mandated a direct connection to
Hooper Road?

Why would Central’s P&Z
Director prepare a detailed sevenpage staff report on the proposed
TND, designed to give guidance

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to the city council for their vote
on the matter, and fail to mention
the negative traffic comments in
the email from Central’s expert
zoning attorney?

Had Central’s city council
members even seen this email
when they voted to approve the
TND in the face of overwhelming
public opposition to the project?

How could any public
official have such an important
public record in their possession,
in the face of so many questions
by citizens, on the largest
development in the history
of the city, and not share that
information with the people of
Central until forced to do so by a
court decision?

What did Central’s zoning
expert think of the traffic impact
of the proposed TND? I believe
the email makes that clear, but
the answer raises more questions.
Answers to these questions would
be Good News for a Great City.

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Editor: Beth Fussell
Production Editor:
Beth@CentralSpeaks.com Lindsey Pyburn