In keeping up with my New Year’s resolution, please find the highs and lows from last night’s Special Council Meeting. I will kick off my comments with the ugly so that I can end on a positive note this time around. I will continue to send out emails or newsletters after each Council Meeting.
Under the worst-case scenario, we might have to change the Village’s tagline from the “Village of Parks” to the “Village of Litigation.” Last night’s main topic of conversation was the revision of Downtown Development Code. The zoning for Downtown has been placed on hold since I brought forward a moratorium over sixteen months ago. I thought the Downtown Development Code was detrimental to Palmetto Bay residents two years ago and have not changed my opinion. Unfortunately, the reality of the situation is not as black and white as some on the Council would have you believe. After the two proposed revisions to the Code were presented last night, the Village Attorney and I counted four or possibly five potential Bert J. Harris claims by residents, attorneys, and developers, who spoke and discussed the financial consequences of the Village Council’s actions if one of the potential zoning codes were passed.
In fact, Vice Mayor John DuBois – whom I don’t necessarily see eye-to-eye with – basically stated that Councilmember David Singer is underestimating the potential litigation and financial disaster to the Village if Councilmember Marsha Matson’s revised code passes.
That statement, along with comments from our Village Attorney Dexter Lehtinen concerning spot zoning, downzoning, and Bert J. Harris Act, should lead the Village Council to give pause.
The potential for litigation with the DUV code is so strong our Village Attorney brought a second attorney from his office to listen to the Special Council Meeting. I can honestly state this is the first time I’ve ever seen this occur in the eight years I’ve been attending Council Meetings.
As of last night, I would like to coin the term “mega- litigation” because, without some serious thought on the downtown zoning, that seems to be the direction the Village is heading.
There appears to be a Councilmember who feels the DUV code should be based on knocking on residents’ doors and asking them if they want more development in our Village. I liken this to standing in front of Walgreens and asking their customers if they would like the flu.
Of course Palmetto Bay residents don’t want any more development due to traffic and overcrowding concerns. Heck, if I never saw another multifamily/apartment development in Palmetto Bay, I would be ecstatic. But, this way of thinking is very naïve, and the reason the Palmer Trinity litigation cost the Village residents over one million dollars in litigation fees and damages.
The issue once again is that we as a Council must follow certain law whether we agree/like with them or not.
After consideration by the Council, we agreed 5-0 to a direction that both Vice Mayor John Dubois and I suggested, which was to engage a total of three outside land use attorneys to give the Council guidance on what could be a reduced zoning in the DUV without a high chance of litigation. Writing codes with blinders on is not beneficial or in the best financial interest of residents and more litigation in line with that of the Palmer Trinity fiasco will do nothing but line the pockets of the attorneys who are involved.
I would also like to give credit to the Village residents who have spent numerous hours and given suggestions on what they feel the new Downtown Development Code should include. It is always my pleasure to hear resident’s suggestions because after all, this is your Village.
I hope that these emails are transparent and help residents understand what is currently occurring in our Village.
I always look forward to open and honest discourse with all Palmetto Bay residents. If you would like to email me comments or thoughts, please do so at dsinger@palmettobay- fl.gov.
I will continue to be a voice of the residents, actively pursuing quality of life and reduction of traf- fic in Palmetto Bay.
Thank you, and God Bless,