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Author Topic: Planning commission vote did not matter. Its in the bag  (Read 183 times)
Hero Member
Posts: 556

« on: August 28, 2019, 07:45:03 AM »

All the bluster last night at the planning commission meant nothing. United Steelworkers Union President Mr. James E. Sanderson Jr. has this all under control. Mr. James E. Sanderson Jr. controls city council. Voting in favor of the zoning change will be Brendon, CC, Sheldon, and Tupelo. Voting against the rezoning will be Carol Jayroe and Al Joseph. No one ever knows what Rudolph will do. But don't worry Mr. James E. Sanderson, Jr. will make this happen because he has the power.
Sr. Member
Posts: 303

« Reply #1 on: August 28, 2019, 10:04:33 AM »

I have to ask whatever happened to presenting yourself in a professional manner at these meetings? Paige Sawyer in his shorts and his smart alec comments were just plain disrespectful to the council. And poor Rod Stalvey looked like a homeless bum off the street. I will have to agree with the other poster that the union thug probably has that vote all tied up in a nice little bow. Its clear the mill is in trouble again and another shut down is near.
Tom Rubillo
Jr. Member
Posts: 67

« Reply #2 on: August 28, 2019, 01:01:09 PM »

If I read the accounts of the meeting correctly, the mill stated that it wants the requested zoning change so that it will make sense for the company to make improvements or upgrades that turn out to be profitable.  If that is so, the mill should share those plans with the public so that folks can understand what is at stake.  Otherwise everyone is left to wonder whether the zoning change is only being requested so that the present owners can bail out, sell to some other speculators and try to recoup what was invested by the present owners in the first place.  If the latter is the case --they want to bail out-- the one year closure clause in the zoning ordinance that the company is asking be removed would be a deal killer for any sale.  No prospective buyer will want the place knowing that could not weather prolonged economic storms in the future. 

Be all that as it may, it is reasonable to suspect that things aren't going well at the mill and that investors want to bail out.  If everything was peaches and cream, there would be shifts producing steel 24/7.  Keep your eye on the parking lots. The number of vehicles parked there will tell you what is going on inside.  Empty lots, empty plant. 

As far as the union is concerned, it wouldn't know whether investors are looking to bail out or not. The investors wouldn't share that sort of information with the Union, no matter what officials there might think.  In fact, it would be foolish for investors to do so.  Like all investors all of the time, it is much better for them to keep their cards close to their vest.  Indeed, it is more reasonable to expect that if investors want to try to bail out, its representatives would bluff,  play the public and union officials for saps and lead everyone on to believe that there is some sort of pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.  Their motive for doing that would be straightforward enough.  It would bluff so (1) the union would back company efforts to rezone, (2) the pressure from the union would cause local politicians to cave in to the company's demands and (3) the voters would be pacified or appeased by promises of otherwise undisclosed "improvements" that are promised, planned but never made.  That, of course, turns union officials into shills and fools  and elected officials into saps.             

While all of this sounds pretty bad, it isn't all gloom and doom.  There is a middle ground that create, as much as possible, a win-win situation.  But it cannot be achieved without a little hard nosed give and take.  The company wants something very valuable, namely, control over the future use of the property.  Given the central location of the property in the city, its future use will determine the future economic fortunes of the city.  That control is, therefore, extremely important.  Make no mistake, the ability to control the future use of this property is an exceptionally valuable asset.  That control--that asset--is presently in the hands of the city's voters, by and through their elected representatives.  It is very firmly in the hands of voters.  That is how it should be and should remain.   

In order to BUY some of that control--to buy a piece of this pie-- the mill should pay a fair price.  The price: Clean up the property it isn't using for the production of steel, namely, the stretch extending from Wood to Dozier, Front to the Sampit.  Remove the structures and decontaminate the land.  Make that property habitable and suitable for "mixed use" NOW, FIRST and as a precondition to rezoning.  That done, it would be reasonable  to extend the one year closure limitation to two or even three years or, in a carefully and skillfully crafted agreement, for a longer period PROVIDED that good faith negotiations over the sale of the mill with an identified and verified prospective buyer are PROVEN to be on-going.  Even then, the extension should not be open-ended, but continue only so long as negotiations over the purchase are proven. 

