UPDATE below. Last night the Planning and Development Committee rubber-stamped Planned Parenthood’s expansion of their parking lot. Unless a member of the City Council appeals this decision, it will pass by consent at the next City Council meeting, October 27. This result, though disappointing, was not a surprise. We’ve grown used to seeing City of Aurora officials avoid confronting Planned Parenthood’s misdeeds. But I was impressed to see that at least some of our objections had made it through to the aldermen on the committee. Chairman Mike Saville began the meeting by acknowledging that most of the audience was probably interested in the last agenda item, so turned to it first. When Saville began to ask questions of zoning administrator Ed Sieben, it was clear that our calls and e-mails had made an impact. Another, less encouraging sign that our efforts had been felt was the heavy police presence. No fewer than five uniformed officers were stationed at the back of the fifth floor meeting room when we arrived.
Chairman calls citizens “misinformed”
Saville asked about the size of the parking spaces. In out zoning case, we allege that the spaces are too narrow by a foot—9 feet versus 10 feet. Sieben stated that lots of spaces in this and similar zoning districts were approved at 9 feet. Then Abby Schuler asked a similar question about the setback for the spaces—the amount of space provided for backing out—which we also allege does not comply with the Aurora Zoning Ordinance (AZO). She received a similar answer from Sieben: this size of space has been approved before. Mike Saville then mentioned the calls and e-mails they’d been getting about these matters and remarked that these messages “while well intentioned” were “misinformed.”
Aurora Zoning Ordinance not consulted
But at no point did the Committee or Ed Sieben actually turn to the AZO to see what it says. Our lawsuit does not allege anything about parking elsewhere in the City. If the City has misapplied the AZO all over town, it means nothing. Two wrongs don’t make a right. As attorney Peter Breen pointed out in a letter to all twelve aldermen on the City Council, the correct zoning has never been applied to this property, even in the “investigation” upon which Mayor Weisner based his decision to grant Planned Parenthood an occupancy permit.
Planned Parenthood lies about pro-lifers unchallenged
The Committee did not address our other major concern about Planned Parenthood’s petition: their claim that they need these spaces for “security.” So Planned Parenthood’s lies about the pro-life community continue to go unchallenged by City officials, a circumstance that is particularly troubling in light of the ongoing effort to reach a Settlement Agreement with the City over pro-lifers’ civil rights, and effort premised on our peacefulness and lawfulness. What’s next in our fight against Planned Parenthood’s expansion in Aurora? Over the next several days, I’ll be working with Peter Breen and other experts to answer that question—so stay tuned! Update: Alderman Rick Lawrence stepped up and appealed the Planning and Development Committee’s decision that means the issue goes before the full City Council for a vote on October 27. Please consider coming out for that meeting at 6 p.m. at City Hall (map). Call 630-844-3615 to sign up to speak for three minutes on why Planned Parenthood’s request should be denied. Talking points and more information available here.