City Council COW (8/11/20) passed all measures furthering the Shodeen apartments 8-6. The 8 aldermen voting yes, in favor of the project: Baerren, Beck, Cerone, Wolff, Chanzit, O’Brien, Russotto, McFadden
No votes: Callahan, Uher, Meitzler, Malay, Miller, Knopp
You can watch it here: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=rYNV_FWfVEA (watching it at playback speed 1.5 makes it go faster)
Notable discussion points:
The aldermen supporting the project (led by City Administrator Laura Newman) said the citizens who are against it “don’t understand it”, are listening to “misinformation” (Baerren, Wolff, O’Brien), and are the complainers, while the majority of Batavia wants it because they want a vibrant downtown (Russotto). Baerren doesn’t see a parking problem downtown (it’s a misinformation problem) and thinks “people just have to walk farther”. Chanzit and McFadden from the start have thought it will be a huge success.
The NO votes set the record straight against the real misinformation (start 1:44:50 with Callahan) and pointed out there will be NO revenue for the City and other taxing bodies for 23 years, and that the School District weighed the information and voted against it (Callahan). Malay noted the towns with big apartments that people hated at first but now love have one thing in common: a nearby train station, and not one constituent he’s talked to supports the project. Meitzler cited ever-changing parameters and ever-increasing costs for his NO. Callahan added he wants us to “be us” and not like every other city. Uher pointed out after the tenants park, we’ll have LESS parking downtown and wants smaller scale. Miller, as a project manager, sees the economic benefits during construction but doesn’t want to change the character of the town with a project that is too big and doesn’t fit Batavia. Knopp talked to many citizens (not listening to “social media”), said the project is just too big, and says “Shodeen”, not “Batavia”.
The most baffling: Beck acknowledged it doesn’t have public support, is out of character, doesn’t have enough parking, and construction can disrupt existing businesses, but voted YES anyway. Cerone had concerns too, but voted YES as well.
The changes Shodeen wanted—drawing up plans now at City expense and sales tax abatement—did not get put into the RDA.
It now goes to a Monday night City Council meeting for final approval of the COW’s recommendations.
It also has to go to the Joint Review Board, a board made up of representatives from all the taxing bodies. A negative recommendation from them requires a 2/3 vote (10/14) of Council to override. Council doesn’t currently have the votes to override. We know the School District will vote NO, but will have to see about the others.