What the residents of Georgetown cannot afford is to end up with a closed, rusting, deteriorating industrial plant rotting away in the middle of the town indefinitely while its present owners try to avoid responsibility for tearing it down and decontaminating the property.  (They were foolish enough to make a stock purchase when they acquired the company, not just an asset purchase.  That kept them on the hook for cleaning up the entire mess that had been made by its predecessor in interest-- the former stockholders.  Had they only purchased assets, they would have avoided liability for past contamination.  Apparently their lawyers didn't tell them that.  But that's their problem, not anyone else's.) 

Unless they promptly and publicly disclose the "improvements" they want to make and a timetable for making them, I think it would be pretty obvious that the investors want an opportunity to bail out of having made a bad investment.  I also think that it is pretty obvious that no sane investor will buy what's there now given the present zoning limitations, except for its salvage value.  If I'm correct about that, the people who bought the place thinking that Trump's promises would become a reality are in for an unpleasant surprise.  But there's no need to be mean about it all.  A little cooperation can turn out to be good for everyone.  The city can end up with half of the property cleaned up and ready for mixed use now.  The investors can get their chance to sell the place to somebody else and break even or, at least, cut their losses.  And the city can avoid two very big dangers.  (1) That despite cooperating and rezoning as requested by the company, no "improvements" are made and the plant closes anyway, leaving the city with an idle, rusting and deteriorating eyesore in the heart of town for years or decades to come and (2) be stuck with a zoning changes that revives the prospect of being sued for "taking" away the industrial zoning designation should, in the future, it try to rezone it back for mixed use.  As readers might recall, it was the threat of this sort of lawsuit that led to the compromise that resulted, in turn, to the present zoning structure -- to the one year closure limitation that the company is asking be removed.  If more discussion or explanation about that part of the problem is needed, ask and I'll attempt to explain more fully.  But if I recall correctly, there is a discussion of the problem elsewhere on this website.

This is probably the most important question to come before City Council in decades.  It is at least as important as the one that brought the steel mill to the center of town in the first place.  Knee-jerk reactions and absolutist positions will not work.  What is needed here is sane, calm, rational discussions in which each side openly, honestly and in good faith discloses their objectives and concerns.  It is possible for adults to work things out.  It is always possible for adults to come to a reasonable compromise.  The present zoning of this property is, in fact, a good example of that.  But hostile attitudes won't do it.  Name calling won't do it.  Knee-jerk reactions won't do it.  Indeed, as the description reveals, knee-jerks are for jerks.

My advice to the Mayor and Council:  Don't be saps.  Don't give away the future on empty promises of unspecified improvements.  Make the company demonstrate its good faith by requiring (a) full disclosure of planned "improvements" and (b) by cleaning up the big mess on the part of the property it isn't using for production NOW, before any change in zoning, not after.  And, by the way, make the mill clean up all those cinders that are accumulating along Front Street near the intakes of the new drainage system before they clog the recently completely system and chronic flooding at Front and Fraser returns, turning that entire episode, including the cost of the construction of the system, the demolition of city hall and the construction of a new city hall into a huge waste of tax dollars.  (The problem with the cinders is discussed in the posting entitled "A small problem" elsewhere on this website.)         
Lee Padgett
Hero Member
Posts: 2089

« Reply #3 on: August 28, 2019, 02:44:22 PM »

I agree with Tom. If the mill has expansion plans, why not use that as proof that they need the 10 parcels rezoned? Seems prudent, but granted regardless of the ability for it to remain open the Anti-Mill sentiment runs deep east of Fraser and even if they had plans to expand and triple the workforce they would be met with great skepticism and cynicism. My biggest question is "Why? Why the hell were the leaders of Liberty Steel so stupid as to agree to the zoning change that Scoville ushered in and was the final nail in his coffin as mayor? And allegedly on a handshake deal that the future Mayor and council would vote to swing the zoning back!?!?!? Makes no sense, sounds like it was made up after the fact. The Planning Commish 3 years ago voted against the City changing the zoning, but Council and mayor ignored their appointed body and voted to do so. Will this end the same way or will Council and Mayor vote as one voice with the PC? I suspect Liberty screwed themselves and only have themselves to blame. Had they fought it, spoke against it, they may have had a tidy little due process suit but they relented to their own detriment.

"The death of objectivism and small government can be attributed to emotional politics." Liberty Laura
forklift driver
Sr. Member
Posts: 331

« Reply #4 on: August 29, 2019, 05:24:55 PM »

One thing for sure when the dust settles from this vote we will know just how much pull James E Sanderson Jr really has. We all know he has Tupelo in his back pocket but does he own any other council members?  This vote will be the answer.
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