Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Tower tussle...

Although I don’t support their appeal, the treatment received by opponents of the 22-story Plaza Residences is disgusting but, sadly, emblematic of our abysmal development process.

…[T]two opponents, both of whom live in a condominium project adjacent to where the 275-foot tall tower is planned, were forced to acknowledge that before acquiring their units they had been warned there could be additional development in the area and that they had failed to determine what might be built on the property.

The hearing grew increasingly testy as [Joel] Broida and [Jo Ann] Stolley were subjected to pointed questioning by S. Scott Morrison, an attorney brought in by [Dick] Talkin and who specializes in cross-examination.

...Morrison grilled them on what they knew, when they knew it and their responses to the information and warnings before purchasing their Lakeside units.

He reminded them frequently that they were giving sworn testimony, which finally prompted [opposition lawyer E. Alexander] Adams to snap, "I've had enough of your saying they are under oath. You're abusing these witnesses."

Morrison complained of Adams' numerous objections and accused him of being "obstructionist."
So, on one side you have regular citizens engaged in a process that should be at least somewhat accommodating, while on the other you have a professional attack lawyer (a ringer, no less!) making the process as inhospitable and contentious as possible. Doesn’t sound fair or right, if you ask me.

That said and his apparent jerkiness aside, Morrison found what he was looking for.
Stolley and Broida acknowledged that their contracts stipulated that their views were not guaranteed and warned that additional development could occur in the area.

Broida acknowledged that he had seen an advertisement for a planned 25-story tower in Town Center before purchasing his Lakeside unit. Although that development did not materialize, it was proposed on the same site WCI acquired for its tower.

Stolley said she and her husband did not contact the county to determine what might be built on the lot near their condo, as recommended in their contract.

"We didn't do any of the things people are supposed to do" before purchasing the unit, she said.
While I have sympathy for them over the way they were treated, I’m not sympathetic to their argument, a variation on NIMBYism that is made flimsier by the fact that they live in a practically-brand new building themselves. You know, caveat emptor and all that.

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