Whatever puts KELO-TV at the top of the local news ratings, it’s not consistent, informative journalism. Consider last night’s filler about Mayor Mike Huether’s meeting with homeowners in McKennan Park.
Sioux Falls Mayor Mike Huether is listening to the concerns of a homeowner in one of the city’s historic neighborhoods.
Huether met with Pierce and Barbara McDowell Thursday afternoon about a large two-story home that is being built just feet from their property line in the historic McKennan Park neighborhood of Sioux Falls [Ben Dunsmoor, “Huether Holds Meeting over Large Home in Historic District,” KELOLand.com, 2015.04.02].
Concerns about a home being built close to neighbors’ property line? Well, those concerns should be easy to address. What are the setback rules? What does the permit say? What covenants exist?
Nearly a year ago the Board of Historic Preservation, appointed by the mayor, signed off on a plan to demolish a home at 1323 South 2nd Avenue right across the street from the park and next door to the McDowells. The same board signed off on plans to build a new two-story home on the same site [Dunsmoor, 2015.04.02].
O.K., Dunsmoor doesn’t want to tell us the actual rules. But apparently a city board saw the plans and signed off on whatever is taking place on the property. So what are the concerns?
Maybe Mayor Huether can shed some light on the specific nature of the concerns:
“Tell me about the process, what happened, and did he have any recommendations on how to make things better for the future,” Huether told KELOLAND News Thursday about his conversation with the McDowells.
Huether says he wanted to hear the concerns about the project’s size and positioning first hand.
“I think it was just helping me learn so that I can be a better mayor,” Huether said [Dunsmoor, 2015.04.02].
We are getting farther from an answer, not closer.
Other city officials, including Planning Director Mike Cooper and City Attorney David Pfeifle, also attended Thursday’s meeting. Huether says city leaders are simply using the issue as a learning experience at this point [Dunsmoor, 2015.04.02].
What?! City leaders don’t need a learning experience; they need a tape measure and the city code book. If the house is being built too close or too high, you can find that out pretty quickly. Don’t send over city officials who apparently don’t know their own basic zoning rules. Send Zoning Enforcement Manager Shawna Goldammer to the property, have her measure, and tell the cameras, “Sorry, guys, no story here, everything’s up to code.”
But Dunsmoor doesn’t deliver those simple facts. We just get more of Mayor Huether rambling about engaging people in a process that apparently even he doesn’t understand.
“I wanted to engage them to try to not only learn from them but also maybe make the process better for the next home that’s going to be built,” Huether said.
So that the city and other homeowners are never put in a tight position again [Dunsmoor, 2015.04.02].
Dunsmoor continues to avoid the basic question: is the new house really being built too close to the existing house? Extra demerit: that last line is a fragment, not a complete sentence.
Signaling his bid for Congress in 2016, Mayor Huether shows he’s been taking classes at the Kristi Noem School of Fancy-Talkin’ for Snow Queens:
“We’re proud people; don’t tell us what to do, property rights, all at the same time we have to be a good neighbor without any specific definitions on how to do that. So, that’s the challenge,” Huether said [Dunsmoor, 2015.04.02].
Whatever Mayor Huether learned, Dunsmoor apparently isn’t going to tell us. Maybe he can at least get the homeowners to discuss their concerns.
The McDowells have not agreed to any interview requests from KELOLAND News this week. The owner of the new home under construction did not respond to a request for comment Thursday [Dunsmoor, 2015.04.02].
Oh, for crying out loud! Dunsmoor gives no clear zoning information. Mayor Huether learns something but doesn’t say what. The neighbors don’t think it’s a big enough deal to talk to the press about it. The only information we get from this story is that somebody’s building a big house in Sioux Falls, and that’s not news.
That KSFY and KDLT can’t beat filler like this in the ratings should cause great heartburn at KELO’s competitors. Evidently KELO could just have Dunsmoor and Don Jorgensen clean walleye for thirty minutes and draw the same ratings.
Update 08:47 CDT: Read Jill Callison’s far more informative March 25 report on the new nearly 5000-square-foot house at Second Avenue, complete with comment from the McDowells, the builders Joseph “Josh” Sapienza and Sarah Jones Sapienza, and the actual setback rules. The McDowells’ house sits two feet from the southern lot line, based in the rules in force back in 1924. Current code requires new construction be set back five feet.