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Lack of Planning & Zoning Meeting ‘Shuts Down City’

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Posted: Friday, October 5, 2018 1:30 am

Homestead’s Planning and Zoning Board has not held a meeting in over five months.

The seven-member City Board needs four members for a quorum, required for an official meeting. The last Board meeting was held April 11, 2018.

“I think the chair and vice chair’s terms expired in 2017,” said Councilman Jon Burgess. Burgess raised the lack of progress by planning and zoning (“P&Z”) at the end of the Council meeting Wednesday September 26.

The last chairman of P & Z resigned effective April 18, 2018. One member of the Board is an ex officio position representing the Homestead Air Reserve Base. Attendance by that representative does not count toward the Board’s quorum.

The requirement that a planning and zoning board review development 

plans is woven throughout City Code especially in Chapter 30 on Zoning.

For instance, the P & Z Board is supposed to apply standards to the City’s department of development services evaluation prior to scheduling City Council’s consideration of special exceptions (30.45d). Planned unit development applications go forward after P & Z’s review (30.46 5b & 6). All site plan applications must be reviewed by P & Z (30.47a). There are many such legal references in the municipal code.

The City recognizes the problem. Other City committees often lack member quorums.

Councilwoman Patricia Fairclough said, “I had the same issue with education committee members. People have good intentions but schedules may no longer allow them to serve.”

In fact, appointments to the Historic Preservation Board and the Community Relations Board were made later at the same Council meeting to facilitate quorums by those boards.

Councilman Burgess listed problems with cancelled meetings. “You have attorneys and staff working on this after hours, getting traffic engineers here and other witnesses. I’ve had complaints from (applicants) that drive down here from Miami only to discover that we can’t get a quorum,” he said.

Councilman Stephen Shelley who was presiding at Council said he hesitated to make decisions that evening without more information and background.

“The City has come to a stop because of this,” Councilman Burgess said. “Unfortunately, we probably have to fill six of the seven positions at this time. Maybe we should appoint eleven members and leave the quorum at four.”

Councilman Larry Roth agreed, “We rely on P&Z to make decisions and bring things to us. Should they get compensation to serve?”

Councilwoman Fairclough SAID, “Ask if members still wanted to serve, those with the time and capacity to serve,” she said.

Councilman Shelley said, “I’d like to see this on the next COW agenda and have a full discussion of the larger issues and base our decisions on that.”

Councilman Burgess agreed, “We must do something and make some hard decisions. This is shutting the City down.”

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