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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.

01.18.07 -- EDITORIAL: Between a rock and an historic ordinance

By CHER PHILLIPS

I realized that I have been watching the public meetings in McIntosh closely for almost a year now. I don't live in the historic district. I've heard in meetings that some people think that this excludes me from a right to having my comments heard. I disagree.

I've thought about what's appropriate for me to say about the Historic Ordinance, as someone who wears both a reporting and an editorial hat in this blog. I've come up with this. It's always appropriate for a journalist to inform and to ask questions.

From all those meetings I've gone to, I've got say that I have a few questions based on what I've seen take place over the last year as the council discusses repealing the Historic Ordinance 151.

I don't agree or disagree with the DelRussos. The emotional point of view about how residents feel about the idea and meaning of the historic district is important. I also feel it falls short in answering some of the pragmatic concerns in the community. One thing is universal, most people want an ordinance of some kind. Where everything breaks down is which ordinance should we have. Council Vice President Howard Walkup wants the old one. Some other residents want the new one.

Either way, these are my questions:

My first and foremost concern about Historic Ordinance 2006-151 is that no one on the council can tell me if this is the corrected version of the ordinance that was passed by the council last year, or not. Even at the last meeting, when asked, councilmen said they "thought" the copy of 151 they had was the ordinance the council passed, but they couldn't be sure. The version they were considering in December was incorrect in that it did not reflect changes the council wanted made to 151 in June when they passed it.

What does this mean?

Well, it implies that the concerns people had with ordinance might not have made it into the ordinance -- that is, if those concerns even made it to a council member's attention.

I question the manner in which this ordinance was passed.

Last February, Randy Brown applied for a metal roof. It was approved by the Historic Preservation Board to the great protest of Susan Phillips. Very soon after that meeting, this approval was brought up at a workshop meeting last February by former Councilman Joe Phillips, who said that the board was way out of line approving Brown's roof. Then, it was decided at that meeting that the citizen boards would write their own policies.

Last May, the new ordinance was brought to the council, and they approved it without reading it. Mayor Marsha Strange even asked them if they weren't sure they didn't want to read the 27-page ordinance first. Council members said the approval was for the purposes of discussion. However, a thorough discussion of the ordinance never came to bear at that meeting. It was passed at the next one.

At the next monthly meeting, Historic Ordinance 151 was approved before a packed Civic Center, including many upset residents. Some of them walked out of the room, calling back over their shoulders that the council did not listen to them.

Given that the current copy of the ordinance may or may not include the changes that the June 2006 council members deemed necessary, and that the ordinance passed with lightening speed, what would be wrong with considering some revisions to 151?

Maybe offering the sticky points of the ordinance to the town's residents for discussion at public workshops would finally put to rest some of the loudest objections to the finer points of 151 like what color people can or can't paint their homes.

One of the criticisms of the Land Development Code is that it is outdated. This code hadn't been updated since 1994. But should it really be updated without making sure that it's done in a democratic manner?

My other observation involves motivation.

The town itself is stuck in the middle between motivations. Some people say Walkup is trying to "get even" by asking for a repeal of this ordinance. From what I observed, this ordinance was born in a desire to "get even" for what some considered an unpopular board decision regarding Randy Brown's roof. The more I dig and listen to people, the "getting even" goes way back in this community.

People begin the lawmaking process for a wide variety of reasons and I am sure that "getting even" was not created in McIntosh.

But I have to question the councils -- past and present -- if they are being good stewards of their community by not making sure a democratic process is followed as they shape their community's laws.

posted by Cher @ 9:44 AM,

1 Comments:

At   January 18, 2007 1:33 PM     ,    Anonymous Anonymous    said...

Cher thank you for writing that. I will be the first person to say that I was against passing the ordinance back then but now that it is passed I believe in fixing not abolishing you see my concerns are we have no document control in this town all we have is war it doesn't matter what the town is working on war is these few peoples objective. I have been researching this town online and yes it is federally registered as a historic district and that comes to this. We can have rules in the historic district but our houses that are listed and yes they are in the map online. The federal government has written a book which I have just ordered a book of rules for our houses that we are to go by for any work done on them. This book should have been available in our town. Then on top of the book we have our own historic district rules which our town can write but they are not supposed to bypass the federal book at all. Our historic ordinance needs work (changes) yes I will be the first one to say that and I will also say that the old ordinance needed work also so where do we start? Well I feel that we should start by working with the historic comity and work towards a good caring ordinance for our town one that people will respect and care about this could be done without abolishing the start they have made. Fred
jeepinocala@aol.com

 

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Editor

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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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.

 
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"A Popular Government, without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a Prologue to a Farce or a Tragedy; or perhaps both. Knowledge will forever govern ignorance: And a people who mean to be their own Governors, must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives." - James Madison, 1822

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