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Dear Neighbors,

I have heard some allegations that the City was involved in the Silver Moon apartment approvals. I know of no role by the City government in the County’s approval of the bond deal. Although I was elected to represent the Raynolds and Huning Castle neighborhoods and Downtown, the developer did not offer me a briefing, nor did they notify me of their meeting with the neighborhoods.

When I heard of the neighbors’ concerns expressed at the meeting, I had Council staff research the project’s compliance with City zoning. They reported that the City’s Downtown 2010 Sector Plan zoning allows it as designed, with no public approval process. I stated my opposition to the County’s tax abatement, encouraged the neighborhoods to work through the County Commission, and expressed concerns about the design.

I will continue to advocate that the project be of a higher caliber and that the neighborhood concerns be addressed thoroughly.

The best hope for a healthy downtown is to get new working residents that will oppose the “bar scene” and support legitimate business. Those residents must be of mixed-income, and though I support workforce housing, an overabundance of it downtown could have negative consequences.

While it cannot stop the project, the City may have some leverage since the developer now needs City approval of the on-street parking configuration, site access, etc. I have expressed to the Administration that I am opposed to the City administratively granting any of those street modifications and access until the developer comes to the table with me and the 3 neighborhoods that opposed it. The City also holds a $75K lien on the property for the demolition of the old building. I have asked the CAO’s office to give no approval action in the interim.

Once I have received a response from the Administration, my office will contact you regarding possible dates for a community meeting.

Isaac Benton

City Councilor D3