Interview #143: Golden, CO Mayor Pro Tem Casey Brown (with podcast)

This podcast interview is available on iTunesStitcherPlayer FM, and right here:

Casey Brown was a proponent of letting 16 and 17-year-olds vote in Golden’s municipal elections. He discusses the merits of that council proposal, as well as a resident-initiated campaign to place a moratorium on housing construction in the name of “neighborhood character.”

Q: I was shocked to see your council take things a little too far for my taste last year when you sent a measure to the ballot to allow 16 and 17-year-olds to vote in municipal elections. Who came up with this idea? Is this something you got from these violent video games that I hear are destroying our country?

A: [laughs] No, this is actually an idea that has popped up in other cities around the country. It’s something that’s been adopted in a number of other countries as well. It was a neat idea I thought. There was a lot of studies that showed when you lowered the voting age, those individuals became engaged voters for the rest of their lives.

Q: I’ve watched quite a few of your council meetings and I daresay the average age of people who come before you to speak is probably in the forties. Do you think that people are suspicious of young people playing a role in government because they’re not hearing young people play a role in government?

A: I do. It was challenging to overcome some of those preconceived ideas people had about whether 16-year-olds were ready for it. There was even some 16-year-olds who questioned whether they were really ready for it!

Q: There is one other campaign that played out publicly in your council meetings beginning early this year. Can you explain how Golden limits new housing construction?

A: This is often what we call in Golden the one percent growth limit–it’s technically a 0.9 percent growth limit. This is an idea that Golden adopted in 1996, but it’s a way of restraining the growth in residential developments.

Golden, CO Mayor Pro Tem Casey Brown

Q: In January, you had several residents saying that development was out of control and asking for a moratorium on housing construction until you could revise your city codes. Where was this sentiment coming from?

A: There’s been such a growth in population across all communities along the Front Range. The infill development especially here in Golden has been happening at a bulk and size and scale that was really out of scope with the existing character of the neighborhoods. There was a real frustration and angst about what they were seeing in their neighborhoods–bigger, denser, of a different architectural style, and not really compatible with their existing neighborhood character.

Q: When you heard the word “moratorium,” what do you envision they were asking for?

A: I think what they were asking for is just to put a stop to all development. Just make it stop. I think that’s a reasonable desire, but it’s not a desire that we could really fulfill. It’s not that we want to make everything be old timey, historic Golden. But at the same time, there was clearly some new development that really was not compatible.

Q: It struck me that many of the people–if not 99 percent of them–who spoke, were older than 30. Going back to the 16 and 17-year-olds who you wanted to be able to vote, do you feel that their interests were represented in the moratorium debate?

A: That’s a really interesting thought. When we think about our younger residents, we tend to think of them being concerned about other issues outside of planning and zoning. We tend to think, are we creating the right recreational amenities? Are we creating transportation and transit options for them? But it’s an interesting point because I think they have a real stake in what gets decided as well in the planning code.

Follow Mayor Pro Tem Casey Brown on Twitter: @BrownforGolden


#175: Beavercreek, OH 11/12/18

Nothing seemed amiss at the start of the Beavercreek council meeting.

“This is the second reading of an ordinance making certain additions, deletions, and changes to various sections of the zoning code,” read the clerk.

“Is there anyone present tonight that would like to address council on this?” Mayor Bob Stone called to the audience as a balding man stepped forward.

“I didn’t catch this until today, but this thing is effective last week,” the man waved his paper in disbelief. “Did you all catch that?”

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Super sleuth

People on the dais stared down at their copies while he added, “it says this ordinance shall take effect November 1. That’s last week.”

“It’s been a standard practice,” reassured city manager Pete Landrum. “We begin at the beginning of the month.”

“But let’s go by the city charter,” shot back the commenter. “City charter says 30 days after passage. NOT postdated. Change it.”

