As I was in attendance March 14 at the Santa Rosa County Zoning Board meeting, I thought I would share a few things that concern me.
The majority of the audience was in attendance for the large-scale rezoning of the Ball property, (#18). This crowd waited patiently for more than six hours to have the right to speak at the podium. During the wait, we listened to many issues brought before the board. Swimming pools, fences, etc. Of particular concern was the fence item, which was consistently referred to as being on Highway 98 by Van Hibberts, a Dave Piech appointee, per the county zoning board website.
Hibberts was not correct about the fence being on Highway 98, the fence is actually on East Bay Boulevard. When the citizens started to speak, after about three speakers, Hibberts shouted, “I make a motion to approve!” This was shouted as the next speaker took her place at the podium.
James Calkins, a Bob Cole appointee, shouted, “I second the motion.” The woman who was cut short by these outbursts was visibly upset and left the podium. Things settled down, and she was coaxed by other board members to come back and have her say.
At this meeting, we learned that a school board member should be in attendance at all zoning board meetings, but no one ever shows up.
At around 12:40 a.m., the vote to approve or not approve the rezoning of the Ball property was taken. Bill Seelman, Jim Waite, Charles Lloyd, Don Richards and Jeremy Reeder opposed the high-density rezoning. Thank you for your votes, gentleman. Apparently, these board members paid attention and got the message that citizens are fed up with overbuilding, no infrastructure and overcrowded schools and roadways.
Drew Wright, Calkins, Lonnie Hawkins, Scott Kemp and Hibberts, all voted for the increased density development to proceed. So, after a night of hearing, especially from Hibberts about land development code policy, he and the four others voted to approve a request for higher density than what the future land development code recommended.
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