Monday, May 21, 2012

The Palmetto Council has not released any documents relating to the proposed “Neighborhood Protection Ordinance.” I will keep you up to date on any documents I receive, if a response is provided to the public records request

The Mayor and Council should release a draft providing specifics to date of the proposed "Neighborhood Protection Ordinance" no later than the start of the special council meeting of May 21, 2012,  There should be no need to make an official public records request. I made a Request for Public Records under Chapters 119 and 257, Florida Statutes, on the morning of May 16, 2012, seeking documents to date. I will be happy to share any documents I receive, but I have not received any response to this request (Click on the photo of the e-mail to view in larger size).  The lack of response to date could mean many things including the possibility that no documents, including drafts or notes, exist (highly improbable) or the possibility that current Palmetto Bay Mayor and Council have no intention of sharing their legislative proposals until release of agendas, a time when most of the work is completed (let's hope not). 

 It would be a mistake to exclude the public, not to keep the public informed or engaged on land development code issues.  The change in council membership from 2010 should not result in a change of policy away from the precedent of civic inclusion set in the years of he original council. The initial draft as well as any and all updates should be available on the Palmetto Bay official web site throughout the process. Transparency is not merely telling the property owners and public about the ordinance as it is enacted.  Transparency is truly involving everyone in the process.

The 2012 Palmetto Bay council has begun work on what some council members are referring to as a “neighborhood Protection Ordinance.”  No written details have been provided, but talk is of a 4 month moratorium period to create and implement this ordinance.  This is not much time when you consider that any ordinance requires at least 2 readings at 2 separate council meetings and a public hearing. I assume that there will be at least one workshop, so you have now filled three of the four months.  The council has not even enacted the moratorium yet, so they are really impacting 5 – 6 months at minimum if the true effect start date begins at passage of the Zoning In Progress Resolution (May 21, 2012). 

Will there be no initial public workshop to obtain guidance and discuss issues with the public before committing pen to paper?  This process is also being started essentially in June, after school summer break has begun, meaning much of the work will occur when many are spending time with their children off from school both in as well as out of town (for this reason, the original Palmetto Bay council made it a policy not to hold zoning hearings during the late summer months).  

I would like to know what this ordinance involves and am far from alone in this concern/curiosity.  This ordinance could be an outstanding piece of legislation or it could have profound detrimental unintended results for the taxpayers and property owners of Palmetto Bay.  The Land Development Code impacts property rights.  Proposals to change the code should not be created in a vacuum or outside public view.  This is not how open or transparent government should behave.

Why keep residents and property owners in the dark?  Everyone, regardless of whether they are non-resident Palmetto Bay property owners and/or residents have a right to be involved in the code writing process from the start.   We cannot even begin to consider the potential impact until we look at the details of the proposal. The original Palmetto Bay Land Development Code (completed 2009) was created after a significant and long public process which included workshops, visioning sessions, meetings with stake holders and involved residents and property owners, and public hearings.

I assume this same initial transparent process will be followed by the current Palmetto Bay Council.  I would be a travesty if this council departs from past models and rushes to enact a code that does not benefit from appropriate public participation.


  1. AnonymousMay 21, 2012

    It is so cute that you actually think you can affect what this council does. Everyone knows the results. Mark my words: 3/2 vote tonight in favor of the zoning in progress. 3/2 vote next month on the moratorium and a final 3/2 vote on whatever this neighborhood protection ordinance turns out to be.

  2. AnonymousMay 29, 2012

    Have you receve a response?