We need churches, we need schools, we need fire stations… – Joan Lindsay
In the end, however, Councilwoman and soon-to-be ex-Palmetto Bay resident Joan Lindsay voted against locating a new fire station next to perpetual gadfly Gary Pastorella’s house. The fire department aims to purchase approximately two acres owned by Old Cutler Presbyterian church located on the southeast corner of Old Cutler Road and SW 142nd Terrace.
Mr. Pastorella hired an attorney to interrogate village staff and anyone within swinging distance last Monday night. After what amounted to an expensive rant against siting the fire station, Pastorella’s lawyer warned that if the council voted in favor of the fire department’s application, he would appeal it on Pastorella’s behalf.
SDM can’t figure out if this is ironic – given Pastorella’s repetitive whining at council meetings about his being sued – or karmic since he led the forces who pushed a charter amendment that will not “rescue” him (sorry for the pun):
All non-single-family-residential developments, structures, or use (that is/are a direct or indirect result of that development, structure, or use) in, adjacent to, or nearby any single-family zoned properties shall not disrupt or degrade the health, safety, tranquility, character, and overall welfare of the adjacent or nearby single-family residential properties by creating negative impacts on those properties such as density, intensity, noise, light, glare, dust, odor, vibration, traffic or run off that exceeds that of adjacent single-family properties. Nothing herein should be construed or applied to abrogate the vested rights of a property owner.
Mr. Pastorella’s attorney stated pretty clearly that the so-called neighborhood protection charter amendment would be the basis of his suit. His somber reading of the amendment appeared calculated to frighten the council by the “obvious” takeaway that a fire station would run afoul of its provisions.
Of course, Mr. Pastorella’s presumptions about the charter amendment are logically unsound: How can a life safety necessity like fire rescue “disrupt or degrade the health, safety, tranquility, character, and overall welfare of the adjacent or nearby single-family residential properties”? By definition, a fire rescue station does exactly the opposite.
The other “no” vote came from Mayor Shelley Stanczyk who apparently couldn’t say no to Pastorella since he forms the last remaining element of her neighborhood support. That the site was $200,000 less and a savings to taxpayers would not sway Mme. Mayor. She seems to have bought the line that if the county pays the money then you as village taxpayers don’t. Huh?
Stanczyk was also unswayed by the site’s easy ingress and egress for vehicles. Then again, the site across Old Cutler has the advantage of being a poke in the eye to her nemesis David Zisman, so maybe her vote against fire and rescue protection for northeast Palmetto Bay makes sense.
Make no mistake, the entire hearing on Monday night radiated with election year political intrigue. Nobody wants that fire station near their home…unless you were the woman who testified about her husband dying in the rescue vehicle parked in her driveway. She recounted waiting 17 minutes before hearing that wailing siren, which turned out to be too long. SDM can’t even imagine her grief, but we can surely commend her bravery and sense of duty. Based on her testimony, which very likely carried the day, the majority could say Please In My Back Yard .
SDM Says: Bravo to the three gentlemen who decided for the fire station: Messrs. Fiore, Dubois and Schaffer. They would not sit by idly and allow the NIMBYs to put thousands of people at further unnecessary risk. All three showed what forceful leadership looks like when life and death matters are at issue.