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Letters to the Editor/Online Comments

BY DI READERS | MAY 14, 2013 5:00 AM

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The Shadow knows

The Iowa City City Council meeting today is of vital concern to all Iowa City residents. The council will be considering a petition from the Iowa Coalition against the Shadow to rezone the intersection of College and Gilbert Streets to CB-5, which would limit the height of a building to 75 feet (approximately eight stories).

Why is this so important? Because in January, the council selected a proposal for a much taller structure, the Chauncey, which, if built, would tower over its neighbors at 20-plus stories. Erecting something so disproportionate to its surroundings is misguided and a disservice to the entire community.

The CB-5 petition was previously submitted to the Planning and Zoning Commission, which voted against it at its April meeting (but without endorsing the CB-10 rezoning the Chauncey needs). The Shadow Coalition and its supporters are putting the same request before the council, bringing the issue back to where it started and giving those of us opposed a larger forum in which to express our dismay at the implications of building a skyscraper next to the Robert E. Lee Recreation Center, Trinity Episcopal Church, and Chauncey Swan Park.

Such a clash in scale violates the conclusions of the city’s own Urban Planning Division. The College-Gilbert site is adjacent to, and will eventually become part of, Iowa City’s Central District (east of downtown). The Central District Plan (found at www.icgov.org, under “District Planning”) emphasizes the importance of transition zones between commercial and residential areas. On page 62, it states that “residential density, building bulk and height should gradually decrease the farther these areas are from the Central Business District in order to provide a transition to lower density residential areas that surround the downtown.”

In other words, in transition zones between downtown and residential neighborhoods buildings should gradually decrease in size. Putting the Chauncey in one such zone flagrantly violates that principle. The district plans were created to guide development in Iowa City. They’re a matter of public record. If city officials are able to ignore them at will, why were they drawn up in the first place? Any rezoning decision made by City Council for the College-Gilbert site should honor, not contradict, those earlier decisions and agreed-upon goals for responsible development.

The recent debate over the proposed justice center has shown that we live in a community that cares deeply about its future. Economic development, redesigning of public spaces, and distribution of resources are matters that concern all of us, not just elected or appointed officials.

Today, many of us will speak to the City Council about the necessity of rezoning the College-Gilbert site CB-5 to help preserve the integrity of that neighborhood, and by extension, every other neighborhood in Iowa City. For all our sakes, let’s hope the councilors listen.

Phil Beck
Iowa City resident

RE: ‘Iowa City red-light-camera petition gets signatures, forces city action’

It is great news that the petition achieved the needed signatures. Whether the City Council passes the required ordinance or puts it to a vote, this should mean that Iowa City residents and visitors will not be subject to ticket cameras and other forms of unmanned surveillance.

Ticket cameras are for-profit business partnerships between camera vendors and cities willing to mis-engineer their traffic-safety factors to cause more tickets for more ticket revenue. In almost every case, better safety results can be achieved with better traffic-safety engineering — without taking thousands or eventually millions of dollars out of the hands of residents and visitors.

Not having ticket cameras keeps more dollars circulating in the local economy to benefit local businesses and local employment.

Congratulations to all who worked on and signed the petition.

James C. Walker
Life member, National Motorists Association

RE: ‘Ponnada: One feminist’s manifesto’

The mainstream dropped the hairy-legged lesbian with hairy-armpits stereotype more than 30 years ago. Feminists hang onto it as a red herring to distract us from the real reasons most people shun the feminist label: sexism.

Feminism has become sexist. Feminists stereotype masculine attributes as negative and feminine attributes as positive. Feminism stereotypes women as victims and men as predators. Feminism is sexist, and the Movement for the Establishment of Real Gender Equality has long since become the province of the Men’s Rights Movement.

Rod Van Mechelen


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