He again thrust the paper in the air. “This one is showing up as an ’emergency’ ordinance. That’s wrong. It’s not an ’emergency.’ Now let’s get into the meat of it–”

Mayor Stone halted him before the meat. “We’re not showing this as an emergency anywhere.”

The man reached out holding his papers. “Can I approach?”

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The prosecution came prepared

There was a small conference at the dais. “This is an emergency…effective immediately…” mumbled the mayor as he read off the page.

“That’s from the previous time,” explained the city manager, “but in the current packet–”

“No, that’s what I got off the website,” insisted the man.

More muttering about whose packet said what. Chaos was beginning to unfold. Luckily, the commenter cut off the crosstalk by getting back to his original point: this ordinance is awful.

“We have enough problem with our zoning code. This is a beautiful one,” he said sarcastically, donning his glasses and reading from the passage prohibiting trucks from parking in front of commercial buildings.

“Every business around has a truck! What have we done here?”

“Not at a business. [Parking] at a residence,” interrupted Mayor Stone.

“No, sir. Disagree,” retorted the man.

“Oh…” the mayor whispered as council members gently indicated that he was wrong and the commenter (again) knew the ordinance better than some.

The man closed in the plainest way possible. “This is a disaster waiting to happen. This is too much. Stop this tonight.”

With such an intense airing of grievances, eyes were on the mayor to clear the air and lighten the mood with his report.

“I know everybody else is gonna mention it too and I hope we all repeat it,” he grinned. “The girl’s soccer state champs–”

“And cross country,” interjected Council Member Julie Vann. “State champs! Yaaaay, women!”

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Let’s-go la-dies. Clap. Clap. Clap-clap-clap.

“Are we gonna have enough sign space coming into the city” to list the new championships, mused the city manager.

Council Member Vann nodded. “The signs at the entryway of the city that have all the sports winnings on them–when we started that program, we didn’t expect it to be–”

“That good?” chuckled the manager.

“We were gonna post the teams within the last five years,” she explained. “We wanted to celebrate the recent ones but not every single one for eternity!”

“We will have to revisit that,” the city manager agreed, “because when we squeezed the boys’ [championship] the last time, it was like, okay, the next one we’re gonna have to have some decisions!”

I suppose this answers the question: is there such a thing as too much winning? When it comes to sign space, the answer is “yes.”

Interview #78: Nashville, TN Councilman Colby Sledge (with podcast)

This podcast interview is available on iTunesStitcherPlayer FM, and right here:

Colby Sledge is the District 17 councilman and a former reporter on the Nashville Metro Council. There is a smorgasbord of procedural features in the Music City that you won’t find in most American city councils–primarily because of the size. Plus, we talk about the many ways in which Nashville’s council exercises politeness.

Q: Most city councils have seven members, nine members–but Nashville has 40 council members. And you all sit at individual desks on the chamber floor. The Tennessee state senate has 33 people, so you have more members than half of your state’s legislature! What are the advantage and disadvantage of having that many council members?

A: Yeah, it’s always a fun thing to throw out whenever we’re at conferences or speaking with lawmakers in other cities, to get “that look” when we tell them we have 40 members. It is a product of when the city and county merged more than 50 years ago. Everybody got to keep their jobs!

Q: Sure.

A: We have the third-largest municipal council in the country behind New York and Chicago. I think the advantage is definitely constituent service. You are expected, as a council member, to know pretty much everyone in your district. Disadvantage is, as you imagine, it can get unwieldy sometimes.

Q: You have a lot of public hearings. You don’t take public comment in the meetings, but you have hearings where people raise their hands in the gallery if they are in favor of or opposed to a bill. I haven’t seen this hand-raising thing before. What are you looking for, exactly?

A: We’re primarily looking for folks who are opposed. Because there are so many zoning bills that we handle, we’re trying to get a sense if there is still dissent within the community. It encourages council members to have meetings before it comes to public hearing. The worst-case scenario is you have a lot of people who are opposed; it kind of reflects poorly on the council member because he or she may have not done all the prep work.

