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Cocoa Beach: Subterfuge.

Subterfuge-ROH

HEIGHT and DENSITY SUBTERFUGE

Most of us are very familiar with the contentious battles that residents fought for four years to maintain low building height limits (45 ft.) in Cocoa Beach after several 16-story buildings were built.

Two city commission meetings ago, Commissioner Skip Williams said he was alerted by a resident that the State of Florida had responded to the transmitted Comprehensive Plan (Comp Plan) which came back with several objections from the Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO).

Apparently, Mayor Netterstrom had received the state’s highly anticipated response an entire month earlier and didn’t notify any other commissioners, the City Clerk nor City Attorney, not even the acting City Manager had been made aware. Instead the Mayor handed the letter off to former City Manager, Bob Majka, who was on his way out City Hall’s door to Panama City Beach for his new position as County Manager.

One of the state’s objections to the Comp Plan concerns moving height and density decisions from the commission to the Land Development Code (LDC) to be decided by a NON-ELECTED board rather than the commission.

At tonight’s (April 6) Planning Board meeting at 6pm, Chairman John Byron is doing a presentation on the subject of revising the future LDC for Cocoa Beach. He wants to get a definition of what “family-oriented resort community” means and also get input from the Board of Adjustment, a quasi-judicial board, who decides matters related to the LDC, as well as input from the public.

Coincidentally, the “landscape meeting” for the residents on N. Banana River Blvd. just happens to be scheduled at the exact same time as the Planning Board meeting. One has to wonder if that dynamic duo husband and wife team, John and Melissa Byron, had something to do with that, since she’s on the city payroll as Director of Marketing and her name was previously mentioned as staff that would be present for the landscape discussion. It certainly wouldn’t be the first time the pair worked together to distract or deflect the community from matters pertaining to the Comp Plan. The evening before the last city election comes to mind. I wrote a post on this at length back in December when the Comp Plan came before the commission and passed with a vote of 4-1 at the December 4th meeting. Most people were preoccupied with the holidays, as they should be and the commission was banking on that.

Even though Director of Developmental Services, Zach Montgomery, stated it would be illegal to try to get around the 5-0 vote at last week’s commission meeting, don’t be surprised if the Planning Board manipulates the LDC in certain, shall we say, “politically motivated zones” for the benefit of the movers and shakers in the real estate and development community. Did we mention that Commissioner Ben Malik recently obtained his realtor’s license?

The rationale they will use is reviewing past variance approvals to determine if variances in density should be expanded by law. To date, there isn’t enough evidence in the three (yes, only three) variances to height to construe a pattern for increasing height and NONE for density increases.

While there are many concerns with this revisement of the LDC, this one jumped out:

“Invite the participation of a balanced slate of civic-minded resident & business advisors
• 5 to 10 citizens recruited by the Director of Developmental Services to provide representative views from those most affected by the LDC”

Why only 5-10 residents and why “recruited” by the Director of Development? There’s absolutely no guarantee that any of the 5-10 recruits will represent the will of the majority of residents. There have already been reports of nepotism on the new “Main Street” committee for which the Mayor’s sister was hand selected. Were you ever notified that the City was taking applications for this committee? No, because it didn’t happen and it should have. In addition, the committee should have been appointed by commissioners. But that’s a story for another day.

If we know anything about this Planning Board, it’s this: they do not want input from the regular folks in this city. The only possible exceptions are new members Bill Vollmer (appointed by Commissioner Williams),who has been an advocate for maintaining the current height and density limits thus far and Barry Watson (appointed by Commissioner Malik). Both men have only served on the Planning Board for a couple months and the March meeting was cancelled. Overall, as with the commission, it is a very pro-development majority. The arrogance and disrespect displayed by some longtime Planning Board members toward citizens who speak during public comment is appalling. They have taken up tactics of belittling some of the elderly residents who come in on a regular basis because they don’t want to hear what they have to say. The same can be said about the Board of Adjustment as well as some of the city commissioners.

Be prepared for a Planning Board initiated Land Development Code that suggests revising current height and density regulations to allow taller buildings and increased density than the current code allows.

Please make a point to attend the meeting at City Hall. Watch or record the meeting on Brighthouse channel 497 or live on the internet.



