April 22, 2021 10:00 am Camden County Commissioners’ Meeting

Before the meeting had started, I had an idea that this meeting might be a bit more dramatic than usual when a guy in a black uniform wearing a bulletproof vest approached the older gentleman sitting in front of me, asked him if he was James Denny, and then served him with legal paperwork.

And then the meeting began. All commissioners were present.

This meeting involved mostly Planning and Zoning cases.

First agenda item.

The first one was a biggie. PZ case 20-0114 BRJ to rezone Plaza Beach from R-1 to B-2. This apparently involved the gentleman who was served in front of me. Honestly, he seemed to take the service in stride. When his attorney arrived in his suit and tie (Aaron Ellsworth) a few minutes later, Denny handed the paperwork to him. His company is called BRJ.

The developer had a civil engineer present who explained to the commissioners that the existing sewer plant had enough capacity to handle the new units that were planned for construction. The development would also add ADA compliant parking to the existing condominium homes. He went over a lot of details about grading and paving of parking spaces for ADA compliance.

At this point, Commissioner Hasty asked why B-2 zoning was required for the project when there were no commercial aspects to the project.

The engineer responded that B-2 zoning might make it easier for owners to rent them and make it easier, in effect, for the condominium association to operate as a commercial operation. It would make it easier for the association to control the common elements of the property.

The attorney for the developer, Aaron Ellsworth, then spoke before the commissioners. He stated that most of the lots around the property are already B zoning. He wanted to avoid spot zoning. Commissioner Hasty responded with concerns that B-2 zoning for the property would allow other commercial activity should the project not move forward., specifically restaurants or “party locations.”

A lady from P&Z (I think her name was Kim but I apologize that I didn’t get her name because she was dynamite during the meeting and she deserves credit for knowing her business) interjected that B-2 zoning would also restrict impervious cover for the development to 65%.

Commissioner Gohagan asked how the board voted on this rezoning. The P&Z Board voted 5-2 to approve it.

In opposition to the proposal, Greg Williams represented the Miramar Condo Association. He stated there has been no effort to resolve issues between the developer and the association. Miramar Condo Association owns the sewer plant and there is no agreement for the new development to share the plant.

Williams asked about the involvement of Steve Redford with the project. According to Williams, there was a contentious meeting that occurred earlier where Steve Redford was present. Readers could take a quick pause and Google “Steve Redford” to see where there may be concerns.

James Denny denied that Steve Redford is part of his company. Interestingly, the engineer hired by Denny blurted out that Redford is a real estate developer, but his brother is a time share developer. Attorney Williams had concerns about Redford’s past history.

At this point, it was pretty clear that both the developer and the existing condo association had attorneys and were looking to ensure that their interests were protected. In the end, the commissioners resisted a change to a B-2 zoning because of the concerns that the property might later be developed into an expanded commercial property.

After going around and around, it seemed like both parties agreed that at the next meeting the attorneys would prepare either a deed restriction to limit what could be done with the property or placing the properties together and zoning them as R-3.

The developer seemed to really be interested in building cabin style condos with 4-6 bedrooms each. He didn’t seem to be interested in full-blown commercial development of the property but we can assume that without restrictions, that can always change.

This had apparently been in front of the Commission before and since both parties seemed to feel they could come to a fair compromise, let’s hope it can be resolved.

Tabled.

Second agenda item. 21-00024. Someone wanted to build a house for his daughter on his property. B-2 to R-1.

Approved.

Third agenda item. Land developer, Todd Bennett, from LOTO Land Development, bought this property. Wants the property on the lakeside converted to R-1.

There was a couple present and the wife came up and spoke in opposition to this project. She had a great Russian accent and I could only make out that her name was Tatiana. She was concerned about overdevelopment, damage to the environment, and other issues from the potential development to the designated property.

Commissioner Williams explained that by being part of the P&Z District, she was protected from this type of development.

He assured her that R-1 meant they would not build apartment complexes or trailer parks on the property. The couple seemed reassured by this.

Approved.

Fourth agenda item: LOTO Land Development made another zoning request to agricultural zoning. Same property area.

Approved.

Fifth Agenda Item: EMA Promulgation. Commissioners had to approve a statement that their EMA would support and coordinate statewide agency services. Incorporates NIMS and ICS.

Promulgated (a verb?)

Sixth Agenda Item: Horseshoe Bend Road bid approval. Apparently, so many people are crashing out on HH around the end of the bend by Shady Gators, that the Road District needs its own crash trailer to divert sober traffic around accidents. Their board purchased the trailer. The commissioners just approved their decision.

Approved.

At the end of the meeting, there was an interesting exchange between the commissioners that I witnessed, Donnie Williams started trying to lecture Commissioner Gohagan about who should initially propose a motion depending on which district the current case was located in?

Williams seemed offended that some item was in his district but Gohagan had made a motion regarding it. Williams thought that it might be a rule but when he asked Hasty, Greg didn’t care and said it was usually just etiquette.

The whole thing seemed a bit petty. Gohagan maintained a polite face throughout but I would have been impolite if I were in his shoes.

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