I wondered, where did the Editors get information suggesting there were 'compromises' in the air? Is this just wishful thinking, or is there some behind the scenes movement going on, as I recommended in my commentary, 'There Has To Be a Better Way'? (Blog post January 9, 2014)
I am privy to some insider information, and I can confidently say the acrimony and anger on both sides is not getting any better as time goes on. There is an incredible amount of animosity and distrust on both sides.
I submitted a letter to the UT suggesting the Union Tribune offer to host a meeting, a 'Middle East' summit if you will, where all of the issues could be aired, and options explored publicly, so all of the area's residents can become more informed, and perhaps some real middle ground could be found.
The issue of whether the City illegally took property value and potential profit from Michael Schlesinger will have to be determined in court, unfortunately. Both sides are armed with high priced attorneys, and there is a case to be made for both parties. Even if the City were to prevail, the court will still have to deal with the fact that at the time of his purchase, Mr. Schlesinger was told by the Planning Department that the 110 acre tract was zoned R-1 (Residential - Single Family Dwelling).
Obviously, as a land speculator, investor and developer he would not have bought the Country Club plot if the zoning had been reserved as Open Space only. So his position is that the City changed the rules after the fact.
The ECCHO group says he bought a golf course, and that is what he got. But that position is too simplistic. And the facts say different.
There are millions of dollars at stake, so a change in zoning is quite serious. Imagine if your next door neighbor won a change in zoning which allowed him to build a chicken ranch a few feet from your house. You might have a problem with that.
But that cuts both ways, because the Country Club homeowners were never made aware, nor did they in their wildest dreams think, that the golf course could suddenly turn into a high density housing tract either.
In court, the City will claim that the area the golf course occupies was never intended to be used for homes, and that by adopting the Open Space Initiative, any misrepresentation or mischaracterization of that fact, is now corrected by law. Everything that comes after that will have to be determined and subjugated to the land use law that is now on the books.
Does that entitle Mr. Schlesinger to compensation? Probably. But how?
I guess that is what the court would rule on. We'll see. Someday.
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