McIntosh Mirror: Reflecting news in the Tosh

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03.23.07 -- REPORT: Council president re-examines public hearing decision, says rezone not a fast track agenda item

Editor's note: This is the second of two stories delving into resident concerns that rezoning agriculture land in McIntosh is being fast-tracked. Council President Frank Ciotti addressed issues in a Q & A e-mail interview with the Mirror.

The interview is posted verbatim with a brief added after the first question reflecting a phone interview this evening with Ciotti.


Council President Frank Ciotti answered questions about how a Town Council Public Hearing was scheduled for April 12 to discuss rezoning applications.

Mirror: From these emails, it looks like you made the decision to schedule the public hearing before the council, as a whole, receives receipt of the LPA's report at its next meeting. Is that accurate? Was this decision part of your role as council president? Why was this not a
full council decision?

Ciotti: It is the duty of the Council President or the Mayor to schedule any Public Hearings. In this case, due to her personal involvement, the Mayor cannot schedule the Pubic Hearing. I scheduled the hearing prior to a regular Council meeting so everyone may be involved. Town Attorney (Scott) will be there for questions and any needed legal opinions. I e-mailed the other council members and the attorney and asked for any questions or concerns. There were no replies, which indicates to me that we should move forward.

[Ciotti later said in a phone interview this evening that he has contacted Attorney Scott Walker about this issue. The McIntosh Town Charter gives the power to call special meetings to the council president and mayor. However, the charter makes no mention of public hearings, while the LDC mentions the town council making decisions regarding workshops and public hearings in the section dealing with rezoning. Ciotti said if he made a mistake in calling the meeting, it can be canceled, if necessary. He also said he would make a statement to the other council members before the meeting, but he pointed out that no one objected when the town clerk sent the e-mail out to the council members collectively. Ciotti wasn't sure when the public hearing posting was going to run in the Ocala Star-Banner. A concern he had was that it would cost the town more to advertise it, if it were canceled.]

Mirror: Why did you decide to drop the workshop step from the zoning process?

Ciotti: The workshop process is usually needed for large scale projects. Please don't think that the flow chart from WCPC is mandatory. It is just a guideline. If we were a larger city or a county, we would always hold workshops (Ex: the projects on 39th and 75 called Springhills). I don't think we have a need for a workshop on this item. Once the Council gets public input, the council can discuss and vote.

Mirror: Can you speak to the concern residents have that by cutting out a council workshop on this rezoning, residents lose a shot at voicing opinions and concerns about it?

Ciotti: I can tell you that everyone will be heard and have a chance to comment. Your printing this Q&A will help everyone get involved. The Council is always willing to listen to citizens who want to give input. The more input, the better for our town. Often we only hear from a few, but there are many folks who do not speak at meetings and are very aware of this re-zoning process.

Mirror: By scheduling the public hearing before the meeting, one month has been cut out of the time table for rezoning the AC land. In your opinion, has this process been fast-tracked?

Ciotti: Please be assured there is no "fast track." Yes, we are moving forward. You missed being involved in this process that started in 2005. We have been through this before and the process will be fair to all including the property owners who have filed and others who will file in the future. There is plenty of time for reflection and discussion of our town's future.

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posted by Cher @ 11:00 AM,


At   March 24, 2007 12:49 AM     ,    Blogger Cher    said...

The McIntosh Mirror welcomes your comments - even the anonymous ones. But please refrain from personal attacks on the town's officials, employees and residents, including me.

You can say you think someone or something is right or wrong without making it a personal attack.

I accept anonymous posts, because I hear people tell me they are afraid of repercussions if they say what they really think. Please take advantage of this and stick to the issues and not abuse the anonymity with personal attacks.


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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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