It was very disappointing to read Brian Postelle’s “Just the Facts” article [“Peace Talks,” Sept. 5] regarding the Greenlife/Maxwell Street truck issue. In the past, the Xpress has generally been thorough and unbiased in its coverage of the issue, but that journalistic standard dropped significantly with this article.
According to Postelle, “two years after … Greenlife says it’s ready to take steps to address the problems.” This language is very misleading. In fact, Greenlife has been actively “taking steps” with city staff and members of Council for over a year to develop a plan to improve the truck situation on Maxwell Street. We have also voluntarily taken many other steps since we opened three years ago, [such as] restricting staff parking on Maxwell Street, lowering sound levels by installing a noise abatement wall and installing trash compactors instead of noisy dumpsters, installing a privacy fence and landscaping along our entire loading area, containing and processing runoff water to keep it out of the street, redirecting parking-lot floodlight coverage to avoid neighborhood homes, managing our delivery drivers to reduce truck traffic on Maxwell Street and restricting our receiving hours—steps all taken in response to neighborhood concerns. Many of these actions were taken in direct response to complaints from Reid Thompson. Our plan to improve the truck-delivery configuration was delayed only while we studied the potential negative repercussions to the plan resulting from Thompson’s lawsuit against us.
[Such] language [as] “businesses’ violations of the UDO” and “those complaints were supported by a consultant’s report” is also very misleading. As reported to Council by [interim] Planning Director Shannon Tuch last week, her interpretation of the UDO affirms the interpretation of her predecessor, Scott Shuford: that Greenlife is not in violation of the UDO. To the contrary—and in spite of various, very vocal armchair experts’ interpretations of the UDO—we have never been in violation of the UDO, according to the city. Furthermore, one of the key findings in the report from the consultant was that portions of the UDO were contradictory, unclearly written, and could be interpreted in different ways. This hardly constitutes support for the complaints, but [it] does point to the shortcomings of the UDO, which city planning staff has been diligently and successfully working to improve ever since the consultant’s report came out.
Greenlife has always been committed to actively working to address any legitimate concerns of our neighbors or the city. We would ask our critics to work with us in a cooperative and nonconfrontational manner—a standard of civilized behavior that seems difficult for some people in our community to attain.
We would also ask that future reporting done by Mr. Postelle and the Xpress on Greenlife/Maxwell Street issues be more thorough and unbiased. “Just the Facts,” if you please.
— John Swann, Greenlife Grocery
Brian Postelle responds: While Mr. Swann is correct that Greenlife has taken several steps to respond to noise complaints about the store’s loading docks and other concerns, none of those measures solves the problems with either the buffer or the delivery trucks on Maxwell Street that were referenced in the Owens report. He is also correct in noting that that report identified numerous contradictions and unclear guidelines in the UDO.