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02.14.07 -- REPORT: Repealing Historic Ordinance 151: "the nits need to be picked"

By CHER PHILLIPS


Listen to the Feb. 12, 2007 Town Council meeting continuation by clicking the black triangle. (Internet Explorer users may need to click the start arrow twice.)









The McIntosh Town Council agreed in a four-one vote to repeal Historic Ordinance 151 Monday night in a continuation of last Thursday's February council meeting.

The grappling over the ordinance began Monday night with Mayor Marsha Strange reporting that an unfounded rumor had been circulating that the town wanted to do away with the historic district altogether.

She told the council she'd been contacted by Vanessa Thomas and that four McIntosh residents went to an Ocala meeting and told their historic board the town was attempting to do away with the historic district.

The mayor asked the council to make this point clear.

Though the mayor declined to give the names of the four residents attending the meeting but did note that they were present, Barbara Fellman said she was one of the four who attended the Ocala meeting.

Council President Frank Ciotti made mention of how some people might be confused by what has been written about the historic ordinance in the McIntosh Mirror.

However, the Mirror has never reported that the town is attempting to get rid of the district. No council member or committee member has said in a public meeting this is the town's intent.

In all of the proceedings regarding this ordinance since Council Vice President Howard Walkup made the motion to repeal 151, the only person to suggest that McIntosh's historic district be "gotten rid of" was Bill Glass in the Jan. 30 LPA meeting, to which Charlsie Stott replied she didn't think that was what they wanted to do.

Public records requests have been made for the minutes of the Ocala meeting.

***

On the other side of the grappling fence, the LPA met in January to discuss historic ordinance 151 and voted unanimously to recommend that the council repeal the 151.

At Monday night's meeting Susan Phillips protested that this issue going to the LPA to begin with.

Therein fell the confusion to whether or not the council did or didn't sent the issue to the LPA.

A look back at the Jan. 11 council meeting audio file, shows the council and attorney Scott Walker discussing at length around point 1:23:00 sending the historic ordinance to the LPA for revision.

In the midst of the discussion, Councilman Lee Deaderick tabled in the discussion to February so he could line-by-line read the historic ordinance and gather resident opinion.

It seems that the LPA jumped the gun by taking up the issue in January. During the council meeting, the language regarding the LPA decision used by Walkup was that the LPA had an "unofficial" meeting regarding the historic district.

The meeting, publicly noticed, followed the Sunshine Law, as far as Florida statutes require. But an agenda wasn't posted and therefore, the issues brought up can't be considered a public hearing, which are required when an ordinance is repealed.

***

The interim between the January meeting and the February meeting gave Deaderick a chance to do what he promised: thoroughly read Historic Ordinance 151.

Deaderick provided a line-by-line series of objections Monday night to the ordinance.
(Click HERE to view a PDF Deaderick's original copy noting his objections.)

Deaderick challenged the ordinance on several levels. He said some of the purposes of the ordinance seemed beyond a law's ability, for instance

"I took personal offense to that the word morals ... that somehow morals are tied in with the historic houses," Deaderick said. "The other thing was the this served the spiritual needs of this community and I wasn't sure that that was an accurate portrayal."

Other areas he flagged as problems dealt with landscaping clauses, paint color, ban on the parking of commercial or large vehicles in the historic district and the idea that the historic board could approve what businesses were given occupational licenses. One point he returned to again throughout his criticism was that he said he did not think that a citizen board should have the amount of power that would be granted to the historic preservation board by this ordinance.

Phillips interrupted at one point to tell him that he was just nitpicking.

"What you're doing is really unfair," Glass said.

But the councilman defended his right to pick at the historic ordinance, as he had with previous ordinances like many revisions he's pushed for from the tree committee of the new tree ordinance.

Deaderick said "I've been to a code enforcement board meeting where the nitpicking was as detailed as this, so the nits needs to be picked," he said.

He said that he thought that what was important to the character of McIntosh had very little to do laws and codes but more to do with the civic organizations and people in town.

Ciotti also mentioned that he did not understand the language in the ordinance pertaining to a buffer zone. Last summer, McIntosh residents voted to have a ban against expansion of the current historic district. Yet, ordinance 151's language spells out methods for including homes in the district, even against a home owner's wishes.

Listen to Councilman Deaderick's objections to Historic Ordinance 151 by clicking on the black triangle. (Internet Explorer users may need to click the start arrow twice.).










Ciotti was the dissenting vote in Monday's night's repeal. A surprise vote to repeal came from Councilwoman Eva Jo Callahan. Walkup and Councilwoman Eunice Smith were expected to vote for repeal and Deaderick was assumed by the community to be the "swing" vote on the issue.

The council's repeal of 151 will mean that the ordinance will go under revision. Immediately after the repeal was approved, the council passed another motion by Deaderick to have the LPA and the Historic board meet and made a series of revisions based on concerns he expressed about the historic ordinance.

Currently, 151 is still on the books in McIntosh, but the repeal process -- going next to the LPA -- could yield revisions enough to make 151 acceptable and not have to pass through a second repeal, which would remove it entirely from the town's codes. The process will open up the revision process to the community in the form of public hearings for the combined LPA and Historic Preservation Board members to work on council members' concerns.

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posted by Cher @ 12:05 PM,

2 Comments:

At   February 16, 2007 2:06 PM     ,    Anonymous Anonymous    said...

what makes the town responsible for this?

 
At   February 16, 2007 2:10 PM     ,    Blogger Cher    said...

What makes the town responsible for what?

 

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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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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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