Zoning in on lawsuit 

We’ve heard many times that the third time is the charm, but there’s a case in our home town where just the second time might eventually turn into something less than charming.

We refer to yet another turndown of a zoning appeal from MGM, the potential developer of a proposed housing development on Germantown Rd. property. After two denials by the Minden Planning Commission, based largely on objections from several property owners near the proposed location, MGM rolled the dice by appealing to the Minden City Council for a second time.

Somebody at MGM should have thought about this second appeal a little harder after its experience with the council once before. Again, rather than vote openly on the issue, the council stuck it to the MPC (and MGM) by returning the retirement village deal to the zoning board from whence the original denial had originated. It was a punt on second down.

Rather than speak to the issue this second time, council members apparently thought it better to go mute. No motion was offered to approve or deny. Not even a cricket chirp from the governing body. Not only did the appeal fail for lack of a motion, so did the council. This no-comment, no-vote isn’t a first for our floundering five, but in the name of transparency it needs to be the last.

After the no-decision failure of his appeal, MGM official Jeff Glover said his group will move the project to another city. But, he said that doesn’t mean the issue is simply gone with the windless. Glover said the feds will be coming to town and they won’t be here to see HGTV sites or scenic brick streets.

In fact, he said the Department of Housing and Urban Development will investigate, and that could mean some bricks will be thrown at our town’s actions where this proposed retirement housing development is concerned. At least one city official agrees that a lawsuit is on the horizon.

When HUD investigates, public records showing ownership and/or partnership in projects adjacent to or near to the unrezoned property might tickle the agency’s curiosity. We all know about a city council person’s development (The Colony, where several retirees reside) that borders the property on the north side. We know about the assisted living facility (primarily elderly residents) that’s just south. 

Last but not least, there’s Rose Hill Estates, located a short distance south of the property and listed as multi-family/elderly apartments. We’re told a city official owns a piece of that complex. 

There are common threads between the three developments. One, the retiree/elderly equation. 

MGM’s proposed development: a retirement complex. Another thread: current Minden city government officials have interests in two of the three. These officials sit on the panel where appeals fell on deaf ears. Feds like these types of threads when they’re sewing a suit.

Maybe there’s nothing for the council to worry about since ill intent has to be proven in fair housing cases, and that’s how this most likely will be classified. The MPC should not have heartburn since they performed their diligence through public hearings. That’s where plans were revealed and complaints were registered. At least the MPC had the discipline to look the applicant in the eye and vote no.

We hope nothing resulting in a severe punishment for Minden or its governmental bodies comes from this. But, as we all know, when the feds start digging the dirt pile is never small. Acronymic agencies seem to believe it’s their duty to prove everyone guilty, even if circumstances show no ill intent.