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Cocoa Beach: Planting The Flag.

Way back on May 17, 2017, the Cocoa Beach Board of Adjustment met to discuss a special exemption for the Cocoa Beach Tattoo Company to open a tattoo parlor / retail operation in Cocoa Beach.

After some horrific advice from the then City Attorney Marsha Segal George as well as faulty reasoning from some Board members, the Board voted to deny the special exemption. We wrote about the denial and what we expected to happen here. We noted at the time that this was a case ripe for an appeal as the City had no legal leg to stand upon and sure enough, the case was appealed.

Unfortunately for the Cocoa Beach Tattoo Company, the appeals and trying to address the issue was caught in the middle of the City trying to find new legal counsel or retain the old counsel. Eventually, the matter was scheduled to be heard by a magistrate but the new City attorney’s looked at the issue and said the legal equivalent of “whoops!” and agreed that the Board of Adjustment never should have denied the special exemption.

Thus, the lawyers agreed to revisit the issue to the Board of Adjustment again where the Board will have to vote to pass the exemption.

That “revisiting” happens tonight at 5:15 PM when the Board of Adjustment meets. You can see the agenda for the meeting here, and the item packet here (as well as an addendum found here.)

This is a win for those of us who value both freedom of expression and economic freedoms. Sadly, it took far too long to get to this point, but we can’t go back in time to change that.

We do want to make sure that people understand that one thing this case does highlight is the need for good legal representation. In 2009 the Cocoa Beach City Commission passed what they felt was a legal ordinance on tattoo parlors within the City. At they time, one of the reasons given was that they City was against the “proliferation” of tattoo parlors opening up. Many of those shops have closed which goes to show that the market is a better decider of what type of shops may survive in a city rather than people on a City Commission. The rule at the time was unnecessary but the Commission did nothing wrong in passing the ordinance.
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Cocoa Beach, Palm Bay, Satellite Beach: If You Like Meetings, You Have Your Choice Tonight.

Like a seemingly endless items at a buffet, tonight there are lots of meetings that people can and should attend in their local communities.

COCOA BEACH: Tonight Cocoa Beach hosts a Charter Review Board meeting. The agenda for the meeting can be found here. There are some interesting things within the proposed changes to the Charter as we suggest that people read them as they will affect everyone.

The City also has two more meetings this week. Tomorrow night there is a Special City Commission Meeting concerning the budget which starts at 6:00 P.M.

The Commissioners will be right back at it on Thursday night at 6:00 PM again for a CRA meeting followed by a regular Commission meeting at 7:00 PM.

PALM BAY: The City Council will meet tonight at 6:30 PM for a budget meeting as well. Ordinances will be read, discussed and voted upon concerning fees and millage increases.

The Council takes a day off and then hosts a regular meeting on Thursday at 7:00 PM.

SATELLITE BEACH: Satellite Beach has a Board of Adjustment meeting tonight concerning a variance request made by the developers / architects of the proposed Solar Hotel. We wrote about this variance request and why it does not meet any legal standard for a variance yesterday.
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Cocoa Beach: Lawsuit Filed Over Amusement Rides At Pier.

We have written about the City’s approval of three amusement rides on this blog before.

(See: Cocoa Beach: The Pier And Amusement Park Rides, Westgate, Cocoa Beach, And Expectations, and Cocoa Beach: Cocoa Beach Pier Damaged In Storm.)

Now a group of owners of the Ola Grande Condominiums have banded together and filed a “Complaint for Declaratory Judgement and Injunctive Relief,” which is basically a lawsuit. (You can read the complaint below or click here.)

The owners have hired Attorney James C. Brady of the firm Arnstein and Lehr, LLP. Arnstein and Lehr is a huge law firm with offices across the country. Mr. Brady is a partner in the firm and works out of the Fort Lauderdale office.

If you are a follower of this site, you know that we address things that appear to be wrong, especially when those wrong actions are by a government entity. We look at laws, statutes, ordinance, etc., to get what is happening and then try to decide if the action is right.

