Many questions, few answers on BCC agenda Tuesday

 

 

 

From Ginny Sherlock, renowned local attorney, civic activist, and former Associated Press editor: Problems created by the new Martin County website’s user-hostility are making it hard to review, let alone understand or analyze, items on the BCC meeting agenda scheduled for December 15, 2015. Residents continue to be prevented from easily accessing agendas and agenda items by the overly complicated and frequently lacking new website.

 

The agenda notes the BCC meeting will begin immediately following the joint meeting with the City of Stuart. But I am unable to find any agenda or notice on the County website regarding the joint meeting on December 15.

 

The City of Stuart website advises that the City and County Commissions will meet jointly from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon at the Blake Library on December 15, 2015, to discuss a proposed expansion of the City’s Community Redevelopment Areas.

 

But the BCC Agenda has pre-set items at 11:00 a.m. and 11:30 a.m., suggesting that the BCC meeting will begin before the scheduled conclusion of the joint meeting.

 

Question No. 1: Is there a joint meeting between the City and County Commissions on Tuesday, December 15, 2015, and, if so, where is the notice of the meeting on the County website?

 

Question No. 2: Will the BCC meeting start before noon, at noon or after lunch?

 

The morning pre-set items are 8D1 (Public Safety Radio System Upgrade) and 8A2 (Approve Ad Hoc Status for the Enterprise Zone Development Agency).

 

The highly controversial Sailfish Marina re-zoning and cell phone tower site plan (Items 6A and 6B) are pre-set for 4:00 p.m. and 4:05 p.m., but questions surrounding the spot zoning proposal will not likely be resolved since it appears that the advertised public hearing notice was defective. Staff is suggesting the application be re-advertised and returned to the Local Planning Agency (which previously recommended approval) for curative action.

 

Martin County Fire Rescue will present an updated analysis of potential hazards to our community from the transport of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) over the Florida East Coast Railway system. Increased risks have been identified since a similar presentation last May. Rail transport of LNG is not contingent but will be compounded by approval of All Aboard Florida’s plans to run 32 express passenger trains and 20 or more freight trains through Martin County daily beginning in 2017.

 

The LNG risk presentation (Item 7B) will begin at 2:45 p.m., followed by a 3:00 p.m. shade meeting to allow the County Attorney to discuss litigation strategy in a private session about various lawsuits related to AAF (Item 8B1).

 

Item 8A1 seeks approval by the BCC to accept a $13,125.00 Florida Inland Navigation District grant to pay for removal of derelict vessels and to add $8,000 worth of work to the CBRE consultant’s evaluation of the best use of County-owned property. These requests are fairly straightforward, but a third request needs explanation. The Parks & Recreation Department wants to increase its budget by $39,000 by allocating anticipated revenues from the 2016 state cycling championship scheduled to be held in Martin County next April. The agenda item does not make it clear whether Parks & Rec will have to spend $39,000 to prepare for the event and wants only to be reimbursed from the anticipated revenues or whether Parks & Rec wants all of the revenues from the event diverted to the department rather than to the County’s general fund.

 

Parks & Rec appears to be moving toward an “enterprise fund” like the restricted accounts established for Utilities and the Airport. Parks & Rec already has a quasi-enterprise fund for Sailfish Splash Waterpark, with all revenues generated by the theme park retained for use by the facility rather than used to bolster the County’s general fund.

 

But the waterpark still siphons funds from other facilities. Commissioners are being asked to approve $209,000 on Tuesday’s Consent Agenda (Item 4B1) to pay for a study and design for a $1.4 million expansion of Sailfish Splash (which staff says the Commission already has approved).

 

The money to pay Kimley-Horn to design the waterpark expansion will come mostly from regional park impact fees and active parkland fees that would otherwise be available for other parks in the County. Less than half the money to be spent on waterpark expansion design and study will come from waterpark revenues.

 

Question No. 3: How many crumbling bridges or roads could be improved with the $1.6 million the Commission plans to spend on a waterpark that serves a limited number of residents and generates no revenue for the County?

 

There are more questions generated by Agenda Item 8E1, which seeks approval of a revised master/final site plan and another amendment to the Planned Unit Development Agreement for the Indiantown Commerce and Technology Park. Ownership of the property has changed since the PUD was approved in April of 2007. The property is now owned by a limited liability company called Skyfarm Strategic Capital, LLC, with documents submitted pursuant to an undated Representative Authorization over an illegible signature.

 

Question No. 4: Who is the actual applicant for the Indiantown Commerce and Technology Park amendments?

 

According to the Florida Division of Corporations and the www.floridacommercepark.com website, the LLC that owns the project is led by Shay Grinfeld, described as the “premier provider of merchant liquefied natural gas in Florida and the Caribbean,” and includes Miami asset manager Jeremy Shapiro as well as Indiantown locals Brian, David, and Kevin Powers.

 

Tuesday’s agenda item seeks to reduce the number of lots from 31 to 26, to replace three stormwater retention ponds with a single pond (to allow more flexibility in development of lots to be sold), and to exempt the project from Adequate Public Facilities compliance. Proposed revisions to the PUD Agreement are almost unintelligible but appear designed to relieve the developer from obtaining approval for changes in the future, allowing certain parts of the project to be unilaterally revised by the owners if they choose to do so. There is a lengthy, rambling provision relating to the requirement that all lots front on an “open road” and partially eliminating the requirement for bonding to ensure that infrastructure is constructed with respect to cul-de-sacs that provide access to certain lots.

 

Question No. 5: What the heck does all the verbiage and revised verbiage of Special Condition 7 mean and where in the language of the PUD Agreement or its amendments is there any explanation of a “public benefit” for the County in exchange for PUD authorization?

 

In other items on Tuesday’s Agenda:

 

– A Martin County School Board presentation on grading system changes is pre-set for 2:30 p.m. (Item 7A)

 

– Staff will provide an update on the status of the Commission’s 2015 Strategic Goals (Item 8A3)

 

– The Commission will be asked to approve a lease renewal for Florida Community Health Centers at the Martin County Health Department office on Willoughby Boulevard (Item 8C1).

 

Please let Commissioners know how you feel about these and other issues by attending the meeting on Thursday (at whatever time it begins) or by e-mailing them 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.

 

If you, too, are having problems with the new County website, let the County’s IT Director know so that efforts can be made to try to make the website more user-friendly. E-mail Kevin Kryzda at kevin@martin.fl.us

 

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