Moscow-Pullman Daily News: “Council delays NSA expansion”

City Council bounced NSA’s CUP back to the Board of Adjustment last night, but the writing’s on the wall. They voted 3-2 to remand, with one councilman absent. Had he been there, the vote probably would have tied and Mayor Lambert would have broke it in favor of NSA. The Daily News reported these quotes from the two no votes:

“I share the concern about the perceived gap in data but I also resonate pretty strongly with Dr. Merkle’s statements about the onerous task of all of a sudden gathering all of this information,” [Gina] Taruscio said. . . .

[John] Weber said he does not think the parking issue in downtown Moscow can be solved. “Parking in Moscow has always been an issue,” Weber said. “I’ve lived here since 1954. Parking is always an issue and the only way that we are going to improve parking would be to take half the buildings off Main Street and turn it into a parking lot.”

They didn’t even try to make an argument. Now consider this:

“It bears mentioning that auditoriums (and conference centers) are not listed as Permitted Uses in the CBD under MCC 4-3-5(B) or Conditional Uses under 4-3-5(D).”

This alone is cause to toss NSA’s application.

Of course NSA President and plagiarist Ben Merkle pulled out the always-reliable Kirk ad hominem: “He also noted that none of the five appellants were downtown business owners.” Dr. Merkle doesn’t own a downtown business either. Why should he be allowed to speak? I see no good news here. Barring new councilmembers, it’s over.

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Council delays NSA expansion

Cadillac Jack’s

Geoff Crimmins/Daily NewsNew Saint Andrews College wants to expand into the former Cadillac Jack’s building on North Main Street.

Moscow city staff to conduct second downtown parking survey for Board of Adjustment review

By Garrett Cabeza, Daily News staff writer

The Moscow City Council sent the question of allowing expansion of New Saint Andrews College back to the Board of Adjustment on Monday night for further review of parking issues.

The college has applied for a conditional use permit to turn the former Cadillac Jack’s building on North Main Street into a college-level music conservatory.

The Board of Adjustment approved the college’s permit in April, but five people appealed the board’s decision. The City Council listened to the appellants and a rebuttal to the comments by NSA President Benjamin Merkle in a packed council chambers at City Hall before deliberating and making decisions on each of the five appellant’s presentations.

The City Council voted 3-2 to remand the decision to the board based on Ryanne Pilgeram’s appeal, requesting city staff conduct an additional parking use survey within 600 feet of the proposed music institute. Councilors John Weber and Gina Taruscio were the dissenting votes. Councilman Walter Steed was absent.

The NSA’s proposed expansion would include a maximum enrollment of 300 full-time equivalent students with up to an additional 44 faculty and staff.

The roughly 15,900 square-foot facility would include five classrooms/studios, nine offices, a multi-purpose room, a student lounge and a music conservatory with seating for 680 occupants.

City staff had conducted a parking survey over a five-day work week in April to assess the average availability of public parking spaces within 600 feet of the property. Counts were taken at 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. During the survey period, the average number of parking spaces available at 9 a.m. was 91, or 54 percent of the 169 parking spaces within 600 feet of the property, and 82 spaces at 2 p.m., or 48 percent of the 169 spaces.

City staff will conduct another survey at 9 a.m. and 2 p.m., plus one at 12:30 p.m. this summer to find out the parking spaces available during lunch time hours downtown per the request of councilors Art Bettge, Jim Boland and Kathryn Bonzo. Community Development Director Bill Belknap suggested conducting the survey again at 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. to make the numbers consistent with the 12:30 p.m. slot. The majority of University of Idaho students will be out of town during the next survey unlike the survey conducted in April.

Pilgeram said the board had wanted midday parking numbers in April.

“The data should have included other critical windows of time including the lunch hour, school and day care drop off hour and the evening rush hour,” Pilgeram said. “Insufficient information prevented the board from accurately assessing the current parking demands downtown.”

Councilman Jim Boland agreed.

“In this particular instance where it’s an educational institution as opposed to a business, I think that the addition of more data is warranted,” Boland said. “I would doubt that the Board of Adjustment, that if it’s remanded, that it will change their decision but I just think that they will be more comfortable, and the outcome is more likely to be unanimous than split. So I’d very much like to see some data about the noon hour and I’d very much like to see some data about where the parking is going to be located for the educational institution.”

“I share the concern about the perceived gap in data but I also resonate pretty strongly with Dr. Merkle’s statements about the onerous task of all of a sudden gathering all of this information,” Taruscio said.

Weber said he does not think the parking issue in downtown Moscow can be solved.

“Parking in Moscow has always been an issue,” Weber said. “I’ve lived here since 1954. Parking is always an issue and the only way that we are going to improve parking would be to take half the buildings off Main Street and turn it into a parking lot.”

Merkle said everyone that represented one of the businesses in the central business district downtown spoke in favor of the conditional use permit at the April public hearing.

He also noted that none of the five appellants were downtown business owners.

Garrett Cabeza can be reached at (208) 883-4631, or by email to gcabeza at dnews.com.