4 Responses to “Cocoa Beach: Subterfuge.”

  1. Bob says:

    Byron isn’t seeking a definition of “family oriented resort community”, he’s looking for the pro-development majority on the boards to completely redefine it so wealthy hoteliers and the billionaire Pier owner can build in the politically motivated zones. Progressives are vehemently against wealth, except for when they’re for it.

    Remember, he’s the guy who wrote an opinion in Florida Today a few months back encouraging Democrats to deceitfully pose as Republicans so they could get elected in Brevard County and then push their unpopular agenda forward. Unpopular, because otherwise he wouldn’t have to advocate deception of Brevard voters.
    Cocoa Beach can’t afford to give this guy the benefit of the doubt on any issue.

  2. Cocoa Beach Vote says:

    There are two more Planning Board members who serve as alternates that weren’t mentioned in the post, Ty Billings and Orson Tarver. Billings was appointed by Malik, is a longtime resident and known to associate with the pro-development crowd.
    Tarver, on the other hand, is a relative newcomer to Cocoa Beach, although he’s resided in central Brevard for some time and was appointed by Tumulty.
    Both guys have only been on the PB a few months so time will tell who they tend to side with.
    Anyone who has had to sit in this spring break traffic the last month and favors more development fully needs their head examined.

  3. Bill Geiger, Jr. says:

    Unlike most of you, I am not afraid of putting my real name with my comments, not hiding behind some silly pseudonym. So, Ty Billings is a “longtime resident known to associate with the pro-development crowd”. Yes, his parents have been here for ever, and he did go to school here, but I find the comment interesting, since he recently moved back from California, where he lived for 20 years or so. I know him well enough, and can’t seem to closely associate him with anyone who could qualify as “pro-development”. If nothing else, you people need to “grow a set” and put your name after your comments, or are you to ashamed of your own opinion to do so?

    • AAfterwit says:

      Mr. Geiger,

      Thank you for your comment.

      I won’t address your thoughts on Ty Billings but I will address your comments and what could be considered attacks on people who write anonymously on this and other blogs.

      First, as a practical matter unless we were to require registration for commentors to “prove” who they are via a credit card or other id, there is no way for us to verify who a person is. While you seem to take satisfaction in using your own name – more specifically what you claim is your own name – there is no way for us to verify that assertion nor do we have a desire to do so. For all we know your comments here are from someone using the pseudonym or nom de plume of “Bill Geiger, Jr.”

      Secondly, throughout history and specifically American history, people have chosen to write on political topics anonymously. The seminal pamphlet Common Sense was written and published anonymously. “The American Crisis” was also published anonymously and it is fair to say that without these writings, the US would not have been established and broken away from England as a separate country.

      After the Revolutionary War, discussions on the type and scope of Federal and State governments were often through anonymous writings. The Federalist Papers, through which we see the reasons for why the Constitution reads one way and not another, were anonymous articles to news papers.

      In the 1800’s, anonymous writings took on slavery, allowing people to publish thoughts and opinions without fear of repercussions. Those ideas could, and often did result in beatings and deaths from factions who disagreed with the ideas put forth.

      In the 1900’s anonymous writings discussed discrimination, entry into wars, support of wars, women’s suffrage, and a host of other ideas that shaped the country for the better.

      No serious student of history could even propose that anonymous writings should not be allowed or that people who chose to write anonymously should “grow a set.”

      You ask the question of whether people are ashamed of their own opinion as to put their names on it. That question can be turned around and asked “are you so insecure in your opinions that you have to know who said something rather than addressing what was said?”

      Does knowing who writes a comment add or detract from the ideas expressed in the comment itself? Doesn’t a comment or idea stand or fail on its own merits?

      No, the only reason that you and people like you want to know who writes a comment is to enable you to attack them on a level outside of the ideas that are expressed.

      When we first started this blog we made the conscience decision to allow anonymous writings as it encourages free and open discussions. It encourages people to speak their minds without fear of reprisals from organizations, people and even government entities.

      We suggest that you deal with the issues rather than with who raises them or writes about them.

      Have a good day.

      A. Afterwit.

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