Nashville, TN Councilman Colby Sledge

Q: I have heard of the concept of “councilmanic courtesy” in Nashville. Essentially, it’s “I’ve got something in my district that I’d like approved. Please do it for me and I’ll vote for the next thing YOU need in your district.” How many times since you’ve been on council have you received councilmanic courtesy?

A: That’s a good question. I think it’s a product of our size. The vast majority of zoning bills–I can’t even think of one that I didn’t [receive courtesy]. If I made a compelling case for a rezoning, most of the time, council members were for it. There’s no written rule that says we’re supposed to be offering this. But when you have a legislative body that’s this large dealing with land-use issues, it tends to be the unwritten rule. I try to think about how it’s going to affect my constituents. If there’s little to no effect, I feel comfortable supporting it.

Q: There is no such thing as councilwomanic courtesy because you don’t have councilwomen in Nashville. You have “council ladies.” What kind of “Gone With the Wind” tradition is that?!

A: [Laughs] I will say that my predecessor in District 17 was a woman and I probably almost always called her “council lady.” It’s really up to each member’s preference.

Follow Councilman Colby Sledge on Twitter: @Sledgefor17

#145: Nacogdoches, TX 12/19/17

It may be the week before Christmas, but Tuesday’s Nacogdoches city council meeting scheduled an unfortunate, bitter showdown between neighbors.

The source of strife: whether to rezone a Garner Street home–mere yards from the hospital parking lot–from “residential” to “medical.”

Representing the affirmative side was the homeowner, a short woman with a heavy twang who appeared nervous and saddened to be begging for relief.

“Our home has been on the market for several years. We’ve accepted offers that did not go through,” she explained in frustration.

“We have been approached by a cardiologist who is wanting to purchase our property and make it his office,” she said, adding that he was “a highly trained, kind, and caring person….No selfish or self-serving motivation.”

So far, so good.

Her hand shook and she murmured “sorry” as she scanned the scattered paperwork on the lectern. “Could Mr. Wood speak about the property values?”

Mayor Shelley Brophy nodded sympathetically. “I would allow a brief statement.”

The supportive witness took the woman’s place. “They need to sell their home. When somebody offers you 15 percent more than what you’ve been saying–the only stipulation being the zone change–you have to pursue it,” he drawled.

“I was worried about her getting through this. It’s real emotional for her.”

The final speaker on the woman’s side was unmistakable: bald, bespectacled, and wearing robin’s egg blue scrubs, he was undeniably the aforementioned cardiologist.

“The key thing about this property is the proximity to the hospital,” he explained in accented English. “There’s a patient coming with a heart attack, you attend them and take care of them.”

Do no harm

Brushing aside traffic concerns, he gestured widely while elaborating upon the simple math. “I see 12, 15 patients a day, three days a week over an eight-hour period. Which means two cars coming and going an hour. That is NOT a traffic increase.”

Stepping up in opposition was a steady stream of neighbors on Garner Street, deeply disturbed about the decay of safety, the rule of law, and the moral fiber of the neighborhood.

A woman with long, dark hair and glasses appeared torn. “I have a lot of sympathy for the Morgans. I consider them friends. They’ve been neighbors for a long time.” She hesitated but for a moment. “For the greater good, please preserve our neighborhood.”

“We have two very small children,” a young mother pleaded. “We purchased this house with the vision of raising our little girls on a nice, quiet residential street where our children could play safely. It would absolutely destroy the integrity and appeal of Garner Street.”

“Apartments, offices, ambulance, hospice, nursing home, psychiatric hospital, boarding house, halfway house, or cemetery,” another man rattled off a list of boogeymen allowed by this “medical” rezoning.

Having sat quietly for half an hour, the council leaned forward to make an uncomfortable decision.

It’s a tough call.

“I’ll make a motion to deny the zoning change,” Council Member Garth Hinze offered bluntly.

