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.
11.29.06 -- REPORT: McIntosh Fish Camp to reopen bait shop
Wednesday, November 29, 2006
By CHER PHILLIPS
Judy Barnett will reopen the McIntosh
Fish Camp Bait shop this weekend. She's spent the last few weeks preparing the business to reopen, cleaning up the boat slips and even repaiting the sign.
Photo by Cher Phillips
The McIntosh Fish Camp's bait shop will reopen this weekend after a six year hiatus.
Anna and Eugene Colwell, who ran the bait shop for the last 25 years, closed the shop door when Orange Lake's water level dropped low enough to dry up the lake and with it, the local fishing business.
But now a new resident of McIntosh Fish Camp will open the door of that shop back up and bring new energy into the operation.
Judy Barnett will reopen the bait shop on this weekend.
The shop will open with bait on Saturday, Dec. 2. Then on Sunday, the shop will have its Grand Opening to coincide the VFW Crappie Tournament. Part of their Grand Opening celebration will be hosting one of the Crappie Tournament judges.
The bait shop will sell bait and tackle, including rods, cane poles, jigs and hooks. They will also sell ice and snacks, soda and coffee.
Colwell said the shop would sell two varieties of minnows, gold and black.
Barnett, an avid fisherwoman, said that the advantage in fishing with two types of minnows is that fish bite at different minnows at different times of day. She said sometimes all it takes to catch a bite on a line is to drop in a gold minnow after fishing with a black minnow.
Colwell said they plan to sell both wild shiners and commercial shiners. The difference in the two kinds of shiners is that commercial shiners are farm raised and wild shiners are caught from the lake.
The bait shop will also sell nightcrawlers or "wigglers," as Barnett recently discovered that some Floridians call earthworms.
Barnett was amazed that the Colwell's bait shop was left much as it had been six years ago.
"Literally, they just shut the door," she said.
"We never really closed the camp," she said.
When the lake went down, she and her husband just shut the door of their business. Colwell said that at the time, "keeping it open would have been just fruitless."
But the lake's water level are now back up and the camp still has the structure to support wells for the bait and a collection of stock.
We have some things to start with and we'll learn what's good again -- or Judy will," Colwell said and laughed, reminding both herself and Barnett that she is trying something new, stepping back.
Barnett will run the shop. Colwell will be backing her up, helping out now and then with service and her 25 years of knowledge and experience selling bait.
Ten months ago, Barnett and her husband Lloyd rolled into McIntosh Fish Camp as a matter of what Barnett calls fate. In the process of moving from one camp to the next, Barnett said she picked up an old phonebook looking for a campground and found a listing for the Colwell's fish camp. Since moving in, she's hit it off with the Colwell's.
Eugene Colwell said when he and his wife ran the business in previous years it was "daybreak to dusk." The long hours are one reason the Colwells are passing the reigns of running the shop to Barnett.
Barnett said Eugene will be installing a bell for early morning customers to ring when they roll in to fish in the early morning. Another change is that this time around, the bait shop will not be renting boats or selling fishing licenses. Barnett said she and Casey Girardin, the owner of neighboring Sportsman's Cove have an agreement. She will send her customers to Casey's to buy their fishing licenses and Casey will recommend her shop for bait.
In the last five years, live bait wasn't sold at all on the McIntosh side of Orange Lake. Only recently have area businesses begun to bring back live bait.
Barnett also has readied the boat docks for rental again. The shop will again offer dock rental by the month. The docks, which have electricity, will cost $45 per month and are discounted to $40 per month** when the boat owner commits to docking a boat for a whole season.
(** This was originally posted incorrectly as $45. Thanks to Judy for pointing this correction out to me so I can update it. Dec. 5, 2006.)
11.24.06 -- NOTICE: Bulletin Board notices and dog talk
Friday, November 24, 2006
A reader has posted a bulletin board notice about stray dogs. Click here or hit the link at the top of the screen to go to the bulletin board for discussion.
As an aside, Bonnie from Sportsman's Cove called me last night to ask if I would post a picture of a stray dog that she's harbored that she believes to be someone's pet because he wandered down to camp wearing a leash. More information pending and a photo pending on this found, lost guy.
Don't miss the comments under "what we're thankful for" -- some folks wrote some nice notes about their neighbors.
11.21.06 -- EDITORIAL/DISCUSSION: McIntosh, what are you thankful for?
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
I just ran down to the McIntosh Grocery Store to pick up a couple items. Nothin' fancy. Just what I didn't already have around the house. I do it all the time. A lot of us do, I am sure. But I didn't used to ... I used to have to make that drive all the way down to Micanopy, or Gainesville or Ocala.
I was checking out and Sue told me that Mac, the store owner, is going to work on Thursday. She said he will keep the store open on Thanksgiving Day.
I thought a minute and asked her, "He did that last year, too, didn't he?"
She said she hadn't started working at the store yet but that she remembered running in for something last Thanksgiving and he was there.
Mac doesn't live in McIntosh. He drives in to work here like many McIntosh residents commute to Gainesville and Ocala to work. I suppose I take the grocery store for granted now that Mac's been there for about five years and open on a good number of the holidays.
Around Thanksgiving we can have some mushy moments and here's mine: I'm thankful for Mac -- that he's willing to drive here and open the grocery store on Thanksgiving so people from McIntosh and surrounding areas don't have to drive 20 miles for forgotten recipe items. Shoot, I am thankful not to have to drive 20 miles on non-holidays for a carton of half-and-half and a diet pepsi.
