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02.01.07 -- UPDATE: LPA decision excluded some land owners

By CHER PHILLIPS

In a recent meeting of the Land Planning Agency, board members voted to recommend the council look into rezoning land zoned for agricultural use to residential use without including neighbors or other land owners with similar parcels.

While several of the land owners were present, Council Vice President Howard Walkup, Mayor Marsha Strange and Bill Glass, other property owners of agricultural land were not aware that rezoning was under consideration. Further, two of these property owners' land use was discussed in their absence.

Danaya Wright, who owns property next to Walkup's, was not contacted before the LPA meeting. At the meeting Glass told others that Wright's land was in a conservation easement and therefore would keep a large amount of development in the area being considered behind Avenue H.


This map was created from the Marion County Property Appraiser's Web site:




Wright's agricultural property is 18 acres and borders Walkup's, Glass' and Strange's.

In an e-mail today Wright responded:

"We were not asked (the 4 of us own it together); it is not in any conservation trust though I would consider it. I would also consider developing if everyone else did. Also, I was not asked if Howard's land should be rezoned and that is absolutely required by law. All neighbors must be asked and given an opportunity to provide input."

Wright is a UF Law professor and expert in property law, as well as the former town council president.

In addition to Wright's land, Chris Rath's property, another large track of agricultural land in McIntosh, was discussed Tuesday night. Chairman Charlsie Stott said Rath did not want to rezone her land from agricultural use.

In a phone interview today, Rath confirmed this. But she also said she was not contacted before this meeting. Glass suggested that the LPA attempt to rezone her Rath's property while the town still had some control over it.

Rath said this afternoon that she wants to keep her land zoned agricultural as long as she possibly can.

The LPA is an advisory board. Any final zoning decisions will be made by the council. Four town council members were present in the audience at the LPA's meeting Tuesday, Council President Frank Ciotti, Walkup, Eunice Smith, Eva Jo Callahan, as well as Mayor Marsha Strange.

posted by Cher @ 1:11 PM,

18 Comments:

At   February 03, 2007 10:41 AM     ,    Anonymous Charlsie    said...

Cher this was a posted LPA meeting which was a recommendation to the council which has the final say and also whatever is their pleasure. If they choose to accept the LPA recommendation then property owner would be notified and a public meeting and ad in news paper. I think you were jumping a little to fast or maybe you don't know how the system works.

 
At   February 03, 2007 4:07 PM     ,    Blogger Cher    said...

Good comment, Charlsie.

However, I stand by the reporting.

Here is why:

I contacted Danaya Wright to confirm Bill Glass's comments regarding her land -- he said her land was going in a conservation easement and would effectively prohibit wide-spread development in that area by rezoning the ag land to R1.

I found out what Glass said was not true.

Therefore, the LPA decision made after that discussion to recommend the council rezone was not only made with incorrect information, all the land owners involved weren't included in the process.

Three of the other residents who owned land being considered for rezoning were at this meeting. I sincerely hope adequate, legal and proper notice will be made the future as this process is continued.

I believe my understanding of the process was strong enough to see that not only one but two owners of agricultural land were not made aware this rezone was being considered. There might have been others, but I stuck with the two people whose land was spoken for during the meeting.

It comes down to this: if someone was planning on rezoning your land, wouldn't you want to be included in the process?

And as a resident who cares very much for the future of McIntosh -- which I know you do -- wouldn't you want to know that the correct information about what would impact development was out there when the decision-making process happened?

Thanks for your comment. I appreciate you giving me a chance to explain my reasons in reporting this.

 
At   February 03, 2007 9:42 PM     ,    Anonymous Charlsie    said...

Cher maybe you were not attending the meetings when the council had letters sent out to all ag property owners asking if they wanted to stay in Ag or be rezoned.The only 3 property owners(Glass,Strange & Walkup)wanted out of Ag zone.That was the only property which we was asked to make a recommendation on. I personaly would like to see Wright's property R1 because the surrounding property is R1 but she requested stay AG.
This was a regular LPA meeting not a Public Hearing. All I was required to do was to make sure the meeting was posted. I was not required to call anyone. I have no control over the public bringing up names which had no bearing on what our recommendation was about.

 
At   February 04, 2007 9:14 AM     ,    Blogger Cher    said...

I am aware that the Glasses, Walkup and Strange were interested in rezoning their land the last time this came up. But when was that? Two years ago? A year and a half? How long is the statute of limitations on tabled discussions in McIntosh?

My understanding from the council meeting and the LPA meeting, they are starting over with the process. That would imply starting over with letting land-owners know there is a rezone on the town's agenda.

While the LPA did not hold a public hearing, it was a public meeting. There was never an agenda posted letting the all of public know that this issue was going to be discussed. That, alone, is a common curtesy.

From the e-mail Wright wrote, it seems she and her family probably would be amenable to others' plans. But the issue is she, and others with ag land, were not included in this step of the process.

Therefore, the recent LPA decision was made to the exclusion of land owner's input.

As for bringing up names of land owners... I believe you were the one who spoke for Chris Rath's property saying she didn't want it rezoned. Rath's desire to keep her land zoned for agriculture is pretty common knowledge. But what if something had changed for her? Since no one called her and asked, her input, as well as Wright's, wasn't included.

That is my point.

 
At   February 05, 2007 9:04 AM     ,    Anonymous Anonymous    said...

