Thursday, March 28, 2013

True Value Re-Opening

According to this, all the re-modeling at Murdale True-Value should be completed by April 13.  However, I understand they have to redo the floor tile first as it appears some moisture is seeming up from below.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Downtown Development/Redevelopment

Apparently the hinted at development plan hinted at over the past couple of months does not involve the vast swaths of open space on the east side of the railroad tracks.  Instead, the plan, as I have heard it, is to temporarily relocate 710 Bookstore and Varsity South Barber Shop, currently the only two tenants in the building, raze the structure, and rebuild it.  710 and, presumably, Varsity South, would then move back in to the space.

The new building would be a mixed use structure, with retail space once again housing 710 Bookstore and Varsity South Barber Shop on the first floor and apartments/offices on the second.

It's a good idea if it goes through as I have heard it planned as the development would bring some much needed additional apartment space to downtown and certainly help with bringing more retailers to the area.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Gas Station Re-opens

The gas station at the corner of East Main and Cedarview, formerly a BP, has reopened, this time under the Phillips 66 standard.  I assume it is still the pick up point for the Greyhound line and hope it stays open longer than its last incarnation.

Monday, March 25, 2013

More Booze for You

Overlooked in the discussion about the neighborhood business districts was this vote on allowing microbreweries and distilleries to set up shop within the city limits.  Council also voted to allow a tasting booth at the Murdale Farmers Market, but it must be kept separate from the rest of the market so that impressionable children and dogs are exposed less to Ol' Devil Alcohol with no sales allowed and only one company allowed to set up a tasting booth per week.  Anyone know how the Farmer's Market plans to allocate the weekly tastings?

Lee Fronabarger Blog

Looks as if councilman Lee Fronabarger has started a blog.

Email from Scott McClurg

Was sent the following by Scott McClurg, who sits on the Planning Commission/Zoning Board of Appeals, in response to Councilwoman Jane Adam's  posted concerns about proposed zoning changes.  He also sent me a copy of the flier referred to in his email, which I will post as soon as I get time:

If you live in Carbondale, you probably received an alarming flier about a "backroom deal" to "change the city's code" on behalf of some "powerful business interest."  As a member of the Planning and Zoning Commission, I encourage to read this flier carefully.  And, I'd ask that you take into consider the following response.  From my point of view, Councilwomen Adams -- the author of the flier -- simply gets some things wrong, fails to contextualize the proposal adequately, and is engaging in the most cyncial of political acts by trying to scare voters. 

What is she wrong about?  The most important is the charaterization everything is being done in secret.  As a planning a Commissioner on the Planning and Zoning Board, I received the same notification about this text amendment as I always do -- roughly two weeks prior to meeting .  We dealt with it during a public and broadcast meeting, just as we always do.  As I understand Carbondale law, this is a process we always use -- this was not unusual.  Another thing that is incorrect is that this is "the mayor's" proposal.  The proposal came from city staff and, to the best of my knowledge, not from the Mayor's office.  He might have known about the proposal, but that would be news to me and, I suspect, other members of the Board.  From my position, I see nothing here to suggest that there is a "backdoor deal".  The Board followed the same procedure we always use and also held a public hearing, in which we could hear public comment.  If Councilwoman Adams isn't in touch with City staff on things that concern her, that is her failure as a representative.  And it doesn't excuse her suggestion that this business is being conduct private.

How does she fail to contextualize the proposal?  Her flier mentions, "The Mayor's proposed 'Neighborhood Business District'..."  Leaving aside that this isn't "the Mayor's" proposal, we did not to the best of my understanding create a new zoning district.  We did take the old Neighborhood Business District recommend that it be turned into a special use.  The logic behind that change is because the current code in NB Districts has basically meant there are no neighborhood businesses, including the "quite neighborhood cafe" mentioned in the Councilwoman's flier.  Instead of creating a specific zone for NB, this change will allow businessness in other districts as a "Special Use."  

It is also important to note that the vast majority of the text in the filer is the old zoning language.  There is some new lanague and it more flexible.  I encourage both the Council and citizens to consider that new (and old lanauge); its important to debate it.  However, its irresponsible for the Councilwoman to not acknowledge the following -- Special Uses both 1) require greater justification to be used and 2) allow the city to place more conditions on the charcater of the proposed property.  In other words, if the Council wants to support a neighborhood business but only under specific circumstances (size of building, parking, etc.), then it gets to dictate those terms.  And then only after notifying neighboring properities, holding a Planning Commission Meeting, and finally getting approved by the Council itself.

