2005-09-16 / Community

Confusion Grows As Rezoning Vote Nears

By Miriam Rosenberg Contributing Editor

By Miriam Rosenberg
Contributing Editor

Sanders (right) meets with Mott Creek residents in the home of Tracy Conroy (left) when he visited the area on August 31.Sanders (right) meets with Mott Creek residents in the home of Tracy Conroy (left) when he visited the area on August 31.

  • In a surprising development relating to the Mott Creek rezoning issue, Councilman Tony Avella (chair of the City Council’s Zoning and Franchise Committee) said this week that Councilman James Sanders, Jr. had requested a hold on the full council vote that was scheduled for Thursday afternoon, September 15.
  • “The item was requested by Councilman Sanders to be laid over,” said Avella. “But now, the vote is back on.”

    Sanders responded by saying that he never requested that a vote on the zoning resolution be delayed.

    “I was so busy with the election that, I stated in passing [to the speaker’s office], that I did not do my typical due diligence [on the rezoning issue] and I wish I had more time to study it,” Sanders said. “It [the remark] got a life of its own. Somebody at the Speaker’s office called for the vote to be delayed”

    Sanders called the news about his news wanting a postponement “idle speculation” as he made two other points to the newspaper.

    “I am the strongest proponent of down zoning in the city,” he continued. “ And, I have taken zero amount of money from developers in that area and never will.

    “This vote will take place today and I will vote in the affirmative.”

    Avella told The Wave that “enough people got upset” that Sanders had to change his mind. Among those people is Jonathan Gaska, the district manager for Community Board 14.

    “Why would you delay this?” said Gaska late Wednesday afternoon, adding that the board was outraged with the request.

    “I called Gail Benjamin, the chief of land use at the speaker’s office,” Gaska explained to the newspaper on Thursday morning. “I told her we oppose any effort to not have the vote – that the board unanimously, and the community, support it.

    “She told me to call Councilman Sanders because the request for delay came from his office. I have no evidence that James himself did it, but someone from his office did.”

    When contacted Benjamin would neither confirm nor deny what she said to Gaska. Although the speaker’s office did say that the vote was on Thursday’s agenda.

    Also outraged on Wednesday evening were many residents of Mott Creek who believed that they had the complete backing of Sanders in their bid for down zoning in the area.

    “He told us he was not changing his mind,” said Susan Wagner. “When we saw him last week at City Hall he said he would be voting for it. This came out of nowhere. I can’t understand it.”

    As recently August 31, Councilman Sanders was in the Mott Creek area meeting with residents in the home of Tracy Conroy as he advised them and offered support in the matter.

    “I’m shocked. If it is true it’s horrible,” said Fran Tuccio, when she first heard of the attempt to delay the vote. “I’m confused about everything. If he did this he didn’t give any reason.

    “He even wrote letters of support. I don’t understand.”

    The vote by the full City Council on the rezoning was scheduled for Thursday afternoon and expected to pass.

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