Scott Wood and Shane Gibson predictably duck the newspaper reporter, leaving deputy mayor Mike Hall to explain ceasing, desisting, and Summit Springs Phase Two work.
Let’s take another look at the latest installment of the Gang That Can’t Get Their Fibs Straight. Seems their stories are changing by the minute.
UPDATE: Work has stopped in phase two area of Summit Springs, by Danielle Grady (Tom May Hyper Content Generator)
NEW ALBANY — A neighbor of Summit Springs in New Albany is worried that the developer is overstepping boundaries by working in an area of the project that hasn’t received city approval, but the project’s team says that they’re doing everything according to plan.
Summit Springs IN LLC was sent a cease-and-desist letter from New Albany’s plan commission director Scott Wood after workers began clearing trees in April for a new water line that will connect to a hotel.
The hotel is in the first phase of the project, which has already been approved by the city, but the tree removal occurred in a second phase area of the project, which has yet to gain city approval. As a whole, the 60-acre-plus development will contain restaurants, medical/office buildings and a 14-story residential tower.
The letter called for the halting of “all construction activities” in the phase two area.
David Ruckman, the surveyor working on the Summit Springs project, said that Wood verbally rescinded the cease-and-desist letter the day after Summit Springs IN LLC received it. Ruckman said he called Wood and explained that the tree clearings were for a part of the project in phase one.
Hmm. Ruckman didn’t deny working in the phase two area, did he? In short, he’s commenting in the breach, implying it’s okay to work in the unapproved “phase two” area so long as the work benefits phase one — and no one notices.
Work on the water line resumed as early as April 18, when the subject was discussed at a New Albany Board of Works & Public Safety meeting. But it was on Wednesday, less than 24 hours after the New Albany Plan Commission tabled the developer’s phase two application at a meeting, that neighbors noticed that Summit Springs IN LLC was removing trees cut down in April in the phase two area. The developer was moving around trees to stockpile excess dirt from the phase one area, said Ruckman.
Same circular argument. Same violation. Same city non-enforcement.
Wood, who initially directed the News and Tribune to Mike Hall, New Albany’s director of City Operations, for comment, later said there is no written document rescinding the cease-and-desist letter.
Fawcett Hill resident Aaron Hellems saw the tree clearing occurring Wednesday and contacted Wood, who told him the cease-and-desist letter was still in effect. Wood confirmed this.
Still, Hall stated in an email late Wednesday that the city was unaware of any violations by the Summit Springs developers.
Wait, is Wood somehow getting his groove back?
He’d best be careful, because to contradict Hall — the city’s chief propagandist and royal court food taster — might well to bring the wrath of Dear Leader down upon him.
In response to neighbor concerns, construction crews for Summit Springs IN LLC have stopped work in the phase two area anyway, Ruckman said. Construction crews are now stockpiling dirt in the phase one project area. Work should is on hold until developers get through plan commission hearings.
“Now that we’re doing what we should have been doing all along until we got caught red-handed,” commented Ruckman, “can you please start looking the other way again?”
“I mean, shit — this fix is in, right? Gahan’s got it down. Can’t we just get on with it?”
Hall’s email also stipulated that the city is not the property owner or developer of Summit Springs, and it said that Wood would be meeting on Thursday with “all parties” involved. Both Hellems and Ruckman said on Thursday that they were not planning to meet with Wood that day. Ruckman did say that he expects to meet with the city and neighbors as the application process for phase two of Summit Springs continues.
Plan commission and board of works members were unable to shed light on the situation. New Albany City Attorney Shane Gibson also did not return a call and email for comment.
Bless Ms. Grady for including this section. A total of at least four or five city functionaries and appointees, and as many as nine or ten, have refused to comment for attribution. There you have it; with bootlickers and sycophants fleeing in all directions, down in flames goes Gahan’s protests of transparency.
Hellems said that Summit Springs IN LLC’s actions were part of a pattern of attempting to speed up the development process without going through the proper channels. He pointed to a situation in April 2016 when Wood gave Summit Springs developers permission to cut down trees without obtaining secondary approval. Wood said he was trying to help the developers meet a deadline to cut down the trees before Indiana bats made their home in them.
As we’ve consistently pointed out, the city was adamantly opposed to Summit Springs, inclusive of first and second phases, right up until it wasn’t.
Then Hall orchestrated the press releases, and voila — the city was partnering with the developers, who could not have achieved anything profitable without the city’s eager TIF-impelled hillside road-building.
The fixes, corruption and kickbacks.
Aren’t you getting tired of them?