Sure, I'm thankful this year for some big things, too. But the little, unexpected ones -- like realizing you are thankful for the grocer is just fun.
So, that brings me to the point of why I decided to tell y'all about it.
It's Thanksgiving and I would like to know what or who the rest of you all are thankful for -- the big things, the little things. Drop us a comment.
Click here for the Historic Board Ordinance
I made a request to the town office for an electronic copy of the historic board ordinance that the council passed last summer, which the current council is reconsidering. I requested it last week since it was such a hot discussion topic. I know many people hadn't read it when it passed. I just got it this morning in the text of an e-mail and have converted it to a PDF.
The copy I am posting here on the blog is 39 pages, while the copy I've seen in the past is only 27 pages. I just wanted to point that out if it raised any questions. For some reason, there was a great deal of reflow (funny white space) which I tried to clear out where possible without taking the time to repaginate the whole document. The rest of the text is verbatim from the e-mail I received this morning.
Also, in case you didn't see it previously, click here to read the Proposed Tree Ordinance.
Editor's note -- Community Bulletin Board
Sunday, November 12, 2006
I've updated the Community bulletin board to November. So far, this hasn't taken off. I'd like to keep trying it. If you have something to sell, give away or you are having a yard sale, or you need a babysitter, want to babysit or mow lawns or clean house, or maybe you found a dog, or lost a cat... I think you get it.... post it under the community bulletin board.
Just click on Community Bulletin Board at the top and leave a comment. As it takes off, I'll draw attention to posts now and then on the main screen.
ADDED: (Click here to view the proposed tree ordinance. The proposed changes are in red, and the old ordinance is in black.)
The McIntosh Town Council was divided over the tree ordinance at the last meeting. Councilman Lee Deaderick was opposed to the ordinance and would like to see something else take its place. Council President Frank Ciotti stood up for the ordinance, describing how the town was vulnerable in the past to people cutting down trees.
What do you think? Does McIntosh need a tree ordinance?
During a discussion of the historic board ordinance, the idea that only people living in the historic district should be able to voice an opinion over what goes in the ordinance. This idea also came up time and time again when McIntosh dealt with the CRA. What do you think? Who should have a say in issues like these?
By CHER PHILLIPS
The McIntosh Town Council agreed to change the office hours of the town hall for a period of one month, reducing the number of hours the office is open to the public to only 25 hours per week.
Town Hall Office hours:
Monday 8 a.m. - noon, 1 p.m. - 6 p.m.
Tuesday: 8 a.m. - noon
Wednesday: 8 a.m. - noon
Thursday: 8 a.m. - noon
Friday: 8 a.m. - noon
In other council news:
- Council president Frank Ciotti honored Town Clerk Julie Musselman with a framed certificate of appreciation for her service to the town of McIntosh as the town clerk.
- The new town clerk, Deborah Miller, was introduced to the public.
- Frank Ciotti will be the council president for the next year. Howard Walkup will serve as council vice president.
- The town will determine whether or not to keep the video camera system they purchased last year.
- Councilman Lee Deaderick said that in the future the town's minutes will be even shorter and less descriptive than they presently are due to the time involved for the clerk in transcribing them.
- The Council voted to withdraw an agreement made last year to pay for upkeep on a portion of land south of McIntosh that the Conservation Trust had been attempting to purchase.
- Beverly Dodder addressed the council asking what the proper procedure should be for the Friends of McIntosh during the festival. This year's festival brought abortion protesters who had put up graphic signs on the right of ways in front of residents yards who did not want the signs there.
- Steve Race petitioned the council to help him pay for improvements to his yard and driveway to divert rain water deemed as the town's water that has been running off into his yard. An engineer who had looked into the problem this summer will again look at the drainage paths.
11.12.06 -- REPORT: Unraveling the past, Struggles over ordinances illuminate divisions in new council
By CHER PHILLIPS
One of the emerging patterns in the council meetings involve home ownership rights versus the citizen board ordinances that shape two distinct aspects of the community: the Tree ordinance currently under revision and the Historic Ordinance passed last summer.
McIntosh is known for its historic district and the sprawling live oaks with draping moss that create the canopy that envelops the town. In 1983, the town filed an application with U.S. Department of Interior for placement on the historic register. Two years later, the application was accepted and historic district was created. Part of being on the register means governing appropriateness in the historic district.
At the town council meeting Thursday night, the council unanimously voted to apply to become a Tree City U.S.A. McIntosh already meets most of the criteria to becoming a Tree City, including having a committee or board in place to protect the trees in the community.
But the price for both the preservation of the historic district and the tree canopy require ordinances on the part of the town of McIntosh to maintain these qualities in the town. Shaping those ordinances has been a point of contention in the community in the past six months.
As the new council settles in, the first signs of tension among the council member are becoming apparent as the council argues property rights versus preservation. The lines are even being drawn over who should have what say in what part of the running of the town.
Bringing back the past: the Historic ordinance
Councilman Howard Walkup added the historic ordinance to the town’s agenda last Thursday and made a motion to repeal the recently passed historic preservation ordinance. He said that he wanted to reconsider the resolution since it passed under a great deal of protest with “all but two or three people opposing it.”
