What’s Under the Bait?

This is a long post. You may want to take it in bite sized chunks. There is a lot to discuss and no time to edit it down. Good luck!

The P&Z meeting was a bit of a bust last night, except that residents got a much needed chance to voice their opinion publicly regarding the proposed Marina development. The  developer and the town were still not prepared to make the presentation they have been working on. According to the agenda for the meeting, the two have been in talks about this for years. This project seems to be as much the town’s doing and “STAFF” directed as it is developer directed. So our town has to take their share of the blame for the hold up.

This latest delay may actually be good for residents… that is, if they don’t close their eyes and just go back to sleep. For now the public hearing has been carried over to the next P&Z meeting so the town can avoid announcing it again. The bad news is, it’s hard enough to get residents off the couch as it is, add in semi-wasted meetings where nothing is presented for the public to look over and nothing is decided, and people will grow weary and head back to their easy chairs.

It was excellent to see people come out last night though. The research and succinctly worded public comments were a welcome sight and sound. Thanks to all the residents who showed up to listen and learn and have their say. There is nothing like a threat to the well-being of a community to bring people together to defend their turf.

Scrutiny Needed

The development, no matter what it ends up being, needs to be scrutinized from every angle before it is propelled forward. And please note that all of this IS being urged on by town “STAFF”, which includes changes to zoning. This means they basically look current laws in the eye and boldly tell them they no longer count. The town and developer are requesting waiver after waiver to ordinances which are put into place to protect residents. What’s the point of such protections, especially the ones regarding noise and light, if the town can just grant waivers and use the comprehensive plan as a trump card to override those protections.

“STAFF” who?

If we had counted the number of times we heard the words “STAFF” recommends and “STAFF” this or that throughout the meeting last night, I think it would be a telling statistic. It was in nearly every sentence spoken by Nadia DiTommaso for a while. My question to you is, do you know who it is that comprises the “all important” ‘STAFF’?

Are all the recommendations and plans and ideas brought by “staff” as “THE” opinion of record actually just those of Maria Davis and her employee, Nadia DiTommaso?  Is the whim and agenda of the town manager the guiding force and the basis for what our P&Z board, town commission and all of Lake Park are being forced into? Why is so much stock put into the recommendations of these one or two people? Why do people not question this out loud? Why should the recommendations of these two trump those of everyone else? What is so valuable about their agenda or opinion over that of the residents? It’s time to ask quesions and challenge premises.

???

I have other questions. I’m sure you do to. I want to know why they continue to bait the town with talk of economic development and increased revenue but they provide no statistics or information to back up the claim… or figures to show to what extent economic development will occur. It’s a rather broad and fuzzy delineation. Even if there is increased revenue; how much increased revenue? What will that revenue even go towards? Who will benefit from it? The assumption is that it will go toward the “public good” but what is THAT? If you look at their idea of public good even within this project, you get the sense of how shaky a foundation that is. And no one seems to be giving particulars. We must never assume. “Public good” and “revenue” are terms meant to lure you in, much like bait hiding something. What’s under the bait is usually gonna really hurt.

The set up

What are we being set up for in the future by this plan? The town used the promise of a promenade at the Marina in order to get grant money from the county. They made promises for that cash and then held the threat of having to pay that money back over our heads. Does the implementation of this project set the town up to receive further grant money in the future? Is this project just another piece of that whole deal, the conditions we must meet to pay for money already taken? Is this development being ushered into place as a foundation so that further change can be made in the future…a foot in the door to something more? Don’t doubt it. Pay attention, read the comprehensive plan, read the development plans and the town’s explanations of their support of this developer’s project (despite the fact that there is no concrete project. Hmmmm. Read the town attorney’s cover for it all. Common sense and the good of the residents is obviously not the guiding force here…so what is?

Sacrificing our neighborhoods for what?

How will those who live nearby and who have to sacrifice by having this in their front yard, backyard and side yard while it eeks in through their windows benefit from this? If revenue increases, so what? What will the town do with it? What does the town spend our money on now? Are we happy with that? Why forfeit your neighborhood to increase the dosage on a revenue fix we already have seen they don’t necessarily handle according to our wishes? Why would we think that sacrificing this neighborhood to the current town administration will suddenly make them responsible with the way money is spent in Lake Park? Increased revenue is not a selling point unless we know where that money is going and can weigh the value of it against the loss residents face as a result of this project. Somehow I don’t think the trade off is going to be worth it, and I don’t see evidence of the town spending OUR resources wisely in the past on things the residents care about. We need to learn from the past.

There are other concerns. The numerous items in the agenda for last nights meeting make glaringly obvious that we aren’t being told the whole story. The comprehensive plan which has been discussed on this blog in months past is coming into play again and we need to be alert to how it affects what happens in the future. We need to seriously consider having this brought up to the commission and reworked. It is fraught with sustainable development framework that sets up residents in the future to have to abide by what is worded therein. Caution is required.

The items within that plan become the basis for future decisions. They were implemented by the current “STAFF” and are a basis for what “STAFF” wants to do in the future. With this as a guide, many things we hold dear will be thrown out the window in order to meet the standards woven into the comprehensive plan. The comprehensive plan is a product created in conjunction with the county. All of this is being reworked continually to mold our town into a sustainable development mindset.

We need to know and understand this framework, step back and look at the big picture. It’s easy to get caught up in the details of the moment, but it’s what’s running in the background that is causing our trouble. And you can bet it will happen again. Fix the underlying problem first. We are being corralled with these plans. Why would we allow this? Be alert to it. If the comprehensive plan is the standard against which we judge all that we will do from here on out, shouldn’t we rethink and scrutinize this plan?

Tootie Fruity Goodness?

I dare you to read the comprehensive plan through (I will update with that link later. I have to find it again, or go find it on the town website), pay attention to patterns and think about the ramifications. Look now at how they are using the comprehensive plan to usher in this development, re-zone, create waivers, etc. It’s sustainable development and communalism. The “public good” will be the standard catch phrase over and over, as you will notice if you read the documents in last night’s agenda. Green space and tootie fruity goodness will be splashed all around to sound magically delicious. Unfortunately you will find a bitter center when you have worked through all that sweetness. I urge you to read the post about sustainable development (What is Considered UNsustainable?), check out some of the articles on Freedomadvocates.org about this subject and dig into the comprehensive plan. Otherwise, expect more of this kind of stuff. It will be your future.

These comprehensive plans are being slowly implemented, and because of language used and the patience with which they are being set into place, people shrug their shoulders. It all sounds harmless enough. Harmless until it all comes together and they use it to ram a restaurant, tiki bar and mini-golf course along with the noise, lights, traffic and associated activity inbetween the homes of residents…and do it all in the name of economic development, the “public good” and because the “STAFF”, aka: the town manager, say it’s good for us as if they are our mommy and daddy. They are using the language to do as they please. For now it’s a tiki bar, etc. Who knows what it will be next time.

The big picture

Please take the time now that you have been given a reprieve and read the agenda regarding the meeting held last night. It offers insight into the premise of this PUD application and how our town operates, all the way down to the town attorney’s letter which creates cover for “STAFF” recommendations. Note the inconsistencies and repetitive use of pretty words to promote what they want.  Get a feel for what your town “STAFF” is calling “good for you”.

It’s time we start looking at the big picture. We need to step back and see what is going on outside and beyond what’s in our face. Check out what’s in our peripheral vision.

These are my thoughts. Please share YOURS with us in the comments!

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