There are two more important things I need to get out before I fill in the blanks about a meeting last night concerning the Skillman/Church rezoning application.

1) The point of the meeting: Allen came to the neighbors with what he seems to believe is a good compromise to a contentious issue.
2) Zoning issues aside, a couple of our neighbors in attendance exhibited unbelievably vile behavior. (Specifically the HOA representative, a 60-something man, who — no joke — pushed me.)

Allen invited members of three homeowners groups to a meeting to discuss plans for the property Jonathan Perlman wants to get re-zoned and turn into a retirement community. All those Lake Highlands residents whose scathing comments about Allen peppered our blog a week or so ago were there. So were many others who feel Jerry is the Judas of Lake Highlands (they think he wants to rob them of the current zoning, which would keep out any type of multi-family, high-density development). So why did he throw himself to the wolves? Because he has a plan. He’s going to give them 90 days to find another developer who wants the property. When the case goes to council March 26, Allen told the group he will move to postpone a vote for three months. If no one makes a serious offer to buy the land during that time, Allen will move for rezoning approval for the Perlman project.

Looking back, a lot of LH residents had said they want someone to build single-family homes there, not retirement condos or anything else. Apparently some of them feel this is a realistic possibility, and expressed such sentiments to Allen. So he’s basically saying — make it happen. He said he talked to Prescott’s guys and Perlman, and they’ve agreed to “entertain offers from parties interested in purchasing the land for residential development.”

As soon as Allen finished his pitch, they tore into him. Some of the residents politely (enough) posed reasonable questions. One man said it was about principle: It has nothing to do with product, he said. He would just rather go before council and try to get the rezoning shot down altogether. Another expressed legitimate concern over the very real improbability of making a satisfying real estate deal within the brief 3-month window.

But I had a real tough time listening to those people. I was too overwhelmed by the amount of hostility in the room. You would’ve thought Allen was proposing to take everyone’s next paycheck to fund his next vacation to Margaritaville.

It wasn’t long before several residents abruptly ended the meeting with cries of “you should be ashamed to call yourself our representative!” and “we don’t like your attitude!” I stopped to chat with a couple people I recognized — friendly, smart people who are active in their community and NOT just when it comes to FIGHTING something or someone. One of the homeowners said they were about to meet sans the councilman. “Oh, can I sit in?” I asked. They looked at each other and pretty much said “sure,” they didn’t mind.

A few minutes later a man approached me — definately violating the appropriate personal-space laws — and angrily (rhetorically) asked me if I was a HOA member. I said “no” and he said “we don’t want any reporters here” and he shoved me toward the door. I asked him to refrain from touching me. He continued to strong arm me until I left (mainly so I wouldn’t have to bust out the Kung Fu moves on the guy). He refused to tell me his name, but many of you reading saw it happen.

And Jerry Allen should be ashamed?! I kinda feel ashamed of (a loud few of) my neighbors.