Monday, November 7, 2011

Eye on Surfside

Church of Chance

A harbinger of thing to come is sometimes found in the most unsuspecting places. Such is this sign for a place of worship located in an unassuming neighborhood in a city that is on the verge of a precipice called legalized gambling. Scripture says odds are when the cat's asleep the rats will reap.

Three Ring Circus

Interestingly, here below are several comments posted by anonymouse on the state of things in the quiet little Town of Surfside. A place many residents still consider Simply Splendid. But lately the concern for some is, for how long?

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "A Hotel Is Not a Home":

Soon after one zoning blowout project was approved for 92nd Street, another developer – going under a newly assumed name – proposed an even larger hotel for Collins Avenue and 94th Street, a scheme to more than triple the size of the pre-existing hotel on that property. Just before asking for huge zoning increases, the developer made a little “donation” of $15,000 (for a $10,000 fireworks display!) that the Town Manager wanted to fund from the ‘outside’. The Town Manager and Town Attorney tried to keep the identity of the “donor” secret. The property was purchased for $25 Million - a price far higher then currently appraised – because the buyer knew – in advance – that the property would quickly be vastly upzoned to accommodate maximum private profits. The property was purchased in cash, no financing reported. The Town Attorney, Town Manager, and ‘Town Planner’ all pushed and it was “approved” 4-1 despite major violations of the Town Charter. The attorneys for the developer? The same ones as for the developer of the first bloated project, the ones who are also the lawyers for the “Town Planner” an outside contractor company - and they also represent the “Town Engineer”. “Town Engineer”? That very same outside company, now replacing all water and sewer pipes in the entire town at a cost of over $16 million dollars (+ $9 million more for interest and fees). New water/sewer system? The cover story is about leaky old pipes, but no other community in the country is replacing and increasing the capacity of its entire system. Pipes could have been lined – inner coated - to seal leaks. It is really about more capacity, bigger pipes -facilitating major new overdevelopment. They changed zoning laws, denied citizens the right to vote – a right guaranteed by the Town Charter - and they are using public money to try to remove any issues of ‘utility concurrency’.

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Surf and Turf":

Surfside’s hidden methods and agendas are unraveling. Officials are starting to realize that the public really did have a right to know all along and that right was trampled. So was residents' right to vote on big zoning increases. Little known but true that departing town employees are being forced to sign non-disclosure agreements to keep their mouths shut about Town Hall dealings. In 2011 Surfside Florida seems to be ‘leading the nation’ as a web of undisclosed conflicts of interest and ethically impaired government.

There are paper trails to examine of records independently posted on government and publicly accessible web sites. A connected group with friends at Town Hall started work in 2006 and continue working today. They asked Surfside officials to change zoning laws to enable a far more dense project with more units, smaller units, less parking, more mass of building, more height, and changes in permitted uses, for a group of 5 lots at 92nd Street & A1A across from the ocean. All without the referendum required by the Town Charter. They got together with some hired guns with bought and paid for 'opnions' to say that there was no Charter violation even though it was there to be seen if anyone really looked.

The developer is represented by a particular law firm, which proposed zoning changes to the “Town Planner”. The Town Planner is a company, an outside contractor. This same company has obtained numerous contracts from the Surfside Administration with no competition. Dozens of no-competition contracts for millions of dollars of public funds. The “company” assigned one of its employees to act as Surfside's “Town Planner”.

The developer’s law firm made proposals for zoning changes which were presented to the “Town Planner” in a series of private, closed door meetings. Simultaneously they conducted dozens of scripted, controlled “public meetings” with pre-set agendas giving no public notice of the major changes being made, and with no actual public participation other than full fledged members of the ‘plan’, all marching towards manipulated and predetermined outcomes.

The same lawyers represent both the developers and the Company that is the “town planner” – and those same lawyers are former partners of the Town Attorney. How's that for an inside job?

And the same company is also the "Town Engineer" doing a 16 million dollar project to expand water and sewer capacity to allow for more and more and more overdevelopment. Cozy?

* swampstyle does not necessarily endorse the opinions of commenters.

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