PB: Lindsay, Stanczyk to Village People – We’re Here to Hassle You

by SDM

At Monday night’s council meeting, Marathon Man Tim Schaffer engaged the community to resolve an interesting problem that exists all over the village. The result was a three to two vote to give homeowners some piece of mind with Councilwoman Lindsay and Mayor Stanczyk voting on the side of hassling homeowners.

Back in the good old days before incorporation, most of Palmetto Bay was developed under the county code. The much maligned county laws – along with a healthy dose of market forces – were the driving forces that made our little burgh  look and feel the way it does today. The fact that Palmetto Bay has wide streets with large lawns and lots of green space is a direct result of planning done decades ago.

One of the features you will see around the village is an assortment of driveway configurations. Some properties have single drives leading to the garage and a separate loop to store vehicles. Sometimes the loop is connected to the driveway, while at other times there is no loop at all. When a property abuts two streets, sometimes the driveway goes straight through to the back or the property has a separate entrance from a side street. Next time you go to Publix, check out the configurations so you can understand what SDM is attempting to say.

Some – not all – but certainly a large number of these driveway configurations do not conform with Palmetto Bay’s current code. For example, a Palmetto Bay homeowner’s separate loop was not allowed under the code adopted early in Palmetto Bay’s existence. Also, the county allowed as little as two feet of setback between the driveway and the neighbor’s property line.

Under Palmetto Bay’s regime, a driveway sitting two feet from the property line – legal under the county code when it was constructed – became a “nonconforming use” under the village code, which requires five feet of setback. Non-conforming uses can be maintained, but cannot be rebuilt if the property undergoes renovations on more than 50% of the structure. Would a driveway be rebuildable after major damage to the structure? Under a strict interpretation of the village code, maybe…maybe not.

Now you’re probably asking yourself, why would the village adopt a code that essentially pushed thousands of village homes into nonconforming status in the first place? The answer is that folks like Councilwoman Lindsay and Mayor Stanczyk want to enforce their personal aesthetic – hypothetical as it may be – on the entire village regardless of the impact on you as a homeowner.

Even though SDM disagrees with Councilwoman Lindsay on major issues facing the village, we have always respected her normally logical intellectual process. She really ran the train off the track on Monday.

Lindsay said – and SDM is paraphrasing: If you think about the reason you moved here, it’s the large lot sizes…you’re not on top of each other. Other parts of the county have properties that are on top of each other.

As SDM noted, well over 90% of Palmetto Bay’s lots and their configurations were laid out long before the CCOCI condo commandos infected the village code. If Mrs. Lindsay is right, then why did the village change the code at all given that the county laws created what we think of as the Village of Palmetto Bay?

SDM has to note that Mrs. Lindsay’s illogic is usually the province of the Mayor.

On the other hand, SDM has to give Marathon Man Tim Schaffer some credit for taking on this issue. Schaffer, like SDM, prefers that village driveways be considered conforming – not nonconforming – and that we be left the hell alone. SDM knows that the staff is saying everything will be hunky dory after a hurricane, but why should a homeowner be placed in such a position in the first place? Who wants or needs the hassle?

The bottom line is that Mr. Schaffer saw a problem and worked to fix it. Is the fix perfect? No. But Vice Mayor Dubois and Councilman Fiore decided that Schaffer’s plan made sense and supported a revision to the code that will benefit many homeowners. (In the end they compromised on a three-foot setback for driveways.)

On the other side sit Councilwoman Lindsay and her pet Mayor Stanczyk who have become so rigidly attached to their dogma that they can’t even see an obviously good solution when it appears before them. Instead, they listen to a tiny group of regulars who feel the need to chime-in on every issue facing the village with the same, tired refrain: The only change we want is the change that we demand.

SDM Says: Good for you Mr. Schaffer for standing up to these nabobs of negativism. SDM is warming up to you.

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