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Mayor's Office Announces Presentation, Fails to Alert Presenter

Here's hoping the folks at USP Development LLC, developers of the planned 206-foot twin condo towers near Rocketts Landing, get the word that they're guests of honor at the city's planning commission meeting Jan. 16.

Actually, they definitely know.

We told them.

"I didn't know it, but I'm glad to hear it," says Mark Yates, vice president of development for USP Development, which is planning the controversial Echo Harbour condo project in the city's East End. "We've been working with the planning commission to try to get on the agenda."

Planning commissioners found out about the agenda item the same way a Style reporter found out: an e-mailed press release from Mayor L. Douglas Wilder's press office.

"Well you see, I got that press release yesterday and I called planning," says City Councilwoman Kathy Graziano, who also serves on the commission. "I did not speak to the director, but nobody seems to know much about it."

That was confirmed by a call last week to the city's Department of Community Development — also known as the city's planning department — to inquire about the item on the Jan. 16 agenda. The department said the agenda hadn't been set.

The mayor's spokesman, Linwood Norman, says he'd sent out the release after speaking to the director of the city's development department, which sets the meeting agenda. He says the director told him the item had indeed been set.

Norman says the release was in response to an overwhelming number of calls to his office from the public asking when the agenda item was going to come before the commission. "I put out the release to answer all the calls I was getting," Norman says.

Apparently that didn't include calling the developers or the planning commission. S

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