SYRACUSE -- An ad hoc committee created to bridge the divide caused by a proposed development near Syracuse High School has failed to mitigate concerns, group members admit.
The group has met three times, with few results, members of the committee reported at a recent city council work session.
Mayor Jamie Nagle formed the group in hopes of addressing concerns raised by a Ninigret Group LC-proposed development on property owned by Property Reserve Inc., a land-holding subsidiary of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Ninigret is proposing to develop 193 acres between 1000 West and 2000 West into a light-manufacturing hub, with the promise of generating as many as 1,200 jobs.
"We can meet until the cows come home as this kind of group, with fors and against, but with that kind of format, we'll never come to a conclusion," said Jack Frost, a member of the ad hoc committee.
Without specific instructions from the council on issues to address, no resolution is realistic, he said. "The problem is a big, fat football that is going to come back into your laps."
Nagle tried to form a balance on the committee, with members in support of it as well as some neighbors opposed to the industrial development. Members of the city council and planning commission also were on the committee.
"I feel like this committee was put together with the wrong people. It was the equivalent of a trial, with a jury made up of both the victims and accused's families," said former Councilman Doug Clark.
He described the meetings as polarized, with little accomplished. He said key issues still need to be addressed, because it appears PRI intends to sell the property for potential development.
Both Nagle and Councilman Larry Shingleton expressed frustration that the group did not address specific concerns, ranging from noise and traffic to buffering measures.
Besides the ad hoc committee, the Ninigret development proposal came up on another front at the council's Tuesday meeting. A planning commission recommendation to amend the city's general plan for the region in which the development would be located was tabled after more than an hour of debate.
One big issue that has come up since the project was announced in November has been a zoning designation -- and the conditions that would accompany that designation -- for the area.
Two zoning designations, formed with the developer in mind, have run into trouble.
The first, a proposed flex zone, was voted down by the city council in early May.
The second, a business park zone, ran into roadblocks during a recent city work session, when council members suggested the designation would not be a fit for the proposed development area.
Nagle said one of the problems the project has brought up is that the city currently has few zoning designations for commercial development. She said the flex zone and business park zones were attempts to satisfy both residents and the developer.
A small portion of property, close to the high school, is already zoned for industrial use, and Ninigret officials said they will be moving ahead with development in that area.
Bruce Baird, legal counsel for Ninigret, said his client is ready to discuss any reasonable concerns the proposed development is generating, within the scope of light-industrial park use.
He used the citizen comment portion of the meeting to urge the city council to table the general plan amendment.
Residents in the area of the high school said they know development is coming, but that light industrial is not the right kind.
"We've never asked it stay agriculture. That's not realistic," said Ryan Chandler, who lives across the street from the project site.
"We're asking for responsible development. We're not asking for no development."