My concern with Carolyn Cooper used to be about bad policy. It now includes incompetence. She tells us she understands land use issues and then writes rules that expose the City to law suits. The people of Winter Park need to understand the magnitude and consequences of problems generated by Cooper’s influence as a member of the Planning and Zoning Commission before they vote.
Click Here: The Winter Park City Attorney on February 8, 2010 confirmed that Cooper’s Comprehensive Plan has down zoned a substantial number of properties and that at least one property owner has a valid and substantial claim against the city for a regulatory taking under Florida law. In short, the City will get sued for big bucks if it doesn’t find a way to change Cooper’s Comprehensive Plan very soon.
Carolyn Cooper is responsible for the rules and regulations in the Comprehensive Plan that subject our City to law suits and Tom McMacken has endorsed this severely flawed plan.
Carolyn Cooper is responsible for the rules that severely restrict opportunities to change the Comprehensive Plan, limiting the City’s ability to promptly correct the rules Carolyn Cooper wrote that subject our City to law suits.
Carolyn Cooper is responsible for promoting the 4 to 1 voting requirement to approve changes to the Comprehensive Plan that the City Commission has imposed on itself, which further restricts the ability to make changes in the Comprehensive Plan to avoid law suits. Note that this rule can be changed by a 3 to 2 vote of the City Commission.
Carolyn Cooper is then responsible for promoting the Super Majority Charter Amendment #10 that if approved would impose a 4 to 1 voting requirement to approve changes to the Comprehensive Plan. Note that this rule could only be changed by another Charter Referendum approved by the voters, not by the City Commission.
If this all seems overly complex and dangerous, it is.
Carolyn Cooper IS the problem.
I excerpt below a letter I wrote to the City Commission on the subject for those who wish to understand the magnitude and consequences of the problems generated by Cooper’s influence as a member of the Planning and Zoning Commission. We cannot give this woman the power to make law as a City Commissioner.
For more on this subject see:
The Flawed City Master Plan
Recommendations Regarding P&Z, Comprehensive Plan, and Land Development Code
Super Duper 2
Chamber of Commerce Opposes Charter Amendment #10
Dear Mayor and Commissioners,
Discussions at the February 8th City Commission meeting confirm our city master plan, the approved Comprehensive Plan, has down zoned a substantial number of properties and that at least one property owner has a valid and substantial claim against the city for a regulatory taking under Florida law. In short, the City will get sued for big bucks if it doesn’t find a way to change the Comprehensive Plan very soon.
I have tried to tell you again and again that what P&Z has done, and what the City Commission has made law, is wrong on many levels.
Please re-read my letter to you of October 2009: http://www.winterparkperspective.org/2009/10/26/recommendations20091026/
The surprised and frustrated tone in the voices of Phil Anderson and Beth Dillaha when advised that “flaws” existed in the Comprehensive Plan that exposed the City to liability indicate either ignorance or duplicity. Both P&Z and the City Commission have been cautioned many times about the extent of potential liability and unintended consequences inherent is such a controlling and extreme document, a document that at its core seeks retribution, not forward looking policy for our city. I sat in a P&Z Comprehensive Plan meeting where a property owner cautioned that he was being harmed and he was ignored. I and others warned you that the Comprehensive Plan was flawed. If you review minutes and audio of P&Z and City Commission meetings where the Comprehensive Plan and LDC were considered you will hear similar voices.
So let’s see.
The law requires the City to have a Land Development Code (LDC) that is consistent with the Comprehensive Plan, but the Comprehensive Plan contains regulations mirrored in the LDC that create down zonings and regulatory takings that expose the City to law suits. So you need to change the Comprehensive Plan to avoid law suits. (Or, as the City Attorney pointed out, agree to pay damages for the takings.)
But you can’t change the Comprehensive Plan for many, many months because P&Z proposed and you approved a limit of twice per year to request such changes, and the process takes at least six months after it is initiated. But then, if you don’t approve the “flawed” LDC that must be consistent with the “flawed” Comprehensive Plan, we expose the City to law suits because there will be no rules by which anyone can ask to build anything.
So, it would seem that you have stuck yourselves with the choice of approving the “flawed” LDC while you plod through changes to the Comprehensive Plan which leaves the City exposed to law suits, or not approving the LDC until the Comprehensive Plan changes are completed (if they ever are) which also leaves the City exposed to law suits. But wait, there’s more!
Now that you have imposed on yourselves (by a 3-2 vote) the requirement of a 4-1 vote to change the Comprehensive Plan, there is no assurance 4 then sitting City Commissioners (as much as a year from now or more) will concur when changes come to a final vote. Given the views that drove the City to assume a $25,000,000 liability and agree to a settlement with the “Carlisle” developers that cost $4,000,000 in cash and wiped out our reserves, it is not out of the question that TWO City Commissioners would block changes to the Comprehensive Plan at the final vote to keep the rules the way they want them, resulting in more law suits where the City is forced to pay owners for NOT building what they are legally entitled to build.
Let me know if I can help. You know I am always good for a suggestion or two.
Regards, Pete Weldon
700 Via Lombardy
Winter Park, FL 32789
The really scary part is that some people in Winter Park are so hellbent on maintaining control, they do not care about down zoning, private property rights being abused or unfair super majority votes. As long as it’s somebody else getting targeted, they’re happy. I know becasue I’ve spoken to them. It’s a pretty sad state of affairs when people are prepared to use any means possible to restrict a property owner’s basic rights. In their world, the ends justify the means.