The Temple Terrace City Council has asked developers of the city’s to revise its plan for a residential piece of the property and bring it back when they are ready.
Acting as the before their regular meeting Tuesday, council members voted 4-1 to deny changes to the master development agreement that The Vlass Group was asking for. Councilwoman Mary Jane Neale cast the dissenting vote.
Councilman David Pogorilich said the crux of the issue was that the Temple Terrace Redevelopment Agency should not make decisions based on Vlass’ promises, such as to convert the first floor of apartments in two of the three housing buildings to retail once the market improves. He said the agency rather had to work with what they had on paper, which, in his opinion, significantly deviated from the concept plan that was created years ago.
“My recommendation would simply be to deny the application and allow them to bring back something that everyone in Temple Terrace and Vlass can live with,” Pogorilich said.
Pogorilich and council members Bob Boss, Alison Fernandez and Ron Govin agreed that accepting the plan Tuesday would have been too hasty a decision.
Boss said he had several issues with the plan and only had four days to consider it prior to the Tuesday meeting.
“We seem to be putting the cart before the horse,” he said.
Fernandez suggested Vlass and the city come together to host a public informational meeting to give citizens a better understanding of what can or can’t be built and why.
“People have just forgotten and it just needs to be pulled back up,” Fernandez said after the meeting.
City staff was unsure before the meeting if council members would make a decision on the plan or continue the public hearing until April 3. During the Redevelopment Agency meeting Tuesday, Mark Connolly, the city’s attorney, said he didn’t recommend that the agency continue the issue.
In a March 16 letter to the city, Atlanta attorney W. Daniel Hicks Jr. representing the Vlass group wrote that Inland Atlantic Development Corporation, the company that would build the residential component in question, would if the council did not favor it at their Tuesday meeting. The Vlass Group would also reconsider its interest in the entire project, Hicks wrote.
Some residents who had seen the letter said they were upset that the developers were threatening the city.
Before the vote, resident Carl Cooper said the council’s obligation isn’t to Inland or Vlass, but rather the citizenry of Temple Terrace. He urged the council to deny the proposal but to work with developers to reach a compromise.
Others said they thought the council should approve the plan as presented Tuesday. Former City Councilman Ken Halloway said Vlass is the third developer to take on the project and the only one with the will to build the town center that residents wanted. He said the council’s decision was important.
“The future of this city depends on it,” he said. “This could be the night this city dies.”
In the end, Hicks withdrew Vlass’ proposal, and council members said they would continue to work with The Vlass Group toward a compromise.