Noisy back up or fatal crushing?
Vice Mayor John Dubois proposes this month to limit the use of “back up alarms” on trucks during the hours of 9 PM and AM at certain commercial locations close to residential areas. Mr. Dubois is known for his sensitivity to the needs of his constituents and, doubtless, nobody wants to hear those truck noises while they lay sleeping.
But is Mr. Dubois’ idea really a good one? SDM did a little surfing and it turns out that many workers are crushed to death each year because they are walking behind a delivery vehicle (in the driver’s blind spot) when suddenly the vehicle begins to back up without notice.
SDM Says: You may want to give this matter a little more thought Mr. Dubois. You don’t want to be the guy whose legislation causes a deadly injury. Maybe there’s a better way to achieve your objective?
My Kingdom For A Variance
In a cleverly penned memorandum describing pretty much everything anyone would ever want to know about variances, Palmetto Bay’s Planning & Zoning Director carefully avoids endorsing what he calls “an alternative path” for non-administrative variances.
Councilman Patrick Fiore – who wisely has repeatedly expressed his disdain for the village’s current overly restrictive variance standard – has proposed two changes to the village code. The first will allow staff additional latitude when reviewing de minimis proposals to alter the restrictions on a lot. If, for example, a property owner’s site plan required a minor adjustment to a setback (two feet in certain rare cases), then the director of the department could grant the request so long as the neighbors signed off.
Mr. Fiore also proposes to vest additional authority in the village council to consider variances that are generally compatible with the development patterns of surrounding properties. This new variance standard would permit the council to look around the property and determine if the property owner’s request would be beneficial to the neighborhood. Mr. Fiore’s change would be a significant change that is long overdue.
SDM Says: Kudos to Mr. Fiore for bringing forth these sound proposals. The village’s current variance standards were adopted in what SDM calls the village’s revolutionary days. Some of the decisions made then – like the use of the guillotine in revolutionary France – were rash and driven by political pandering to an angry mob. Upon adoption of these changes to the code, Palmetto Bay will become a friendlier place for everyone.
Bonus Post: Why don’t local law firms want to represent Palmetto Bay?
The Miami Herald reports that, “so far, no firms have applied [to become village attorney in the second solicitation], although the village announced the search on Nov. 14.”
SDM’s legal eagle pals tell us that the local legal market is hyper-competitive and gigs that pay a nearly guaranteed fee of $15,000 per month are tough to uncover.
Why is it, then, that our little village ain’t attracting flies? Perhaps qualified firms are conflicted out? Or maybe other firms think Gray Robinson has an inside track and they don’t want to waste time on applying for a closed deal?
SDM Says: Some or all of the above reasons are probably at play here, but SDM can’t shake the feeling that the qualified law firms in the area are looking at Palmetto Bay as an unstable government. Certainly, Palmetto Bay’s Mayor doesn’t offer much to allay those concerns.