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Monday, October 30, 2017

Did Home Builder Councilman Shut Down Apartments Developer?

It was the right call, but for all the wrong reasons.

It seems any decision coming down from city hall defending the honor and wishes of neighborhood resident stakeholders in Janesville is met with people dancing in the streets. That's how rare it was when the Janesville Plan Commission unanimously agreed to kill a developer's apartment complex in the city's uppity Briar Crest sub-division. The people thought they were listened to.

From the beginning the decision never did smell right.

One council member sitting on the plan commission, Jens Jorgensen, stated that he supported the apartment development at first, but changed his mind after hearing dozens of residents oppose it. That's a good fair reason and how things should be when representatives listen.

The other councilman sitting on the plan commission, Doug Marklein, gave a long-winded story about how the buffer zone area behind Walmart is a perfect fit for apartments, that it's best for the city, but he won't support the multi-family development because doing so would break somebody's promise to keep it zoned R1 residential. Unbelievable ...and this is where things begin to unravel.

Marklein, in his capacity as a plan commission member, took it upon himself to make sure a third party kept their promise ...totally bizarre, despite the fact that the third party entered an agreement with a developer entitling the developer to pursue changing the zoning as necessary. This is simple common sense.

For whatever reason, Marklein felt personally wronged by the land owner for not appearing at the public hearing, as if to say owners and developers regularly appear in front of city officials to make their case. Except, they almost never do. Why should they when they have taxpayer-funded city administration officials lobbying for them?

The only answer I could come up with for Marklein feeling so personally wronged by the land owner - he stated they (not the city) promised three times to keep it R1 - is because he is a local residential home builder who would lose prime R1 zoned land to a competing builder stepping into his territory.

To many viewers, Marklein acted as if the zoning promise was made to him, as a home builder, and even if that is somehow denied, its specter became more visible when the apartment developer left the hearing stating he should not have been treated like an outsider. It was duly noted.

At some point, concerned citizens in Janesville will have to ask themselves why they allow a local home builder a seat on the city's planning/zoning commission.

The Gazette said the city needs business-minded people, such as Marklein, in leadership positions. Unfortunately, that's how insiders see the obvious conflict of interest - not as a bug, but as the feature.

And, that's just plain wrong and bad for business.


RNR - Janesville Council Members Gruber and Marklein Should Resign

RNR - Special Interests Should Recuse From Janesville City Council Or Resign

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