By the way, let's talk about this process.  There is nothing in the current zoning rules that allow the Mayor and City Manager to push this through without the input of citizens and, most importantly, the Council.  This is the very essence of representative politics in a democracy -- some people like an idea, others don't.  We resolve these differences through prescribed laws and practices, with representatives being held accountable for their decisions by the voters if the decisions are disliked.  Given that the process is being followed, why should the Councilwoman make negative claims?  Is the Councilwomen implying that the rest of the Council is bought off or derilict in their duty?  If so, she should show us the evidence rather than imply that somehow the process isn't being followed.  And if she thinks there are flaws in how we made public decisions here in town, why hasn't she offered proposals to the Council to change the flaws?  Again, her implicationthat this is a "backroom deal" implies that the process isn't working or that the game is fixed.  Well, implications are not evidence evidence of wrongdoing and I see no evidence to suggest she thinks we need to change our rules of government.

Finally, why is this cynical?  Clearly the Councilwoman has objections to the proposal.  Why not lay them bare to the public as they are?  Why dress those objections up scary langague like "backroom deal" and suggesting the Mayor and City Manager are "benefiting" (without any actual evidence to back up such a claim)?  Why sully the reputation of the City Staff, Planning and Zoning Board, and the rest of the Council by implying they are either covering up corruption or to stupid to notice?  Quite frankly, I cannot speak to her motives.  But I suspect that when politicians -- which Councilwoman Adam's no doubt is -- think their point of view is going to lose, they attack their opponents rather than their ideas.  And since I'm on the Planning and Zoning Commission, I will not sit by idly when someone makes such claims involving my volunteer work as a citizen. I will speak up, object, and ask the Councilwoman for the apology she owes many of us who work to make Carbondale a great place to live.  She doesn't need to agree with any of us, but giving us enough respect to not impugn our character without evidence is not too much to ask.

To be clear, I'm not suggesting anyone should speak for or against the change in the code.  And, I have no qualms about postposing the final decision if citizens want more time to be informed. A healthy debate is a great thing for the city and for its residents.  But don't just take Councilwoman Adam's word for what is going on.  Heck, don't just take my word for it.  Please make your own judgement based on your values and the facts, and please don't let some alarming flier trick you into not making your own choice.

Scott D. McClurg
Professional Email:
Personal Email:

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

limited Posting

I am out of town and have only spotty Internet acces which is why limited posting. I will have more to say about The proposed reasoning and last  night's city council meeting, which I understand d was quite contentious, when I have a chance to catch up on it. Meanwhile, anyone with more information is welcome to post it in the comments.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Lawsuit Filed Against City

Well this just made things a bit more interesting. The city has really delayed about doing something regarding either enforcing the zoning ordinances or rewriting them to allow the Oakland Ave. Aurto Repair to remain where it is. Looks as if Dunham is forcing their hand.


Carbondale attorney Darrell Dunham announces that he is filing suit on behalf of his clients against the City of Carbondale, the Mayor and City Council members,  Lindsey Fisher, and Oakland Street Garage in the Jackson County Circuit  Court. 
The suit is being brought to force the City of Carbondale to enforce its zoning laws, to enjoin Fisher and the Oakland Street Garage from violating the zoning laws, and to seek damages for nuisance.

About Attorney: Darrell Dunham: Dunham is a graduate of Willamette University, Salem, Oregon and  Harvard Law School practicing law in Carbondale specializing in civil litigation and bankruptcy.  Dunham is an emeritus professor from Southern Illinois University School of Law.

Planning Commission Meeting

Planning Commission will meet at 6 p.m. Wed at the civic center.  Main topic is the proposed revisions to title 15 of the Carbondale Revised Code, so it you have concern abouts how zoning might proceed, 'twould be a good idea to show up and get your two cents in.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Devils Advocate?

Councilman Lance Jack had an interesting approach to the CCTB's funding request at the last city council meeting during his questioning of the CCTB's executive director Cinnamon Wheeler-Smith about the purposes to which the funding would be put. (Just a reminder that I do serve on the board of the CCTB).

