2008-02-08

Negotiation tactic: Finley's megalithic wall

University of Georgia professors and their neighbors turned up in droves at the meeting of the Planning Commission last night to speak against the multistory buildings proposed on West Broad Street between Finley and Pope streets. Their impassioning, often hyperbolic, pleas argued that the building would block views, invade privacy, and increase traffic on narrow streets. They said that the blasting required for one of the buildings would threaten the structures of the historic houses in the Dearing Street neighborhood. One resident speaking in opposition called one proposal "Finley's megalithic wall" since it would be on the side of what he said is sometimes called Finley's hill.

The proposals were rezonings to allow mixed-use buildings at 615 and 695 West Broad Street, and they were on the agenda to be received with comments only. The Flagpole website is hard to navigate and the search function is not working now, so I cannot find a link I would like to show you.

I posit that these proposals are negotiation tactics. The developer probably does not expect to build these structures in the first place. These kinds of drawings are shown to shock people on purpose in hopes that they will agree to something else that they normally wouldn't like. For instance, instead of a six-story building at 615, the developer will probably come back and propose a four-story building that would be much less obtrusive. It would be objected to strenuously if shown in the first place, but it will look better by comparison after what was discussed last night.

Athens-Clarke County is not the place where negotiation tactics like this can work, however. We don't play that game. Residents and leaders have a vision of what we want for our community, even if it is hard to flesh out and agree on the details. Planning commissioners discussed stepping up efforts on a corridor master plan that will provide more guidelines for structures on West Broad Street. I'm sure the Mayor and Commissioner would be ready to whip out a moratorium if necessary. Scaring your community with monstrous building ideas will not help your case in this town.

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