Important: Support Comp Plan changes at Board of County Commissioners meeting Tuesday

Adoption of the revised amendments on Tuesday will restore some of our Comp Plan protections that were removed in the 2009 Future Group re-write and approved by the old developer-friendly majority. Please let commissioners know that you support approval of Comp Plan Amendment 14-7.

Attorney and civic activist Virginia Sherlock details important agenda items to be supported at Tuesday’s Board of County Commissioners meeting:

Comprehensive Plan amendments to Chapters 1, 2, 4, 8 and 9 that were revised to settle challenges filed by Becker Groves, King Ranch, Hobe Grove and the Lake Point rockpit will come before the County Commission on Tuesday for final adoption.
 
The Lake Point challenge has been fully resolved.  Approval by the commission will resolve the challenge by King Ranch and all but one issue in the Becker Groves challenge.  That issue — the County’s method for calculating residential capacity – will be heard by an administrative law judge in September if the County does not reach a settlement with Becker regarding residential capacity.  
 
A challenge by the buyer of the Hobe Grove property who still plans to build a new city near Hobe Sound remains unsettled.
 
Adoption of the revised amendments on Tuesday will restore some of our Comp Plan protections that were removed in the 2009 Future Group re-write and approved by the old developer-friendly majority. 
 
Please let commissioners know that you support approval of Comp Plan Amendment 14-7.
 
The remainder of Tuesday’s agenda contains the usual litany of code enforcement fine reductions, proclamations, and grant funding requests.  
 
One consent agenda item is worth pulling for discussion.  Item 4.C.4. is a proposal to extend the deadline for the owner of the Rio Mobile Village property to re-pay $30,000.00 that the County spent to clean up the property.  The commission initially entered into a contract to purchase the property but later wisely exercised the County’s right to terminate the contract.  Since then, two potential buyers have bailed out of purchase agreements, and the property owner is asking for more time to re-pay the $30,000.  
 
Payment was due by June 10.  An extension of the deadline to July 25 is requested.  Since re-payment funds were anticipated to come from sale proceeds, allowing the owner time to find another buyer is not unreasonable, and the proposed extension is appropriate. 
 
But staff is asking Commissioners to authorize the County Administrator to approve additional extensions (through January 30, 2015) without returning to the Commission if the property owner requests them in the future. 
 
In the first place, this item doesn’t qualify for placement on the Consent Agenda. Commission rules limit Consent Agenda items to those which are “routine in nature, implement a prior approved Board plan, program or directive and/or require no separate discussion by the Board before a vote is taken.  Items are typically non-controversial and cannot deviate from past Board direction.”
 
The Rio Mobile Village property has been the subject of considerable public interest and controversy.  Transparency is lost when staff acts without commission involvement. The Board should not authorize the County Administrator to act without giving the public notice of the action, especially when that action involves recovery of taxpayer dollars.  The Board should authorize the requested extension and require the administrator to provide reasonable advance notice before granting further payment deadline extensions.
 
Item 6.G. is a proposal to revise the Land Development Regulations to limit impact fees associated with a change of use of an existing structure.  This item was continued from the last meeting on June 17, 2014.
 
Item 8.B.1. is a curious item, seeking commission approval of 14 access easements along SW Markel Street in Palm City to allow for maintenance and emergency vehicles and the general public to use what is now a private dirt road to reach Hawks Hammock Park.  
 
Although the item refers to “ingress, egress and maintenance agreements,” the County actually is seeking perpetual easements from private property owners who own the portion of SW Markel Street that leads to the park.  Staff should make it clear that the County is soliciting easements over real property, not merely access and maintenance agreements.  
 
Even more curious is staff’s request that the BOCC approve 14 easements while only 6 easements have been obtained.  The majority of the SW Markel Street property owners have not yet executed easements.
 
Commissioners – and the public – need an explanation as to how the County can accept easements which have not been given.  This seems legally questionable and certainly unwise as a precedent. The County Commission should be wary of “accepting” easements (or agreements) before they have been given.
 
Staff also reports that the easements that have been obtained from six of the property owners will be recorded, allowing the County to begin maintaining and allowing the general public to use the private roadway.  The Commission should ask staff to explain how the County can assume maintenance obligations and expand the use of a private road to the general public while the majority of landowners have refused or failed to grant easements for this purpose.
 
Finally, Agenda Item 9.A. is a discussion of matters that will be addressed during a joint meeting between the County Commission and the Town of Jupiter Island on Wednesday regarding St. Lucie Inlet maintenance.
 
As always, let your commissioners know of any concerns you may have with respect to these issues or others at any time.  If you can’t attend the meeting on Tuesday, e-mail commissioners at: sheard@martin.fl.us, efieldin@martin.fl.us, jhaddox@martin.fl.us, ascott@martin.fl.us, dsmith@martin.fl.us with a copy to the County Administrator at tkryzda@martin.fl.us and County Attorney at mdurham@martin.fl.us 

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