This article, originally published by Al Zucaro on BocaWatch.org, is preserved for historical purposes by Massive Impressions Online Marketing in Boca Raton.
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City Council members voted 3 – 2 in a 5 ½ hour marathon quasi-judicial fact finding session to approve the Camino Square project.
5 ½ hours? 3 – 2 vote? Are you kidding???
Camino Square was a no brainer! Voting ‘NO’ is simply indefensible.
What more does the applicant has to do to get a 5 – 0 vote on an item where:
- The applicant is entitled to build the development with vested traffic concurrency as a matter of right;
- The applicant is building a development with a 77’ height limit on a parcel of land where 100’ is allowed as a matter of right;
- The applicant is building residential units, that by all expert testimony, causes less traffic trips than if the property were to be re-purposed under its existing use, retail, as a matter of right;
- The applicant voluntarily is committing to an estimated $2M roadway infrastructure improvement; improvements resulting in a substantial ‘level of service’ increase at the Camino/Dixie intersection, a remarkable improvement;
- The applicant voluntarily commits to a $100K contribution for ‘art in public places ‘; improving the public experience in the public realm;
- The applicant contributes to the public realm by contributing two ‘public’ park spaces for all residents’ to use; and,
- The applicant removes what is arguably the most blighted parcel of derelict land in Boca Raton’s downtown???
All these positive results go away if the vote would have been 3 – 2 against.
What am I missing? What was the ‘nay’ votes thinking?
The “substantial competent evidence” presented by the applicant was of such a one-sided nature that a close call 3 – 2 vote is astonishing; a 3 -2 vote avoiding another multi-million dollar lawsuit, a lawsuit that could not possibly be won at the Circuit Court.
So, why such a close call considering all the above contributions to the public good?
Here’s why… Politics…
The 2 negative votes demonstrate bad judgment; judgment of leaders failing in their duty to act in the best interest of the residents; failing in their duty to act as the Circuit Court’s fact finder and not as an elected local ‘politician.’
Politicians listening to and responding to the “group think” holding the notion that all development is bad; to wit: an unreasonable and “resident irresponsible” posture.
Let’s put names and faces to the now documented Community Redevelopment Agency 3 – 2 final vote:
- Yea votes were Singer, Rodgers and Thomson;
- Nay votes were O’Rourke and Mayotte.
Normally, I would suggest that the audience review the official record to form an independent opinion on the underlying issues in the matter being considered.
However, an affirmative vote in favor of this applicant was so obvious, so elementary, that it is simply inconceivable how a reasonable fact finder with an open mind could have voted any other way.
Simply unexplainable !!!
Or is it???
Separating “political” from “quasi-judicial” responsibility is such a basic “good governance” concept that for the Chair and Vice-Chair of the CRA to not understand the difference is truly disturbing. The negative vote demonstrates a serious lack of judgment by these officials…or, is it simply another example of an irresponsible and unspoken policy limiting “development through litigation.”
That pesky rhetorical political question asked again!!!
Remember, politicians often have as their primary concern what the loudest voter base thinks and want. A small amount of loud voices in opposition often lead to bad political votes; votes that clearly would be reversed in a higher tribunal when appealed.
With the March, 2020, local elections a mere 11 months away, the politician sitting as fact finder may already be hearing the raised voices impacting the politician’s expected re-election campaign.
Good governance be damned!
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