Culver’s Transparency Efforts

October 25, 2022 Town Council Meeting audience was full with people concerned about The Dunes.

I’ve been amused and bemused by some of the hub-bub on TGL and at the Town Council Meeting regarding the READI Grant award for the Culver housing project on South Main Street. The Town of Culver truly is above average in their efforts to keep the public informed, but no good deed goes unpunished… That effort sometimes comes back to bite them when something requires them to be nimble.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I was unhappy with the way the Town handled the READI grant decision and project selection, but that doesn’t mean they did anything clandestine. There were discussions in advertised public meetings regarding this project, The Dunes. But this is a case where the Town fast-tracked the application process in order to get it in by the application deadline. Sometimes timelines are dictated by others.

Spirit Townhomes Conceptual Drawings

Unfortunately, part of the issue is the uncertainty of Culver’s push to participate in READI. In the 6/14/22 Town Council Meeting, the Town Manager said Culver was unlikely to participate in READI: Time Stamp 21:44 because they didn’t want to proceed with the housing project submitted in the first round: Culver Sand Hill Farm‘s submission for Spirit Townhomes (Which was done with the Town’s blessing.) That was confusing for me, since in a recent Plan Commission meeting she referenced this and said they couldn’t have done The Dunes without that submission! Time Stamp: 1:36:45 Just to be clear, I have no connection to The Dunes. I had a much smaller project in mind, which would have been community improvement and in an already developed residential area. I was disappointed in the change in direction the Town took.

Preliminary Plan for The Dunes development on South Main Street.

Part of what’s interesting with the public outrage is, this project could move forward without the PUD aspect. It was already in the works with this developer before READI became a factor. The Redevelopment Commission was already working on a commitment to this. READI just allowed the capture of grant funds.

Very little, if any, of what is planned couldn’t be done under the current R-2 Zoning District designation as I pointed out in the Plan Commission meeting referenced above. The use of a PUD will allow the developer some additional flexibility and will allow the Town to capture TIF dollars, which they would be unable to do in a straight residential development. This becomes somewhat of a win-win, though that hasn’t been explained well. Those that are unhappy with the idea of 60 acres of new residential development on those parcels should have paid more attention when they received notification of the, annexation and rezoning several years ago. Both those things were made public and required public hearings before the Plan Commission and Town Council.

As someone who participates in town meetings and town committees, I’m always shocked by those that chose to remain ignorant of what is happening around them. It is unfortunate that everyone can’t attend meetings and be involved, but thanks to advances in technology and in large part, thanks to Covid, Culver is broadcasting nearly every meeting and posting them for posterity as well. I have also cringed at some of the things that they have recorded, but it’s a learning curve and their willingness to put themselves out there is commendable. They have gone above and beyond the other local communities where I attend meetings. They are also more open to public input in these meetings.

The whole debacle with The Dunes looks so familiar with what I went through with the Sand Hill Farm apartments and, in the same neighborhood as The Dunes, what I went through with Culver Garden Court apartments. Yes, The Dunes has hit the press a little late, but I don’t know that it would have mattered. Both my projects were well publicized and detractors still came out of the woodwork in the 11th hour. With the negativity currently expressed and the recent “win” against the 415 LSD townhouses, I would expect the Plan Commission and Town Council meetings to be interesting in the next few months…

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