Councilor Bill Peduto says the decision to grant Lamar Advertising the right to construct a 12,000-square-foot electronic billboard Downtown didn't go through proper channels, and now he wants to launch an investigation to find out why.
Peduto says that until he read about it in the paper, council didn't know anything about the decision to allow Lamar to construct an LED billboard on the soon-to-be completed Grant Street Transportation Center. Because of the billboard's size and cost, it would be a non-conforming use and require hearings before the Zoning Board of Adjustment, the City Planning Commission and city council.
But Zoning Administrator Susan Tymoczko, with the approval of Urban Redevelopment Authority Director Pat Ford, made a deal with Lamar to remove six billboards in the vicinity in exchange for the new mega-board. That didn't satisfy Peduto.
"All due process has been ignored," Peduto says. "This is not about a sign, it's about following the law. ... I think the law was blatantly ignored here.
"Things like this seem to be the MO of this city -- that when there's a developer-driven project, they don't need public input. I'll be damned if I'm going to let that happen."
Peduto's resolution, introduced Feb. 19, asks council to hold a special hearing with the mayor, Tymoczko, Ford and other officials to answer questions to see if the deal was struck in violation of city code. The resolution also asserts that council can hire its own legal counsel to help aid in the investigation. Council will discuss the resolution Feb. 20, when it will decide how to proceed.
Snow joking around
The mayor declared war on snow last week, and set down a whole list of measures that will be in place to make the city's plowing system work better -- new equipment, state-of-the-art software, etc. That's all well and good, but as Councilor Bruce Kraus points out, this winter ain't over yet.
Kraus asked for, and received, approval for a televised special meeting of council and the administration to "map out how we will handle the next six weeks of winter." The body approved the motion; Council President Doug Shields will set the meeting in the near future.