Whataboutery and If-isms Reign in Geneva’s City Hall

For goodness sake Geneva, neither the Planning and Zoning Vigilantes nor the Geneva City Council fixed this Nebraska Street death trap when they had the perfect chance.

Whataboutism: The technique or practice of responding to an accusation or difficult question by making a counteraccusation or raising a different issue.

Whataboutism – Wikipedia

This is Nebraska Street at East State Street. The properties on both sides of Nebraska are owned by Malone Funeral Home. Note that the north-south sidewalks are not parallel, and the pavement narrows to the south. Note that there are no parkways or curbs on either side and that parallel parking stalls are marked off in the parkways and directly abut the sidewalks in violation of the Geneva Municipal Code 7-3-8-13. Note that a light pole fixture exists in the handicapped parking place in violation of ADA standards. Note also that the handicapped parking encroaches into the public ROW of Nebraska Street by a few feet. On the east side of the Street, both the parkway and the ROW are encroached upon, and there is an odd, paved square occupied by trailer storage (also a violation). Zoning is primarily about health and safety. Parallel parking is a difficult maneuver for many drivers. This situation, where there is no visible (grass parkway) or physical (curb) separation between pedestrians and vehicles, should never have been allowed to exist, much less certified as proper under a retroactive Special Use Permit. This is an egregious example of zoning malpractice and makes the taxpayers liable.

For illustration, here is one example of how Geneva enforces its health, safety, and welfare provisions contained in its Municipal Code in the case of the Malone applications for simultaneous special uses and variations.

This is one of the standards that must be met “3. Character of the Area: The applicant must show that the variation requested will not be materially detrimental to the public welfare or materially injurious to the enjoyment, use or development of property or improvements permitted in the vicinity; will not materially impair an adequate supply of light and air to properties and improvements in the vicinity; will not substantially increase congestion in the public streets due to traffic or parking or increase the danger of flood or fire; will not unduly tax public utilities and facilities in the area; or will not endanger the public health, safety or welfare.

Response:

a. Setback Variation – The character of the surrounding neighborhood would not be significantly impacted by the approval of the proposed variation nor will endanger the public health, safety or welfare. The variation would allow the parking lot to encroach closer to the E. State Street right-of-way, but would not cause any line-of-sight issues for traffic along the corridor. The on-site parking lot for the existing commercial building located at 314 E. State Street that is proposed to be removed as part of the proposed parking lot expansion currently has a parking lot street yard setback of 0 ft. For comparison purposes, there are other commercial establishments within the vicinity of the Malone Funeral Home along E. State Street with varying street yard setbacks for parking improvements. The on-site parking lot serving the Munchie P’s commercial center has a parking lot street yard setback of 25 ft. The parking lot serving the future Geneva Pharmacy and Gen Ho has a parking lot street yard setback of 12 ft. Additionally, the reduction in the setback would allow for additional on-site parking for the funeral home, which is intended to reduce the demand for parking on Nebraska Street and could improve traffic and reduce congestion. [emphasis added]

Above is the Malone response. The section in italics is almost pure whataboutery; the bold section addresses an alleged benefit but does not address endangering human beings. The above paragraph convinced the P&Z Vigilantes and City Council that the standard was met. Notice the response skips addressing this phrase entirely “…[nor will be] materially injurious to the enjoyment, use or development of property or improvements permitted in the vicinity.” HOW Could tearing down two continuous overlapping 20′ to 30′ tall structures directly between your house and Route 38 NOT increase the noise nuisance materially at your house? The P&Z vigilantes and the obsequious Council mayoral minions skipped over this mandatory finding requirement completely and dutifully granted the variance.

But the standard can only be met by explaining how it is met. Stating what is “intended” and what “could” happen is akin to the old proverb: “If wishes were horses, then beggars would ride. If horse turds were biscuits, they’d eat ’til they died.” I kicked the slats out of my crib the first time I heard this.

The “whataboutisms” in the first part are akin to telling the officer when you roll down your window that you were just trying to keep up with the traffic and that everyone at the party was drinking the same punch. The zoning police in Geneva would not only buy your excuse, but they would also take out their wallet and give you a roll of cash.

I live in this neighborhood. I have to joke about it to hold back the tears. This standard might have been met if the plan included fixing the horrors of Nebraska. But other violations are plentiful, some even more egregious. I hope the vigilantes and the council get a bountiful supply of biscuits for Christmas.

No sidewalk exists on the east side of Nebraska south of the bizarre and unlawful four-space “parking “lot.” The public parkway is paved to the sidewalk and marked for parking on both sides, in violation of both Geneva’s Municipal Code and common sense. A competent mayor, city staff, and council would have fixed this hazardous situation. Instead, a “wink and nod” was awarded to the funeral home owner.

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