The Grove PUD: Is Mediation Helping?
Depends on whom you ask …
By Michael King,
2:00PM, Mon. Oct. 31, 2016
During its Oct. 20 meeting, City Council approved a "placeholder" form of the Grove at Shoal Creek planned unit development on first reading only, while the parties – developer ARG Bull Creek Ltd. and the Bull Creek Road Coalition – agreed to enter mediation, in hopes of resolving their differences. On Saturday, Oct. 29, the groups met for 10 hours …
Following the Saturday meeting, the BCRC sent a letter to City Council, saying there had been progress but asking for more time:
Today, the Bull Creek Road Coalition (BCRC) met with ARG Bull Creek, Ltd., at mediation to try to resolve the issues remaining in dispute on The Grove PUD. Based on our experience at mediation today, we believe that there is a high likelihood that this matter will be resolved at a future mediation session between the parties. We are available to continue mediating this dispute on November 19, 2016. This is the next date our officers are available to meet. We ask that Council support this effort between the parties and postpone the second hearing on The Grove PUD so that we have adequate opportunity to resolve the issue by compromise agreement.The BCRC's request for postponement is a reference to Council’s Oct. 20 motion approving the PUD on first reading, pending mediation, and tentatively scheduling a return to the matter on Nov. 10. Council left open the possibility of further postponements, and the BCRC representatives told Council they didn’t think Nov. 10 was realistic, and recommended a later date – e.g., Dec. 1.
That implication didn’t sit well with the developer’s attorney, Jeffrey Howard, who told Council, “We think mediation could be very beneficial, but we don't want it to be a cause for delay. … We would not like to see mediation become a means of delay, but rather a means of compromise.”
That sentiment is reiterated in the letter Howard sent Council today, in response to the BCRC’s request for more time. Howard reiterates the two-year history of discussions, planning, and negotiations concerning the Grove, and adds his clients are “firmly opposed to any further postponement of the case.” Howard says the developer is happy to continue discussions prior to the Nov. 10 Council meeting, and to engage in additional mediation after Council hears the case and takes action (presumably a second reading) Nov. 10, but “cannot support further delay in Council action.”
Howard’s letter notes the cost to the developer (and prospective Grove residents) of additional delay, raises the possibility that postponement might push any final resolution into 2017, and calls for a full public hearing (yet to take place) and Council action at its Nov. 10 meeting.