Friday, December 8, 2006

Need for Broader Geographic Representation on Advisory Boards

I can't help but think that if the composition of the Planning and Zoning Board - currently or at the time we reviewed and made a recommendation to the City Commission regarding the Sunset Drive property - included representation from residents living west of Dixie Hwy., the City would not be experiencing the discord as it relates to that issue to the extent that it is. Ever since I have been a member of the Planning and Zoning, Historic Resources Preservation - we have not had representation from the western part of the City. The predominate representation has been from the College Park, South Palm Park and Downtown areas of the City.

With broader geographic representation, I think a greater understanding of how issues affect the entire City would take root. The 5-2 recommendation of approval for that particular project by the Planning and Zoning Board might well have been different given a more geographic representative mix on the Board. I would think that the end result would be the same, however there would be a such greater understanding.

I didn't want this to get lost in the post regarding the ballot measure. One of my priorities as a City Commissioner would be to appoint representives on our advisory boards from all areas of the City - and that ultimately there would be balanced representation. Neighborhood associations would be a good place to look for qualified and concerned residents that are willing to serve.

The following was received in an e-mail from Jack Simons in response to the above:

Wes,Who would argue with geographic representation on
P&Z and Historical, except of course if it was accomplished only at the expense of not selecting the best qualified.I
have observed you for 3 years in your capacity on P&Z. While I do not think you vote politically, I am concerned that the supposedly objective function of P&Z may appear to be compromised with the implication that geographical
representation will lead to fewer objections from the public.It is hoped that you establish Neighborhood Associations in all areas of LW and that they have
recorded remarks submitted to P&Z at part of Staff presentation like Staff Comments on Site Plan Approval.Wishing you good health and happiness for the
Holidays and New Year,Jack

Thanks for your response Jack. I guess what I am saying is that since we have had a long-standing imbalance in representation on the board that when we make appointments to advisory boards, we make an attempt to appoint qualified people from a variety of locations throughout the City. We need to be aware of any geographic imblance that we may be creating. It may be possible to arrange applicants for boards to be sponsored by each commissioner - who would identify qualified persons from their district - and then go through the vetting and interview process as the Commission does now.

"Political advertisement paid for and approved by Wes Blackman for Commissioner – District #3"