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Council Amends Planning & Zoning Board Membership

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Posted: Thursday, February 28, 2019 9:22 pm

Homestead City Council added two alternate members to the Planning & Zoning Board at its meeting on Wednesday February 20.

The new arrangement is in response to Board problems achieving majority attendance needed to act. Council briefly discussed quorum issues for City Boards at several 2018 Council meetings.

Earlier debate exposed problems with assembling applicants, attorneys, and planners from Miami plus City staff for meetings and then postponing due to lack of quorum. City Code stipulates Council action in several areas only after consideration and recommendations by the P&Z Board.

The amended ordinance permits alternates to count towards a quorum if a regular member is absent, is recused, or if a Board seat is vacant. Alternates would be notified of P&Z meetings and expected to attend for issue discussion in order to vote.

Council unanimously adopted the amended Ordinance which takes effect immediately. Operationally, the Mayor must appoint alternates to their two year terms with Council approval.

City Council confirmed Mayor Stephen Shelley’s appointment of Julio Guzman to the open Council seat by a vote of 6 to 0.

  Councilmember Jon Burgess first suggested a special call meeting could be scheduled within the required sixty day period if members needed more time to interview Guzman. 

  Councilmember Patricia Fairclough said, “All of us have had the time to reach out to any interested individuals. The candidates responded candidly and insightfully to (the Mayor’s) 22 question questionnaire. So, I don’t need more time.”

Other councilmembers said they also were prepared to make a decision.

  The Mayor said “This was a tough process and difficult decision as there were several excellent candidates.  We want to continue the progress on the good works we’re doing.”

An amendment to the police officers retirement plan was approved by Council.  Retired officers could be rehired part-time as needed, without earning additional service credits.  The IRS permits this pension provision. The City’s pension consulting service said there was no actuarial impact to the existing plan. 

At the start of the meeting, Council consented without further discussion to a lengthy list of items from its COW meeting the week before. Included were design plans for an expanded Losner Park, the Cybrary phase one plan, two grants for Losner Park playground equipment, an FDOT maintenance agreement for the Campbell Drive widening project, plus three police and corrections officer collective bargaining agreements among other expenditures.

An applicant requested special exception permits from Council to build two single-family houses on lots along Northwest Third Avenue in multi-apartment zoning (R-3). Both items were approved unanimously.

Council also approved an expenditure of $207,902 to replace fifteen year-old playground equipment at James Archer Smith Park including padded surface areas. This item was discounted due to a bid negotiated by Manatee County School Board.

Councilmember Burgess offered a resolution to support Be the Match, an organization seeking donors for bone marrow transplants. The motion was offered in support of seven-year-old local resident Julian Morales who needs a transplant.

Councilmember Fairclough got unanimous approval for her resolution endorsing “Locavore”, a program designed to encourage use of locally grown foods in promoting healthy nutrition.

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