January 2, 2010
I have worked with City Commissioner Phil Anderson over the past two years to try to rid our local politics of the extreme political dogma now embedded in our policies and priorities. Phil “beat me” to win his seat on the City Commission and I have always respected his thoughtfulness and concern.
Phil seems to be guided by influences other than his own convictions. After considering the wisdom of asking the voters to approve super majority voting requirements by the City Commission to change the current Comprehensive Plan, Phil told me he had decided a super majority voting requirement should be imposed by Ordinance rather than by a vote of the citizens. While an Ordinance can be changed by the City Commission, an approved Charter Referendum can only be changed by a vote of the citizens. At the last minute when given the opportunity to vote on this he conferred with some unknown higher power and decided to support a citizen referendum to require a super majority vote of the City Commission to change the Comprehensive Plan, which vote passed by a simple majority and will appear on our March 9, 2010 ballot.
The letter I sent to Phil before he voted is copied below. He has yet to explain why he believes the realities in Winter Park warrant this draconian and self dealing super voting requirement. I note that all three of the people on the current City Commission who imposed the current flawed Comprehensive Plan voted for this referendum. Seems like they think their policies and priorities are so special they should be made permanent.
November 10, 2009
I was interested in your position regarding super majority voting requirements for “text” changes to the Comprehensive Plan as you discussed at yesterday’s City Commission meeting.
You said you have been “on the fence” with this issue.
I hope that when you choose which side of the fence to get off, you are standing on solid ground.
I empathize with those who have been seeking ways to stop development for the sake of development in the State of Florida. There are certainly concrete examples (pun intended) of high rises in downtown Orlando and residential developments surrounding Orlando that are now the stuff of mortgage default and bankruptcy, some of which may end up a blight that need to be simply torn down. That political influence is involved in the past approval of some of this development is obvious.
I also am sensitive to the resource consumption of this growth in development, where impact fees may not cover the cost of required infrastructure.
But please Phil, someone explain to me what this has to do with Winter Park?
The obstruction and torment proffered by Beth Dillaha and the ever smaller legion of “no” people is based on exactly what?
The four downtown development projects approved by prior City Commissions are all anyone can point to and none of these projects exploit our city for the benefit of developers, nor did they compromise concurrency requirements. The only legitimate problem I see is one of architectural nuance and quality, not scale and density. Please show me where Park Place, the Douglas Grand, the four story condos on Morse Blvd, and yes, the Carlisle project harm our city? I might agree that the Carlisle was too big, but I do not believe it would have harmed Winter Park.
So where is the Winter Park crime that warrants asking the voters to agree to deny themselves democratic process and put the future of our city in the hands of a minority of City Commissioners?
You might consider that the same people who pushed through the Comprehensive Plan filled with limitations and requirements not required by DCA are the same people trying desperately to expand super majority control before the next election, for fear the voters may not buy their agenda in March 2010. So, if they lose a third vote on the City Commission they are assured of making it painful to change their agenda (in the form of the current flawed Comprehensive Plan). The rush job with the Charter Review Committee was nothing more than a manipulation to allow Beth Dillaha to make her push for this super majority power grab. How, exactly, does any of this qualify as good governance?
As you deliberate over the next two weeks I ask that you carefully consider the facts, the dangers of minority control, and the long term best interests of the City of Winter Park and its citizens.
Regards, Pete Weldon