Tearful mayor defends actions

Mayor under fire following land use decision

Mayor Darlene Kordonowy has taken heat in recent weeks from Wing Point residents over a land use decision in their neighborhood.

The trouble began when she used authority granted her by a newly passed ordinance to send an already-thwarted project – construction of which would require a variance – back to the Hearing Examiner for reconsideration.

Several residents feel that in doing so, the mayor abused her power by settling with a developer whose plans, they say, wouldn’t fit with the character of the neighborhood.

On Wednesday, following another round of critical public comments regarding the issue, the controversy boiled over.

“If I am putting fear into people in this community, I better sit up and listen to that,” said an emottional Kordonowy.

Kordonowy’s remarks came in response to those of Azalea Avenue resident Karla Smith, who said she was troubled by a recent exchange between herself, a neighbor and the mayor in which she said she was lied to.

“I’m here to express extreme frustration and disappointment with this government,” she said.

Smith said she recently asked the mayor on what authority she had based her land use decision. She initially was told one thing, and then, at the next council meeting, told the opposite by City Attorney Paul McMurray.

“I’m grappling with the why,” Smith said. “Something is awry and we are no longer able to trust the executive branch of this government because of this lie and how the act has disadvantaged our neighborhood.”

Wednesday, Kordonowy ack­nowledged that she misspoke when she told Smith the new ordinance wasn’t the basis of her decision. Then, after talking with McMurray, she said she realized her error and asked him to explain the legal basis of the decision publicly, which he did at the Sept. 26 council meeting.

“It’s not easy to sit here and have people call you a liar,” Kordonowy said from the dais. “Do we make mistakes? You betcha. Do we do some things that are rushed and with biases? You bet we do.

“This community demands a heck of a lot from all of us and you know what – everybody tries to deliver.”

Smith, in her earlier remarks, said some City Councilors had indicated that they too found the mayor’s actions questionable.

“It is just a matter to what degree,” Smith said.

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