We look at lawsuits the same way. When we write about a lawsuit, we opine on what we think is right or wrong about the suit itself. Our belief is that it is wrong to hold one group of people such as governments to one standard, and then not hold other people to the same standard.

In light of that, we want to offer our opinion on the complaint in this case as written.

First, the complaint states that the application was filled out incorrectly and the owner of the property was not listed as Westgate Resorts but rather David Siegel, who was acting as the agent for Westgate at the Board of Adjustment (BOA) meeting.

We have argued many times about what can only be called the “sloppiness” of the City’s Building Department when it comes to applications for variances and special exemptions. We don’t understand why the City continues to allow people and companies to not fill out a form correctly. We truly don’t understand how this continues to happen. It is the City’s form. They designed the application. One would think that would mean the City would know what they want on the application and how different fields should be completed. If the application doesn’t meet the standards, you give it back to the applicant and explain what is wrong. It should be noted that this application is not the only one that has been filled out incorrectly. The City wrongly lets this happen. At the same time, until the City clamps down on all applications, they shouldn’t single out a particular company for non-compliance. That is just as wrong as giving a company special treatment and a pass on not complying. The same rules should apply to all.

The complaint says that Westgate Cocoa Beach Pier LLC owns the property and they are not listed on the application. However, the application does list the Owner as “Cocoa Beach Pier” and gives the address as the Pier itself.

The question is then, “does the absence of the words “Westgate” and “LLC” mean the application is wrong?
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Cocoa Beach: A Small Victory For Economic And Expressive Freedom.

Back in May, we wrote about a case before the Cocoa Beach Board of Adjustments where the Cocoa Beach Tattoo Company was looking for a special exception in order to move into a retail space that was located 1730 feet from another tattoo parlor. The Board denied the exception even though there was case law saying the ordinance the City had passed was unConstitutional and therefore unenforceable.

Ten days after the Board of Adjustment meeting, the Cocoa Beach Tattoo Company filed a notice challenging the BOA’s ruling.

Complicating the matter was the timing of the notice and the case itself. If you remember, this was during the period when the City was re-examining its relationship with the legal firm representing it and eventually changed the firms.

The new City Attorneys have agreed that the Board of Adjustment was wrong to deny the special exemption and will recommend at BOA meeting on September 20, 2017 that the BOA approve the request by the Cocoa Beach Tattoo Company.

The response from the City on this matter is below.

In our opinion, this is a win for economic freedom and also the freedom of expression. The City shouldn’t have a say what legal businesses that cause no harm to anyone can be in the City. At the same time, while it is something that we would never do, tattoos are an art form and a type of expression. The freedom to express oneself is fundamental to everyone.
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Cocoa Beach: “Nothing Historical About” Surf Restaurant?

So there we were, sitting peacefully on a cloudy Friday doing work and getting ready for the weekend with the wife and kids when the text came in:

“CBV is blowing up.”

“CBV” is the Facebook page “Cocoa Beach Votes,” a page that is devoted strictly to issues in Cocoa Beach. We had mentioned them before. Of course, “blowing up” is a term for “there’s lots of activity on that site / page.”

We grabbed some popcorn, a Dr Pepper, and headed over to the site.

The owner of the page had written an post that was two pronged. The overall post was about a post by Cocoa Beach Mayor Ben Malik on the Surf restaurant and its demolition. The owner of Cocoa Beach Vote took exception to Malik’s post not mentioning the history of the restaurant, its significance to the area, and only looking at the restaurant (and now vacant property) as a piece of real estate to sell.

(One can question whether the Mayor of a city should be advertising a property for sale and giving the name of the agent and phone number. While Malik has the right to do that, even to us that is a bit unseemly.)

Enter into the fray one “Ed Dosado.”