Several times he questioned if the CCTB was the best vehicle for promoting the city and whether it was a good idea for the city to put all its "tourism eggs" in one basket.  He said several times that he was not advocating removing funding for the CCTB but was playing devils advocate as to whether the city should look at some other methods of promoting tourism in the area.

I could understand him questioning the uses to which the funding would be put, as that was the purpose of the Convention and Tourism Bureau's presentation.  However, revisitng whether the revised CCTB is the best organization to do so doesn't make much sense. The council made that decision after looking at several options and decided to go with the CCTB so bringing up a re-examination of whether it is the best choice seems a bit precipitate.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Park Street Closure

Notice from the city:

On Thursday, March14 and Friday, March 15, 2013 from 7:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Park Street will be reduced to one lane of traffic from Lewis Lane to the East for 500 Feet.
The City of Carbondale greatly appreciates motorists’ cooperation and patience and urges motorists to use caution in all work zones. In order to prevent delays, please seek alternate routes during this time period.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Houlihan's Closing

In case you missed this in the Southern,  Houlihan's, out on Reed Station Road, closed today and will reopen on April 1 (assuming this is not a April Fool's joke).  From what I have heard, the restaurant will re-open under the name Boondocks with no change in ownership or management, ergo, no need for a liquor license application.  Steak & seafood will still be the focus of the menu.

Despite what it says in the article, either Brown or Houlihan's had to be dissatisfied with the franchise operation as, according to this, the contract for a Houlihan's franchise is 20 years, meaning this one still had eleven years to run.   Speaking based upon years of studying retailing, franchise contracts typically make it very easy for the frachisor (Houlihan's) to pull a franchise and very costly for the franchisee to end the contract.Re-opening it as a non-franchise operation does mean that Brown will automatically add 4% (the amount of the annual franchise fee) to the restaurant's bottom line.

Monday, March 11, 2013

McAlister's Deli Plan

The site plan for the new McAlister's Deli stirred up some controversy at the last city council meeting, due to the placement of the handicapped parking spaces. If you scroll down to the bottom of the plan, you will see the handicapped parking spaces are placed right along the frontage road, so anyone backing out of them will back right into traffic.  That frontage road gets rather congested, especially towards the east of the Deli location, with McDonald's and Arby's both located there and council members forsaw an increased potential for accidents there, especially as handicapped designated vehicles tend to back out slowly.   Council wound up approving the site but it was 5 to 2 if I recall correctly.

Sunday, March 10, 2013


It appears the Icebox Bar and Grill may come back under another name.  The "Icebox" has been removed from both the awning and front door and people have been inside the building the past several days.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Candidate Forums

The Arbor District hosts a candidate forum for the city council candidates on March 24 from 2-4 pm.   The Carbondale Chamber of Commerce will also host a forum at its March members lunch.  From the press release   :

The Arbor District Neighborhood Association is hosting an informal Carbondale City Council candidate’s forum on March 24, 2013 from 2 – 4PM at the First Presbyterian Church, 310 South University Avenue in Carbondale.  The purpose of the forum is to meet candidates and learn their stance on issues important to neighborhood economic health and quality of life.  Candidates are invited to make short verbal presentations followed by a brief question and answer session.  All interested Carbondale voters are invited to attend.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Lewis Lane Closed

From the Carbondale City Engineering Department:

Due to water main construction, Lewis Lane between Grand Avenue and Park Street will be closed to through traffic on Monday, March 11, 2013 from 7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
The City of Carbondale greatly appreciates motorists’ cooperation and patience and urges motorists to use caution in all work zones. In order to prevent delays, please seek alternate routes during this time period.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Community Member on SIU Board

I do like this idea of Mayor Fritzler's about appointing at least one representative form the communities of Edwardsville and Carbondale to the SIU BoT.  As important as each university is to economy of each community, it makes sense that the community ought to have a say in the operations of the universities.  Likly not going to happen though, as taking such appointments away from the governor removes yet one more opportunity for political patronage.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Carbondale Music Coalitiion

Glad to see an organization dedicated to promoting the music scene in Carbondale. The Carbondale Music Coalition's  mission statement is rather vague though:

The Carbondale Music Coalition says their mission is to work with local musicians, bands, venues, other music-related Carbondale business's and the community.

Work with them to do what?  Make more money?  Increase the number of venues for live music? Create a central clearing house for Carbondale bands?   Seeing the direction this takes should prove interesting.  Here's the Facebook page referenced in the article.