McIntosh Mirror: Reflecting news in the Tosh

Want to impact your community? Many of McIntosh's citizen boards have open seats and a council at a loss as to how to fill them.

Light-up McIntosh December 15

Light-up McIntosh will begin at the Civic Center at 6:30 p.m. The event will host Santa Clause and an area choir from six local churches will sing.

06.25.06 -- ARTICLE: Historic Just Ain't What It Used to Be, March 22, 2006

This story was orginally written for an in depth reporting class March 22. The reporting is based on observation in public meetings as well as one-on-one interviews both in phone and in person. I'm posting it now because the petition vote is coming up July 11.

Historic Just Ain't What It Used to Be

By CHER PHILLIPS

McINTOSH – A group of former McIntosh town leaders gathered enough signatures to petition the town to add an amendment to its charter limiting expansion of the historic district and contradicting the charming character of McIntosh.

The small town of about 450 people is known for its historic district. Every fall, 40,000-some odd Floridians pack the quaint streets of McIntosh for its 1890’s Festival.

But some of its residents are saying, enough already.

The amendment petition states that town leaders would not be allowed to expand the town’s historic district unless a property owner bordering the historic district specifically wanted to be included in that area.

Charlsie Stott, the petition committee chairman, said she did this for several reasons but the overwhelming reason is that residents living outside the district don’t want to be told how they can and can’t live.

She said one of her criticisms of the current historic district in McIntosh is the Historic Preservation Board focuses on dictating how the homes and yards of the other homes in the historic district should be without concentrating on the upkeep of the historic structures themselves.

The town’s council members challenged the petition on several levels.

Council member Frank Ciotti went as far as to say in a Feb. 15 town council meeting that he believed the signatures were gathered dishonestly and the residents of McIntosh were lied to.

Stott said that she absolutely did not lie to anyone.

All she has to do is point to a recent Historic Preservation Board meeting as an example.

In the Feb. 21 meeting, an argument between audience member Susan Phillips and board members became heated over Randy Brown’s roof, on his family home located on U.S. 441.

At one point, Phillips demanded the board refuse Brown’s proposed roof and fine him if he attempted to put a metal roof on his home.

This was Brown’s second request before the board in a period of one month.

Phillips had insisted at a previous meeting the gray metal roof Brown requested approval should denied based on color. The proposed gray metal roof might not be close enough to the color of tin that a tin-colored metal roof. The board listened to her and Brown’s roof was refused.

The Brown home, off U.S. 441, is a Classic Revival built in 1910. Currently, the roof is shingled tile but Brown was approved a permit for tin metal roof because other Victorian homes in the historic district had been given permission by the board for a metal roof. Phillips argued at the meeting that this roof would not look appropriate.

Late last year, the McIntosh Land Planning Agency – a zoning advisory board – suggested an historic corridor to the town council. This corridor would create a protected area around the historic district.

“They want to create what they call an historic corridor, or transition zone. If they do that, it would give them control over that area. People don’t want to be told every board they can paint and what color. You lose your property rights when you do that,” said Howard Walkup, former town council member.

Town council members, however, denied even entertaining the issue of an historic corridor.

Meanwhile, Stott's petition committee gathered enough signatures that the town clerk had to certify the petition. The town will have to have a special election for members to come and vote on whether they would like to expand the historic district.

This petition has become, like most other things in McInotsh, a point of contention. When Lee Winters suggested the town council add to the ballot the proposed CRA because so many people were upset, it opened up another wave of criticism for the petition from council members.

One method the council members initially chose to take on was writing the residents of McIntosh a letter challenging the petition and asking anyone who wanted to remove their names from the petition to come to the office and file paperwork with the town clerk.

Mayor Marsha Strange asked the town clerk to fax this letter to the attorney general’s office for a second opinion. She refused to sign it and wanted to know if it was valid.

Individual town council members criticized Strange in a public meeting for questioning their letter and for using the town’s fax machine saying she had no business using town equipment, even though she is the town’s mayor.

Danaya Wright wrote another letter encouraging the town’s residents not to vote for this amendment. She said that expanding the historic district was not legal.

Jim Strange countered these moves in a February workshop meeting in relative privacy. He told other council members that by protesting the petition, they were opening themselves up to criticism.

However, council member Joe Phillips continued to challenge the certification of a petition in March after it had been certified for a month based on first the size of the paper the petition was filed on and then he accused the petitioner’s committee of not forming a political action committee as Florida Statues require of state constitutional petitions. But the town charter contradicts Phillips.

“Joe’s just pickin,’” Stott said.

Stott and Walkup said they were on the phone with the supervisor of elections Dee Brown the next day and they’re petition is in the clear. The vote will take place later this summer.

posted by Cher @ 9:07 AM,

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Editor and Publisher:

I'm Cher From McIntosh, FL I'm a graduate student at the University of Florida working on a master's degree in Mass Communication. While I was finishing my undergrad degree in journalism last year, I reported on McIntosh, Fla. for an in-depth reporting class. I figured that the reporting and the public record files should go somewhere people can access them. Reporters don't report to keep the information they find to themselves. Some of that reporting is included here in a forum that allows response. McIntosh suffers because with no news coverage, the local government and the rumor mill have too much potential to run rampant over residents. I moved to McIntosh in the fall of 1999. My profile

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