Though the council did not support repealing the ordinance last week, they did agree to research it and discuss changes at the next meeting.
In June, the council passed ordinance 151 before a packed Civic Center. Residents got up and walked out of the meeting, calling out to council members that they didn’t listen to their residents. Several weeks later, 166 residents came out to vote in a special election that would limit expansion of the historic district with 148 voting yes to limit future expansion of the district and 12 voting to allow it.
For an ordinance to become law, it must be approved by the council on the first reading, then noticed in the newspaper and read into the record and passed again. In May, Mayor Marsha Strange asked council members before they voted if they thought they should read the proposed law first but the council approved it without evening reading the 27-page ordinance.
“To me, that’s not right,” Strange said to the council Thursday night. “And that’s what I would like to recommend to the council. If you have not read this word for word, take it home and study it and then let’s discuss it because I feel like it’s so important. We’ve gotten into it now, if there are corrections that need to be made, it needs to be done.”
At that meeting, June Glass, resident and member of the historic preservation board, told the mayor that since she didn’t live in the historic district, she shouldn’t have a say about the ordinance.
“No, but I own two of the homes in it,” Strange said. “I live right next door to it and I am concerned about it.”
The idea of where a resident lives determining what that person has a say in is a recurring issue that also came up as the town struggled over a proposed community redevelopment agency. Residents who didn’t live in the proposed area who were protesting it had been told by council members their voice didn’t count.
Glass brought up the same thought when she was describing the meeting in which the historic ordinance was passed.
“I’d like to say one thing,” Glass said. “Most of the people, I would say 99 percent, actually 100 percent, of the people who spoke against that ordinance did not live in the historic district. For those of us who do, we pretty much like it.”
“That’s not what I heard,” Walkup said.
Council President Frank Ciotti, who owns a home in the historic district, was on the council that initially passed the ordinance this summer.
“When we had 60 people in this room and everybody was hollering and screaming, it was because of rumors and innuendos,” Ciotti said. “I can forgive and change the color of paint, change the color of a tin roof. That’s the only thing wrong with this document. Nobody that was here, less than a few people, read the document completely to understand it. There was a lot of blood, sweat and tears that went into this document. People in the historic area should be the ones talking.”
Councilman Lee Deaderick said that he disagreed with some points in the historic ordinance. He didn’t think that homes in the historic district that were not on the historic register should have to apply for certificates of appropriateness. He also thought the ordinance was too punitive.
“I don’t see any help, help, help in these documents but don’t, don’t, don’t and can’t can’t can’t,” Deaderick said.
But Glass told him the board does serve to answer questions residents have.
Walkup however had a problem not only with the new ordinance but how it was enforced.
“Part of the problem about this ordinance is the fanaticism about enforcing it,” Walkup said. He gave three examples. The Smith-Hendersons who live in the house with the Great-Wall-of-McIntosh on U.S. 441 wanted to put aluminum frame windows on their home but the historic board insisted on wood frame, even though the house already had aluminum frame windows.
He also mentioned the arguments that erupted over Randy Brown, who also lives on U.S. 441, who was given a certificate of appropriateness for a dark gray metal roof over the preferred tin-colored tin roof, as the current ordinance now requires.
While Walkup and Deaderick argued that the ordinance was too strong, others disagree.
Glass said that while researching the current ordinance, they realized that McIntosh’s ordinance could be stronger.
Sportsman’s Cove owner Casey Girardin pointed out to council members that during the June meeting her lawyer Sam Mutch made the point that as the new ordinance was written, he would bring Carvel ice cream into the historic district and there wasn’t anything the council could do about it.
“The ordinance we had before was vague. We looked at ordinances all over the country and we’re weak. We’re not nearly as strong as most of the others,” Glass said.
Unlike the unpopular CRA resolution that the council unanimously repealed, the council will look into the historic ordinance to consider what parts of it they will ring the issue back up.
“They worked on this document, they suffered over it,” Ciotti said. “It was not just thrown together.”
But even that tempered adjustment didn’t suit Glass.
“We’re asking you to leave our ordinance alone.” Glass said.
Hanging up the future: the Tree Ordinance
While the council is struggling over how to look back into the historic ordinance, they are stonewalled with the proposed Tree Ordinance and have been since July. Some council members want to see less emphasis on public meetings and others flat out view the ordinance as mechanism for negating ownership rights.
During Thursday’s meeting, Walkup made a last minute change to the meeting agenda, adding the tree ordinance to it. Ciotti said Sean Dowie, the Tree committee chairman, had been trying to get ahold of the council members before that night’s meeting. Dowie had another meeting Thursday and could not make it.
Despite Dowie’s absence, Walkup brought up several issues he’d like changed in the proposed tree ordinance.
The first change Walkup wanted to make was to pull the from the section three a requirement that requests for approval have to be in a public meeting.
The proposed tree ordinance reads: “Committee members shall, at a Public meeting, issue a permit to kill, remove or destroy a tree in the following instance.”
Walkup said he wanted that line removed.
“I think that would hamstring the committee and delay approval of a permit,” Walkup said. “I think the public meeting ought to be deleted from that.”
He suggested that the committee instead pass the approval process along, with each person signing it.
Ciotti questioned whether that method would be properly noticed but Walkup said this is how “it’s always been done in the past.”
