Measure to keep CAC out of turn-lane talk withdrawn
A proposal that would have prevented the Clintonville Area Commission from taking a stance on the controversial left-turn lane at East North Broadway and North High Street was quietly withdrawn at last week's meeting.
District 3 representative and East North Broadway resident James R. Blazer II asked that the resolution he first proposed June 7 be removed from consideration when it came up under old business during the August session. Blazer thanked the other members of the commission for not taking a vote on the measure at the July 12 session, then asked that they not vote on it at all.
"The motion's withdrawn," new CAC Chairman Dan Miller announced.
It was a peaceful resolution to a concept that sought to distance the advisory panel from the contentious issue of the turn-lane project, but which itself became the subject of some controversy.
Blazer, in proposing the measure during his treasurer's report at the June session -- an approach that led District 9 representative D Searcy to accuse him of "blindsiding us" -- said commission members as a whole and individually faced possible legal action if they once again waded in on the turn-lane issue.
The North Broadway Street Association has an oft-delayed lawsuit pending against the city and other parties relating to the project, which would take some public right of way to allow construction of a turn lane so westbound motorists on East North Broadway could go south on North High Street -- a maneuver presently prohibited. The lawsuit contends that action taken by the Franklin County Board of Commissioners in 1953 ceded public land to property owners along the historic street.
Residents also have maintained the turn lane would be the first step in an eventual widening of a major portion of East North Broadway, taking out many stately trees in the process.
"I have consulted with legal counsel and my legal counsel says that there is severe liability if we get involved in the lawsuit," Blazer said after introducing the resolution June 7.
"Our attorney is the city attorney, not any attorney Mr. Blazer has spoken to," then-District 4 representative Mike Folmar shot back.
Only six members were on hand for the June session, and they split 3-3 when the resolution was voted on after 45 minutes of debate.
A 4-1 vote, with acting Chairman Nick Cipiti abstaining, pushed consideration of the resolution to the July meeting.
That session was delayed as the result of the destructive June 29 windstorm, and Blazer was unable to be on hand, so the proposal was put off until last week's meeting.
Subsequently, Assistant City Attorney Steve Dunbar issued opinions that said the proposed resolution was relatively pointless.
"An area commission cannot prohibit itself from taking future action," Dunbar wrote in an email to neighborhood liaison Isom Nivins Jr. "A resolution seeking to prohibit future action could simply be overturned at a subsequent meeting."
Dunbar later wrote that Blazer's attorney had been incorrect in his assessment of the commission members' possible legal exposure:
"Area commissioners cannot be held liable, in either their personal or official capacities, for their votes. If a legal claim was brought against a commissioner for his or her vote, the city attorney's office would represent the commissioner ... Because there are no legal grounds for such a claim, we would ask the court to dismiss the case and order the person who filed the case to pay our expenses and attorney fees."