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Friday, October 30, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Developers still in dark after meeting with mayor

Spokane Mayor David Condon on Friday met with a group of developers critical of the recent forced resignation of city planning director Scott Chesney.

But Condon did not tell them why Chesney was fired.

“The mayor defended his staff and took responsibility for the firing of Scott Chesney,” said Jim Frank, CEO of Greenstrone Corp., which is building the city’s most prominent development in years, Kendall Yards. “He refused to give us any reasons for the firing.”

Frank, who earlier this week called for Chesney’s dismissal to be reversed, was part of a group of six developers who met with Condon.

Chesney was asked to resign Wednesday, in a decision that shocked City Council members as well as neighborhood and business leaders. Administrators have declined to explain why he was forced to leave, citing personnel issues. Chesney was hired to be the planning director in 2011 with strong backing from liberals and conservatives on the City Council. Three years later that support remained strong.

“He seemed to be able to come up with a compromise even when it didn’t seem like a compromise was possible,” said Councilman Jon Snyder.

Council members said they are awaiting a briefing from Condon’s administration scheduled for Monday about Chesney’s forced resignation.

“My concern is I haven’t heard what the transition strategy is to make sure all the projects in the pipeline are moving forward. That, to me, is critical,” said Councilman Mike Allen, who says he was “dumbfounded” by the dismissal.

Ron Wells, who is redeveloping the Ridpath Hotel, was among the developers who met with Condon.

“I should leave it to him to explain,” Wells said after the meeting, adding that the situation is complicated. “The mayor and Scott Chesney have both done a great job of leading the city into making the services of the city a lot more efficient.”

Frank said that it’s a critical time for city planning as demand increases to live in urban areas.

“I am a supporter of the mayor and the work he has done in the city, but I don’t support this decision,” Frank said.

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