My least favorite part of any project is jumping through Planning Department hoops. Even so, I understand the need for it. The rules are there for a reason.
The Key Largo Regional Wastewater Treatment Plant project went through the whole planning review process. We saved trees. We moved snails from tree to tree by hand. We put them in little paper cups stapled to trees and made sure they were pointed in the right direction. (Apparently, it takes a snail a really long time to turn around, so you have to get that right.) We did it all. With the county hindering us every step of the way.
Like I said, I’m okay with rules. But I’m not okay with obstructionism, goalpost moving, and impossible demands. Especially coming from people who have no idea what the heck a wastewater treatment plant is even supposed to look like. And, even worse, don’t care. The Planning Department wanted the District to plant trees on top of pipes. And put in loopy driveways so a sludge truck couldn’t possibly turn around. I guess the sludge is just supposed to stay on site forever? Or be carried out in buckets? County planning officials also wanted to route increased truck traffic right past a school bus stop. Zero regard for safety, cleanliness, or common sense. I can’t tell you how many hours I logged on pointless arguments with arrogant county bureaucrats who don’t give a damn about the community.
And yet…when a developer wants to come in and build a 175-room hotel, the project sails right on through. As if there’s no affordable housing CRISIS! As if there’s plenty of working waterfront. As if locals don’t need or deserve access to the water. So what the hell happened? Why make a beneficial project an onerous slog, while allowing yet another unnecessary and burdensome hotel to gobble up scarce real estate?
Planning officials anywhere have a tough job, and in Monroe County it’s an especially tough job. But they don’t make it any easier on themselves with the lack of transparency and apparent favoritism. In fact, I’d say they’re on very thin ice legally if they improperly facilitate projects belonging to the well-connected, while at the same time hindering the projects of others. The county doesn’t even plan to investigate the Ocean’s Edge fiasco. They think closing a “loophole” that never existed will be enough to satisfy the public. An investigation might expose wrong-doing and force accountability. They certainly don’t want that, do they? Better to sweep it under the rug and go back to bubba-business as usual.
Ah well…same old crap, different day. Nothing ever seems to get any better, does it?
Anyhoo, I took some of the documents in the tracking spreadsheet and fixed them up a bit so they’re easier for me (and you) to navigate. I added bookmarks so people can quickly zoom in on what they want to see. I also downloaded them because you never know when documents might go missing or be modified on the sly, especially with the BOCC’s hand-picked do-boy as Clerk. Best to download and stash them somewhere for safekeeping. The new tracking sheet includes a link to the original document on the county’s site and a link to a bookmarked pdf version. Note that I couldn’t download one of the documents (Res. 158-2015). I’ll fix that one up when I can.
I realize that I’m at the beginning of a steep learning curve when it comes to the ROGO system. But I really think it’s very important to understand this. I can see already this subject is going to take oodles of posts so I plan to give it its own page eventually.