ISLAMORADA — Little action was taken by the Village Council during last week’s meeting despite robust discussions on the Fills master plan, council term, businesses infringing on residential communities, lobster mini-season and more.
While hearing public comment on the contract with CPH to oversee the Fills’ overhaul by engineering a master plan, Councilman Henry Rosenthal motioned to rescind the council’s prior approval.
“I’m not comfortable spending $55,000 that is required from FDOT. We have a $55,000 expenditure for something we don’t really know if we need. That list of 14 items, quite frankly, up to four may be on the agenda. The rest of the items don’t need to be discussed nor really engineered,” he said. “I make a motion to rescind the vote from the last meeting approving the contract with CPH for the master plan.”
Mayor Buddy Pinder wanted to move forward with CPH.
“Our primary objective is to control the Fills. If we give it back to FDOT, we are going to have a real mess down there,” he said. “We have to start somewhere. At this point, I think we just need to move forward with it now. In the future, we can host a workshop and get public input [on the proposed projects].”
Rosenthal said for his support, CPH should manage the traffic and trash at the popular roadside gathering spot. His motion to rescind failed for lack of a second.
Councilman Pete Bacheler again sponsored a discussion on increasing council terms to four years and staggering them as to avoid impaneling five new council members as was the case last fall.
All five councilmen largely spoke in favor of extending the current two-year terms.
Councilman David Webb called for public comment.
“We’re going to have to deal with stormwater systems in the future, which is 10 years at least. We’re going to have roadwork projects. We need to guide the public through the completion of projects,” he said.
Rosenthal supported an extra year, rather than two.
“In terms of staggered, three years is the way to go,” he said. “If I had to decide tonight, three years would be the way to go for me.”
Three-year terms, however, wouldn’t coincide with the normal state and federal election season and would require a special election at the cost of taxpayers.
Longer and staggered terms will be brought forward by staff at a future meeting. The council would need to adopt an ordinance to put any change on the 2022 ballot for public vote.
In other news, Councilman Mark Gregg is calling for more public outreach between all municipalities and agencies as lobster mini-season approaches. The annual two-day sport season falls on the last Wednesday and Thursday in July and draws visitors to the Keys.
The council heard public comment against the Islamorada Beer Company using an adjoining vacant residential parcel for parking.
“This isn’t anti-business,” Webb said. “If you outgrow the confines of your business based on success, then we need to reestablish a proper balance between residential and business.”
The council also erased code compliance liens in the amount of $203,700 that had stacked up against two properties that the village has since purchased and where it plans to build affordable housing.