(EDITOR’S NOTE: We normally don’t use names of regular citizens here and refer to people as “citizens” or “residents.” Since people can see the man’s name on the posts he makes, we are going to bend that rule. However, since Google and other sites track names of people for their search engines, we aren’t going to use his last name when discussing his posts and responses. We’re just going to call him “Ed.”

Ed’s first comment out of the gate is telling:
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Cocoa Beach: Cocoa Beach Pier Damaged In Storm.

(Image courtesy WKMG)

The Cocoa Beach Pier was damaged by high winds on August 3, 2017.

COCOA BEACH, Fla. – Three people were injured Thursday when strong wind gusts damaged the roof of a bar at the Cocoa Beach Pier, fire officials said.

The incident was caused by a microburst of strong weather around 3:15 p.m., with winds recorded at 50-60 mph, according to the National Weather Service. A microburst is a sudden, powerful air current.
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Part of the roof and canopy at Pelican’s Bar and Grill was blown off, officials with the Cocoa Beach Fire Department said. Some wiring was exposed because of the damage.

“It came from nowhere. We were just chilling under the pier and some lightning bolts and everyone started to shelter under the pier and in a couple of minutes, sand started going everywhere, the umbrella started flying, everyone took shelter under the pier,” said Kevin Brongers, who was on the beach during the storm.

Three people with minor injuries were treated at the scene. Officials did not say what type of injuries people had.

The pier is expected to be closed until sometime next week.

As a both a tourist attraction and a eating destination for some locals, we certainly hope the Pier gets back up and running as soon as safely possible.

But the incident raises another question concerning the safety of the planned amusement park rides.

When the rides were proposed by Westgate, they assured the residents and the Board of Adjustments that the rides could be taken down in 2 hours and stored or removed from the site.

Yet on August 3rd, there was no 2 hour warning for this microburst.

The winds were suddenly there.
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Cocoa Beach: Commission Workshop And Charter Review Committee.

Tonight at 8:00 PM, the City of Cocoa Beach City Commission will be having a workshop on Charter Review Committee followed by a meeting of the Charter Review Committee itself.

According to the agenda for the workshop, the

Provide guidance to the Cocoa Beach Charter Review Committee on the review of the City Charter.

– Convey the reasons behind the creation of the Charter Review Committee and discuss sense of purpose.
– Communicate lingering concerns about the Charter.
– Offer advice on the review process: if there should be a completely new Charter, or amendments to the current Charter, if the review should be conducted section -by-section, and/or by topic.

We wonder why the City Council is giving “guidance” to an independent Committee?

Our skepticism is based on this statement from Resolution 2017-09 which established the Charter Committee itself:

WHEREAS the City Commission desires input on proposed Charter amendments from a broad range of residents….

We find this call of the Committee in front of the Commission to be curious, to say the least. If Commission members want to talk to the Charter Review Committee they have the means to do it by attending the meetings of the Committee itself. Perhaps we are reading too much into this, but it almost seems as if the Commission set up the Committee as an independent body and now wants to tell the Committee what it needs to look at, address and change.

We do know two things:
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Cocoa Beach: “Welcome To The Party, Pal!”

In the 1988 action thriller film “Die Hard,” there is a scene where the Bruce Willis character John McClain throws a terrorist / thief out of the window. The body falls and lands on a police squad car – the same police that McClain has been desperately trying to convince that the building is under attack and the people inside are being held at gun point.

After the body crashes into the windshield of the car, McClain shouts “Welcome to the party, Pal!”

(You can see the line here, and the clip in context here. (Warning: NSFW language in the second clip.)

One of the stronger presences on Facebook dealing with government issues in Cocoa Beach is a page called “Cocoa Beach Vote.”

The page regularly links to us and takes excerpts from here, so we keep an eye on them and what they are up to.

As they deal with general issues in Cocoa Beach, you should keep an eye on them as well.

However, a new page has appeared dealing with Cocoa Beach and this one is more focused on one issue – the amusement park rides Westgate is planning to install at the Cocoa Beach Pier.
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