Isnt this just another way of getting re-zoning of certain people's property without them paying the fees and going through the process? It might be called just another payback in the scheme of the Tosh, but who really knows or cares. This town will never follow the law, it wants to treat one faction differently from others.

 
At   February 05, 2007 9:44 AM     ,    Anonymous Anonymous    said...

This is just Charlsie following Howards directions

 
At   February 05, 2007 2:04 PM     ,    Anonymous Charlsie    said...

This was not Charlsie following Howard's direction. Although its not a bad idea because I think he is a very smart man and cares about McIntosh. He has done a lot of work for this town FREE using his equiptment. Why did you not sign your name? If I am going to post something about someone I will sign my name.

 
At   February 05, 2007 2:12 PM     ,    Blogger Cher    said...

I agree with Charlsie on two counts here. A lot of people bring services to the table in McIntosh, and they go underappreciated.

She's being straight-forward by signing her name here. I'm not changing my policy about anonymous posts, but given two posts - one signed and the other unsigned, I find the signed comment far more credible.

 
At   February 05, 2007 5:09 PM     ,    Anonymous Anonymous    said...

The LPA Board acts at the directions given to them by the
town council, not one individual.
All Agriculture land owners were
contacted by registered mail to
see if they would like to have
their property rezoned. The land
owners of such property answered
in writing stating their wishes,
not to have their property rezoned.
The Glasses, Walkups and Stranges
were the only ones wanting their
property rezoned. I do not see how
you can say the LPA decision excluded some land owners!That just does not make any sense.

 
At   February 05, 2007 5:33 PM     ,    Blogger Cher    said...

As, I explained before, I reported it because I contacted two different land owners of land zoned for agricultural who were not contacted regarding last week's meeting in which discussion of rezoning land was discussed.

When was this notice you mention here sent out through registered mail? At least a year and a half ago? Two years ago?

 
At   February 06, 2007 7:41 AM     ,    Anonymous Anonymous    said...

Cher, you are very correct! This entire matter was discussed well over a year ago, and culminated in the vote to change zoning on Howard's property to R-1. I really hate to disagree with Charlsie, but she is either willingly or unwillingly a shil for Howard and the Mayor to get what they want irreguardless of what is good for the town. Sorry Charlie, but it stinks like tuna that is a week old!!!!

Why not go about the process in an ethical, legal manner? This town will never get over the "good ole boy" style of government until we do thing correctly!!!! Until then, the entire town will be a target of jokes and neighbor back biting. Cant anyone see that but me???

I dont dare sign my name - my neighbor has a pit bull that carries a gun!!!

 
At   February 06, 2007 9:52 AM     ,    Anonymous Anonymous    said...

You don't have to sign your name almost everyone knows who you are. You have a one track mind.

 
At   February 06, 2007 11:18 AM     ,    Blogger Cher    said...

Thanks, Neighbor of the Gun-slinging Pitbull.

I'd like to point out that the original report was "people were excluded." The solution is simple: fix it.

Make sure the process is done in an open fashion and includes everyone's thoughts. Who wants their land rezoned and who doesn't? What do their neighbors' with bordering land want? What ARE the potential impacts of this land being developed? Do we have a land development code in place that can ensure McIntosh is well-protected in the face of a developer with deep pockets who wants to put a house on every half-acre, if that should come up? Or, is that what people want in McIntosh? Can the water system and roads handle growth?

Why the rush? Maybe we can just slow down and consider all the points of view.

The same could have been said for the historic ordinance last June.

Had the previous group of people in power slowed down, been inclusive, would we be arguing about the ordinance today?

I disagree on one point. Let's be clear: my story never indicated or even suggested anyone is "shilling" for anyone.

 
At   February 06, 2007 11:58 AM     ,    Anonymous Anonymous    said...

RIGHT ON!!!!!

FIX IT

 
At   February 06, 2007 1:27 PM     ,    Anonymous Anonymous    said...

For the members of the LPA I think we have to be fair to them. They have been appointed to do a job and that is their job to make sure our water system and roads etc. will handle new development. In fact from what I understand the state will not approve changes unless water system & roads can handle it. Why cause all this name calling over nothing.

 
At   February 06, 2007 2:03 PM     ,    Blogger Cher    said...

Anon - Can you cite your sources when you say "in fact" the state allows and denies changes... do you mean to rezoning? Please, be specific.

This started because I checked out a "fact," which proved to be untrue. Bill Glass said that the Wright ag land would be keep wide-spread development from going in the area in question because her land was going into a conservation trust.

Since, that's not true, then the logic follows that the issue development is still on the table.

 
At   February 06, 2007 3:53 PM     ,    Anonymous Anonymous    said...

I was attending a council meeting sometime ago when rezoning which would allow for development of several acres. Mr.Day said he would have figure water usage etc. All this has to be approved by the state before it becomes ok

 
At   February 06, 2007 9:59 PM     ,    Blogger Cher    said...

So, from what you said he'd have to figure it? He doesn't know, therefore we don't really know? I asked about water capacity and the land in question at the LPA meeting dealing with the proportionate share. I didn't get anything more definitive.

State approval sounds dandy...

But my point is get the rezoning approved at town level by the people of McIntosh first -- and that means all of the people involved. If you're moving toward growth and development and people want that, then fine.

But my role as the media is to ask questions like, do people want this? What do people think? Do people think this is best for the town? Are people even aware 60 plus acres of land in McIntosh are up for rezoning?

Don't take it personally when I ask. It's just what the media does.

 

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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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