So, has anyone else noticed a pattern here in Clearwater whereby city government requests citizen input and then consistently ignores that input when it runs contrary to city plans, regardless of the validity of the objections, with some members of the Council, including our Mayor, showing much impatience with residents who cannot present detailed analyses in the few moments allowed to the citizenry?
In the last week we have had two glaring examples:
First, the City Council approved a lease with JMC, a local developer, for slips and docks on the beach at the north side of the inlet adjacent to the recreation center, despite unanimous citizen disagreement and requests for additional study of the proposed for various reasons including business and security matters, as well as unhappiness with the actual percentage and location of the public slips, all of which related directly to the lease itself. The Council was not at all concerned that public notice of the lease of this valuable city property, which had become even more valuable to the city when it was discovered that the city owns the submerged land as well as the upland property through which boaters will travel to get to and from the slips, had not been given because the original development agreement in January 2005 for JMC's Sand Pearl resort had included a provision for this action, and this technicality allowed the Council to approve the lease, which had just been negotiated, without public notice. Doesn't quite sound right, does it?
Then we had the 4 to 3 Community Development Board decision to amend Beach by Design for the Marina District on the beach to allow construction of structures as high as seven (7) stories on the waterfront side of Eastshore Drive for as little as1/2 acre of consolidation, with the incentive for the city being the problematic construction of a boardwalk (a potential maintenance nightmare), which no city residents who spoke felt was a priority. Again, further study was requested by residents, since the decision would affect the future quality of life for beach residents dramatically, but those requests were denied by the majority of the Board in a close vote.
Citizens do not expect that their opinions will always be heeded, but both of these decisions could have easily been delayed for additional study so that there would be no reoccurrence of some of the fiascos that have already occurred during the beach redevelopment.
What's the rush? And do you really expect citizens to participate if their opinions are repeatedly and sometimes rudely ignored?
Marty Altner - Clearwater
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