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Mayor Ayoub Clarifies Format For Firmenich Meeting

The Safety Harbor City Commission meeting on Monday will be conducted as a quasi-judicial hearing, which differs from a regular public meeting.

With a major decision on the Firmenich property proposal looming Monday, Safety Harbor Mayor Joe Ayoub is trying to make sure residents understand the format of the upcoming commission meeting.

Instead of operating under the guidelines of a traditional public hearing, this meeting qualifies as a quasi-judicial hearing, which carries different protocols and procedures than a public hearing and is run more like a court proceeding.

According to state guidelines, during a regular public hearing the decision-making body allows for public comment. With a quasi-judicial hearing, the decision-making body must swear in those who wish to testify, and certain rules and procedures must be followed.

Also, in a quasi-judicial hearing, "the decision making body is not allowed to use public sentiment or unsubstantiated evidence as the basis for making a decision."

“This is a standard meeting format for this type of issue,” Ayoub told Patch by phone. “Any type of zoning change has to go through this type of meeting.” 

“I sent out a notice so people were aware of this in advance of the meeting on Monday. I’m trying to be pro-active about it.” 

The guidelines state, “If the application involves an ordinance (such as rezoning or land use change) which requires two readings before the City Commission, then the quasi-judicial hearing will occur in conjunction with the first reading, or hearing, before the City Commission.”

Monday’s meeting will be the first before the commission since the Planning and Zoning Board approved the latest proposal from the Richman Group of Florida by a vote of 6-1 on Jan. 9. 

“Florida law says we have to do it like this,” Ayoub said. “We don’t have a choice.”

“I’m trying to get people’s expectations in line in advance of the meeting. I want to make sure they knew what processes are being followed in advance.”

How do you feel about this meeting format, Harborites? Let us know in the comments below.

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Russell Norman February 02, 2013 at 10:37 PM
Dee, The residents around this developement have only asked for a few restrictions and again it seems to fall on deft ears. We the residents would like the density cut down. The original proposal was 3 and 4 stories at 296 unit, another plan had 2 and 3 story units. What happened was they reduced by 20 units and went back to 3 and 4 story. We would like the units that back up to the residentual area on Harbor Hill Drive to be no more than 2 story to blend with the existing neighborhood. Remember there is only 1 entrance and exit and it will all be on SR590. We believe there should be a back entrance onto McMullen Booth for traffic turning north but were told that for them to go over the wetland would cost too much and make the plan not feisable. If we can build a bridge over the bay we certianly feel they can go over 50 ft of wetland for public safety. What will it take to convince them too much traffic on 590 (some onegetting injuried due to cut thrus)
Russell Norman February 02, 2013 at 10:56 PM
Also there are no other 3 or 4 story buildings in SH but the Crispers building, the SPA and the hospital. We are asking to keep the samll town feel we have come to enjoy which makes this city different than all the others in the county. Keep the development in line with all the others. Why should this area be different?? We put forth these suggestions to all the commissioners and have largely be ignored. We are willing to work with the city and the developers, we know that something will get built but why not work at compromise that benefits all. I believe it doen't say anywhere in the city charter, the comprehensive plan or the land use plan that the city is obligated to a developer making a profit or to a seller of a pc of land to make money. It does say the city is to; Strive to attain a land use configuation that is COMPATIBLE with existing development and to Enhance the city's open space character. These should be done in the overall publics best interest
Michael February 04, 2013 at 12:29 AM
To be clear, does anyone know whether the Richman Group project will qualify for property tax exemptions, seeing as they are offering affordable housing?
Cristine Kreplick February 04, 2013 at 07:19 AM
Affordable? Did they confirm what the rent will be? I think it makes a difference!
Robert Saltzman February 04, 2013 at 10:35 AM
I think there is a lot of misinformation being tossed about on this. Some folks have the idea that this will be "affordable housing". Richman Group said it will be "market rate" they plan on rents ranging from $1000 to $1500. That all depends on the market when this project would be completed in 10 years. One fear is that if they can't fill the buildings they can shift 51% of ownership to their non profit and avoid the taxes, or apply for Section 8 and have the state subsidize the apartments. Again they can avoid the taxes. Make no mistake they are profit driven as well as they should be, they are a business. If you have done any research on this company you will see that they have done this in the past on some of their other projects. At the meetings they only show us their successes not their failures, that would be counterproductive to their mission. There are no guarantees!!! I am not sure who would want to rent an apartment for $1000 or more a month for the view of SR590 and the Quonset Hut building next door to a yard waste facility. Their contention is that it’s a place to hang your hat not a home so the renters won’t care about the view or the congestion they have to endure to get in and out. I just see it as too many things can go wrong, go wrong, go wrong….That is all besides the fact that the project will pave over wetlands, so you critters get out, we don’t need no stinkin birds, rabbits, otters, armadillos, shall I go on???

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