Beyond “Resident Unfriendly,” Actually Deceitful

10

Holiday Greetings from the other side of the world….

….but what the City Manager/Administration with the concurrence of the City Council is doing is simply incredible, unacceptable….

Below for your review are two communications prepared by concerned residents George O’Rourke and John Gore.  These communications have been sent to each of the individual City Council members complaining about a suspicious scheduling strategy for two incredibly ‘resident unfriendly’ high profile items set for public hearings at important advisory boards during this holiday week; to wit:  the Community Appearance Board (CAB) and the Planning and Zoning Board (P&Z).

Dear City Manager and Council Members,

I am writing this in response to a Council meeting I attended last Tuesday which exhibited perhaps the weakest display of leadership that I have ever witnessed at any Council meeting over the many years I have been an observer.

I will not dwell on the tedious, outrageous, boondoggle which ensued over signage requirements for a shopping center, other than to say; embarrassing.

The topic I bring into question is the scheduling of an important agenda item scheduled for P&Z for December 22 involving the rezoning of more than 240 acres in an important part of our city.

Myself, along with two others in attendance requested a postponement of this meeting to a future date where the public would have the opportunity to weigh in on this issue. In light of the holiday season this was a rational request that deserved your attention. If you truly represent the residents of the city you would give them the opportunity to fully participate in items of import.

Instead, this is what was heard during your closing reports:

Haynie:  Nothing

Weinroth:  Nothing

Mullaugh:  Nothing

Both Haynie and Weinroth continue with their pattern of disdain for certain segments of their constituency.

Rodgers: (to paraphrase) I would be fine with postponement to the next meeting but that one is probably already scheduled. Maybe we can discuss it but I’ll go along with whatever…

Talk about taking the ball to the five-yard line and then fumbling into the end zone.  Mr. Rodgers deserves an almost “thank you”.

Singer:  Brought up the fact that the scheduled meeting was out of sync with the normal planning and zoning calendar.

But here is our prize of the evening:

City Manager Leif Ahnell:

  1.  P&Z sets their own calendar.
  2. The calendar has been set since 2015.
  3.  The item will come before Council three times so the public will have opportunity then.

There are additional inane comments I could add, but let’s address some of those I mentioned.

First of all, the public spoke about a specific agenda item and you folks chose to just focus on the calendar and not address the heart of the issue.

Note to Mr. Ahnell:  Forget the P&Z calendar creation.  Not one resident brought up the concern of the overall “calendar” scheduling process.  Quite frankly, I could care less.  What does matter is the Agenda Item itself and its significance to the public at large.  When was the public properly noticed of this meeting?  (By the way, the P&Z agenda is still not listed on the City website.  I suggest that if a sign is able to be created and placed on a subject property, then that item should immediately be added to the City website as an agenda item, even if noted as preliminary.  Residents cannot read a sign as they whiz by in traffic but it could alert them to visit the City website for details.  THIS IS 2016.)  The important factor here is the public needs their opportunity to weigh in on this subject at the official meetings. By scheduling that particular item on December 22, the City has taken away the single opportunity for input by residents to the P&Z Board.

Second, the three meetings that Mr. Ahnell refers to occur in front of the same five individuals. This effectively eliminates what could be a different point of view from a separate entity.

Third, (sarcasm intended) the residents of the city that vote, generally have educations beyond the sixth grade, and therefore, have the capability to figure out much of what goes on at your meetings when they observe. We are aware that as a governing body, you do, in fact, have every right to monitor calendars and to make recommended changes to postpone meetings when it makes sense and is in the best interest of the community.  To listen to the nonsense that occurred at the end of your meeting one would conclude that planning and zoning was a separate entity unto its own and unrelated to the governing by Council and the City Manager.

Finally, the agenda item mentioned may very well be a commonsense adjustment to fulfill a practical buildout of a specific area.  Of that, I have no conclusion.  What concerns me most is the repeated scheduling of important agenda items at times that appear to favor those seeking an approval and inconvenient to the residents that have every right to participate in the process.  It is a pattern that is well calculated and has occurred many times over in Boca Raton.

