BCC: Tuesday focus on animals, CRAs, developer procrastination


From Ginny Sherlock, renowned local attorney, civic activist, and former Associated Press editor: The Board of County Commissioners will consider establishing a task force on Tuesday to review local ordinances, contracts, policies and procedures for the care and treatment of animals and to recommend whether Martin should join Palm Beach and other counties as a “no kill” community. Several items involving Community Redevelopment Areas, including quarterly reports and a proposal to allow community-friendly pole sign banners, also are on Tuesday’s agenda. Requests to postpone consideration of items seeking approval for development orders continue to mess with the BCC agenda.


The proposed Domestic Animal Control Task Force is Agenda Item 8A5, which is scheduled for a pre-set hearing at 9:30 a.m. The proposal evolved from complaints about the County’s current contract with the Humane Society of the Treasure Coast. The HSTC’s Palm City shelter has an astoundingly high kill rate for adoptable and treatable animals. The task force agenda item does not focus on HSTC complaints but properly addresses the broader issue of the County’s obligation to provide humane care and shelter for abandoned and stray animals and urges adoption of a program that will lead to a zero euthanasia rate in Martin County.


Staff has done an excellent job putting together a report and recommendation, suggesting a five-member task force consisting of one member appointed by each commissioner to review Martin County ordinances, policies and contracts related to animal control and care. Information is provided about resolutions adopted by Palm Beach and Miami-Dade Counties approving “no kill” policies and costs of contracting with Humane Society organizations which show that Martin County pays far more than any other county on the Treasure Coast. (St. Lucie County paid its Humane Society $212,000 and Indian River County paid $333,585 in the 2014/2015 fiscal year while Martin County paid HSTC $543,000 during the same period and will pay $563,000 in the current fiscal year.)


The agenda item focuses on the responsibility of our local County government to protect animals from unnecessary euthanasia. The HSTC dispute is only a part of the larger picture. It is clear, however, that if Martin County is to move toward becoming a “no kill” county that provides appropriate treatment of animals picked up by County Animal Control officers, then policies, procedures and management at the HSTC shelter must change.


Three items related to Community Redevelopment Areas will be considered by the BCC in pre-set hearings scheduled for 3:00 p.m., 3:05 p.m. and 3:10 p.m. Agenda Item 8A2 is an update of CRA activities during the second and third quarters of the current fiscal year (showing a stockpile of more than $5 million in funds designated for projects in the seven CRAs) and Item 8A3 requests approval of a Request for Proposals to sell a vacant lot on Flounder Avenue which was conveyed to the Port Salerno CRA to cancel out hundreds of thousands of dollars in code enforcement fines that had accrued over the years. Item 8A4 is the return of a request to authorize installation of pole banner signs in the CRAs to promote local events and community pride. This agenda item is well thought-out and presents a much more cogent plan and rationale for the use of “banner signs” than a similar request that was previously made and was sent back for more work.


Agenda Item 6A seeking approval of a Planned Unit Development Zoning Agreement, “Conceptual Master Plan” (whatever that is) and Master Site Plan for a 7.66-acre portion of the 1,717-acre AgTEC tract west of I-95 is being postponed to allow the developer to submit more materials in an effort to bring the proposal into compliance with the Martin County Comprehensive Plan and Land Development Regulations. The Local Planning Agency approved the proposal on condition that new materials be submitted by May 27. The developer’s planner promised at the May 19 LPA meeting that the materials would be submitted “next week” and the developer’s spokesman assured the County the materials would be submitted by June 21. AgTEC spokesman Mitch Hutchcraft told the LPA that the development plan was in compliance with “most of the requirements of Martin County”. The problem is, of course, that development must comply with all of our Comp Plan provisions and LDRs. Approval must be obtained by July 13 under the provisions of the AgTEC Comp Plan Amendment, so the developer has asked for a delay in BCC consideration until the July 12 meeting, setting up an 11th hour “emergency” that will likely not end well for either the applicant or the County.


Another development proposal, Item 8C1, seeking plat approval for a 12-unit subdivision in Palm City called Loggerhead, is also being continued – again – this time to the August 23, 2016, meeting.


In other matters on Tuesday’s BCC agenda:


– Item 8B2 seeks approval of a right-of-way easement for NE Dixie Highway to provide minimum width requirements for a minor arterial roadway classification.


– Item 8B1 requests consent to execute a quit claim deed for the County to release any interest it may have in a portion of a Dixie Park subdivision parcel that was conveyed four decades ago with a questionable legal description.


– Finally, last but most definitely not least, a plaque of appreciation will be presented in Item 2A to Chris Teegardin, the always smiling and very capable front desk receptionist who is retiring after 15 years of employment with the County. We will miss Chris’ presence in the lobby every Tuesday and most other days at the Administration Center.


Please let Commissioners know how you feel about these and other issues by attending the meeting starting at 9:00 a.m. Tuesday in Commission Chambers or by e-mailing commissioners at sheard@martin.fl.us, efieldin@martin.fl.us, ascott@martin.fl.us, jhaddox@martin.fl.us, and dsmith@martin.fl.us, with copies to the County Administrator and County Attorney at tkryzda@martin.fl.us and mdurham@martin.fl.us.


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