Civil Discourse Now

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Meeting tonight: question the structure proposed for Whole Foods in the meeting at Broad Ripple United Methodist Church at 6 p.m.

   The Broad Ripple Village Association will hold an informational meeting tonight at the Broad Ripple United Methodist Church, at 6185 Guilford Avenue. That is across the street and a few steps south of the Kroger grocery store in Broad Ripple. The Land Use and Development Committee will hold this meeting, one of its regularly scheduled meetings.

   LUD is descrbed on the BRVA website:

     "The BRVA's Land Use and Development Committee (LUD) implements the development guidelines established     in the Broad Ripple Plan (adopted by the Department of Metropolitan Development in November 2012) and submits recommendations to the Department of Metropolitan Development regarding zoning and liquor licenses.

    "The Land Use and Development Committee is an appointed group of professionals with a background in residential and commercial development, real estate and law that makes decisions n behalf of BRVA."

   The development of the Shell site cannot move forward, according to the BRVA website, without a change in zoning. The deadline for that determination is June 13.

   This is perhaps the only opportunity people will have to express opposition to the proposed structure. I say "perhaps" because this only is an informational meeting, not one described as a public discussion.

   There should have been persons opposed to the project included on the panel. Instead, members of the panel will include, as I understand matters, representatives of the developer and of Whole Foods.

   This is a project for which TIF funds are proposed to be used. In other words, the City will help to subsidize a large corporation---Whole Foods---with money from a TIF. Tax Increment Funding (TIF) was developed in California in the 1950s to subsidize impoverished areas that otherwise would not attract development advantageous to a given community. TIFs are so rife with abuse that California now bans them. Mayor Richie Daley of Chicago left office with his City in a financial mess due, in large part, to TIFs.

   I object to this project for several reasons:

   1) We should not subsidize a large corporation the business plan of which is to eliminate local competition in an area in which it locates. In this instance. Good Earth on Guilford, an organic grocery that has been in Broad Ripple for over 30 years and has succeeded without subsidies from the City, is expected to compete against Whole Foods. This is not "free market" competition. Whole Foods stands to receive a boost up from the City.

   2) The building, as shown in architects' rendering on the BRVA website, is ugly. The plans hatch from the same aesthetics as those that shaped the parking garage at College and Broad Ripple bestowed upon Mayor Ballard's big campaign contributor.

   3) A private body---the BRVA---is set to determine matters of public and City government policy. No matter the genuine good will of any such organization or committee, this should be a matter on which all citizens can vote and have an impact.

   4) The Broad Ripple Plan was developed in November, 2012. That was about the same time traveling Mayor Ballard doled out public monies for his pal's parking garage. We need to know if this is part of a greater "pay-to-play" work.

   So, as Jack Lord used to say on "Hawai'i 5-0," be there, aloha.      



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