UC and Whole Foods have issued statements relaying that Whole Foods will not be part of the University Village Mixed Use project. This follows just days after one of the two potential referenda were certified, suggesting Whole Foods’ decision was motivated by that determination.
UC's statement says, "The decision comes in the wake of new lawsuits filed against the city that seek to further delay or cancel the project, as well as the likelihood of a ballot referendum on the development plan that might not be voted on for up to a year."
Stopping the project is the goal of the lawsuit by Eric Larsen and the referendum. It is not the goal of the lawsuit by Albany Strollers & Rollers (AS&R) and Carbon Neutral Albany (C0A). I believe UC’s statement inadvertently lumped the suits and referendum together. This was likely the result of operating under difficult circumstances, which include UC's project manager, Kevin Hufferd, being on vacation.
The goal of AS&R and C0A's lawsuit is to restore requirements regarding cycling access and on-site renewable power generation. These requirements existed for three years until they were weakened at UC's request, potentially to the point of elimination, in the last three minutes before the project was approved at about 1 am on July 10th. This can be seen starting at 5 hours and 14 minutes on the July 9th meeting video available at http://www.albanyca.org/index.aspx?page=462. (Editor's note: The correct timestamp was updated after initial publication of this post.)
The changes occurred after the close of public comment, so there was no opportunity for public consideration, question or input. The Council only met once, a week later, before the August 20th deadline for legal action, so there was no opportunity to discuss concerns regarding the changes toward a binding outcome without a law suit. AS&R and C0A filed suit on August 17th in order to preserve the possibility of this conversation.
Subsequent to filing the suit, UC, Albany, AS&R and C0A have entered discussion. UC has offered new language that seeks to address all parties' concerns. The new language fully responds to AS&R and C0A’s concern regarding the cycling facility requirement while still achieving UC’s goal. Progress has been made on language regarding the on-site renewable power generation requirement, suggesting language acceptable to all the parties will be crafted shortly, allowing the suit to settle.
AS&R and C0A look forward to continuing discussion with the City and UC.
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