PETER WHITE FUNDRAISER BEGINS TONIGHT at 7 P.M. at CHAMELEON’S NIGHT CLUB … PLUS … MORE COVERAGE OF THE HIJACKING OF THE PEDA SITE FROM WE THE PEOPLE IN SERVICE TO THE VESTED INTERESTS
By DAN VALENTI
PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary
(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, TUESDAY, DEC. 27, 2011) — First, let’s give a final plug to the benefit, to be held tonight beginning at 7 p.m. at Chameleon’s nightclub on outer East Street (the former Pete’s Diner and Bobby Hudpuckers) for the benefit of Peter White’s mother and her tenant, who were burned out of their homes (Jean White also lost her pets in the fire).
Won’t You Rock Out to Help the Whites, Tonight?
THE PLANET will be there to help launch the evening, materially and in spirit. As for the former, we have donated two items for auction:
* A collection of six books written by Dan Valenti, all signed.
* “Life on The Planet: Dinner with Dan,” where the winner gets dinner with captive-audience Valenti and Mrs. Planet.
This event is not about the anger associated with a fire hydrant being inoperable. This is not about the entertainment (comics, bands, DJs, MCs). This is not about anything else than the people of Pittsfield rising to the occasion by fulfilling their best human instincts, which is, always, to help those in genuine need.
Hope you can make it, all for a great cause. Peter White has spent years caring about Pittsfield. Now it’s time for Pittsfield to show that it cares for him.
A Closer Inspection of PEDA Action to Go Retail
The outrage in many quarters at the sudden announcement of a retail shopping center for 16 acres of the PEDA property continues. This is not yet a done deal. The developer and PEDA are still negotiating. There is also a threat of legal action against PEDA on the charge of violating its own code of conduct. It could be all talk or it could be serious. The developer would do well to reconsider before getting involved in what could be the LaBrea Tar Pits, PEDA style.
A look at the enabling documents that govern the PEDA site seem clear enough:
Here is a page from the PEDA governing charter. This appendix lists allowable and prohibited enterprises for the former GE site:
ATTACHMENT D Use Restrictions/AULs
− The parties agree to develop and impose use restrictions on the Transferred Property using this Attachment D as guidance. The Transferee shall remain responsible for and ensure the Use Restrictions are followed and enforced. The intent of the Use Restrictions is to prevent future users or visitors from undertaking any activity that could be undesirable from a health, safety or risk management perspective. As such, the site will be deemed suitable for light- industrial or office use only, except as set forth herein.
− Permitted uses–light-industrial and office such as: − warehousing and storage
− product distribution − information technology manufacturing and support − wholesale − assembly and other light manufacturing − packaging − data processing and software development − administration − financial services (non-retail)
− ProhibitedUses: − residential;ATTACHMENT D Use Restrictions/AULs
− ProhibitedUses(cont.): − educational facilities including, without limitation: infant; child; youth or adult
education. Notwithstanding the foregoing, GE agrees to work with PEDA to develop, if feasible, adult education at a new building to be constructed on the Transferred Property;
− except as provided elsewhere in this Agreement, recreational or athletic facilities;
− day care or elder care; − commercial (shopping center,mall, retail, etc.); − museums, galleries or libraries (except as part of educational facilities as set forth above); − food-based businesses (restaurants, grocery stores, food storage or handling) (except as incidental to educational facilities as set forth above or as part of customary and necessary internal operations by permitted users);
Exceptions to Prohibited Uses
– if agreed to by the parties and provided that the site- specific environmental conditions permit, alternate site uses may be permitted on the Transferred Property.
Is It Safe? It Doesn’t Appear to Be
First, do you notice that almost all the prohibited uses involve places or activities where the general public would gather. A manufacturing floor would not be for the general public. Only qualified personnel, i.e., employees, would work there. A retail shopping center is different. It is open to everyone and draws a cross-section of humanity.
But notice. When they drew up the documents, the included a long list of prohibited uses at the PEDA site, in Attachment D.
