Commissioner Bob Welsh was well known as an activist in South Miami for many years. His primary focus was to fight against over development. He worked hard distributing his homemade fliers to the residents, and garnered enough support to become a commissioner. His constituents voted for him primarily because of his stand against over-development.
At the May 19 commission meeting, he declared to an applicant for the position of planning director that he wants that person to get rid of the limit of 24 residential units (for a particular project) per acre as soon as possible. City Manager Steven Alexander stated that he wants the same thing; however, the applicant had not even been voted into the position at that point! This is also a contradiction of the findings of our previous planning director, who worked for the city for three years, and was well-versed with our Land Development Code and our Comprehensive Plan.
We have had an interim service provided by the Corradino Group after our previous planning director resigned from his position. Mr. Corridino stated at a workshop that there is no limit on the number of residential units for that particular zoning category. This was a shock to everyone present, including a project developer.
Commissioner Welsh gives more credence to an interim service than a planning director who knew our ordinances because it suits his political agenda to load up a particular area with increased density. This could also set a precedent that developers could possibly use to demand increased density in various other areas of the city.
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It is appalling that an applicant, who was later voted on to be our next planning director, should be under such intense political pressure. We need a climate in which professionals working for our city do not have to struggle every day to maintain their professional integrity. This is an ethics issue. Commissioner Welsh is skating on thin ice. We do not want manipulation, control and undue pressure on our professional staff.
They are not here to serve political agendas. We need their objective professional findings.
Antoinette B. Fischer, South Miami
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