Cocoa Beach: Well, That Didn’t Take Long.

We said earlier that we thought the Cocoa Beach Tattoo Company would initiate a legal appeal to the decision of the Board of Adjustment.

Our ninjas have sent word that they have done just that.

The company is being represented by attorney Kimberly Bonder Rezanka, who you may remember won the shark sign case.

Cocoa Beach: Dear Commissioner….

EDITOR’S NOTE: Below is a copy of an email we have sent to every member of the Cocoa Beach Commission. We are doing this prior to the May 30, 2017 workshop on the selection of a firm to provide legal services to the City. We probably would have sent a representative to both the Commission meeting and Board of Adjustment meeting to highlight the failure of sound legal advice from the City Attorney, but both meetings occur after the workshop. We wanted to give Commissioners additional information of which they may not be aware.

Dear Commissioner,

On May 30, 2017 the City of Cocoa Beach Commission will hold an public workshop for the purposes of presentations and public interviews from both citizens and the Commission as a whole for the purpose of contracting with a firm for legal services.

One of the proposed firms is the current firm upon which the City relies upon for legal services: Fowler, O’Quinn, Feeney & Sneed, P.A.

We have been critical of the firm in the past due to a lack of preparation (the City seal issue,) a lack of quality legal advice (i.e. City rules that allow dissenting voices to be removed,) a lack of professionalism (acting as Board members rather than being a consultant to that Board,) and giving legal advice that was wrong (City seal issue on costs.) Several times we have sent a representative to your meetings to discuss these issues.

However, due to the timing of the workshop and the timing of a regular Commission meeting, we are not able to highlight another instance of a legal problem caused by Fowler, O’Quinn, Feeney & Sneed, P.A. – specifically Attorney Marsha Segal-George.

We will try to be brief but give some documentation to what we are saying.

On May 17, 2017 the Board of Adjustments met to and under new business looked at three cases. ((Agenda here: )

Case “C3” was an application for a “special exemption” from the Cocoa Beach Tattoo Company represented by the owner David Cox. (the case briefing can be seen here: )

At issue was the applicant wanting to locate a tattoo shop within 2000 feet or another tattoo shop. The actual distance of 1730 feet required a special exemption under the Land Development Regulations (LDRs.)

During the discussion of the case, Chairman Don Haynes said he seemed to remember “legislation or something” that tattooing was a First Amendment issue and asked the City Attorney if the City “could get in trouble.” (Timestamp 01:26:31 of the video.)

Cocoa Beach: Board Of Adjustment And Tattoos.

Last night the Board of Adjustments for the City of Cocoa Beach met to discuss three cases.

Our main issue will be with the third case, but something else came prior to the actual cases.

Item number 6 was added to the agenda and reads:

Review of quasi-judicial hearing requirements – City Attorney (added to the Agenda 05/11/17)

City Attorney Marsh Segal-George reviewed the standards for a “quasi-judicial” hearing, which is what the Board of Adjustment (BOA) acts as. Generally speaking, a quasi-judicial board is one that acts as a court in a limited set of circumstances and areas. In this instance, the BOA is familiar with the general codes for building in Cocoa Beach. Rather than having some judge sit there and try to learn the codes, the law allows a local board to act as a court and the decisions have the same weight as a court.

The interesting thing is that Segal-George said that previously the City Staff had made recommendations on whether to grant or deny the variance as part of the presentation to the Board. The Staff will no longer do this. Although Segal-George did not say so, there were always problems with the Staff recommendations based on the fact that people who had made the decisions and recommendations never had to testify. There seemed to us to be a bias toward the Staff’s opinion and too many times we heard “the Staff knows what they are doing” and going with their recommendation rather than their own judgement.

We had written about this more than one time and it appears that someone may have heard our cries and are now not allowing the Staff to make recommendations on agenda items.

We’ll take that as a win.

We want to turn our attention to item C3.

The Cocoa Beach Tattoo Company was looking to move into Cocoa Beach from their current location in Cape Canaveral. According to the owner Dave Cox, the company came up with the name “Cocoa Beach Tattoo Company” and then found that their best location for customers would be in Cape Canaveral. Now the company is looking to move into the downtown area of Cocoa Beach and also sell beach ware, clothing, and souvenirs. .

The problem is that the location is 1730 feet from another tattoo parlor. For the company to move to the proposed location they would need a “special exemption” from the Board of Adjustments.

From the agenda summary:

Cocoa Beach: City Commission Meeting.

Normally tonight there would be a City Commission meeting, but the Commission is not meeting. The Commission members are privately interviewing applicants for the City Attorney position. (Oddly enough, the (lack of) competency of the City Attorney is raised in the post above on the Board of Adjustment meeting.)

We know that you, like us, will be tearful and upset that you don’t have to go to the meeting or watch it, but we’ll all get passed it.

Have a great night!

Cocoa Beach: Commissioner Miller Thinks Opinions Are Facts And Things That Have Been Approved Need To Be Re-Worked.

