My St. Patrick’s Day post, https://withallduerespectblog.com/2016/03/17/are-you-sure-buffalos-green-code-is-95-g-r-r-reat/, sought to elicit a thoughtful discussion regarding the pros and cons of Mayor Brown’s complex and increasingly controversial proposal for reinventing the City of Buffalo’s zoning and development ordinance. While I certainly did not expect anyone to agree 100% with my perspective – born of a quarter century of representing city residents in zoning and development matters, and years of living in the Elmwood Village, Parkside neighborhood, and, currently, South Buffalo – I was hoping for a bit more than name-calling and unsupported “glibness.”
But here is what has transpired during an ongoing Facebook “discussion” the past day-and-a-half:
Andrew Kulyk, a Cheektowaga resident who operates an exterminating company in the Buffalo area, had the following to say about me:
Giacalone has cut his teeth and made his life’s profit as Obstructionist in Chief. The worst of the bottom feeders. His entire playbook is the same… show up to oppose project X, find some obscure verbiage in environmental regulations, and file art 78 [Article 78] proceeding to slow things down and add to cost and timetables. He’s ruthlessly efficient… and despicable.
… I chaired the ZBA in Cheektowaga for 19 years and heard this guy present arguments before our board that were outrageous…
… The man is evil.
So much for addressing the issues raised in my recent blog post.
Thankfully, Mr. Kulyk’s opinion of my professionalism and character is not shared by two sets of Cheektowaga Town Board members and Town Attorneys. In 1997, and again in 2011, at the recommendation of the Town Attorney, the Town Board hired me as special counsel to assist the town in addressing complex and sensitive zoning and environmental issues. My judgment was valued enough that I was asked in 2011 to not only advise the Town Board on whether or not Cheektowaga should incur the expense and other consequences of appealing a controversial lower court decision to the appellate court in Rochester, but also to assist the town in drafting a local law to enact a zoning-related moratorium.
Chuck Banas, a self-described community activist and Green Code proponent, is capable of putting together a 22-minute talk and slide show on the deficiencies in Buffalo’s current zoning code, and the merits of the Green Code. His October 2011 YouTube presentation concludes with Chuck praising the Green Code’s “collaborative, inclusive” process, urging “good public participation,” and stressing the importance of “consensus.” [See Banas video here.]
But Mr. Banas appears to have set aside these lofty principles now that residents are showing up at meetings displeased with various aspects of the proposed Green Code. At the Common Council’s March 15th public hearing, Chuck characterized the speakers who expressed detailed, substantive concerns about the proposed development ordinance as “alarmists” and “misinformed.” And here is what he had to say in response to my March 17th blog:
Not to go glib, but to be glib: This post is fundamentally wrong on most of its assumptions and most of its points. It reeks of NIMBY fearmongering.
For Chuck Banas, the only “good public participation” is commentary that fits his vision for Buffalo. And while the Green Code’s “No. 1 Cheerleader” talks of a form-based zoning code that allows “the local DNA” to be downloaded into it, he turns a deaf ear to those in the best position to identify the characteristics that have made their neighborhoods strong and attractive: longtime residents and homeowners.
I’m not gifted with Mr. Banas’ smooth and easy way of talking to a crowd. But I would gladly have a detailed public discussion with Chuck concerning the pros and cons of the Green Code.
With All Due Respect,