“Doctor, you’re very well respected around town,” he addressed the cardiologist, then turned to the homeowners. “I feel your pain. But for the greater good…that’s why I voted the way that I did.”

“Mr. Norton, do you have comments?” Mayor Brophy turned to her left.

“I don’t have any comment.” Council Member David Norton wrung his hands and muttered quietly: “I’m a little surprised.”

With that, the vote was 4-0 to deny the doctor his office and the homeowner her sale. But the “integrity” of Garner Street? Mostly in tact.

#139: Madison, WI 10/31/17

It was the final day of October, so you know what that meant:

Council. Meeting. Costumes.

“Mr. Mayor, we have a quorum,” the clerk called out to Mayor Paul Soglin.

“Thank goodness,” murmured the mayor before shooting a bemused glance at council President Marsha Rummel. “What would you like to do?” he inquired warily.

Other council members cackled as Rummel, wearing a lace garment on her head and several buttons on her shirt, flipped on her mic.

“Pray for the dead and fight like hell for the living,” she retorted in character as Mary Harris Jones.

You…you could have bought a wig.

Alder Shiva Bidar-Sielaff, herself in a modest-looking Wonder Woman outfit, used her superpowers for the most mundane of purposes: “On item 56, I requested that it be noted that I’m recusing myself,” she asked politely.

“Anybody else have comments or observations?” Mayor Soglin gazed around the room. He paused and grinned.

“This looks like it’s going to work out quite nicely since it appears that a signficant number of members need to be out on the streets tonight. And Sara is waiting for me at home to watch the last three episodes of ‘Stranger Things’.”

Council members snickered. But they weren’t the only ones taking advantage of the loosened dress code tonight.

“This particular topic sort of touched a nerve,” a public commenter ornately dressed as a hybrid wizard-priest said about a proposed alcohol license. “I would’ve had my pine bough here to bless you with water because god knows we need blessing right now, including on this issue,” he pantomimed spraying water.

“While I’ve got huge issues with this particular co-op choosing to become one more place selling alcohol and eliminating the sanctuary for some sensitive people to shop for healthy food without alcohol…how can we serve the soul?” he asked rhetorically, wearing the perfect attire for his argument.

“So I’ll put my pine bough up here soaked with water,” he again pretended to toss streams of water onto the council. “Bless you and bless the city.”

Forgive me, public commenter, for I have sinned.

It was corny, but there was no time to savor the moment. For standing at the lectern was the scariest costume of the night: a man dressed as a big, bad developer.

“You can see a variety of housing types–the multifamily and mixed-use as previously located, with the park and the school site located in the center and east portion,” the Dark Lord gestured to his colorful map as a chill swept the room.

Council President Rummel was now in the presiding chair–the mayor having possibly ducked out early to finish “Stranger Things” with his wife as promised. (I think we’ve all struggled to choose between chairing a council meeting and binge-watching TV, so I get it.) She opened the floor to public comment.

Wait…maybe he really is a developer.

“We would like to have certain conditions placed to make sure the neighborhood stays the good, vibrant neighborhood it is today,” one citizen pleaded.

“Right now during peak hours, that gets backed up past Kwik Trip,” explained another.

“The fix was in,” ranted a third man with a ponytail and faint New Jersey accent. “I’ve never seen a bigger fix. The fix is in. The deal is done. Too bad.”

“The fix” must have been pretty deep, for the entire council voted in favor of the zoning change. Let’s hope it doesn’t “haunt” them.

Final thoughts: Boo!

#104: Columbus, OH 5/15/17

First impressions were VERY strong at the Columbus city council. No sooner had people risen to face the flag than a thundering orchestral rendition of the Star Spangled Banner blasted over the loudspeakers.

Council members stood at attention while the camera panned across the room. As the trumpeting ceased, onlookers were aided in the Pledge of Allegiance by a beautiful tapestry embroidered with the oath.

Talk about class, folks!

It’s like a g–d– Norman Rockwell painting.