During the regular Cocoa Beach Commission meeting this past Thursday, the site plan for the Publix Super Market in the Banana River Square was on the agenda for approval. Publix’s intention is to raze the current store and a portion of the other stores and rebuild the store. While there is an increase in size to the store, the store is being built on the same footprint that is currently there. (You can see the plans here.)

The item was moved to the top of the pile because the applicant had another commitment that night. However, it was clear watching the body language of some of the Commissioners that this was a topic that made some of them uncomfortable.

The actual part of the meeting on this item starts at 2:20 into the meeting which can be seen on the City’s website.

As a bit of background, the Publix project was approved by the Planning Board on May 1, 2017. The Planning Board added another condition of the site approval, but the memo to the City Commission on the issue says this:

The site plan submittal was reviewed by the Development Review Committee (DRC) and comments were provided to the applicant, resulting in a few design amendments. City staff professionals have determined the submittal meets the requirements provided by the City Land Development Code for approval of a site plan. The submittal was scheduled for Planning Board review as part of their May 1, 2017 agenda. Upon completion of that
meeting, the recommendation of the Board will be provided to the Commission
The Planning Board met on May 1, 2017 and voted unanimously to recommend approval of the Site Plan as presented with the six conditions listed below.

Most importantly is the fact that neither the “staff professionals” nor the Planning Board could find anything in the submitted plans that was against any law, code, or regulation within the City of Cocoa Beach.

It was therefore someone surprising that Commissioner Miller would object to the plan. As a former architect, we fully expected him to support the plans as they were made within City regulations. As an architect, we would have thought that Miller would have supported the idea of designing things within the law and not have to worry about the whims and aesthetic preferences of people on a Commission or Board.

That was not the case.

Cocoa Beach: The Meeting.

Sorry to tell y’all this, but we had professional obligations last night and were not able to devote our entire attention to the Cocoa Beach Commission meeting.

What we heard was somewhat distressing.

The Publix issue got to be a mess because as we said, people want to tell Publix what they have to do even if it is outside of the code. We also caught a whiff that the access to the Publix is an issue. This would not fall on Publix, but some people want it to.

What a mess.

The “Charter Review Committee” came up and that turned farcical.

Of interest there was a mention by Mayor Malik and the height and density issue. Malik says the Committee will not look at that, but we aren’t holding our breath. The Charter Review Committee should not review what has already been decided. The Charter Review Committee should look for discrepancies and conflicts within the Charter. In no way shape or form should this committee look to subvert or recommend changes that the public has already said “no” to.

We are going to go back and listen to the meeting again and will try and write a post about it.

If we can manage not to vomit.

Cocoa Beach: There’s The Law, And Then There Is What We Want.

The Cocoa Beach City Commission meets tonight at 6:00 PM for a CRA meeting and then at 7:00 PM for a regular Commission meeting. As always, the meeting can be viewed on the City’s website or on Spectrum Cable channel 497. The agendas for both meetings can be found here.

The Beach Ranger expansion and ordinances are back for a second reading. We still have issues with the wording on the authority of the Beach Rangers and know that in some cases that authority wouldn’t hold up in a court of law, but that is not a fight we can make at this time.

The “methodology” for the Charter Review is on the agenda as well. We still believe that with four Commission members who support taller buildings in the City, this is a committee that needs to be watched carefully.

However, one item on the agenda that bothers us greatly is Item I:

Approve with conditions, the Site Plan for Publix Store No. 107, located at 2067 North Atlantic Avenue, within the Banana River Square Shopping Center, for raze and rebuild, in accordance with the requirements. The existing Publix building is on the north side of the parcel, with a vacant unit attached to the west wall of the building. On the west side of the property are retail/professional units, attached to each other, but detached from the Publix building. Rebuild plans involve razing the existing Publix building, the vacant attached unit, and five of the retail/professional units from the northwest corner of the property. The new Publix building will be constructed over the footprint of the existing structure and attached unit, with a new overall area of 46,031 square feet. The parking lot will undergo an upgrade to improve traffic patterns, landscaping, lighting and drainage.
Representatives: Randy Stevenson, Development Services Director, Susanne Ryan, City Planner
Recommendation: Approve with conditions noted in Agenda Item Summary

The “conditions” the staff wishes to impose on Publix are the following:

Cocoa Beach: Be “Reasonable.”

Man Arrested For Not Wearing Sunscreen

COCOA BEACH – A man was arrested today in Cocoa Beach for failing to wear sunscreen. The man, who is not being identified, was told by Cocoa Beach Rangers that he needed to wear sunscreen as a failure to do so would likely cause sunburn and skin damage.

“We have a legal responsibility to keep the public safe and healthy when visiting our beaches,” a City official said. “When the Beach Rangers made a reasonable request to the man to put on sunscreen, he refused. We were forced by his non-compliance to remove the man from the beach and ban him from returning to the beach for two years.”

Luckily, that story hasn’t happened – yet.

But it could.

Tonight the City Commission of the City of Cocoa Beach will meet at 7:00 PM to discuss a variety of issues, including Ordinance 1605, which expands the authority of the Beach Rangers and other City employees to require people to follow what is described as “reasonable” commands from designated City employees.

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