A footnote to all of this is the fact that CAB will now be reviewing Mizner 200 this coming Tuesday, the same night of the Boca bowl. As you are more than aware this has been a hot button issue and once again you have allowed an agenda item to be placed on the calendar when residents are otherwise distracted.

I look forward to a point in time when I can say “keep up the good work.”

George O’Rourke



Dear City Manager and City Council and CAB Members,

On behalf of the membership of BocaBeautiful, I would like to strongly echo the comments made by Mr. O’Rourke in his e-mail to you.  Too often we have seen important meetings scheduled either at the last minute, or with vague agenda items, or on dates that seem purposely designed to discourage public participation.

For example, we just found out that the CAB is planning to meet this coming Tuesday evening and that a possible redesign of Mizner 200 is on the agenda as the final item.  That night happens to coincide with the popular Boca Bowl, not to mention the fact that many of our members are out of town for the holidays.  Those who are able to attend will have to sit through lengthy signage approvals and other mundane business before (and if) the CAB gets to 200 Mizner.  Do not let a lack of attendance seem like an indication of lack of opposition to 200 Mizner as it is now proposed.  We are certain that 200 Mizner will be a very hot topic as it moves through the approval process, and any shortcuts or favoritism will be duly advertised.  We will make it a very hot topic, because it is so important to our members.

We understand your reluctance to have full public participation at these kinds of meetings.  It is uncomfortable for everyone.  But it is how the process should work.  The alternative is to seek a change of course at the polling booth.  This November’s Boca Question is a case in point.  And March 2017 looms.

John C. Gore, President, BocaBeautiful.org

I cannot imagine a more ‘resident unfriendly’ strategy to evade public participation in matters of such importance.

The CAB will consider yet another re-design for what will be the most impactful downtown project, Mizner 200 on December 20th, the same night of the Boca Bowl at FAU’s stadium.

The P&Z Board will consider an application to create a new zoning district category for the high density ‘quality of life’ project known as ‘Midtown’; a project affecting Boca Raton’s western communities and residents.

Of course, one can not overlook that these dates are within the holiday week when many residents are traveling and celebrating both Christmas/Chanukah; perhaps the most celebrated holidays by many residents of Boca Raton.

What is the rush???  Why the purposeful action to deny public input???  Both these items are being brought forward with questionable public notice and with an apparent intentional design to ‘evade’ public participation.

The City Council, once again, demonstrates a political will to advance developer interests over the interests of the resident….

There is no justification for these underhanded means to evade the public’s participation….

We urge all of Boca Raton’s residents to attend these meetings or, at the very least, communicate to City Officials to table these items until the public has been given proper notice to participate. 

Mayor Susan Haynie – shaynie@ci.boca-raton.fl.us

Deputy Mayor Mike Mullaugh – mmullaugh@ci.boca-raton.fl.us

Councilman Mayor Robert Weinroth – rweinroth@ci.boca-raton.fl.us

CRA Chair/Councilman Scott Singer – ssinger@ci.boca-raton.fl.us

Jeremy Rodgers – jrodgers@ci.boca-raton.fl.us

Your voice is your vote; let your voice be heard March’ 17

 

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Alfred Zucaro has resided in Palm Beach County since 1982 and has been a resident of Boca Raton since 2008. A graduate of Fordham University, he holds a Magna Cum Laude degree in Economics. Mr. Zucaro attended Nova University receiving a Juris Doctorate Law Degree in 1986. He is a member in good standing with the Florida Bar, practicing in the area of Immigration Law for the majority of his career. Currently he is manager/member of Palm Beach Investment and Finance LLC, a USCIS approved regional center identifying foreign investment leading to permanent resident status. Mr. Zucaro served as a City Commissioner in West Palm Beach from 1995 to 2002 and as the President of the City Commission in 2000/2001. He has also been a member of and/or served on the Economic Council, the Business Development Board, the Film and Television Commission, the Tourist Development Council, the Workforce Alliance and the Palm Beach International Film Festival. Of particular interest is his founding of the World Trade Center Palm Beach, an organization that focuses on international economic development. Married to Yvonne Boice, they are avid world travelers having visited 6 continents and dozens of countries since their 2008 nuptials.