Yet McIntosh’s Land Development Code 5.08.02 carries the same language word for word as the proposed ordinance – that permits should be issued at a public meeting.
Further, Florida’s “Government-in-the-Sunshine Manual” says on page 1 that Florida’s Sunshine law applies to “any board or commission of any state agency or authority or of any agency or authority of any county, municipal corporation, or political subdivision.”
In other words, the Tree committee, like the other citizen boards are subject to the Sunshine Law and their decision making process would have to follow the same open meeting requirements as other public boards.
Most of Walkup’s changes to the ordinance were cosmetic. He said he would like to see changes in how many trees are required to replace a removed tree. He also questioned the
protection of the Crepe Mrytle because it is technically not a tree.
Councilwoman Eva Jo Callahan clarified this point and said that the mention of the Crepe Myrtle is because Fred DelRusso has one in his yard that is so large it has garnered national recognition.
But Lee Deaderick had a problem with the Tree Ordinance that ran deeper than other council members’ concerns.
Deaderick started a practice Thursday night of quoting U.S. founding fathers.
He began with a quote from Thomas Jefferson: “I’m not a friend of very energetic government, it’s always oppressive.”
“And I think this whole thing right here smells of oppressive government,” Deaderick said. “I understand completely the concept of protecting the beauty of the town, as I’ve discussed this with Sean heatedly. I don’t think there is a problem. If there was, there wouldn’t be no 100-year-old trees he’s trying to protect or they would have been cut down before we had a tree ordinance in 1992.”
Deaderick said he doesn’t think that an ordinance is necessary. He would like to see only the trees on the town’s right of ways protected and then if people want to protect individual trees, they could put them on the town register.
“Then the rest of us will be free to do what we want with our property that we pay taxes on and not have to have committee meetings and not have to have anything in public meetings and accomplish the goal without having to violate people’s personal freedoms,” Deaderick said. “I can’t imagine why they would want to take stuff from people and not give any back.”
He also added that the ordinance still had sycamore trees in it, which were widely considered to be “pest trees.”
Not all the council members agree with him. Ciotti gave specific examples of reasons why the town has a tree ordinance.
“I was here in 1982 when they moved the bank in and cut down the most beautiful oak tree you ever saw and there wasn’t a thing we could do about it,” Ciotti said.
“As well as it should be, it was their property,” Deaderick said.
“But still, we need to protect our trees. I know it’s great to have rights of the owner, and we could do deed restrictions,” Ciotti said.
He explained an example saying suppose Del Russo sold his house with the restriction that the Crepe Myrtle not be cut down. Then the next owner could easily appeal the council and that council might say he can cut down whatever he wants.
“You think trees are more important than people’s rights?” Deaderick asked Ciotti.
Ciotti stopped and said, “Hmmmmmm.”
But Deaderick pressed the point and pushed him.
“That’s what you just told me. Trees are more important than people’s property owner rights,” Deaderick said.
“I think in this particular situation, yes,” Ciotti said.
“Well, it’s nice to know where you stand,” Deaderick said.
“If we had deed restrictions, all it would take is a bottle of roundup and he could say the tree’s dead and that wouldn’t save anything,” Glass said.
Glass said that they needed to increase the fines for cutting down the oak trees because that’s what they were really trying to protect.
Eva Jo Callahan tried to explain that if she cut down the two trees in her yard it would drastically change the look of the whole neighborhood.
“What you’re saying is that it’s your opinion that trees are beautiful. It might be a widely held opinion, but its nothing but an opinion,” Deaderick said. “You’re saying its our right to predetermine what people do with the things that they buy.”
Callahan told him no, but that the council has a responsibility to explain why things are the way they are.
“You’re talking about taking somebody’s right for what they pay taxes on for an opinion of what looks good. If you’re from Arizona, you might think that desert looks good.” Deaderick said.
“Then, move to Arizona,” Callahan said.
The council members decided to table the discussion and ask Dowie to make the proposed changes to the ordinance. Callahan asked Deaderick if he would draft a tree ordinance like the kind of tree ordinance he’d like to see since little about the town’s current ordinance or the proposed ordinance seemed to suit him.
“It’s a hard position but people’s property rights are worth protecting,” Deaderick said.
By CHER PHILLIPS
That soft whooshing sound isn’t the moss brushing up against live oak limbs. It’s politicians unraveling ordinances and resolutions from McIntosh’s books as if they were trying to work back to a place in the afghan of the town’s lawmaking where the previous council first introduced unwanted colors, patterns and textures.
If the Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) had a color, it would have been chartreuse. At Thursday night’s meeting of the McIntosh Town Council, board members unanimously agreed to pull the resolution that declared the strip along U.S. 441 blighted from the books as if it were a neon home in the historic district.
Howard Walkup, who was elected as the council vice president by the council for the next year, said he initiated repealing a resolution passed this spring that declared a strip of land in McIntosh blighted and designated it for a CRA. The designated land ran through McIntosh on U.S. 441, including a block into town on either side of the highway.
“This was one of the things that got people stirred up and upset,” Walkup said. “I think we should clean the docket and repeal it.”
The CRA became an issue in McIntosh that frightened and concerned many residents and drew lines between the council and the community. The project was spearheaded by former Council President Danaya Wright, a land planning expert and law professor at the University of Florida, who used her contacts at the university in the Conservation Clinic to research and design the project.
