KEPT IN THE DARK … BY THE TOWN MANAGER …
Image thanks to- http://www.all-things-conflict-resolution-and-adr.com/All-Things-Groupthink.html
Dear Readers … It’s just unbelievable the way this town operates… Just when this writer thinks there can be no more…there always is!…
On December 1st 2009 we had the first readings for the Ordinances 2009-33 and 2009-34 to get a new height referendum on the March 9, 2009 ballot… It was discussed extensively, and readers are well aware of my position…that it was only on the dais and in play to offer a platform for the increasingly befuddled CIC- McFurth “Gangs” candidates ..who cannot win based on their two year reign of being the majority in town…. (Is Peanuts Wick [call him Larry] back in the mix? That alone, tells us the depths of disarray within the wall of Town Hall east these days!)…
Previously, it was asked of the Town Attorney about the pending litigation with the Bert J. Harris suits in the north and she did attest to it being a factor to consider…But, that was poo pooed by the platform deprived re-election commissioners…
We sat through the meeting, on Tuesday night with a court reporter sitting in the front row of the hall…a court reporter there on behalf or the Plaintiffs in the Bert J. Harris lawsuit currently pending in the Circuit Court for Broward County.
First we had public comments on the heights…below is the commentary from the candidates running against we assume the sitting Commissioners, Vice Mayor McIntee and Commissioner Jim Silverstone aka “2-Hats, Broom Boys) …and By The Sea Future Editor Mark Brown …
Candidate Scot Sasser ( District 1/north side) …
“First I want to reiterate that I am all for clearly defining the height limits in all sections of town and assisting everyone in understanding what those are now and going forward. Height limits have been addressed in the past. Height referendums went on the ballot and the people voted for what we have today and over time, as the town residents change, we should address again However, I don’t think this is the right time to do so and I don’t think that either of the Ordinances, as written, succeeds in clearly defining the changes being proposed as to give the citizens of this town enough information to vote on this issue.
I would suggest that we all take the time to have much more communication on this issue before moving forward. Let us all understand the transparent reason for any changes, develop a clear statement of understanding of what we want to accomplish, then perform the proper diligence on the language to make sure the changes are consistent with the plan. Once we are in agreement with the plan and the language we should clearly communicate through how the Height Limits are applied today and how they would change. Only then should we proceed in making any changes to the Height Limits and all of this should be done after we know more about the pending litigation from the previous changes.
• Now is not the right time
• Let’s determine the outcome of the current litigation before possibly exacerbating an existing issue
• Let’s take our time and develop a solid game plan
• Finally, let’s clearly communicate and educate rather than presenting solutions based on slogans and paraphrases that may tickle the ears but bind the hands of all those in town now and in the future.”
Candidate Chris Vincent (District 2/ south side)…
“Tonight the residents of this town are being presented with 2 height referendums, with the attempt to put one of these on the ballot this upcoming election in March. Either one of these will change the current charter again. The rush to do this is irresponsible and unnecessary.
The charter of this town and the process to change any of its contents, should be respected and given great thought and consideration by this commission or any future commission to ensure and protect the best interest of all people and property owners.
It was my understanding that certain commissioners on this dais had only requested to clarify the height limits and specifically stated they would not support any referendum that changed the current charter. The definition of clarify is: “to make clear or easier to
understand”. The town attorney put together what I thought was a clear and helpful presentation regarding the current height limits. The town attorney also stated that she felt the current code was clear.
What you are presenting today is not clarification but a substantial change to the current charter.
I ask this dais, why the rush to push forward with a new change to our charter at this time? The amount of time and money that has been spent to draft this NEW version must be substantial.
Personally, I do not want to see any change to the charter at this time. We are currently protected from any further increase in height and we are maintaining our quaint seaside town.
The people of this town HAVE already voted on this multiple times . I feel the voters did get it right last time. Why would you find it necessary to change what is already working for our great town.
If your goal was as you stated, to clarify the language, that could easily be solved through other means; such as an ordinance and not a referendum change to the charter. I think we should slow down and really put some constructive effort into this. An attempt to remove the current Florida Building Code language from the charter and insert your own will only cause further confusion.
A round table to have input from the residents would be a start. This would be a way to find out what would make our height limit language more user friendly to the community. We have round tables on different sorts of issues, I would think that this being a possible election referendum it should be given the same consideration.
Mark Brown …. Editor of By The Sea Future/ Resident of LBTS….
