Why is it that the people who are opposed to Crawford Road are okay with alternative road routes which will place a road in the backyard of their fellow community members but not their own?
This leads me to another yet more confusing question. Why did the council vote unanimously against the Crawford Road extension against the recommendations of professional transportation specialists, our local planning commission, as well as their own city staff?
Instead they favored a small group of community members that oppose the road because of the direct impact that it will have on their property. It's understandable that these community members do not want the road in their back yard, but let's make it clear they knew this road was in the city's comprehensive plan since the 1960s.
The fact that these people are fighting for what they believe in is something I can respect. The decision of the city council members is hardly a decision that I can respect or one our city should be proud of.
The vote was based on a few community members' opposition to a road; it was an easy way out to appease the side at the time that they were making the most noise, not based on the prosperity and future of our entire community.
These were a few of the questions and thoughts running through my head as I sat and watched the city council meeting in disbelief.
Unfortunately, I was unable to state all of the facts at the meeting regarding why Crawford Road should be extended due to the five minute per person rule. So, here it goes.
- The planning commission, city staff, and transportation specialist all support the completion of Crawford Road.
- Opponents at the meeting consisted of members of the community whom live in the Southeast Ward. In other words, a few members of the community who wish to divert traffic to other areas of town and wish to keep their backyards as they are. Once again understandable and worthy of being heard, but not representative of the entire community's best interest based on the recommendations of the city planning commission, city staff and transportation specialists report.
- Crawford Road has been on the city's comprehensive plan since the 1960s. Crawford Road from Cherry to Main and Crestview to Augusta was completed in the 1990s. According to Crawford's opponents, the road was placed on the plan 40 some years ago and times have changed and the road should have been removed from the plan 20 years ago. According to them, it is a road that wasn't needed. Why then do they drive Crawford Road each and every day? Why is it they think they can get the road built to their front steps for their use but will not let it go any further so others can use it too!
- In 2000 I sought advice from the Vermillion Planning Commission and the Vermillion City Council regarding my interest in building a housing development, and was urged to purchase ground inside the city limits located southeast of The Bluffs Golf Course. I didn't purchase the land until the plan for Countryside Addition was approved by the planning commission and the city council.
Numerous hearings were held on the development, and no opposition was heard. The issue of whether or not Crawford Road should be extended was not discussed and cannot be found in any of the minutes from the planning commission meetings.
The planning commission recommended this site for a development because the street was part of the city comprehensive plan and the statewide transportation plan.
- The homeowners had access to information regarding future road development of Vermillion prior to the purchase of their homes. The official 16 lots plotted on Crestview state "Crawford Road is granted to the public use forever." With this stated, one should not be surprised that a road may get built through his or her property one day.
On the other hand, homeowners of Countryside Addition also purchased or built homes below the bluff with the knowledge that "Crawford Road is granted to the public forever" as well as assurances of the road being on the statewide transportation plan and recommended by the Vermillion Planning Commission.
- One of the points brought up by the group opposing the extension of Crawford Road was the safety issue. They are worried about increased traffic on Crawford Road, a road that is wider and designed to handle increased traffic safely. They would rather see their friends with children who go to Jolley Elementary School and those whom live along University Street deal with the safety issues of increased traffic.
University was not built to handle the type of traffic that it has now and definitely not years down the road as Countryside and the city's Bluff Course Development expand. Why are those who live on University or those who have school-aged kids not speaking up?
- Alternative routes mean increased tax dollars. Crawford Road is the least expensive option. The alternative routes do not have the majority of the right of way and are four times as long as Crawford Road. Yes, they do also affect other homeowner's property, as do most newly developed roads.
- Next was the economic issue. They stated that is was of no economic benefit to put in the road. I find it hard to believe that those 44 new homes in Countryside Addition would not economically impact this city.
Forty-four lots at an average tax value of $175,000 would be an additional $7.7 million spent in this community, not to mention tax revenue of around $200,000 per year and the additional lots plotted by the city located in the Bluffs Golf Course. The council is shooting themselves in their own feet by not supporting Crawford Road.
Without the access to Crawford Road, these lots will be harder to develop. The city told me I had to pave Brandon Drive by 2006, otherwise they would put it out for bids in the spring of 2006 and assess the costs to me.
I did pave Brandon Drive in the fall of 2005. Now it is their turn to uphold the statewide transportation improvement plan that they adopted in 2001 to complete Crawford Road in 2006 at a cost of $633,385.
- In response to the archeologist that is concerned with the possibility of discovering Native American remains: Most of the digging has been completed. The water, sanitary sewer and storm sewer lines have already been put in. All that is left is some grading, curb and gutter and paving.
- Our leaders must know they have been elected to make tough decisions that not everyone will like. Why is it that some of our current leaders too often take the easy way out and abstain from voting?
Of course there are times when there is a direct conflict of interest, but more times than not they look for ways to abstain from voting when decisions must be made that are unpopular and controversial. As a member of the development board, I have made motions that would not allow persons to abstain from voting unless it is a conflict of interest that will give them or a client personal gain.
Mr. Hofman, a city council member, stated that it was a conflict of interest to vote on city planning because he was the county planning and zoning officer; he was advised by the city attorney not to vote. I would think that the city attorney would want someone with those credentials to assist with city planning. After all, we are all working for the same goal to better our community.
- We hope our leaders can challenge themselves to look out for the good of the entire population that they lead, not an elite few limited to one specific ward. We also must all hope that our council members keep in mind that a council without leaders and only followers can easily get lead in the wrong direction.
Did I run over my five minutes? Oh that's right; I'm not at the city council meeting. I'm not going to get cut off with a five minute rule. I do actually have a chance to state the facts. Thanks for listening.
To all of you who have contacted me in support of this issue: There is one last chance to support the completion of Crawford Road. If you are interested, the city will be holding a hearing on April 3 at 7 p.m. at the Al Neuharth Center. If you would like copies of the planning commission meetings, city council meeting, and transportation study that pertain to Crawford Road please visit my Web site at www.midwesthomes.com or call me at 624-4661.