The greatest flaw in the CRA was a lack of understanding as to what it could do and what it was meant to do in the community.
Council President Frank Ciotti was on the council when it passed the CRA resolution
“I voted for the original resolution,” Ciotti said. “The intent was not what came before the public. Our intent was to give it to a committee. It just never got off the ground right.”
Part of the problem was a lack of documentation in the community. Four of the town’s church leaders even wrote the council an open letter in March asking them to put off the decision and make information about the CRA available. Since much of the research was done by UF law students, the documentation, even the Powerpoint presentation given to the public was not available in the town hall.
“It’s pretty well dead anyway,” said June Glass, a resident who owns a trailer park that would have been included in the CRA. “But it’s not something that will move the Baptist Church or the Methodist Church. It would not move any churches, like the stories that were going around.”
Glass said that the intent of the CRA was to improve the land on the Department of Transportation right of way.
“What we found out was that a town south of here got a grant for $750,000 and with that grant, they were able to put the utilities underground, put the old fashioned lamp posts and brick sidewalks, and three walks and four intersections. So we were pursuing doing that,” Glass said. “We found out if we had a CRA, we got more points toward that grant. So that’s the reason we did it.”
But digging back almost two years ago, town council minutes reflect that Wright said the CRA could force upkeep on building owners along U.S. 441. Last February, other ideas were mentioned from underground electric and brick-imprinted sidewalks to reducing the highway down to two lanes through town.
Another flaw in the CRA’s design that made it less than a good fit for McIntosh was the superfund. While the TIF fund (tax increment financing) was promoted in a CRA workshop to build $4 million over the next 30 years, these numbers were based on the property tax higher than the current rate. McIntosh has consistently rolled back its taxes over the years to keep the amount individual home owners pay to a minimum. When the town was incorporated the tax millage was six. Almost 100 years later, that millage is down to 1.09. Though continuing the rollbacks would not entirely keep a TIF superfund in McIntosh from generating income for the town, it would never reach the million dollar mark promoted in the CRA.
Even when the resolution was introduced for discussion last Thursday for the purposes of repealing it, there were still arguments over what the CRA would have done and how it would have accomplished it.
One of the biggest fears was that a CRA board would use to powers of eminent domain. These fears were strong enough that even after the state passed an amendment restricting eminent domain, Councilman Lee Deaderick used it as an example of why he thought the CRA was not a good plan for the town.
He said that in a far-flung scenario, he could see his orange grove behind the gas station taken by the town and turned into a parking lot or a septic tank, if somehow someone in the future deemed that a better use for the town.
Deaderick said that he understands CRAs to be a means of taking property from poorer residents for the good of the community.
“The first part of taking these people’s property is to create a CRA and that changes the tax structure,” Deaderick said. “And eventually, the property can be taken from them for the economic gain of the entire community.”
Deaderick said that his concern was that while the McIntosh CRA this wasn’t intended for that purpose, it could be used for that by new people moving into the community over time.
Glass said that the intent of the CRA was to help individuals obtain grants to improve their properties. She also discredited the idea that eminent domain could take place in McIntosh.
“This is Mcintosh, you couldn’t do that anyway without an insurrection,” Glass said.
Another concern of Deaderick’s was one that Sportsman’s Cove owner Casey Girardin shared: that the CRA area could be expanded.
Girardin, who was a vocal opponent of the CRA this spring, said that she became an adamant opponent of the CRA after speaking with neighboring communities who had experience with them.
“The sum of what I learned that it’s a very dangerous weapon,” Girardin said. “If someday you decide you want to do a CRA, you should talk with some people involved with it.”
The council voted unanimously Thursday night to repeal the CRA resolution.
“If anyone wants to do a CRA in the future, they can redo a resolution but this would clear the air,” Walkup said.
Next: The Tree ordinance versus the Historic Ordinance
10.06.06 -- AGENDA: McIntosh Town Council Meeting Thursday, Nov. 9
Monday, November 06, 2006
The McIntosh Town Council will meet Thursday at 7 p.m. A number of old agenda items will resurface under new business like the CRA resolution, the conservation trust, video cameras in the office and a grant applied for to put sidewalks around Van Ness Park. These are primarily agenda items from the pre-recall council members set in motion that post-recall council members are re-examining.
Town Council Meeting
November 9, 2006
Community Center 7:00 P.M.
Anyone wishing to place a subject on the agenda may do so up to 72 hours before the meeting by notifying the town office.
Call to Order
Minutes of the Town Council Meeting of October 12., 2006
Minutes of the Special Called Town Council Meeting of October 24, 2006
Minutes of the Special Called Town Council Meeting of October 31, 2006
Steve Race Beverly Dodder
Message from the Clerk: Introduction of New Clerk
Message from the Mayor:
Message from the Attorney:
Tree City USA
Town Office Hours
Historic Ordinance No: 151
Grant for Sidewalk
Historic Trust Playground for School
Message from the Council:
Citizen Board Committee Updates
***Notice to Board Meeting Attendees: As a courtesy to others, please ensure pager and cell phones are turned off during meeting***
Welcome to the Town of McIntosh Town Council meeting. All persons wishing to address the Town Council will be asked to limit their comments to specific subject being addressed. Public opinions and input are valued by the Town Council, however, it is requested that comments are directed at specific issues rather than personal comments directed toward Board members or staff in order to foster mutual respect between the Town Council and the public.