“Here we go again. Three years ago, I wrote an editorial in the newspaper in which I expressed my concern that the town would be sued if it passed a referendum lowering the building height limit in the north end of town. I suggested several alternative ways to protect the visual integrity of the town without taking the risk of being sued.
In response to my editorial, I was called an alarmist by some members of this commission. I was accused of using scare tactics to try to defeat the referendum. We were promised by Commissioners McIntee and Silverstone that the town would not be sued. Well guess what? They were wrong. The town is now being sued for $23 million because of the last height limit referendum. That’s more than the entire budget of the town.
In view of the pending lawsuit, why in the world would the commission want to put another height limit referendum on the ballot, and practically invite every motel and small business in the south end of town to file more lawsuits against the town? The town attorney has already advised you that if this referendum passes, it could open the door for more lawsuits. I have nothing against lawyers wanting to put their kids through college, but let them pay for it with someone else’s money, not ours. We are already spending more than a quarter million dollars this year just to pay the legal bills from the first batch of lawsuits. Why should we encourage more lawsuits and legal bills?
I have a question which I would like to direct to Commissioner Silverstone, which I hope he will address during his commissioner comments. I would like to know what his contingency plan is–or what the town’s contingency plan is–to pay the legal judgment if the town loses the lawsuits? Where is the $23 million going to come from? Is every resident of town going to be hit with a $35,000 special assessment? Will our taxes be tripled or quadrupled? Will the town simply go into bankruptcy and cease to exist? Tell us what the plan is.
Sure the town might win but the town might also lose, so wishful thinking by itself is not a good enough answer. Tell us where will the money come from if we lose? Then tell us why it’s worth the risk of putting yet another height limit referendum on the ballot, so even more lawsuits can be filed against us. If we keep this up, pretty soon every law firm in the state is going to open an office in Lauderdale-By-The-Sea so they can get in on the action.
Lowering the height limit in the south end of town might sound like a great idea, and it might be a great campaign issue to run on, but you can’t ignore the potential consequences of your actions. It’s your responsibility as commissioners to protect us, and to protect our money, not to put us at further risk. We’re already on the hook for $23 million plus legal costs. I urge the commission to defeat these two height limit ordinances and stop making things worse for us.”
The public comments portion was closed by the Mayor and Commissioner Silverstone spoke first…
Commissioner Silverstone-”Thank you Mayor, I am for clarifying the height restrictions we presently have in town right now. In reviewing this and reading the Charter and the, the, the um, attached um, ordinances, and um, the zoning requirements we have in town. It’s obviously very confusing to a lot of people. If it’s not cleared up now, it will be in the future. I’ve awlays stated that for people who own property or are thinking about buying property, buying property in this town it’s wise to have something set in stone that you know what you’re dealing with because a lot of people will just wait to see what happens with um the heighth (his verbage) and hopefully it will be increased or whatever and ah, then they’ll make a move on it. I, I maintain my, my thinking from the get go here we have to clarify this to make it easy for people to understand. And therefore I think we don’t we control the markets but we do have location here and by that fact I think buildings will start up and redevelopment will happen. I’m not for raising heighth (his verbage). I, I am for improving what we have. We live in a very special, as the gentleman said out there. A very special town and I would like to keep it that way.”…..
…..” Um, I also agree with Cristie Furth (the 33′ foot crazed woman) that the starting point of where you start building the building has to be defined so its townwide and it can’t be changed or um, misused.” (Readers take a look at his closing remarks) ….
” Um, Mr Brown again there seems to be a pattern here of um, saying something that is not true. I never said that we would not be sued. It’s obvious that we could be sued for anything at anytime. What I said though is that I believe very strongly that the suit not, not would not ah, go through or, or cost the town a substantial amount of money twenty plus million dollars. In the original ordinance that was passed around there is language in there a safety clause. I’m not a lawyer. I’m nott sure how that would, that would ah, effect but, but there was a safety clause built in it.”
BC …This writer went to the podium and asked former Town Atty. Cherof per discussions with my learned friend from Pompano of a “safety clause” …and was told on several occasions we had none…Later as I sat through a few years of 2 commissions tackling the Land Development codes…we did have “vested rights” … which I and my learned friend felt was an “out” in certain circumstances of property rights…Inquiry on it was met by 2 administrations with deaf ears… It is included on the Town website Muni-codes..
