Are meetings a "kangaroo court?"
AND THE BEAT GOES ON …
la de da de de ...
Has anyone noticed a change in voting outcomes by our esteemed commission leaders? Within the past 6-8 months there has been a trend to new voting results. That is, commission vote results usually now tally up to mostly a 4-1 result, and occasionally a 3-2 split, but all, nonetheless, in favor of the individual/corporation (but, usually, developer) that is begging to bend the rules/regulations/zoning of our fair city.
There was a time going way back to the New Britain Avenue debacle (January 2017) when the commission voted 5-0 across the board. That continued for more than two years, even after I brought up this issue in a Letter to the Editor (Ormond Beach Observer, Aug. 23, 2018). Apparently my “wake-up call” made them see the light. Now, I can envision the brain trust convening in advance of a commission meeting to see who will draw the short straw to be the complimentary negative opposing votes(s) (with appropriate verbiage to appear legit). Don't know it for a fact. Just sayin.' Butsomehow it does seem logical.
Case in point. During the Aug. 20 Ormond Beach City Commission meeting, the commission voted 4-1 to approve a change in zoning off Yonge Street (U.S. 1) and Highland Avenue. The local residents in the area objected to the proposed change to higher density at a "neighborhood meeting." Commissioner Troy Kent (the lone dissenting vote) stated (at the commission meeting) that he was "really shocked they were not here tonight." I am not "shocked" as I have attended these 'Kangaroo Court' sessions in the past going back to New Britain and more recently with the glorious Wawa gas station and the car wash. The residents just feel that commission decisions are made prior to the meetings. Why should they (residents) waste their time on a foregone conclusion. Can I prove my statement — no. But it, also, seems so logical especially when our mayor makes such lame comments to support game changing decisions.
These comments include: 1) During the same Aug. 20 City Commission meeting: "... it would be stupid not to approve the request. From a smart growth perspective it's really smart. The fact is they could pack it with more density now ..." (Yeah, great for the developer, another defeat for the residents. Real smart, indeed.) 2) Going back to the car wash fiasco, the commission approved (February 2019) said car wash with our mayor saying "I don't think this use is going to be bad in any way. I think it's appropriate. It fits in that area." (A classic!)
Two of our residents summed up the feelings of Ormond Beach citizens (i.e., the tax paying residents who should have a say in the matters of local government) at the aforementioned February meeting as follows: Linda Williams — "I am heartsick at what happened here tonight. You did not listen to the citizens." Suzanne Scheiber — "To cast a vote for the car wash is going against the will of the citizens." The citizens do have a say — a grandiose three minutes to state their case. But, when the commission has the final say (the "last word"), any preceding appeals have no value. They still don't care. When will they ever learn!
Weak. Lame. No substance. Self-serving. All this talk about "smart growth." Well, in my estimation, smart growth starts with smart management. We ain't got it!
And the beat goes on...la de da de da...
What value Plantation Oaks?
Michael Young, of Ormond Beach, directs the following letters to City Manager Joyce Shanahan and Mayor Bill Partington.
Dear Ms. Shanahan
Despite specific written requests the City and Commission have not made public the agreement of annexation with Plantation Oaks.
This agreement has occurred rather quickly after having been on hold for 17 years annexing 427 manufactured houses on 1,033 clear cut acres.
Since manufactured houses are treated the same as trailer parks for property tax purposes, the advantage of annexing untaxed dwellings with the responsibility of support and maintenance by City certainly requires some explanation.
Specifically have any user fees been paid or will any be paid?
What utilities will be provided: Water, sewer, reclaim?
Services: Police, fire/rescue, sold waste, landscape, storm water, roadway and sidewalks? How will the city be compensated for these?
Dear Mr. Partington:
Please explain how this manufactured housing contributes to tax base of Ormond Beach.
Manufactured houses are treated same as trailer parks, for property tax purposes, and Ormond has more than enough of those.
Provide a copy of the annexation agreement to show how this development can be beneficial to Ormond Beach and not a huge added cost with little return.
Editors Note: The City Commission was scheduled to vote on the annexation of Plantation Oaks at their Sept. 4 regular meeting, but the meeting was canceled because of Hurricane Dorian.
Don’t rezone for storage units
I want to thank Alan K. for his enlightening look at our current state of democracy within our City Commissioner meetings here in OB. I am also offended by the three minutes that are given to the people that pay their salaries (i.e. citizens of this town) to provide a thoughtful explanation of why we are relying on them to protect our city from further needless destruction and development. The developers and commission can speak for as long as they like .... maybe in an effort to lure us to sleep with their boring rhetoric about how this is "smart growth." Please tell me what is smart about cutting the small forest across from the Dunkin Donuts on Nova Road to build a three-story storage unit? Lest we forget there is a storage unit less than a mile away! People, throw away your stuff or donate it! Stop destroying our town with this nonsense! Commissioners: Stand Up For Us — the people who pay your wages!
Do not allow the rezoning of this property! Since we have money in the coffers to the tune of nearly six million dollars — why don't we citizens suggest that they buy what property has trees left on it and save them for posterity. If NJ can purchase plots of land to save from destruction from developers and save it for residents — so can we! That is what I would call "Smart Growth."