Please note that if a person desires to appeal any decision made to any matter considered at the above meeting, that person may need to ensure that a verbatim record of the proceeding be made, which record includes the testimony and evidence which the appeal is to be based.
Someone sent me a link to a site called Vote Smart Florida that is a non-partisan website that breaks down the amendments that you'll see on the ballot tomorrow.
I hear a number of people say the amendments are the most confusing point about tomorrow's elections. I'd be interested in hearing what y'all think, questions, thoughts, etc.
Also, the following is the recap I wrote from last month's meeting when Marion County engineers explained the benefits to McIntosh of the tax increase for roads in Marion County. Straight up, the county would have a way of funding roads and McIntosh would see $600,000 - $800,000.
The down side is sales tax in Marion County goes up. The up side of part of that is that tourism catches a portion.
From Oct. 15 entry of the McIntosh Mirror:
Engineers from Marion County also presented the One Cent Sale Tax Referendum that will be on the ballot come Election day next month. If passed, the initiative could bring $600,000 - $800,000 to McIntosh for road improvement over the next 7 years and raise $398 million for Marion County road improvement.
The iniative would increase sales taxes in Marion County by one penny from January 2007 through December 2013. The income generated is earmarked for road improvement throughout the county. None the roads in the current county plan are near McIntosh but the town would still benefit by receiving money earmarked for road improvements.
If passed, county engineers said that McIntosh should see $30,000 - $50,000 payments for the first few years of the program and then payments closer to $100,000 per year.
11.02.06 -- REPORT: Code board resolves long-standing complaints
Friday, November 03, 2006
By CHER PHILLIPS
In a complete reversal of tone from meetings in the last few months, the Code Enforcement Board cleared three contentious cases from its agenda, freeing residents and the town to move forward.
Board members removed a 10-month-old lien from Pedro Molinas' house and agreed to waive the remaining attorney fees, and agreed to waive pursuit of two other code enforcement board cases against Sportsman's Cove owner Casey Girardin.
With the case against Pedro Molinas's shed dragging out longer than a year, Code Enforcement Board member Jim Winters said he thought it would be a good will measure for the community to waive remaining fees against Molinas.
Molinas built a carport on the town's right of way more than a year ago. Even though he had two permits in the building of the structure, which are available for download through the county court system, the code enforcement board took Molinas to court in January for noncompliance with McIntosh's codes and fined as much as $250 a day. Ultimately, the code enforcement board put a lien against Molina's house until he was in compliance.
Molinas agreed to tear down the shed. Molinas declined to say how much tearing down the shed cost him when he was cross-examined during a September meeting. He did not appear at last night's meeting. The town's attorney, Scott Walker, who prosecutes cases on the part of the town for the board, provided documentation that Sam Mutch, Molinas' attorney, had been informed of the meeting.
At the September meeting, the code enforcement board ordered that Molinas had to clear a concrete pad where his shed once stood of metal bars that had once anchored the shed. The board gave him a week to take care of this and then come back before the board when they would meet to hear six cases against Girardin. But in the meantime, the board canceled its meeting. But no one told Molinas. He showed up to the Civic Center last month and waited with other residents who thought there was going to be a Tree Committee meeting.
Phil Howell, a planner and arborist, testified as the acting code enforcement officer last night that Molinas had removed the remaining metal.
"I found the railings that were fastened along the outer edge of the concrete slab, those rails had been removed," he said.
Howell said before the last meeting the rails remained, which would allow for easy reconstruction of the shed in the future. He testified that currently there are some materials in the yard and on the slab being stored but they are not affixed to the property.
The board voted unanimously that Molinas had met the boards rulings and the lien and the compliance fees The other issue that the board needed to decide about the Molinas property was whether or not to charge Molinas for fees and court courts incurred in pursuing his case.
"In the past, we had decided that the eighteen-hundred-some-odd dollars was valid," said Code Enforcement Board Chairman Harris Fellman. "We do have documentation from the State's Attorney's office, which allows the community to collect those fees. My point is, if you release the lien at the present time, then we'll have to put another lien on to collect those $1,800. We would have no way of collecting unless we refuse to let the lien go."
But the Code Enforcement Board attorney Eric Gifford said that boards are limited to using liens to collect fees related to non-compliance, not attorney's fees.
In the past the code enforcement board had discussed charging Molinas for the attorney's fees which came to $1,882.75, comprised of a $1,332 attorney fee and $550.75 for transcription and court costs.
While the board unanimously passed a motion to remove the lien against Molina's property, on the other point, they were divided. Fellman was the lone board member who did not agree to waive the fees.
The board decided to waive the attorney's fees for two reasons.
"We've been going through this for a very, very long time and he's gone through a tremendous expense," said Jim Winters, code enforcement board member. "In an effort to have good relationships, I suggest that we waive those attorney's fees."
Winters made a motion to waive all fees and board member Spencer Clark seconded it.
"I'd like to make a comment. The $1,882.75 comes out of the pockets of the 400-and-some-odd people in this community," Fellman said. "The stubbornness, in my opinion, shown by Mr. Molinas -- and his attorney -- caused these fees to jump dramatically. Had this been taken care of much earlier on, there would have been insignificant fees and this community would not have to pick up these fees. I, personally, an in favor, I mean not in favor of releasing, I mean doing away with these fees."
