At the end of the day, if the process leading to a result has a stench, the result will stink. Why people might actually get the idea that there are certain organizations and people with money, power and/or influence that control Branson’s destiny. They and they alone know what is best for Branson and anyone who doesn’t agree with them is not on the team, an enemy, doesn’t know what they are talking about, doesn’t love Branson, etc.
So there is no doubt where the Ole Seagull is coming from on this, he would express his opinion that the process involved with the approval of the 300 foot building height for a building to be located on property near the northwest junction of Highways 248 and 65 has a stench associated with it that would make a dead skunk on the side of the road smell like a rose. Now that’s from someone who, personally, has no strong feelings, one way or the other, whether a building at that location has a height of 100 feet or 300 feet.
The point isn’t whether a person favors one side or the other, the point is the process that was followed. At the Branson Board of Alderman’s meeting of Sep. 25, 2006, the board considered whether or not to permit a Planned Development for the Point Entertainment Complex (Point PD) to have a 300 foot sky scrapper on it. The normal height in commercial zoning at the time was 100 feet.
There was a lot of public participation and concern because of not only the big difference in height between 300 feet and the 100 foot normally permitted within a commercial district, but the fact that the 300 foot building proposed exceeded the maximum height of 200 feet that had been permitted under Branson’s Planned Development (PD) rules up to that point by quite a bit. Too, the location of the proposed building was of concern.
Almost as soon as the proposal was read, an amendment was made intended to restrict the height of the building to 12 stories. After extensive discussion on the issue, where over 21 different people made comments, the board unanimously adopted the amendment. There was not one word of suggested modification or that there was a problem with the wording of the ordinance from city attorney Paul D. Link or any other senior unelected city official who was present.
In the normal fair course of events, the item would have been on the consent agenda for the next meeting and become final if not removed. In this case however, it was not on the consent agenda and indeed never appeared on the consent agenda. Instead, when it next appeared, at the Nov. 26, 2006 meeting of the board, it in no way shape or form resembled the ordinance that the board had approved at the Sep. 25 meeting. Instead, the 300 foot building was back and the 12 story provision was gone.
In a column written the day before the Nov. 26 meeting, the Ole Seagull warned, “Through what an Ole Seagull believes is the failure of two of the city of Branson’s highest paid senior level management employees to do their jobs, the 25 story sky scraper which almost everyone thought had been reduced to 12 stories by the board of aldermen at their Sep. 25 meeting will again, “magically” reappear in all of its original 300 foot splendor. In fact, if an alderman doesn’t make a motion to amend it, and it is approved as presented, Branson could have its very first 300 foot sky scraper.”
He went on to say, “Things could really get interesting if just one alderman asked why the two very high paid city of Branson senior level management employees paid to, among other things, prevent something like this from happening sat idly by and let them pass a legally irrelevant ordinance that didn’t accomplish what they wanted to accomplish.” Of course that didn’t happen and a three to three tie vote of the board was broken by then Mayor Lou Schaeffer to approve the Point PD with the 300 foot building authorized.
Some might ask, “But what happened between the Sep. 26 meeting and the Nov. 26 meeting to cause three aldermen to change their minds? Why didn’t the ordinance presented at the Nov. 26 meeting have the verbiage incorporated into it that the board had approved?” An Ole Seagull can only say that he doesn’t know because what occurred between the two meetings, who was present, etc., was not done in an open and public manner.
What he can say is, “If it looks like a skunk, acts like a skunk, and smells like a skunk the chances are it’s a skunk.” Unfortunately, in large part because of the process used between the two meetings, unlike the situation where one can identify the source of the smell from a dead skunk on the side of the road, the source of the stench is just about impossible to identity. That, however, doesn’t change the fact that it is there.
Note: The reason for this column now is that the current administration is revisiting the whole issue of building height and the precedent set by the previous administrations authorization of the Point PD. To an Ole Seagull the process and manner in which that precedent was established is germane in establishing how the precedent came into existence.