After this patriotic tour de force, Council Member Jaiza Page rattled off her own tour de fitness. “If I’m out there” on Bike to Work Day, she smiled self-deprecatingly, “you’ll probably see me last in line.”

She added, to chuckles, “just don’t run me over!”

More impressively, Councilmember Page revealed that daring Columbusites would soon be allowed to rapel 19 stories off the PNC Building–not for infamy, but rather for a fundraiser for sexual trafficking victims.

“I did go over the edge last year and I was thoroughly frightened for 20 minutes,” she admitted with no trace of anxiety. “But I would encourage those of you who are not interested in rapelling yourself to go out and just cheer the rapellers on.”

Yes, and also be sure to cheer on Page as she bikes, rapels, canoes, bobsleds, and hanglides her way to the title of “Most Adventurous Council Member.”

“I got to this meeting via luge.”

By all accounts, things were going swimmingly. (Council Member Page will probably be swimming for charity at some point, too.) Suddenly, after Councilmember Michael Stinziano smoothly moved $1.2 million to repair the city’s sewer pipes, President Pro Tem Priscilla Tyson stared down at her paperwork.

“We have several non-agenda speakers that we will take momentarily.” She glanced at the clock. “We will reconvene at 6:30 for zoning.”

With that, the screen faded to black.

A slow horror dawned on me: she had turned off the cameras for public comment.

I wanted to scream, but I realized that even if she were rapelling off the outside of the PNC Building, President Pro Tem Tyson probably would not hear me.

Within seconds, the council chamber faded back in. The time was now 6:30 and the room was substantially emptier.

“Regular meeting number 26 will now come to order,” Tyson cheerfully announced like Richard Nixon after he erased those 18-and-a-half minutes of tape.

I expected this kind of behavior from Cleveland. But COLUMBUS???

We may never know what was said in public comment that day. All we know is that the zoning hearing was much, much more tedious.

“To grant a variance from the provisions of Sections 3332.039, R-4 residential district; 3321.05(B)(2), vision clearance; 3321.07(B), landscaping; 3332.25(B), maximum side yards required; 3332.26,(C)(3), minimum side yard permitted,” Council Member Page read for nearly a minute off of the numbers-heavy ordinance.

“This is a very interesting situation,” a neatly-dressed white-haired man said as he stood eager to explain the nuances of zoning. “We have a building that covers close to 100 percent of the parcel that doesn’t comply with the zoning district or the university planning overlay.”

Yes, quite thrilling. You know what else would be an interesting situation? SEEING THE PUBLIC COMMENT.

What a shame that a council meeting with such high production quality should fumble this basic feature.

Final thoughts: While the V.I.P. here is clearly Council Member Page for doing “Fear Factor: Columbus,” the capital city’s lack of 100% transparency forces me to give this meeting only 2 out of 5 buckeyes.

#101: Winston-Salem, NC 5/1/17

No flash. No tomfoolery. The Winston-Salem city council meeting was the “salad without dressing” of municipal powwows. There were no detours, no non-sequiturs, and a heavy dosage of the dry stuff.

“The theme for Building Safety Month 2017 encourages all Americans to raise awareness of the importance of building safety,” read the council secretary in a listless monotone. “And to be mindful of fire prevention, disaster mitigation, and backyard safety.”

After checking my backyard for potential hazards, I returned to the proceedings in time for a riveting slide show of the Northwest Winston-Salem Area Plan.

“We’ve had four public meetings, very well attended,” bragged a city employee at the podium. “Overall attendance was 75 people, with about 45 individuals coming to multiple meetings.”

Let the record show: a Trump inauguration-sized crowd of people attended these meetings.

One hour in, we finally saw a spark of passion from these dying embers. Granted, it was an unlikely subject to cause a dustup: a reexamination of the 2017 property tax appraisal process.

Hear me out! It gets interesting!

“To have our properties lowered like they have been lowered,” Mayor Pro Tempore Vivian Burke made sweeping eye contact with every person on the dais, “it must be our challenge that we let [Forsyth County] know that we don’t like what we are receiving.”

