aShortChronicle has learned that the scheduled closed session meeting this coming Tuesday for the Davidson Depot project is not the first one on the subject.
According to a source familiar with the situation the developers previously asked in a closed session for financial help from the Town to clean up the site and were clearly told no.
Which closed session that may have been is unclear. A review of all Board meeting agendas since January 2015 shows three closed sessions with the same "economic development" justification as the one for this coming Tuesday. They were on 4/28/2015, 10/13/2015, and 1/12/2016.
While the actual date is of lesser importance, it is interesting to note the 4/28/2015 date was right after the initial approval of the site plan came from the town on 4/13/2015.
In light of this new information, the Davidson Board should open the discussion this coming week to the public.
Closed sessions for economic development are intended to allow competitive information between municipalities to remain confidential when municipalities are competing with each other for a new opportunity.
That is not the case here.
As mentioned in the initial post there has been discussion of Tax Increment Financing (TIF) support from the town. If implemented, this could run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
However, there is also indication in the public record that the developer may have found a less expensive way to conduct the asbestos remediation not requiring public support. This was in a communication from the developer to Town Manager Jamie Justice. That message copied only Commissioner Brian Jenest and local real estate attorney, Susan Irvin.
In fact, Commissioner Jenest is the only Commissioner copied on the various correspondence in the record request. His firm is doing the project's landscape design work
The public absolutely deserves to know what is going on with this project. Are special requests are being made to reduce costs for the developer? The public should know. Who on the Board supports the project? The public should know? What (if any) financial support is being sought from the town? The public should know.
For these reasons the Board should open Tuesday's discussion to the public. Not doing so needs a very clear and public explanation.
Commissioners may think that because this project is "by right", that they have little to do with how it proceeds. That may be true. However, unless the public has confidence everything has been handled properly, that will be hard to believe.
Contact the entire Davidson Board a firstname.lastname@example.org to ask them to open this discussion to the public Tuesday night.