* They don’t want food handling on the PEDA site.
* They don’t want schools.
* They don’t want day care and elder care.
* They don’t want museums, galleries, or libraries.
* They don’t want commercials uses — shopping centers, retail, malls, etc.
Hmmmm — Do you think the property’s still contaminated? Do you think the enabling documents tried to limit use by the general public to limit liability on the part of the developers or companies who would go there? As an aside, what kinds of indemnities did Mountain One (or Action Ambulance) agree to as part of their agreement to build on the PEDA site? It might be instructive to learn. Of course, these types of details are never forthcoming in Pittsfield.
Reading Attachment D, there certainly appear to be health risks and safety risks associated with the PEDA site, or else, why the restricted uses? In short, translating this in the vernacular, it seems that GE got off without cleaning up the site. They just transferred the property to the city, trucked some surface toxins away, paved and landscaped over the poisons, and left the site in a hazardous condition. Why else would they have these restrictions?
When, How, Where, Why and by Whom Did the ‘Use Plan’ for PEDA Change?
Second, notice the prohibited use of “commercial (shopping center, mall, retail, etc.).” Notice that these restrictions are described in Attachment D considered “imposed” on the signatories.
QUESTION: So when, why, and how did the PEDA board — Corydon Thurston, Gary Grunin, Jimmy Ruberto et. al. — decide to secretly throw out the PEDA Master Plan and violate 13 years of understandings on the future development and use of the site?
QUESTION: Will Mayor-elect Dan Bianchi dare look into this. All that’s riding on it is the very economic fate of the city?
QUESTION: Will anyone on the incoming council take up the banner and lead the fight against this hijacking? Will anyone on the new council insist on a more transparent performance by the PEDA board, such as monthly updates?
During the mayoral campaign just finished, Dan Bianchi different sharply from Peter Marchetti with respect to PEDA. Bianchi said he would take a seat on the board and assume an active role there. He said more than once that he wasn’t happy with how PEDA was run. Marchetti said he would not sit on the board. Bianchi won election, barely. He must fulfill this promise regarding PEDA. His first act as a board member should request a public hearing on the hijacking of the PEDA Master Plan to allow a prohibited use. Why? Who will benefit from this?
Loophole Knocks Due Process for a Loop
Does Appendix D have a giant loophole that will allow this dictatorial action by the PEDA board?
Read: “Exceptions to Prohibited Uses — if agreed to by the parties and provided that the site-specific environmental conditions permit, alternate site uses may be permitted on the transferred Property.”
THE PLANET ran this language by a couple of lawyers. The language, said one, is “vague to the point of cleverness.” She says her interpretation suggests the language would technically permit the shopping center. Another barrister disagrees. He says this move to a retail shopping center could be successfully challenged by the “site-specific environmental conditions” particular to the PEDA site. If the site has been deemed unsuitable for the listed restricted uses, what, then, has PEDA done to remove these dangerous conditions? In other words, what has changed that would allow a prohibited use?
Perry Mason also says it can be argued that an “alternate site use” would preclude any of the restricted uses defined in Attachment D. Such an “alternate site use” would have to be a use not mentioned as a restriction and, likely, not expressly permitted as defined in the Attachment. He also agrees that the language is deliberately vague.
Both attorneys agree that the apparent move from the defined Master Plan to a defined prohibited use might be actionable any party wanting to halt the shopping center. The new mayor, for example, could halt the project with legal action, pending answers to the outstanding questions.
If you are Waterstone, the Needham developer, would you now rather than risk getting entangled in a legal hornet’s nest built by askew Pittsfield politics, or would you, having surveyed all options, reconsider?
THE COUNTDOWN BEGINS TO THE DAWN OF THE MAYAN YEAR, 2012, AND AS IT DOES, WE HAVE MANY CORKS TO POP. CHILLED AND NEVER ON THE ROCKS.
“OPEN THE WINDOW, AUNT MILLIE.’
LOVE TO ALL.