She waved her index finger menacingly next to her oversized broach, signaling that she meant business.

Council Member Denise Adams took a less ominous, more philosophical approach. “For the listening audience and others, there’s always an opportunity to change,” she leaned into the microphone and smiled. “Times change. People change.”

Fact check: TRUE–people do change.

For pure pathos, Council Member John Larson channeled the inner frustrations of many Winston-Salemites–er, Winstonian-Salemers? Winstoner-Salemanders?

“Nobody likes to see their property devalued. It’s very demoralizing.” He frowned deeply and scratched his demoralized face. “Their home is one of the most important investments they have. Individuals don’t have the stamina to take it in front of the Board of Adjustments.”

But someone who did have a trainload of stamina was Mayor Pro Tempore Burke. Suddenly no more Ms. Nice Council Member, she used Larson’s comments to light a match on her stick of rhetorical dynamite.

“It is a DISGRACE and a SHAME that we allow investors to come through and assault our neighborhoods like they have,” she thundered.

“I said to the city manager, ‘I just want you to go and look. Look at the joy and pleasure we have in keeping our neighborhoods.’ Homes are simply beautiful. We spend many dollars–mine looks like a golf course.”

She stared daggers. “Stop destroying our dreams.”

Burke: “I buried 15 land mines on my property. I dare you to come destroy my dreams.”

Finishing on a lighter note, the city manager folded his hands politely and smiled. Far from crushing anyone’s hopes, he was instead expanding their horizons.

“You’ve been asking for many years for us to reduce the use of paper. So this is our fist month using iPads for automated agendas so we don’t have to chop down all those trees.”

He paused before teasing a tantalizing piece of news. “And in a few months we’ll actually be voting with our iPads as well.”

Welcome to the future, Winston-Salem. As a great thinker once said, “Times change. People change.”

Final thoughts: I give 10 out of 10 stars to those 45 people who attended multiple zoning meetings. Oy vey, how did you manage?!

#61: Grand Forks, BC 10/24/16

Yes, two weeks before a presidential election, we visit Canada. You know–to scope out city council meetings (and real estate).

It may be October up there but, folks, the Grand Forks city council was HEATED like a hot tub in Cabo!

“I brought forward for your consideration five properties,” that are “unsightly,” the city’s bylaw officer announced.

This being Canada, Councilor Beverly Tripp politely raised her hand to speak. “I would be wondering about perhaps seeing some visuals of these properties. Would that be possible? I’d be willing to go down to these places and take a look at them.”

“The latter would not be appropriate, to visit the site,” Mayor Frank Konrad gruffly shot her down. Luckily, a field trip would not be necessary: we have pictures. Okay, let’s take a look at this so-called unsight–

“Is it appropriate to show photos when there’s a live stream on the Internet?” Councilor Colleen Ross pointed directly at me through the camera. “That would be my suggestion–turn off the camera. We’re showing people’s personal property.”

The mayor didn’t hesitate. “That’s probably a reasonable request.”



Listening to the bylaw officer narrate the photos, I was f–ing livid. “That is a picture taken through a bramble hedge. There’s three snowmobiles and a pile of other debris. There’s also two other vehicles in the front yard,” he said. I’ll take his word because YOU BLINDED ME.

Suddenly, a giant hand removed the lens cap. Sweet light, we meet again! Just in time for the property owner to make her defense:

“I’ve been out of the country for the last few months. I have come to ask for an extension.” Her tone was more indignant than apologetic. “So, yeah. What can you do for me?”

Mayor Konrad was unimpressed with her unrepentence. “Is the statement that this has been going on for a year affirmative?”

She waved him off. “The vehicles weren’t mine. They were my husband’s. When he passed away, I had no need for this ‘hobby’ he had.”

The mayor paused carefully, not wanting to berate a widow. “If you’re looking for an extension, how long are you looking for?”

“A month. Jetlag was huge,” she chuckled.