Clark agreed with Fellman but still pushed to waive the remaining fees.
"I'm looking at a greater cost in putting another lien against the fee," Clark said. "I totally agree with you Harris, we've messed with this thing for a long time, he did show good faith. I don't know how far we want to drag this thing down the road."
"The philosophy of people blatantly doing things as they wish and costing a community, a small community like this, a great amount of money, is something that I'm opposed to," Fellman said. "Apparently, I'm in the minority, which I can accept. But that is my feeling."
"I want to be on the record stating that I believe when the community prevails when an individual has been found more or less, the term is guilty, in non-compliance, and an action has been brought against them, the community has the right, in fact, the duty to collect these fees," Fellman said.
The board voted 4-1 for waiving Molinas fees. Fellman voted against waiving the remaining fees.
Screen room setbacks
The next two matters involved Casey Girardin's property on Sportsman's Cove.
At last month's meeting, Girardin's attorney brought code complaints made by another client of his, the Smith-Hendersons, against Fellman and Bill Glass.
Since Girardin made the same complaint as the Smith-Henderson's and Girardin filed complaints against Fellman and former board member Bill Glass. A separate complaint that went before the code enforcement board that Fellman read into the record said that Girardin felt she was in fear that she could not recieve a fair and impartial hearing from the board if Fellman or Glass were judging her.
Glass resigned after the last meeting, in which he argued with the attorneys, the chairman and residents. Fellman read the memo into the record. As with the last meeting, he refused to recuse himself from judging Girardin's case. Gifford, the code enforcement board's attorney informed the other board members they could recuse him if they saw a reason to and they declined to make that motion.
Walker passed out a memorandum to the board and several audience members detailing the
history of a complaint about one of her tenant's screen rooms.
On May 9, Jame Rouston, a resident of Sportsman's Cove applied for a permit to screen in his covered patio. A day later, Art Davis, former code enforcement officer, wrote him a letter turning down his request because he was a tenet and not a land owner.
Girardin amended the May 8 permit application and wrote the town a $75 check for a permit on May 23. The town cashed her check but on May 30, Davis wrote Girardin a letter informing her that she would have to provide setback information and mark the lot lines.
The problem for the board members was that the roof and the cement already existed. The request was to screen in an existing structure. Girardin said she called Marion County and was told that a permit wasn't needed since the structure already existed. Since the improvements cost less than $500, Girardin said she was told that she would not need a permit and Rouston screened-in his porch. On June 26, Davis wrote a notice of violation against Girardin for screening-in the porch with a deadline to comply by the code enforcement meeting July 13.
Girardin said that she spray-painted the markers orange to no end because Davis inspected her property without her and her attorney as agreed, he skipped out of a meeting to look at the lot lines. Walker said at last night's meeting that he advised Davis not to meet with her without others present because emotions had been running so high in July.
In July, Girardin was circulating a petition to asking the council to consider removing Davis from the position of code enforcement officer. The council did, in fact, remove him after Mayor Marsha Strange informed the council that Davis treated her unprofessionally at Walker's office for a meeting where they were trying to work out an agreement with Girardin regarding her code violations.
"I was wondering if you needed setbacks to put up screens. It doesn't make any sense to me," Winters said.
Howell said that after looking at the paperwork, he felt that the permit applications met the town's requirements.
"Without requiring the property owner to hire a surveyor and go out and survey each lot, that's pretty much where we're at using the existing application. This appears to have been in existence for some years," Howell said.
The board unanimously voted that there was no code violation and that a site plan isn't required to screen in an existing structure. They also recommended the town return the $75 payment to her, though they had no authority to refund money.
"I think this went a little too far," Winter said. "I'm also wondering about the $75."
On the day that former town council president Joe Phillips resigned, all heck broke loose in town because a new resident living near Sportsman's Cove moved in a shed without a permit. It caused enough drama that morning to rock the town clerk's office, resulting in at least two arguments between town officials and residents with the sheriff being called in for one of them. "The Shed Event" even carried angry conversations over into the next council meeting.
And it left most people mystified. Because, it's just a shed, right? Why the drama? Because several people in town thought the shed was going down to the Cove. To understand one Shed Event is to understand the other.
The final case before the board dealt with a shed in Girardin's RV park.
Davis wrote a violation against her for a shed that she said was on her property when she purchased it.
Walker read a letter into the record from the previous owner of Sportsman's Cove owner Jerry Harris that said the shed was given to Casey at the time of purchase last year.
Howell said that he could find nothing in the paperwork from the case that indicated when the shed was purchased. He said that her contention was the shed had been there for some time and there was no evidence to suggest it had not been.
"I've been to the town three times to get a permit for this. The first time was this
February. When I went to get the permit I was told by [Town Clerk] Julie [Musselman] and by Beverly Dodder that I didn't need a permit because it was there. The second time I went I was told I didn't need a permit because it was there. The third time I went, I was told I didn't need a permit because it's on skids. It's not permanently affixed to the ground. I spoke with Phil and I spoke with Julie previously. Julie suggested I get a letter from Jerry, who I bought the property from. That's what I did. I got the letter today after I spoke to Phil." Girardin said.
She also said there were a total of 10 sheds in her RV park, which she has permits for none of them.
"They came to me with the property," Girardin said.
