Newark’s Councilman Morehead To City Staff, “It turns my stomach”, “We’re not a business”

Newark – During last evening’s Newark City Council meeting Councilman Mark Morehead didn’t hold back when Newark’s Director of Planning and Development, Mary Ellen Gray, along with acting City Manager, Tom Coleman, proposed a plan to waive the bid process for a company named Urban3.

City staff was hoping that they would be able to work with Urban3 to build 3-D models of the city to maximizes revenue from each parcel in the city.

The planning department would use the models to identify what parcels are “productive” and what parcels cost the city more than they generate in revenue, according to Coleman.

The models could also be used to visualize where owner occupied residential and condominiums should be built. Coleman calls those types of developments “productive”.

Coleman went on to say, “I can say without question that single family detached homes, we shouldn’t be building anymore of them, if we want to be better than we are today.”

Shortly after Coleman and Gray explained why they thought the bidding process should be waived, Councilwoman Jennifer Wallace asked if this was something that could be done in-house. Coleman indicated that the city’s GIS staff could do some of the work but he was concerned that it would add workload to the GIS department.

Coleman did say that the department has already created a similar map for tax revenue, that is currently in use.

Read the proposal here

When it was Councilman Mark Morehead turn to speak, he took issue with some of the language in the proposal.

It was obvious that he didn’t like what he was hearing. “I look at this and um, the sentence including utilizing land consumed as a unit of productivity just jumps out, it turns my stomach, I have no other way to say that”, said Morehead.

He continued with “We live her, this is our home, it’s not a unit of productivity”.

“My neighbors, you know it’s their home, in many cases it’s a tremendous investment for them, hopes for the future, hopes to educate their kids and be a part of the community”, Morehead said.

“So there’s a big piece of this discussion that I think is misplaced…We’re not a business”

“We are here to provide services to the residents, safety and quality of life”, said Morehead.

In the end, the proposal, listed on the agenda as “Recommendation to Waive Bid for an economic analysis and 3D modeling effort to measure the economic effect of varying land uses in the City of Newark”, was rejected by the council.

This was just one of the important items on last nights agenda. The entire agenda can be viewed here.

You can watch the council meeting here.

The Waiver Recommendation begins a 1:16:22

Morehead’s comments begin at 1:26:00