City Looks to Put Halfway House at Quail & 10th

At the July 27 City Council meeting, scores of residents and  from the Daniels-Welchester neighborhood and business owners in the Simms Street area came to complain about Jefferson County’s proposal to move their men’s halfway house to 10th and Quail Street.  You may recall when Council passed the new zoning ordinance a year or so ago, one of the buried features was to remove many of the controversial decisions Council has traditionally made and give those decision-making powers to either the Planning Director or the Planning Commission.

The idea was to free Council from many of the unpleasant decisions they have to make.  Using a process called a  “special use permit” the decision-making power is given to non-elected people.  In addition to preventing citizens from using their political power (the vote, etc.) to influence decision-making, Mayor Murphy and his allies used this excuse to repeatedly urge people to take their complaints to the Planning Commission.  Since the Planning Commission meetings are no longer televised the people’s complaints would then not be exposed to the entire electorate who might learn that all is not well down at City Hall.

You probably recall Council has traditionally tried to avoid dealing with angry citizens by invoking the so-called “quasi-judaical” rule to claim the law prevents councilors from hearing from citizens on re-zoning cases.  By panning this decision onto the Planning Commission, the “quasi-judaical” argument now passed to the Commission members.  However, when Mayoral candidate Ramey Johnson expressed her support for the citizens, the Council tried to shut her down by claiming the “quasi-judaical rule” still applied to the Council because the Commissioners might feel pressured by the politicians’ positions.

Attached is a video excerpt from the July 27 meeting with  John Goldman expressing the  neighborhood’s perspective.


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