25 Jan 2018 MIDTOWN Boca…A Victory for the Residents!
This article was originally published by Al Zucaro on BocaWatch.org, preserved here now for historical purposes.
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A heart felt thank you to the residents of Boca Raton who responded to BocaWatch’s ‘call to action’ on the Midtown Boca second reading for ordinances that would permanently alter the quality of life in Boca Raton city wide. The residents were nothing short of terrific and the outcome is a significant victory from a ‘resident friendly’ city council.
Yes, I said ‘resident friendly’!!! Can you believe that???
Led by Councilwoman Andrea O’Rourke and seconded by Councilman Robert Weinroth, the City Council voted 4 – 1 (with only Mayor Haynie voting against) to ‘postpone’ further consideration of the entitlement ordinances requested by the Midtown Boca developers until at least March 27th and most probably longer.
City staff has now been instructed to investigate possibilities for a ‘small area master plan’ of the entire Midtown parcel; a plan that would give specific direction to the land owner/developers on what the city will allow them to develop before granting the developer entitlements to development without such details.
What took so long?
This is what the residents have requested for well over a year now; what the developers have been resisting with demands and threats resulting in a complete waste of their time and money. Time and money that would have been better spent putting the plan together in the first place.
Kudos is in order for City staff’s strong directional compass setting the stage for this ‘resident friendly’ outcome. Development Services Director Brandon Schaad has crafted documents addressing many of the items demanded by the developer. Of particular note is the issue of how is the area to qualify as a Transit Oriented District if the Tri-Rail is not built. How can you be a Transit Oriented District if there is no transit element in the district? Logical question….
Kudo is also extended to the City Attorney who sat quietly for most of the meeting until the developer’s representative began to raise the threat of a legal challenge arguing that further delay would be tantamount to a ‘taking’ and that imposing conditions like requiring a Tri-Rail or requiring that infrastructure be in place is ‘unconstitutional’. The City Attorney’s response to these threats was impressive. Basically she argued that the representative’s interpretation of the law was incorrect and her tone and temperament ended what was an out-of- control argument during Council’s deliberations between the developer and Councilwomen O’Rourke; behavior that should have been reined in by the Mayor; behavior she who would never have allowed a resident.
Perhaps the most impressive moment of the evening was when Councilwoman O’Rourke asked the developer’s attorney how could it be said that adding 2500 residential units would not add to the traffic issues of the area. The silence was deafening….such a telltale moment!!!
At any rate, the item has been postponed; a ‘master’ plan will be ordered and the residents will finally have an opportunity to have meaningful input in determining the outcomes affecting their quality of life….
Stay tuned…BocaWatch will keep you posted as developments change….but for now, thank you for your responsiveness, for your interest and for your voice.
Remember, your vote is your voice; Let your voice be heard for resident friendly outcomes in the March 2018 ballot box!!!