Letter to the Editor
To the editor:
I attended the Sunset Hills Board of Aldermen meeting on Oct. 9, most of which was spent in heated discussion regarding the Econo Lodge site and the proposed Tidal Wave car wash development.
Clearly this development is controversial, with the most vocal opponents being residents who live along East Watson, concerned about increased traffic. However, many other city residents are excited about this new development and the significant economic boost it will bring to the city.
While I expected Ward 2 Alderman Casey Wong to pander to the “Not In My Back Yard” neighbors by voting against the development, I did not expect his completely inappropriate behavior and tactics. He attempted to fabricate technicalities to have the project remanded back to Planning and Zoning, and when that failed, he tried to pass a two-page list of amendments to the project that he admitted was not completed until less than an hour before the meeting. These “proposals” were not shared with the developer until the meeting, and included such requirements as eliminating the gas station, all in an effort to halt the development.
While Mr. Wong may have endeared himself to the vocal opposition, he did so to the detriment of our city. He has made it very clear that developers are not welcome in Sunset Hills, and even high-quality developments will be opposed with vitriol unparalleled by other local municipalities.
While commercial development should not expand at the expense of residential real estate, the limited commercial real estate available should be used to its fullest potential. Our city should embrace commercial developers who wish to do business here, because this tax revenue allows the city to provide the services that residents expect.
Any future potential commercial developer will think long and hard before bringing a project to our city after Mr. Wong’s open display of disrespect and rancor toward the Tidal Wave developer. The developer attempted to reach Mr. Wong numerous times to discuss the project. Mr. Wong did not return any of his calls, proving that he was not working in good faith.
The sales tax revenue brought in by the now defunct Toys “R” Us site was more than the property tax for all Sunset Hills residents combined. A recent Sept. 28 article in a daily newspaper discussed four viable proposals for that site, each of which have been blocked by an archaic clause in the lease of the adjacent Ross Dress for Less store. In this case, a local business is actively stifling development in our city. But instead of worrying about that, Mr. Wong is focused on torpedoing a high-quality development that did not ask for a single dollar of tax relief or subsidy.
If Mr. Wong wants to be a true civic leader, he would arrange a meeting with the leaseholder of Ross, explaining that the increased foot traffic from a development at the Toys “R” Us site would far outweigh any rent decrease that they might get from enforcing that clause, and significantly benefit the city and its residents.
Maybe they would return his calls, which is more than Mr. Wong did for the Tidal Wave developer.