June Glass, a resident from the audience, spoke out during comments without being sworn in.
"I don't care either way, but if it were on the property when she bought it, it would be in inventory," Glass said.
Audience member and resident Susan Phillips raised a question to Girardin about the sheds. Fellman asked that Phillips be sworn in but she interrupted him and said she was just asking a question.
"If the building was already there, why was she trying three times to get a permit?" Phillips asked. "Was it on the inventory?"
"I did it for the obvious reasons," Girardin said. "I could have spent $75 in February and this would have been finished."
Phillips interrupted her.
"Why did you apply for a permit when it was already there? It's all I'm asking," Phillips said.
"Because I was told by Jim Strange that I need to get a permit," Girardin said. "So I went down and I applied for a permit and I was told when I went to the permitting department that I didn't need one. So I let it go and then all of this started."
Then, Glass interrupted her.
"It should at least be on an inventory," Glass said.
"I've got plenty of sheds listed on my inventory. I've got 10 sheds on that property," Girardin said.
Howell said that he'd spoken with the town clerk but there was no way to know when the shed was brought in because no one had any paperwork.
Another resident, Cher Phillips, raised her hand and asked to be sworn in by Walker. (** see below)
"I remember that shed there at least a year ago. I live down in the Cove. I can't tell you when it appeared and I can't tell you why because I'm very busy and I'm not part of everything that goes on in the camp and everything, but it's been there for some time," Cher Phillips said.
Spencer pointed out that there was a lack of evidence to prove that the shed was not there when Girardin bought her property. Winters said the only evidence that was offered was Harris' letter and residents' comments.
The board passed 4-1 that all the evidence presented supported that there was no violation.
Fellman voted against the motion.
The Fish (Camp) that got away
One of the issues that Fellman brought up dealt with the Board of Adjustment's recent meeting where they moved to grant variances for Casey Girardin's four trailers on the Old Hudson property.
The variances meant that the code violations against the four trailers would not have to come before the code enforcement board since the variances brought Girardin's trailers into compliance.
Fellman asked Gifford at the end of the meeting about the Board of Adjustment's taking "an end run around" issues that had been on the code enforcement board's agenda.
Before the BOA meeting, there were six cases on the code enforcement board agenda against Girardin.
Gifford explained some of the smaller scope of the roles of the citizen boards in town.
"Within the town of McIntosh, no other board established by the land development board can usurp or take away your authority but there is some overlap that exists within any municipality or town when a committee is established dealing in certain areas," Gifford said.
He explained to Fellman and the board that the code enforcement board's scope is broad and they have the authority to enforce the entire land development code. But he also pointed out that other boards have broad powers, too. This gives residents more than one option for resolving issues. Some violations can be "cured by an owner going and getting a special exception."
"While it may seem frustrating when you have something on your agenda, and the Board of Adjustment does something that solves it, that resolves the issue," Gifford said. "The Board of Adjustment are there and they're doing their job. In all fairness, that may interfere, or seem to interfere, or cross over into areas you have authority to go into, as well."
Walker interrupted at this point and said that, as the town's attorney and not the prosecuting attorney, he thought there was a larger question at hand in the community.
"The idea behind this board is for there to be compliance with your rules and regulations," Walker said. "It's not necessarily the idea that we're trying to be punitive to our neighbors."
Walker said that the point of the code enforcement board was to state the in some instances the codes are not clearly defined but the town has to try to get everyone to follow the rules, to comply.
"Hopefully that compliance is done on a neighborly basis, as well," Walker said.
The point when residents encounter the code enforcement board is when they've run out of other options and won't comply with the rules.
He also said that it is important for the town to process these issues in a timely manner.
"We've gone through a heavily contentious period of time, in my history with this town," Walker said.
He said he thought it was important that they get these things resolved quickly and not just for the benefit of the town, but also from the citizen's point of view as well. One solution he was bringing before the code enforcement board was a systematic monthly schedule. Girardin and the Smith-Hendersons have been agenda points for the code enforcement board most of the year.
Other code enforcement business:
Fellman said he thought the code enforcement board should have its own transcriptionist. He said he wanted to make it clear to the two council members present, Howard Walkup and Eva Jo Callahan. He said he did not have the minutes from the last months meeting. He only had a tape.
"I don't believe that it's my job to sit and put those to paper," Fellman said.
During the search for the new town clerk, council members have been clear in their comments that they expect citizen boards to keep and maintain their own minutes.
** The shed in question is less than half a block down the street from where I live. I
recall seeing Brenda and Jerry Harris moving things in and out of storage in that lot. Had there been someone else who lived in the Cove in the audience last night, or someone who was aware of the Cove for a longer period of time than this current year, I would not have stood up to testify while reporting on this at the same time. This is one of the particular challenges to both living in a community and being the only person documenting public meetings in a forum like this. Do I stop being a resident because I am a self-appointed record keeper? That doesn't seem right. I would have made a far, different choice if this were a different kind of publication. I feel the ethical thing to do since I walk this line is to point it out.
McIntosh Community Bulletin Board: January 2007
Wednesday, November 01, 2006
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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
About This Blog
The primary purpose of this blog is to accurately reflect what happens in town public meetings and dispel rumors. I record the meetings and make them available for download. One of the goals of this blog is to offer residents a place to voice opinions. The comments, views and opinions expressed there are not necessarily those of the editor.