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Dear editor:

Mr. LiVecchi stated in his recent letter to the editor that I originally proposed a different project than what is currently approved. He is absolutely correct. I did so at his and his council’s request. In fact, at that same meeting Melodee Hallett stated, and I quote, “My question is, do we need to change the code in certain areas so we do not have to go through this process for each developer that comes in, that has some kind of feature here, say like on your highway zones, so that you can get those heights that you don’t have in other parts of town?”

Dan Thomas stated, “Changing the code is the place to start instead of asking for a variance (or planned development) on the Highway 50 corridor.”

At the same meeting, then-planning commissioner P.T. Wood and several other members of the council and planning commission made comments about re-designing my design concept from an “Old World Italian village” to a more traditional design and to place it closer to Highway 50 frontage with retail on the first floor.

This was when Mayor Livecchi said, “So when this came up, I drove down to Highway 50 and tried to visualize what this (project) would look like. It is very difficult, very difficult, but there is a give and take. We talk about affordable housing for years, and I think there is a give and take, so I would definitely entertain you bringing something forward and go in that direction for sure.” I met with city staff the next morning with a new concept, and their understanding was the same as mine – a new plan and new design.

Work sessions are for conceptual ideas to be bounced off of commissioners and council members and for the city officials to preview and give feedback about what they and their constituents would like to see for the city. Work sessions are not formal meetings with completed applications, complete drawings, development agreements in place, ordinances written, public input, etc. You can view this entire work session from October 16, 2017, on YouTube.

In his letter, Mr. LiVecchi insinuates that there were agreements, that I owe money to the city, that I changed the plan solely for my benefit and that I made commitments to the city. In all of these he is disingenuous. I took the notes from that meeting, made the changes they had requested and started the process again in another work session with the planning commission and the newly elected city council. Also, the long-term lease of rentals designated for city employees is still on the table.

To be clear, not one person on the council or the commission during the meeting Mr. LiVecchi refers to said that they were against raising the height to 50 feet (it is at 44½ feet now). Rather, their comments were that the Highway 50 corridor is a good place to look at raising height. Additionally, Mr. LiVecchi’s Housing Task Force suggested raising height and increasing density to 1 unit per 1,200 square feet of land. (Currently Salida Crossings is at 1 unit per 1,150 square feet).

So, 50 feet and 135 units were okay then, but now that I have lowered the height, reduced the density, and changed the project to meet Mr. LiVecchi’s council’s liking, it’s not okay?

Housing is not a debate for many of the citizens of Salida, it is a daily struggle. If as much energy would be spent to come up with a solution as has been spent trying to stop and trying to defend this project, an answer could emerge. If Salida Crossings does not happen, so be it, we will build a hotel or a gas station or whatever. But to those who oppose and offer no solutions, what are you going to do to help these families and to keep our town a place where everyone can live?

Duane Cozart
Managing Partner
Salida Crossings