Wow, it has been over 3 years and though many of us are tired of hearing about Port Marigny (PM), the special meeting that was quietly scheduled for Thursday Nov 29th, 6:00 is VERY IMPORTANT. It could be the one that votes a law that forever changes Mandeville.
We had a nice little lull as the PM litigation saga regarding the City and the land owners carried on quietly out of the public’s eyes and ears. Now all of a sudden we got this big gift called “Ordinance 18-36” on Nov 15th. Thinking it was an early Christmas present as many did, I jumped with joy and set aside work time to read and try to understand the pages with attachments that seemed like it was going to be hurried through and voted on (and it still may) on the 29th. But, after reading it, a big pit formed in my stomach that something was not right. Maybe I’m a cynic, but my first instinct is usually right, but “AS IS,” this ordinance does NOT appear to be what the citizens of Mandeville want and need! It needs some citizen input, tweaking and safety nets!
I’m not a lawyer, nor do I play one on the internet. Nor admittedly, am I likely to be the smartest person in any given room. I do, however, have a ton of common sense and am a very logical person. I’m also a fairly trusting person, but when it comes to the Port Marigny Project, I’m quite cautious. You will recollect that our own P&Z somehow overlooked developing below the 5′ contour (in our Cluro- law) in their final recommendations before they passed it on to the City Council. The Council voted the project down based on their own findings and lagniappe, an expert brought in by the citizens to point identify this 5′ contour fatal flaw.
So forgive me if I’m skeptical when this new ordinance now GIVES AN ENTITLEMENT to the land owners, who are currently suing the city, to get the magic number of 350 units (no matter which way you shuffle the units – it is the last number they requested), with some new restrictions (that are nice to see and needed – so a good start in the ordinance).
During the last year and half, the owners could have submitted a new or revised plan but chose to sue instead.
So this is the pit in my stomach, the last plan submitted by the landowners (that was never voted in) is attached to this new ordinance. Didn’t pass the smell test before, but now is going to be our law? How does this make sense? The new restrictions in the ordinance are nice, but now it ENTITLES the landowners to get what they wanted on a silver platter, circumventing the process of going back and resubmitting a new plan. Changing the city law to suit the wants and desires of the very people suing the city now. To me it is like a toddler whining enough to get what they want, that their parents are beaten down and are going to do whatever it takes to give them that.
What if the last plan submitted was for 250 units? Would the ordinance be written for 250 units? Hmmmm…..
I do think very smart people (much smarter than me), sponsored this ordinance with the very best intentions for the city, in the midst of a long and arduous and often nasty 3 plus year process, from the first charette to the lawsuit now. But, now, before it becomes law, it is my right as a citizen to question things (how I know best) in writing.
350 has been the magic number floating around since the very beginning of this project as one that might be palatable to the citizens. Could this be a wild coincidence that this is the same number we are giving them today?