CRA reverses decision

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Staff Report

The Williston Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) had a change of heart Monday night and reversed its decision that a month ago opposed the award of a grant to a local business.

In a 3-1 vote, with Jim Smith dissenting, the CRA voted to approve a $5,000 grant to Sharon Brannan for improvements made to the façade of her business on Main Street.

The CRA had originally voted to deny the application based on timing and that a façade does not include a roof.

But Brannan did more than re-roof her building and was asking for reimbursement for soffits, fascia and gables. 

Brannan appealed the decision and last week, the city’s legal counsel, Fred Koberlein, told the city council that the CRA’s guidelines–used since about 2007– are vague and they do not define façade.

Koberlein also said the CRA is charged with maximizing definitions in favor of the applicant.

The council, supporting Koberlein’s legal opinion, directed the CRA to revisit the application.

Before the vote, Dr. Kenneth Schwiebert, the CRA chairman, told those in attendance, including the Brannans, that the previous decision by the CRA was not based on anyone’s personal feelings, but on each member’s personal interpretation of the guidelines.

Following the vote, the CRA also voted to suspend further grant applications until its guidelines are reviewed and made clearer and more specific.

 Adam Hall, the city’s planner, said the city manager and he hope to present the revised guidelines to the council for review at the first meeting in January.