48 Investigates: Big plan unveiling? or Richard Showers campaign - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

48 First Alert Investigation

48 Investigates: Big plan unveiling? or Richard Showers campaign rally?

Concerns about a master plan proposal for Huntsville's District One have come up after a reveal to city residents. (Source:WAFF) Concerns about a master plan proposal for Huntsville's District One have come up after a reveal to city residents. (Source:WAFF)
HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) -

Huntsville City Leaders told us exactly what happened to a billion-dollar development plan presented to the city several years ago.

The development idea was put before the Huntsville City Council in 2012. But it never made it out of the council’s work session, never went to a vote, and never surfaced again.

Read: Questions remain about proposed Huntsville center following public meeting

Until Dr. Richard Showers unveiled his plan for “The Peaks” in North Huntsville, we were told by Showers' campaign that it was the same plan they pitched in 2012.

Showers refused to speak with us after Tuesday’s meeting, where we question the reality of the plan.

We asked Danny Johnson a representative of the project’s developer, Charisma III, why nobody from HOK Architecture was at the meeting.
 
"They will be coming back into it. That's the answer to your question," said Johnson.

A press release from Showers’ campaign promised a representative from HOK would be in attendance. HOK was also listed as the architect in the 2012 plans.

We were also unable to confirm the involvement of other companies listed on the master plan. Whole Foods and Top Golf both said they were not currently involved with the project.

We pressed again, asking about the companies listed on the display.

"Those are just suggestions," said Johnson.

So why is this being presented again now, four years later?

And then came a suggestion by Madison County Commissioner Bob Harrison that the 2012 plan failed because of a lack of the 3 votes needed to pass in the City Council, that gave us a hint as to what the meeting was really about.

"The bottom line is we need three votes to do any damn thing we want to," said Harrison, essentially campaigning for Showers’ reelection.

But back in 2012, the plans never went to a vote. City records show the proposal was brought to the council by Laminin Group LLC, but it never made it out of the work session.

Then Harrison went on to accuse Mayor Battle and the City of Huntsville of shelling out millions to fund other projects.

"We didn't get the same kind of consideration that Cabela’s did with $15 million, we didn't get the same kind of consideration did that Yellowhammer Brewery did with $5 million, the mayor's best friend,” said Harrison. “We didn't get the same kind of consideration that Whole Foods who happens to be the high school friend of our mayor."

Records show the other projects mentioned by Harrison were brought to the city as complete plans by developers.

"They look to us, for what can we do to assist them? and our typical assistance is infrastructure. We don't give cash, we don't pay for master plans," said City of Huntsville Communications Director Kelly Schrimsher.

That was the case with Showers' plan. Documents show in 2012 the developers asked for $2.1 million from the city just for analysis and preparation. The city says that's why the plan failed.

"We have to be guardians of taxpayer dollars, we don't pay for speculation. Again we're happy to sit down with a developer on any project,” said Schrimsher. “We've put a lot of money in north Huntsville, over $250 million. North Parkway is a terrific development corridor. And there are other areas of north Huntsville as well."

So if the plan died back then and has very little traction now. Was Tuesday's meeting a master plan reveal as it was touted to be?

We weren't the only ones at the meeting to notice something didn't seem right.

"This sounds eerily familiar to me as a well-known scam called the pigeon drop," asked north Huntsville resident Gene Perry.

But the supposed developer only laughed at questions from the crowd.

Was the event just a show or a campaign event for Dr. Richard Showers? No brand new developments were presented, and multiple people who spoke, including Johnson, Ocie Maddox Jr., and Harrison, endorsed Showers' candidacy and said the people needed to re-elect Showers to make sure the plan comes to fruition.

During and after the meeting, we were spurned from asking questions about the project by Maddox Jr., who emceed the presentation, as well as Showers, Harrison and Johnson.

On October 4, the 28-year incumbent Showers will face a run-off election for the first time since his first run for City Council back in 1988. Showers’ opponent is political newcomer Devyn Keith.

Copyright 2016 WAFF. All rights reserved.

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