Dirty Business

The City Commission meeting held Sept. 25, 2017, three Commissioners Moffett, Materio and Neering voted to defeat Related “One Flagler” 25 story office building.

I have learned that Rick Greene, Development Services Director, holds a quarterly “Developer Outreach” meeting between the city and developers doing business in WPB. The last meeting was held November 9, 2017; and from that meeting rumors hit the street that if Related didn’t receive the backing from City Commissioners to build their 25-story office building named “One Flagler” on the waterfront, they would “draft” people to challenge Commissioner’s Materio and Moffett for their commission seat, and if they were defeated in the March election “One Flagler” would be brought back to the commission for reconsideration.

I did what I could to verify the story by sending a PRR to the city wanting information on the “Developers Outreach” program and received from Rich Greene almost a hundred pages of presentation’s made at the meeting.

What I wanted to know is if Related attended, and how the conversation went. I made a request for more records. Below is the e-mail exchange between Mr. Greene and myself.

“Thank you for the information. I also requested a copy of the recording of the meeting along with the minutes, and also would appreciate viewing the sign in sheet of those who attended the meeting.”
His response was immediate:
“This meeting is not recorded nor do we have a sign in sheet or minutes. This is a periodic update of what is happening in our Department and what projects have been approved or under construction in the City.”
Rick Greene, AICP

I can’t prove or disprove the rumor, but I believe where there’s smoke, there’s fire.

Here’s the question you should ask yourself:
Did Related “draft” Christina Lambert who is challenging Shanon Materio for District 5 seat and Kelly Shoaf who it appears has a clear run for District 1.
If these 2 women are elected, and the rumors are true, residents will live with “Flagler One” like it or not.
In any election I pay particular attention to who endorses candidates. It’s a tell all of where the candidates stand and how they could possibly vote on issues important to residents.

Chamber of Commerce
Their mission statement below was taken from their website.

Our Chamber Means Business

The Chamber is a proactive organization that achieves results and meets community needs. The association has always been on the cutting edge of the community’s critical concerns, working for new small business programs, representing business interests at all levels of government, promoting tourism and recruiting new business and industry to the area.
The Chamber’s strength is derived from its diversity and number of members. Both large and small businesses, from virtually every profession, are represented within our organization. These members make the Chamber one of the most effective and respected business associations in the state, providing both input and the manpower to see that the needs of area businesses are met by the city, county and state governments.
As a unified voice for businesses, the Chamber accomplishes collectively what no one business can do alone, dealing with the many issues that affect the community’s quality of life.

Governmental Affairs Committee

The committee reviews proposed area, state and federal legislation impacting the business community. The role of the governmental affairs committee is to accumulate information relative to candidates for the Palm Beach County Commission and West Palm Beach City Commission and convey it to members, along with recommendations for candidate selection in the City and County elections. The Government Affair Committee meets on an as-needed basis.

About Leadership West Palm Beach

The mission of Leadership West Palm Beach is to cultivate the leadership potential of those individuals who reside or work in the City of West Palm Beach and utilize their skills to foster the development of programs and opportunities that would enrich and improve the quality of life in the Palm Beaches.
Participants are exposed to a variety of aspects of the community including government, health and human services, education, economic development, arts, culture and festivals, neighborhoods and even the water catchment area. All of these areas are integral components of our community. Informing the class participants generates leaders with a well-rounded knowledge base to assist in future planning and decision-making for the betterment of West Palm Beach.

Dennis Grady President/CEO had his wife introduce Ms. Lambert at a recent event. So the Chamber is endorsing Ms. Lambert.
Good for Related, bad for residents.

The Chamber of Commerce did not endorse Materio, but 2 of my personal heroes for the city did, namely the PBC Police Benevolent Association along with the Association of Firefighters. Both organizations know Materio has their back, nice to know she has their support.

A story in the PB Post reported the following:
“Moffett was one of three commissioners who voted against Related Cos.’ plan to rezone the Okeechobee Boulevard corridor and allow a 25-story office tower in a 5-story waterfront zone.
Shoaf said she has not yet formulated an opinion on the controversial issue, which could come up again if elections create a commission more sympathetic to the developer.” Really!

Please consider everything, do your homework, and most important vote in the March 13,2018 upcoming election.
These are the people who make decisions that effect your everyday life financially and environmentally.

If your too busy to vote, OK, just please don’t complain about the direction the city is moving in.

Who Is Shanon Materio

In my opinion Shannon Materio is not the same woman she was in March 2015, and has evolved into a commissioner I can stand with in her bid for re-election for City Commissioner District 5. My eyes were opened when Commissioner Materio was one of 3 who voted against Zoning and Land Use Changes that would have allowed for the Related project “One Flagler” to move forward, and she was the most outspoken on the dais. If you were at the City Commission meeting held on Sept. 25, 2017 you witnessed a chamber full of residents both for and against Related Developer seeking approval for their 25-story office building namely “One Flagler” to be located on the waterfront, where residents twice voted for a 5 story height limit on any new building.

Development Services Director Rick Greene did all he could to move the project forward, and went out of his way to not mention 3 little words. (Related One Flagler) and continually referred to OBD (Okeechobee Blvd. District.) Mr. Greene and 3 others spent over one hour on their presentation in an attempt to convince commissioners and the public we needed this project to make West Palm Beach a great city. I didn’t realize we were not already a great city. I appreciated the city bringing this to my attention.

Commissioner Neering asked: “If Related didn’t bring this project forward, would we be talking about the OBD?” and later questioned if the project was “spot zoning.” Mr. Greene’s response to Commissioner Neering question was “Yes” we would be discussing OBD, and Mr. Greene denied it was “spot zoning” told a whopper and you could hear the whispering in the audience while the developers smiled.

Commissioner Materio called out Mr. Greene on his denial and said “I disagree with you Rick, we wouldn’t be here if Related didn’t want to build this building, it is “spot zoning, and the city is willing to give away it’s best asset, the waterfront.” When Commissioner Materio was finished, no one had to ask what did she mean, we knew exactly what she meant, they weren’t pulling the wool over her eyes.
I had to investigate the meaning of “spot zoning” and here is the definition.

“Spot zoning is the application of zoning to a specific parcel or parcels of land within a larger zoned area when the zoning is usually at odds with a city’s master plan and current zoning restrictions.– The small size of the parcel is not the sole defining characteristic of a spot zone”

Commissioner James requested that Related CEO be allowed to make a statement Mayor Muoio denied his request.
My thought was what the hell is he doing here, we were just told this meeting was not about “One Flagler”

Now it’s time for comments from the public, and the first speaker was former Mayor Joel Davis who stated he supports Related “One Flagler” and looks forward to it’s completion. 2nd speaker former CC Brandenberg say’s she supports “One Flagler.”3rd. speaker Adelson, another developer, Chamber of Commerce, Developers and Business community along with a few residents all support “One Flagler” Those mentioned above are considered by some to be “Big Hitters” in the city.

Those opposed were many residents along with attorneys for Preserve West Palm Beach Citizens Coalition and CTG. (Citizens for Thoughtful Growth)

Now the commission vote on the project.

Commissioners Ryan & James vote to move the project forward.

Commissioners Neering, Materio and Moffett investigated the proposal, did their homework, and looked at whether the proposed changes to City Zoning Code and the Downtown Master Plan met the standards required. They did not vote for the “Staff Recommends Motion” and most important to me–they listened to the people and looked at the legal requirements for such approval. All three commissioners voted not to move forward.

All three commissioners are the “Big Hitters” for the residents.

This should be the end of the story, but it’s not. Follow up story on Related’s next plan of attack.

Believe me there is one coming.