In a time rife with national misinformation, I hoped we might catch a break locally, but the trend to provide “alternative facts” is epidemic and Galveston caught the disease.
At the Feb. 7 planning commission meeting, over 75 residents listened to Commissioner Bruce Reinhardt and Councilwoman Terrilyn Tarlton-Shannon drone about why a small, but significant, piece of acreage, in the middle of Pirates Cove and Laffite Cove, should be rezoned commercial/recreational instead of its current single family status (“Galveston Planning Commission pushes back vote on West End rezoning issue,” The Daily News, March 7).
Their justification was that they had always intended to zone it recreational but somehow our crack city staff failed to do it and now the staff mistake should just be corrected and the resulting devastation be considered correcting a clerical error. Of course, the West End’s esteemed city councilwoman, Carolyn Sunseri, sat silent on her log through the entire fiasco. Privately, she tried to appease her constituents by saying her voters should learn to accept a dance hall, Ferris wheel, or trailer park and “try to become good citizens.”
The fact is that the roads accessing this property could not tolerate the traffic any one of these facilities would demand. Quiet, sheltered neighborhoods where children play is not the place for a biker bar. And, a neighborhood that pays to maintain one of Galveston’s top-rated nature preserves and ground zero for FeatherFest could become deserted properties in a few years should such an installation be built.
Another fact: This charade covers up the profits likely to the family of one of our local elites. John Sullivan’s daughter purchased the adjoining land and managed to get it zoned recreational just under the 2015 rezoning wire, boost the current sales price of their new acquisition facing the country club golf course, place a few mangy cattle on the plot and essentially take it off our tax rolls by claiming an agricultural exemption. This sleight of hand was done with the loyal cooperation of the very people who are encouraging the adjoining plot now be zoned to match the Sullivans’ land.
Residents have city maps that clearly show the land was zoned single family both in 1991 and 2015 and not commercial like the planning commission told residents that night. In fact, a city employee’s email to the Realtor for that land — sent this year — states: “This was always a residential zoning district … which is not commercial it allows for neighborhood friendly land uses. I believe Councils intention was to protect the surrounding neighborhoods with the zoning to R-1.”
An important city position like a planning commission seat is not enough to deter folks from spreading non-truths or misinformation. Even a city councilmember or two will join the fib-fest if patronage by other elites is assured.
One thing is clear, our city expects residents to fund a large bond (while interest rates climb) this May. Until then it’s fine to be deceived, not represented, overlooked while we quietly practice being good citizens. Not unlike Sullivan’s cows.
I don’t think so.