“Sec. 30-12. Vested rights determinations.
The Town recognizes that certain land development rights of property owners may be vested with respect to approved land uses, density or intensity of development and/or staging or phasing of development. Any person claiming vested rights to develop property shall make application for a vested rights determination.
(1) The Town Manager or his or her designee shall review the application and any supporting documents and shall consult with other staff and the Attorney’s Office. Within 45 days after the receipt of a complete and sufficient application, the Town Manager or his or her designee shall either grant the application for vested rights or respond to the applicant in writing the reason or reasons for denial. The decision shall be mailed by U.S. Mail to the address indicated on the application, return receipt requested.
(2) If the applicant disagrees with the determination of the Town Manager, he or she may appeal the decision of the staff by notifying the Town in writing that he or she is appealing the decision. The notification shall be received by the Town no later than 30 days after the Town “renders” his or her decision on the application. If the notification is not received within 30 days after rendition of the decision, the applicant is deemed to have waived his or her right to challenge the decision. For the purposes of this section, the term “renders” means the date the applicant initials or otherwise indicates receipt of the decision. However, in the event the decision is not accepted or is returned, the term “renders” means ten calendar days after the date the decision was mailed.
(3) Upon receipt by the Town of a timely notice of appeal, the appeal shall be assigned to a hearing officer. The procedures for conducting hearings shall be approved by a Resolution of the Town Commission. The hearing shall be set for no later than 60 days from the date of the notice of appeal unless an extension of time is requested or agreed to by the applicant.
(4) The Town Attorney shall represent the Town in the administrative hearing. The hearing officer shall determine whether vested rights have been created pursuant to the provisions set forth within this section, applicable statutes, or established case law and shall determine whether any time limitation is applicable to such vested rights.
(5) Nothing in this section prohibits the Town staff from reconsidering and reversing a denial of a vested rights application at any time prior to the start of the hearing before the hearing officer.
(6) The hearing officer shall within 45 days of the hearing issue a proposed order which shall include findings of fact and conclusions of law with respect to the claim of vested rights.
(7) The Town Commissioners shall within thirty (30) days of receipt of the proposed order issue its determination which shall be in the form of a resolution.
(Ord. No. 2007-14, § 2(Exh. A), 9-25-07; Ord. No. 2007-14, § 2(Exh. A), 9-25-07)”
The “safety clause is (5) Nothing in this section prohibits the Town staff from reconsidering and reversing a denial of a vested rights application at any time prior to the start of the hearing before the hearing officer.”
Comm. Silverstone- ” And so I felt um, when I ran at that time and when this was going on that we, we could have be protected still meeting the will of the people which was I think, um done at the end of the day there. So I never said we would not be sued. What I said is I felt very strongly that it would not go to a point where um, it would cost the town millions of dollars. That makes no sense to me at all. And I did do my homework in this. I did do my dil, due diligence and recently there was a case in Jacksonville Beach that was very similar to what’s going on here. I implore anybody to read that. Look that up on the internet and I think you will be ah, enlightened to our case”
BC- link… http://jacksonville.com/community/shorelines/2009-03-07/story/citys_law_on_
From the article…
“Sandy Golding, president of the Beaches Watch Group, which led the citizens’ referendum to cap building heights at 35 feet, said she supports Jacksonville Beach’s handling of the Hionides cases.
“I think the council did what was really in the best interest of the city,” Golding said. “Nobody knows what would really happen if this went to court. The city did the best they could do.”
Commissioner Silverstone-” But again, it’s not exactly the same so, you know anything can happen in like a court of law, I know. But I feel confident that nothing, that it’s not to, to um, that the will of the people will not be met with with a major financial burden to us. Um, that fear factor seems to be used a lot here and that’s unfortunate bu I think we should do everything possible to maintain the seaside village of this town. And I think that’s another reason why the people of the north decided to join us instead of Pompano Beach and Fort Lauderdale because of that special ambiance we have here and I think it’s just our job to make sure we do everything possible to keep it that way. Being a campaign issue to me, I said this from the very beginning we need to be clear this up either now or later. It will be cleared up now or later, I mean cause the language is not uniform. It’s not consistent and we have to do everything we can in order to make it consistent and uniform. Um, and Mrs. Cole um, um, I don’t know, well never mind, But I yield. Um, um that’s I’m gonna vote to continue with this if only to clear up the language .”