10 COMMENTS

  1. And so it continues. There are actually THREE new zoning issues on the P&Z calendar for Thursday. All carefully scheduled for the date that ensures low participation. Now look for the City voices to defend by saying they followed all the necessary rules and guidelines. I have a question to all that care: How is it that the City has the ability to place the ‘meeting notice’ signs on a property which includes specific details two weeks in advance of the meeting (that is a requirement) but will not put that item on its website until 3-4 days prior to the meeting? My answer: There is no excuse for this.
    Check back on goals that this City Council has set for itself and you will find “Transparency” as a goal. This Council is anything but transparent and is not in the least bit ashamed by that fact. Wake up people. We need ‘Resident Friendly’ representation.

  2. I only have ONE question: How do we get rid of an city Manager who has been there tooooooo Long? The longest amount of time yet. PLEASE tell me.

  3. The above article proves the point. There is no desire on the part of your city government to allow the public to have a voice. Robert Weinroth said it best in this example of citizen exclusion: ” I will not support the people’s right to vote on the use of the Wildflower property”. We forced the vote and won.

    Our Council plots against all of us on behalf of the development crowd. It’s as if they are saying- “We can’t have those pesky taxpayers meddling in our efforts to enrich our friends, can we?”

    We plead with them for a voice, a chance to ask questions, be part of the process as this is our City, not exclusively theirs. They force us to vote to get a word in edgewise. Given the Opportunity we should be part of the discussion from the beginning. Do not trust your City Council. None of them has stood up in support of our request to postpone these meetings. Why? Because they sneak behind your back while you are with family and friends or at the Boca Bowl. Throw them all out.

    The March election will give you a voice. Let the will of the people

    be heard.

    James Hendrey

  4. The Community Appearance Board has quietly put consideration of 200 Mizner on its agenda for TOMORROW NIGHT. To remind, 200 Mizner is the monster of a building, more than three city blocks long, that the developer Elad wants to construct on SE Mizner Boulevard in our already overcrowded downtown. If approved, this would be the largest (by far) building in downtown Boca— larger than the mammoth Palmetto Promenade— and would add to our traffic and parking woes, not to mention blocking the view of hundreds of downtown residents in nearby condominiums and apartments.

    We need to tell the CAB to reject 200 Mizner as currently proposed. It is too big, and should be broken up into distinct buildings of a scale that fits in our neighborhood.

    Please make an effort to attend tonight’s meeting. The CAB certainly hopes you will not, which is why they have scheduled this item the week before the holidays and on such short notice. Don’t let them get away with this. The meeting will begin at 6:30 in the Annex building next to the Community Center by City Hall. The address is 260 Crawford Boulevard.

    If you cannot attend, please respond & e-mail john@jcgore.com and express your disapproval. John Gore, the President of BocaBeautiful.org, will attend and present our e-mails to the CAB.

    LET THE CAB KNOW HOW YOU FEEL ABOUT YET ANOTHER MONSTER BUILDING IN OUR ALREADY OVERCROWDED DOWNTOWN.

  5. CAB meeting is scheduled TONIGHT..TUESDAY, DECEMBER 20, 2016 at 6:30pm at 260 Crawford Blvd (in the Annex Building next to the Community Center by City Hall)

  6. Esteemed Members of the Community Appearance Board,

    Unfortunately, I can not attend tonight as I am out of town for the holidays. As you can imagine, so is most of the community given it is the week of Hanukkah & Christmas. I would like to formally reaffirm Investments Limited’s Vehement Disapproval of this project.

    It fails to meet the Architectural Guidelines of 4035 on many levels. The building is grossly over scaled relating to context and therefore violates the Spirit of the Downtown Comp Plan. I am including a visual that clearly depicts this project as one readable mass despite the deminimis minor separation of the middle portion of the building components. It lacks ALL OF THE MIZNERESQUE Design strategies set forth in the 4035 code, and the further definitions in the Pattern Book where almost 50 pages describe how to make GOOD Large Buildings. This building is now worse than before. It reads as one massive block of unarticulated concrete. The beauty of the materiality in the most recent submittal is gone. Its roof line is truncated and under developed to meet the “”skyline” goals we have worked so hard to incorporate into our planning to make a good city.

