Citizens’ will no concern to mayor of Sunset Hills

‘Call the Tune’ by Mike Anthony

By Mike Anthony

Former Sunset Hills Mayor Bill Nolan listened to residents — even when he disagreed with them.

The same can’t be said of current Mayor Mark Furrer, who defeated Nolan in April 2014. Furrer launched his write-in campaign for mayor roughly two weeks before the election, sparked by his opposition to a proposed QuikTrip development off Interstate 270 and near his residence.

In media reports, Furrer characterized the proposed QuikTrip development as some type of secret deal that city officials were trying to slip under the table, apparently for some nefarious reason. That wasn’t the reality, though, as everything related to the issue was adopted at public meetings.

But Furrer apparently has no qualms about working behind the scenes to advance a developer’s proposal for a commercial redevelopment of the city’s Court Drive area that was ravaged by a tornado on Dec. 31, 2010.

We can’t blame a developer for seeking to redevelop the area commercially; that’s what developers do.

But we can blame a city official for not respecting the will of the people.

In an email to city officials, Furrer wrote, “As you are aware, our out-of-town experts wisely concluded this area should indeed be retail. The glitch, however, is that two of the parcels have homes planned. This would severely and negatively affect our planned grocery-anchored center.”

To the best of our knowledge, this proposal has never been discussed publicly by any appointed or elected city officials — unlike the QuikTrip proposal. And planner Drew Awsumb of Chicago-based Houseal Lavigne Associates told the Call’s Gloria Lloyd last week that the recommendation was not an easy one and is primarily intended to start a conversation in the community about what the site could be — a decision ultimately up to the city and its residents.

Nolan told the Call roughly four years ago that he had “visualized a commercial area properly bermed and fenced and tree-lined behind them and an entrance to Court coming off of West Watson (Road).” But residents were adamant that the area remain residential, and Nolan appointed a task force that recommended the area remain residential. That recommendation was accepted in November 2011 by the Planning and Zoning Commission.

Nolan listened to and respected residents. Too bad the same can’t be said about Furrer. Given his opposition to the QuikTrip, his support for commercial development on Court Drive can only be considered hypocritical.