On second thought, go back to the lens cap.

Councilor Tripp was oozing  with empathy. “I really fail to see any grossly unsightly premises there. I really do feel it would be appropriate to give her the month leeway to work at getting the vehicles removed.”

“The vehicles for sure. The rest of the stuff I can’t promise because of the way the weather is right now,” the citizen sneakily attempted to weasel out of cleanup duty.

Mayor Konrad desperately tried to sound the alarm that the council was being taken advantage of.

“Next spring is NOT really a viable option,” he glanced around uneasily. But the council had chosen a side–and it wasn’t his.

“She’s been away. She’s only been back a week!” nodded Councilor Christine Thompson sympathetically.

“We would be setting a precedent here–” the mayor tried to argue, before Councilor Ross interrupted him.

“No. That’s the beauty of community action. We can work with individuals based on their needs,” she checkmated him.

With the women of the council united, the mayor folded. Fine, one month it is.

“That is wonderful,” the citizen sighed. “Absolutely!”

#51: Greer, SC 9/13/16

At the Greer city council meeting, did anyone raise a ruckus? Cause a concern? Threaten to secede?

Nope, nada,  none of it. This municipal powwow was so genteel as to be sleep-inducing. When you think “government meeting,” this was exactly the excitement level you’d imagine.

“An ordinance to provide for the annexation of property owned by Teresa Smith,” Mayor Rick Danner read from the dense agenda. His Honor, sporting a blue bow tie, glanced up to the zoning director–himself sporting a gray bow tie. (I’d bet anything that these two men had an a capella rehearsal after the meeting.)

FINALLY, a touch of CLASS at a council meeting (I’m talking about the iPad).

“A year or so back, we were looking at about 300 single family attached units. Now, the 27 acres has been significantly reduced to 85 houses,” the director recited, flipping between the tablet in his hand and a sheaf of papers on the podium.

“By a show of hand,” the mayor raised his voice, “is the owner of the property with us this evening? Do you care to add anything?”

From somewhere in the audience came a holler: “He mentioned 85 single family. It’s actually 87.”

“Thank you,” the mayor nodded.

But wait, there’s more! More zoning! Seriously, it’s nothing but zoning. Normally, I’d fast-forward through this bad boy to get to the good stuff–liquor licenses, citizen complaints, wildlife problems.

Not today. There’s a land rush in Greer, apparently, and Ms. Medlock wants a piece of the zoning pie.

“Ms. Medlock is seeking to rezone to C2 to operate a used car lot on that property,” announced the zoning czar.

This is a record for city council meeting bow ties.

The mayor repeated his catchphrase. “By a show of hand, is the owner of the property with us this evening? Would you like to add anything?”

Ms. Medlock called out no.

But the mayor wasn’t satisfied.

“The existing structure with the wall and the little office–will that remain?” he pondered.

“That for now is going to stay,” Ms. Medlock testified, reluctantly planting herself behind the podium. “The shed is nice for them to be able to pull cars into to work on in the shade.”

“Let me go back to Glenn for a second,” said the mayor as council members silently contemplated what time they would be free to leave. “Storage of vehicles and cars or whatever? That’s a grassy lawn there.”

Glenn, the zoner: “No vehicles parked on a residential zoned property. They can’t just cover the grass area back there with automobiles,” he assured the mayor.

Ms. Medlock decided to give Mayor Danner r a taste of his own medicine. “I have one question,” she sprung on him. “The tenant has already got a sign to fit on the post with anticipation that this is gonna be approved–”

Truly an astounding  number of bow ties.

The mayor let out a gentle laugh. Uh-oh. Is His Honor going to torpedo the rezone and leave that poor sign post flapping in the breeze?

“–does he need to bring that to you?”

There was a moment of silent reflection.

“Needs to go through the permitting process,” was the answer.

Final thoughts: As far as council meetings go, I give this 3 out of 10. As far as bow ties go…I give it a perfect score.