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Westgate, Cocoa Beach, And Expectations.

Last night the Cocoa Beach Board of Adjustment met and unanimously decided to pass a special exemption to Westgate Resorts allowing the company to erect three amusement rides in walkway near the Cocoa Beach Pier, which is owned by Westgate.

We had written about the agenda item here and were interested to see whether Westgate would have to supply the same information other applicants would have to supply or would Westgate get preferential treatment of some sort.

We should have known better than to even wonder.

Proposed location of rides.

First, we want to say that Westgate has done a good if not great job of renovating the Pier and making it better than it was when it was first constructed. The Pier had falling into disrepair and Westgate changed that.

However, it should be remembered that Westgate didn’t do the work out of the kindness and goodness of their heart. They did it to make money. A profit off of their investment. We take no issue with them looking to make a buck off of the Pier and their investment in it. It’s a business and we respect that. However, unlike many, we don’t feel the need to thank them for it. We don’t need to give them accolades for engaging in their business of buying, renovating and maintaining properties.

Many of the people who supported this project cited how great Westgate had been in the renovation of the pier. Some of the supporters (most actually) work for Westgate in some capacity now or in the past. Many of them spoke about the exacting standards and planning the company exhibits on a constant basis. Being great in the past may mean people are less skeptical of you. It doesn’t mean that you get a free pass from the City.

If you think they should be thanked endlessly, let us know the next time City officials come to your home and thank you for making improvements and maintaining your property.

The agenda item itself started out with City Planner Sue Ryan making the presentation for Westgate. It was not, as one would hope and expect from a City employee, neutral in any way. Ryan said Westgate had plans in place to address lighting concerns for both neighbors and sea turtles saying “they can turn [the lights] down.

Last meeting, when the BOA was dealing with the outdoor proposed outdoor seating at the marina restaurant, the applicant was grilled on the type of lights that would be used and was asked to show the fixtures they would use to shield the lights from residents living across the water. The BOA wanted an exacting plan.

Westgate?
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Cocoa Beach: The Pier And Amusement Park Rides.

This ought to be interesting.

Today at 5:15 PM, the Board of Adjustment will hold a meeting at which time one of the agenda items is allowing Westgate Resorts, the owners of the Cocoa Beach Pier, to install three amusement park rides in the pedestrian walkway of the area.

Proposed location of rides.

This is going to be fascinating to watch.

Westgate is one of the “big hitters” in the City and has a great deal of pull within City Hall. Will this application get any special treatment that other businesses have not?

“What special treatment?” you ask?

The BOA has, for better or worse, been extremely hard on businesses and have put restrictions on noise and impact far beyond what may be allowed by the Code and by law. They have literally made smaller companies and businesses jump through hoops that existing businesses to not have to comply with and in doing so, place the newer companies at a disadvantage with increased costs.

For example, the BOA has often taken into consideration complaints and concerns from home owners and condos that are not abuttors or even abuttors to abuttors.

Here, just to the south of proposed location there is a group of condos. Just to the south of them, there is another group of condos. Will the BOA consider the impact of these amusement rides on those condos?

For example, anyone who has ever gone to the yearly Our Savior Carnival (or any carnival or State Fair) knows the volume of music from rides is incredibly loud. They are designed that way. The music is designed to draw people in. In many cases, the music is so loud that you cannot communicate on the ride.

But there is another reason for the volume of the music. It is there to cover up the mechanical noise of ride itself. Once again, if you have ever attended a carnival or State Fair, you know you can feel the ground shake when walking past rides. That music and vibration will be transmitted to the condos and while you can reduce the volume of the music, you cannot reduce or eliminate the vibration. In fact, if you think about it, most portable carney rides like this get set up on dirt to help dissipate the vibration. Here, the rides are being set up on concrete – in effect a drum head that will extend the vibration out further than if the ride was sitting on dirt.

If you look at the documentation within the agenda item, there is no data on volume or vibration.

Will the BOA consider that or let it slide because, well, because it is Westgate?
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Cocoa Beach – CRA And Commission Meeting Tonight.

Cocoa Beach will be hosting a CRA and a regular Commission meeting tonight starting at 6:30 PM.

The agendas for both meetings can be found here.

The big item in the CRA meeting is the approval of a $4.7 million dollar loan for the new downtown City buildings. The amount won’t cover all of the costs (not even close) but the loan will have the ability to extend payments to the end of the life of the CRA itself in in 2032.

Frankly, we are puzzled by this and one of these days we are going to have to sit down and figure out how a City with similar populations to towns south (Indian Harbor and Satellite Beach) has a budget 4 times greater than those two towns and is still clamoring for more money. We know that there are differences in some services as in the number of patrolling police and a larger fire department, but that doesn’t account for the differences. One of these days we are going to have to sit down and go line by line through the various budgets of the towns and see what is being spent where.

The regular meeting is somewhat basic. There is an item agenda for approving the location of a new emergency services tower that had been discussed before.

