It’s Baaaa-ck – CIE on Tuesday’s BOCC Agenda

 

 

From Ginny Sherlock, renowned local attorney, civic activist, and former Associated Press editor: Several items that were continued from earlier BOCC meetings are on Tuesday’s Agenda, including a proposal to adopt a Capital Improvements Element amendment based on the FY16 Capital Improvements Plan that includes the onerous Kanner Highway widening debacle as well as millions of dollars in “unfunded” projects.

 

The Sailfish Marina cell phone tower “postage stamp zoning” item is being postponed again – perhaps until September. A proposed moratorium on development approvals for biofuel facilities will be considered, and another private attorney-client session on the legal battle against All Aboard Florida is on tap.

 

With the postponement of the cell tower proposal, the CIE update may be heard early on Tuesday, even though it’s not a pre-set item. Agenda Item 6C seeks approval of an ordinance updating the Comp Plan’s Capital Improvements Element to incorporate the FY16 Capital Improvements Plan. While the new CIP contains more explanatory language than in years past, it still includes far too many “unfunded” projects that request approval without any source of revenue to pay for them. And while the Metropolitan Planning Organization refused to delete the Kanner Highway widening project from the 2015-2020 Transportation Improvements Program, the BOCC can and should drop the same project from the CIE.

 

Item 6D that seeks approval for a proposed re-zoning of property on Cove Road near Willoughby Boulevard raises the continuing concern that Martin County lacks transparency rules that require applicants to identify people seeking development approvals. Re-zoning is sought by Aquarius Land Holdings, LLC – one of more than a half-dozen LLCs or corporations seeking BOCC approvals on Tuesday without identifying who the owners are. For more than five years, County staff has been “working on” a transparency ordinance. The Commission has expressed a desire to move this issue forward, but staff seems determined to delay – if not prevent – disclosure of the identity of those who seek changes in zoning and Comp Plan rules.

 

Item 6E is a proposal to adopt a moratorium on development applications for new biofuel facilities in Martin County following the April 1, 2015, fire at the Viesel Fuel facility in Stuart. The purpose is to allow the County to review and, if necessary, adopt regulations to enhance the safety of new biofuel facilities. Viesel and the other existing biofuel facility in the County (located in Indiantown) are exempt from the proposed moratorium.

 

There are a couple of confusing, if not inexplicable, items on Tuesday’s Agenda.

 

Item 8A6 (pre-set at 1:30 p.m.) is a request to approve a 5-year Tangible Personal Property Grant Agreement that apparently will allow Florida Power and Light to avoid paying $200,000.00 to $600,000.00 a year in tangible personal property taxes as an “incentive” for the corporation to store equipment in Indiantown. The summary of the proposal and the proposed agreement are difficult to follow, but it appears to be a response to FPL’s threat to move its storage facility elsewhere unless Martin County agrees to “incentivize” FPL’s investment here. The “incentive” was approved for one year. Now FPL is asking for 5 more years of tax avoidance.

 

NOTE TO BOCC: The County’s published guidelines provide that the Business Development Board will assist applicants with program submissions to the County Administrator. But the BDB has only one year left on its contract with Martin County. The BDB should not be part of the extended program guidelines.

 

Another pre-set is Item 8E1, a private attorney-client session scheduled for 10:00 a.m. to discuss the County’s legal action against All Aboard Florida. While private sessions are authorized to allow for Commissioners to discuss legal cases and strategy with the County Attorney, it’s time for at least a brief public explanation of the status of the legal action and other matters related to the County’s fight against AAF.

 

Item 8B5 is a proposal to acquire utility easements from property owners along SE Gull Lane in Rocky Point so Martin County Utilities can provide water service. The summary is almost incomprehensible, but it appears staff is asking for permission to try to figure out who owns the property that needs to be acquired and then to try to acquire it.

 

Item 8B3 is an interesting request for the County to approve a form “license agreement” for a Witham Field Fixed Base Operator to take the place of subleases that have previously been approved pursuant to the County’s master lease with the FBOs. Stuart Jet Center has three proposed sublease agreements on Tuesday’s agenda (Item 8B2). But Atlantic Aviation-Stuart (formerly Galaxy Aviation) wants to replace the sublease format with a licensing agreement. The agenda item summary fails to explain the difference between a lease and a licensing agreement (there are significant differences) or to confirm that the master lease allows licensing rather than subleasing of portions of property that is leased to FBOs. The proposed licensing agreement specifically states that the agreement does not create a landlord-tenant relationship between Atlantic and its licensee. There are tax liabilities associated with licenses relating to real property (as opposed to leases) which may or may not affect County revenues but which are not addressed in the agenda item summary.

 

The usual Pitchford’s Landing status update is Item 8A2. There is quite a bit to report this week, with the applicant (another LLC that has not disclosed the identity of its members) to request approval of a revised master plan and a final site plan at the July 28 BOCC meeting. A development review meeting is scheduled for Thursday, June 25, to consider staff comments.

 

Other items include a request for approval of a $42,500 settlement of a trip-and-fall injury claim (Item 6F), the usual panoply of departmental requests for grant funding (Item 8A1), a proposal to establish a certified visitor information center program (Item 8A4), a resolution to establish an Agriculture and Natural Resources Advisory Committee to the BOCC (Item 8A5), and a discussion of joining Jupiter Island in a beach sand placement project (Item 8B6).

 

As always, please attend the meeting at 9:00 a.m. Tuesday if you can. You can contact your commissioners by e-mailing 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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