“But I will not go forward with changing the heighth (his verbage) in this town.I think a firm way of saying that was stated to me was it’s 33 feet throughout the entire town unless there’s a property that cannot build and I think Mrs Boutin’s concern that because of the flood plain or the federal regulations that it’s not habitable on the first floor that would be allowed to go to 44 feet. Only in that case. That’s fair, that makes sense. That’s the way I understood the original ordiances and I would be, I would like to go in that direction, I yield.”
BC- Earth to Jimmy-boy…Do not run again!…What you ended up supporting…much to the chagrin of “Ms Hypo-Crissie” is what we already have in the 2006 3 over 1 Ordinance on the books!… YIKES!…
But Folks, it gets worse!…Worse than the previously posted Clueless Clottey commentary…Worse than the 2-2 “change my vote” Clottey (per Marc Furth) to keep the door open for the return of VM McIntee ( a man she claims to hate when he is not within earshot)…
This writer found out that on Dec. 1st before the close of business in Town Hall …The Town accepted letters addressed to the Mayor (a copy was e-mailed to the Town Law Firm of Weiss Serota , per the letters, to Atty. Dan Abbott in charge of the Bert J Harris lawsuits for LBTS (still)… It was from the Plaintiff’s law firm of Ruden McClosky and it was an objection to the height ordinances 2009-33 and 2009-34 being voted on for 1st reading for the ballot in March!…
The Town accepted it…the Town Atty. was in receipt of it…but the Commissioners were kept in the dark!…
It was not brought to the dais by the Town Manager and given to the Mayor to open prior to the discussion!…
It was clearly from the Plaintiff’s law firm and it was clear even unopened, that it was important!
The Town Manager and the Town law firm in not making it known to the commissioners the content of the letters kept them from what definitely should have given them pause to forge ahead with any such discussion on the dais much less any ordinances with the pending litigation being brought to the forefront prior to the items addressed this night…WOW!…
The Letter…are all the same in content..just change the name of the Plaintiffs/ properties…James Edmondson-Delrado Inc. d/b/a El Dorado Club/Coastal Arms, Inc.-The Palm & Yacht & Beach Club, Inc.
“Dec. 1, 2009″
“Roseann Minnet, Mayor
Town Of Lauderdale-By-The-Sea
4501 Ocean Drive
Lauderdale -By -The-Sea, Fl 33308
Re: The Palm Yacht & Beach Club Inc.
Property located at 1431 and 1438 S, Ocean Boulevard, Lauderdale- By- The-Sea, Florida and Proiposed Town Ordinance 2009-33 and 2009-34″
“Dear mayor Minnet;
As you may be aware, this firm represents the Palm Yacht & Beach Club, Inc. (“Palm Yacht”), with respect to pending claims, including Bert Harris Act claims, against the Town. The purpose of this letter is to object to proposed Ordinances 2009-33 and 2009-34, to the extent both or either of the Ordinances will have any impact or limitation on Palm Yacht’s property and other rights including the use and/ or ability to enjoy its property. Palm Yacht reserves its right to bring any action necessary its rights.
Palm Yacht further objects to the Ordinances to the extent the Ordinances attempt to limit Pal Yacht’s statutory and other rights under the Bert Harris Act. Please be advised that this letter is not intended to waive any rights in relation to Palm Yacht’s previously served Bert Harris Act claims and lawsuits as currently pending in the Circuit Court for Broward County, Florida
Beth-Ann E. Krimsky
cc: Daniel L Abbott (via facimile)”
So there you have it…the Town Manager let the commission go forth without all the important information they needed…and allowed one commissioner, Commissioner Jim Silverstone to run off at the the mouth as the Plaintiff’s court reporter typed away…unbelievable!…In this writer’s opinion…it’s dereliction of her duties, plain and straight!…
This Town Manager…and this Commissioner and his Broom Boy pal…have gotta go in March!…
It’s up to the voters…to tell 10 friends to tell 10 friends…to vote for Roseann Minnet/ Chris Vincent and Scot Sasser in 2010…
VOTERS REMEMBER …. YOU VOTE FOR ALL 3 CANDIDATES NO MATTER WHICH DISTRICT/ END OF TOWN YOU LIVE IN…
south end voters vote for Sasser in the north along with Vincent in the south..
north end voters vote for Vincent in the south along with Sasser in the north…
And both north and south vote for Roseann Minnet …
So we can be assured of no more dark days on the dais!…
more to come….