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.

Bill Broussard lives in Galveston.

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(11) comments

Paula Flinn

As usual, Bill Broussard has written a timely article in which everyone who lives in a residentially zoned neighborhood should be concerned. it is as simple as preserving the quiet, neighborhood property of Galveston homeowners, whose land is zoned residential, plus preserving a haven for birds within its space, vs. the private profits of a prominent family used to having their way. Keep up the "good fight" Bill. No one wants a biker bar (or any other commercial business) built in their neighborhood. The traffic and noise would increase, and the property values would go down.

Don Schlessinger

It would be interesting to see a council election the same day as we vote on the bond thing. I wonder if Sunseri and Tarlton-shannon would be singing a different tune?

Steve Fouga

Tarlton is beloved in her district. No problem for her. Of course she's term-limited, so also no more Council elections for her, either.

Susan Fennewald

I liked Tarlton-Shannon because of her neighborhood program - until the new zoning rules (LDR) was debated and voted in. Her district is well protected - but Tarlton-Shannon pushed more and more commercial intrusion into the neighborhoods east of her district. The new rules ended up a real mess -in part because, near the end, when east end residents realized what was going to be allowed in their neighborhoods they came up with more restricted areas and rules. Still, at the last meeting, Tarlton wanted bars in the east end historic district and more commercial areas. As long as her district is protected residential areas, she fights to have commercial interests win everywhere else.

Lisa Blair

Susan, I don't think that's completely fair to TTS. Colony Park and others in here district were developed with only residential buildings. The EE is comprised of a mix of commercial and residential most notably the historic corner store buildings. It will be difficult and nearly impossible to rehab the corner stores as viable businesses under the restrictions of the HZD and EE parking.

Bill Broussard

Remember those words when the Hamilton case comes before Planning Commission, Ms. Blair.

Bill Broussard

Besides, Colony Park favors may DOE by Wednesday: This coming Tuesday, March 21, 2017, the Texas Senate Business & Commerce Committee is scheduled to vote on SB 451. SB 451 restricts the authority of counties and cities to enact laws regulating short-term rentals (STRs) on a local level. The bill would also repeal a significant number of STR regulations in Austin and other cities including Galveston, Fort Worth, Rollingwood, and Westlake.

Combined with plastic bags, one would think the State doesn't think much about City Governance

Lisa Blair

I always remember my words, Bill. But I'll also remember the half truths, misinformation, personal attacks and profanity used by you.

Bill Broussard

Well, at least we know how you make Planning Commission decisions. Like I've heard it said in A A ( you like that drug recovery stuff don't you?) "You spot it, you got it."

richard collier

So you are okay with taking away the long standing property rights of someone else for your perceived benefit because of an administrative error?

Don Ciaccio

I think Bill brings excellent news. If HIS FACTS are not alt-facts and pirates cove Become deserted properties in a few years, this BOI will be the first squatter to move onto one of those $5,000,000 deserted properties. Sounds like there will be a whole neighborhood of deserted multi-million dollar mansions to choose from. Thanks bill. Do you have a timeframe so I can line up movers??

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