Saturday, December 22, 2007

Veit Attempts Parlimentary Ploy In Attempt To Fool Residents of Frenchtown

By Tony Brockmeyer

A ploy by Councilman Richard Veit, Ward 1, at the recent city council meeting may have backfired on him.

Veit has been attempting to rezone properties on North Fourth Street from residential to industrial in defiance of the requests of neighborhood residents. When the bill came to a vote. Councilmen Kneemiller, Stivison, Ermeling, Beckering voted for the rezoning. Feldman and Weller did not attend the meeting, Councilmen Muench, Reeese and Klinghammer voted against the rezoning. Veit was the last to cast his vote and when asked for his vote he hesitated and then to the surprise of those in the audience he voted no.

Veit voted no in an apparent attempt to keep the rezoning issue alive until the two missing council members could be present at a later meeting and vote in favor.

The city council meetings are run by Roberts’s rules of Order. Those rules allow someone who votes in the majority on an issue to be able to have the issue reconsidered at the next meeting. Thus once Veit voted no and was therefore in the majority he could have asked for reconsideration of the matter at the next council meeting. Perhaps one at which the opposition, not aware of his ploy, would not be in attendance.

However, apparently City attorney Mike Valenti rules against that procedure. According to city hall sources, Valenti has ruled that the city council rules say the matter must be called for reconsideration at the same meeting as the original vote. It is Valenti’s opinion that the city council rules overrule Roberts Rules of Order. Therefore, unless Valenti is over ruled or convinced to change his mind Veit’s ploy did not work.

Since being elected Veit has been pushing hard to rezone properties at 1427, 1501, 1503 and 1517 North Fourth Street from residential to industrial. The properties are currently being used for an out building manufacturing company and several automotive businesses such as a body shop, transmission repair and used car lot.

The zoning was changed several years ago by former City Council President Rory Riddler at the request of residents of the area. Riddler’s rezoning grandfathered all the businesses currently being operated there and would have allowed the property to be used for the same type of business if and when they were sold.

In an apparent attempt to help some of the people who helped during his election campaign Veit introduced a bill to eliminate the residential zoning and rezone the properties to industrial. The bill for industrial rezoning was changed to commercial rezoning at the urging of councilman Beckering.

The bill has been on the agenda for several weeks causing the residents in opposition to have to attend each meeting to make their feelings known At one meeting Veit told the residents in attendance that he was not interested in what they wanted, he was voting for the rezoning and they had nine other council members they could try to convince. The bill was to have been voted on at the November 20th meeting of the council but was postponed due to one of Veit’s frequent absences.

At the December 4th meeting Councilman Mike Weller and Councilwoman Laurie Feldman were both absent.