    Enough is enough. If Via Mizner’s original proposal for a 600’ solid “walled” building resulted in them being directed to redesign and thus creating a strong 3 building site parti with 75-100’ separations, then Mizner 200 should be directed to do the same. This project is almost 1000’ along Mizner. Imagine filling the voids between the buildings at Via and then adding 100’. This image has been sent to you before. It is one massive building. Too massive for our Downtown.

    At the last meeting CAB Members unanimously requested several changes. Some have been incorporated, others have been ignored. They are underlined below.

    Townhouses on Mizner Boulevard. – These have been added and will respond nicely to the street.

    Break up Building into at least 3 distinct separated buildings to reduce scale and pressure to neighboring properties. Permit view, wind, sun passage ways between the buildings. – This has not been done. Although some effort to articulate and break the façade into clear segments has been done, it still reads as one solid mass along Mizner Blvd. Refer to visuals.

    Incorporate strategic not cosmetic Mizner detailing. – The building has been stripped of any elegance. This building does not look like our City’s Brand and in my humble opinion is the weakest design of all previous submittals. Style is not the issue here. This is about articulation and detail. DESIGN MATTERS friends. We have spent many nights together collaborating to make all of our projects better. This project needs a lot of collaborating. This endeavor ties directly to what the “Mizneresque” strategy is. 4035, the Pattern Book definitions and the History of Addison Mizner’s architectural compositions are clearly not evident in this design.

    Vary Roof Lines – This also has not been done. It still looks like one long roof element. It is fair to say that the Owner is reticent of deleting any units on upper floors to achieve this but it can be done where the weakest views or tertiary parts of the building can justify it. These drawings are preliminary so it is impossible to discern how they intend to hide roof top equipment. The design solution will affect the roof portion.

    Respond to Royal Palm Pedestrian cross walks at Mizner. The Applicant has not met with us to discuss. Numerous attempts were made but no meeting could ever be set. The imposing pressure to Townsend Place still has not been addressed.

    You are to be commended for your remarkable commitment to our city. Your volunteering is critical to maintaining the aesthetic Brand of Boca Raton. Thank you for your service. I respect and appreciate you all.

    Please reject Mizner 200’s submittal unless it meets all of the aforementioned City Code requirements and will become an enhanced element in our downtown.

    Happy Holidays & Merry Christmas to you and your families.

  7. Al, I didn’t want to interrupt your vacation, but your email blast today made it necessary. I would have wished you handled things differently with your piece today, which I don’t think is balanced or useful to your readers.

    Your email today asks residents to contact the Council to call for a postponement of the CAB meeting. I only learned of this on Sunday when I received John and George’s emails. You know that there is no way for the Council to act today to postpone an item to be heard tonight when there is no council meeting. By encouraging residents to ask for something that is literally not possible, you are setting them up to be disappointed and creating negative energy that could be better channeled. I have been working since yesterday to get more information about the scheduling of this meeting, but before I had any chance to get any good information out there, your post encouraged residents to seek the impossible.

    I think you know I agree with your points about transparency and notice and perception, and have worked toward those ends. I have more work to do, especially in light of this week’s meetings, and am working already on some steps to give greater notice. But obviously, we can’t do anything today for tonight’s meeting. I wish you wouldn’t give readers the false impression that their emails today can cause the Council to do something today to change the scheduling tonight. It can’t, and it may only lead to disappointment and disenchantment with their involvement in the process, something we each value.

    We can discuss other things about the amount of notice for CAB matters, including follow-up preliminary reviews, which I understand this to be. That’s a conversation for a different day, which I am happy to have.
    On the P&Z matter, you know that I was one of two people who supported postponing the item, even though it had been noticed already (and I’m not aware of any instance where Council has postponed preemptively an already-noticed P&Z meeting). Setting that aside, I was one of two members to say it shouldn’t go forward this week.

    • Scott…stop the BS…This was brought to the attention of the council and the manager last week…A simple call from the manager would have brought this to closure….This is downright deceitful and I will continue to call it the way I see it….The City Council continues to demonstrate that it is a paper tiger….useless….all of you should be replaced….since the manager rules….AZ

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