From The Comments.

On Wednesday, longtime reader and commenter par excellence “Hometown” left this comment:

The group of residents fighting to maintain our current 45′ height limit lost out to the pro-development crowd so I guess the big money has spoken. I talked to at least 10 folks who told me that they thought they had to vote yes on Question One to maintain the 45′ height limit so the developers and the city did a good job of misleading the voters. Just kind of a shame that the city didn’t take the time to tell the truth, I had hoped my elected officials would have had more integrity. Well, time to move on.

I do want to say special thanks to ROH and all your hard work for helping to get the real facts out to the residents. Once again, your site has shown its willingness to put out truthful and factual information and discuss issues openly and honestly, kudos to you and your folks.

Also, thanks to Matt Fleming from Satellite Beach who was personally attack all over social media in his attempts to help us get the facts out to the voters. He would have made a great county commissioner who seems to be more pro-resident than pro-development. I believe the only reason he lost is because he ran as a democrat in a republican county. I encourage him to switch parties and try again, we republicans also value the environment and family oriented communities while supporting smart growth and fiscal responsibility. Don’t give up Matt.

Also, congrats to Commissioner Williams who showed you don’t need the special interest money if you listen and support the residents as he does. Great job and good luck, I know it’s not easy being the only pro-resident Commissioner on the board but your efforts are greatly appreciated.

We think his analysis of what happened is spot on.

From day one Ballot Issue #1 in Cocoa Beach was about not being honest with the people and outside interests spending money to influence voters. To some extent, voters themselves can be blamed for allowing themselves to be deceived. At the same time, when people on the Commission are elected, you would hope that your vote was for those that are honest and have the integrity to be truthful. That didn’t happen.

During the Ocean Dunes Project approval process, the main thrust of why the extra height was needed was money. Some members of the City Commission repeatedly said that a height of the project needed to be approved because the City needed to increase the tax base. Realtors paraded to the microphone saying they couldn’t sell units with less then 12 foot ceiling heights. Of course, units with less height were difficult to find in the City not because of the scarcity of units, but because the units were selling. Hard data backed the fact that height had nothing to do with sales but developers wanted to make more money with units that had higher ceiling heights. Realtors wanted to sell units for more money which increased their commission from the sale.

When the “variance” was passed, Malik and others said that there would never be a need to have a building higher than 58 feet tall within the City.

When Ballot Issue #1 was approved by the City Commission to appear on the ballot, two things occurred. The first is that any talk of money from the City of supporters of the question disappeared. No longer was making money for developers and realtors to ever be mentioned again. No longer was “increasing the tax base” mentioned. To have brought money into the equation would have meant exposing the real reason behind Ballot Issue #1. It also would mean that City Commissioners who claimed the increase in tax revenues from higher buildings could be held to standard of no increases in fees or taxes down the road.

We doubt the people on the Commission who supported this pig in a poke wanted people to remember that, especially at budget time.

Secondly, Ballot Issue #1 allows for taller buildings above the 58 feet Commission members said would never happen within the City of Cocoa Beach. The actual ballot issue that some Commissioners fought for proved that they could not be trusted and had lied to the citizens of Cocoa Beach.

Instead of being honest, the backers of the issue decided to make it seem that the issue would protect Cocoa Beach from height increases even though the actual issue allowed for higher heights. Ads and statements from the City claimed that the issue would “allow” for things like awash through, safer buildings, parapets, etc., all of which were allowed under the old code and Charter language. As Hometown points out, the issue was sold to voters as protecting the height restrictions when instead it was drastically changing them by allowing an increase in height of over 53%.

There is nothing that the citizens can do now. The vote is over.

But there is always another election coming up. Another chance to let politicians within the City that the citizens will not stand for being lied to.

As a side note, the Williams’ victory and the corresponding Tumulty defeat was a win for the citizens in more ways than one. First, Tumulty was backed by the same people who were backing the height ballot issue. Without Williams on the Commission, those backers would have had a clear 5-0 vote every time a height change came before the Commission. What many people didn’t realize is that when Tumulty filed to run against Williams, Seat 5 was wide open. Commissioner Miller had indicated that he wasn’t interested in running and instead of taking the open slot of Seat 5, Timulty and his backers went after Williams.

Late in the game when no one had filed for Seat 5, Miller filed.

The game plan had to have been get Williams off of the Commission. It was a plan that failed, even with lots of money backing Tumulty who is so devoid of his own ideas, he started using Williams’ slogan of “for the citizens.” Tumulty couldn’t even come up with his own campaign slogan.

Tumulty would have been a rubber stamp on the Commission for even higher buildings.

By the way, don’t think for a second that the passage of Ballot Issue #1 locks in the height of buildings within he City. It doesn’t. By State law, every building code and restriction must have a variance process. We saw that in action for the Ocean Dunes project. The hard height of 45 feet voters had passed was bypassed by a process that allowed Boards and the City Commission to say “we can do it….so we will.” Nothing prevents that from again from happening with even higher buildings now.

Thanks again to Hometown for his insightful comment.

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