WPB Residents Fight Back

There are now three legal challenges facing the mayor and city commissioners over their decision to allow development that goes against what they as a group previously passed as law. In February 2014 the Citizens for Thoughtful Growth filed a lawsuit on the planned condo on the waterfront of the Chapel-by-the-Lake with the city leaders ignoring their own city growth plans concerning height, density, & set back along with state statutes.

A resident of Waterview Towers is challenging the city for the planned 75 foot, 108 room Marriott “Boutique Hotel” measuring over 92,000 square feet, along with 2650 square feet of meeting room, 5000 square foot restaurant, and a three story garage, all on 1 1/2 acres of land.

The latest lawsuit is the massive Rybovich Marina which the city approved the project in April 2014. The six buildings which the city approved will be 25 to 30 stories tall, and will total 1,059 units or 2,118 new residents based on couples, along with 15,000 sq.ft.of restaurants, over 61,000 sq. ft. of office space, 10,000 sq.ft.retail space, beach club, boat dock, and the icing on the cake, six slips which will house mega yacht’s.

Mayor Muoio stated “We have very excellent planners who are very knowledgeable” This writer disagrees, and if they wish to keep their job, the planners better approve the city plan. Mayor Muoio also states “If you want services, we have to increase tax dollars somehow. Where is that money going to come from?” I have a suggestion. Instead of raising taxes why is city government not being prudent with the taxes they have.

For example, the city has recently cost taxpayers over 2.5 million dollars in lawsuits and settlements, and that does not include the cost of the city defending the lawsuits. (The above figure includes a lawsuit won by Matthew Ladd who won a judgement of $880,000.00 against the city, as the mayor brags of a cap of $200,000.00, the city is contesting the award. Mr. Ladd has filed a FEDERAL lawsuit and I believe Mr. Ladd will be victorious, and a FEDERAL lawsuit has no cap, so what the courts award, the city (taxpayer) will pay. William Mc Cray who won a lawsuit against the city and was awarded $230,000.00 dollars, the city contested the award, and ended up paying Mr. McCray $300,000.00. The city sure showed Mr. McCray, along with the taxpayers. Over five million dollars wasted on Open Sky Police Radio, 2.9 million spent on land in the south end to keep Walmart out of the area, 2 million wasted on Digital Domain, and again doesn’t include the cost of litigation to take back the land that was given to Digital Domain by a very generous mayor and city commission. $37 million wasted on the Advanced Wastewater Treatment facility, a system that never worked right, and has been quietly shut down after a few years.
The figures above amount to 49.4 million tax dollars wasted, and the mayor asked the question if residents want services where is the money to come from. I say the city had the money, but choose to squander it. If a private business ran the way the city does, it would soon be bankrupt. The city continues to spend money it doesn’t have, and continues to punish the taxpayer for their negligence.

No one is happy when a lawsuit is filed against the city due to the fact it will cost us tax dollars when the city loses, which it generally does. On the other hand, when the city is determined to do what they believe is best for the residents, and ram it down our throats, they leave no alternative but to involve the courts. With that said I applaud the residents who will not be pushed around by the city any longer and are willing to fight back. It only takes one person the say “enough” organize a group, and fight back.

Now if we could only have someone say “enough”, organize, and work to replace Mayor Muoio and City Commissioner Keith James, who are up for reelection in March 2015, a new mayor and commissioner willing to lead the city and represent the residents instead of the developers, WPB will be a much better, healthier, happier city.