There is also the contract for the new legal firm which is set to take effect July 1 and run for five years.

As always, the meeting(s) can be seen on the City’s website and on Spectrum channel 497.

Hope to see you at the meeting where you can make your voice heard.



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Cocoa Beach: “They Did A Complete Job.”

“They did a complete job,” is how CRA Administrator Melissa Byron characterized the application for submitted by the Cape Canaveral Masonic Lodge for a CRA grant on Thursday, June 1, 2017.

As we noted the other day, the application was missing a site plan. The application was missing comparable estimates for the work on the building. The application was missing a second estimate for the awning. The application was missing two estimates for signage. The application was missing estimates for landscaping and the plants that are going to be used in the landscaping.

All those things are required by the application.

None were done.

Yet Byron said the application was a “complete job.”

We’d hate to see an “incomplete job.”

Unfortunately, things did not get better for facts and things to consider for this grant.
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Cocoa Beach: BREAKING NEWS Commission Selects Vose Law Firm As Legal Counsel.

Just a few moments ago the Cocoa Beach City Commission selected the Vose Law firm to provide legal services to the City.

The selection process was that the Commissioners selected two of the three candidates for the position.

That vote went as follows:

Fowler and O’Quinn 2 votes (Miller, Woulas)
Shepard Smith & Cassady 4 votes (Martinez, Williams, Woulas, Malik)
Vose Law Firm 4 votes (Martinez, Miller, Williams, Malik)

With Shepard Smith & Cassady and the Vose Law Firm being the top two choices, the Commission then voted on the actual firm.

Shepard Smith & Cassady 2 votes (Williams, Woulas)
Vose Law Firm 3 votes (Martinez, Miller, Malik)

The Commission then tasked City Manager McKnight to negotiate a contract with the Vose Law Firm and present a preliminary contract for approval on June 15, 2017.



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Cocoa Beach: CRA And Regular Commission Meeting Tonight.

Tonight the City of Cocoa Beach will host a CRA meeting which starts at 6:00 PM and a regular meeting that starts at 7:00 PM.

The agendas for both meetings can be seen here.

The CRA meeting has an application for a grant from the Cape Canaveral Masonic Loge located in the downtown area at 149 South Atlantic Avenue.

The estimated cost of the job is $14,249.00 and with the grant being half of that at $7,124.50.

First, we have to say that this is another application for an occupied building whose owners are seeking money from the taxpayers because they did not perform the upkeep on the building. That’s really all there is to it. This type of grant leads to companies and groups not taking care of their property.

Secondly, we have no idea how this application even made it to the CRA Board as it is incomplete.

The City requires site plans for the proposed work. There are none. There are two pencil drawings but it is hard to say they qualify for any type of site plan for the work being done.

Secondly, the City requires two estimates for the work being performed. There are two bids, but neither bid addresses all the work that is being proposed nor does it include the costs of all the projects.

There is a bid from Johnson Construction Corp that lists the work being done but oddly does not give a total for all of the work. That’s okay, we have a calculator and when we add up their work, the total bid is $11,850.00

Canaveral Plastering Services has a bid for $11,550,00 but the kicker is the work being done is not the same on the two bids. For example, one bid pressure washes and paints the entire building while the other bid only pressure washes and paints three sides, leaving the east side dirty.

As we said, the application says the amount of the work is $14,249.00 which is not the amount of the bids.
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Cocoa Beach: The Legal Services Workshop Impressions.

As we said yesterday, last night the Cocoa Beach City Commission held a workshop with public interviews for the three remaining candidates.

We were unable to attend for a couple of reasons, but we did record it and watch it.

If you want to know what our impressions of the meeting and the candidates were, sorry, but we aren’t going to tell you.

At least not at this time.

We know that there are people out there who think and say “if Hoecakes likes this applicant, we should hate them. If Hoecakes hates this applicant, we should support them.”

That’s the way that rolls sometimes.
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Cocoa Beach: Legal Services Workshop.

Don’t forget that tonight the City of Cocoa Beach will hold a workshop starting at 6 PM where the public can see the three remaining finalists for providing legal services to the City in “action.”

The agenda for the meeting is found here.

Presentations by City Attorney candidates. (Listed on the agenda alphabetically.) Presentations to include:
– Introduction of Attorney and legal firm experience – 15 minutes
– Questions by the City Commission – 15 minutes
– Questions from the Public – 10 minutes
Interview times are flexible and subject to adjustment.

Of course, the interesting thing to us is that this meeting is after the City Commission members have had individual interviews out of the public eye but yet they are getting more time to ask questions than the other 10,000 people in Cocoa Beach. Don’t get us wrong, the law firm will work and at the direction of the Commission so perhaps it is right that the Commission have more time. At the same time, if the Commission members haven’t asked the questions they want asked in the private interviews, do they really need more time – especially more than the people who will be paying the bill?
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