We always appreciate hearing varied opinions about the news we provide in LMKA newsletters. Following the September 30 newsletter about the upcoming Village election we did have an interesting round of emails between Village Council Candidate Mark Gregg and newsletter editor Sue Miller.
Below is the email conversation and a opinion letter from Sue Miller with links to Mark's version of the Gimpy Gulch controversy and Sue's version. Follow the links.
Members' responses are welcomed
From Mark Gregg:
Thank you for sending the LMKA news letter. I have enjoyed reading the news letter, however I was disturbed by a major factual error that I would like you to correct immediately since it affects me personally. On page 3 you mention the zoning change for the Plantation Key property across from the Marlin store. You state: " LPA and Council voted unanimously in favor." The LPA did not vote in favor or against the application, but instead voted unanimously to continue the matter for up to 180 days. This was done with our recommendation to both sides to get together and work out a solution or compromise. Readers of your news letter will be misinformed and will believe that I supported approval of the zoning change, which is false. I encourage you to review the video of the February 10, 2020 meeting to verify what I am saying. It is available on the Village website. Please publish your correction promptly so that any misinformed voters will not vote against me based on this error.
Thank you, Mark Gregg
September 30 2020 LMKA Newsletter Response
Sue Miller's Opinion Letter
Recently a Lower Matecumbe Key Association (LMKA) newsletter was sent to members detailing the Village Council election. It summarized recent controversial issues facing the community, including the rezoning of a residential lot to commercial in the Key Heights area of Plantation Key.
Candidate Mark Gregg responded stating he was “disturbed by a major factual error that I would like you to correct immediately.” He was concerned that readers “will believe that I supported approval of the zoning change, which is false.”
The LPA meeting minutes confirmed that Gregg had in fact voted in favor of the contentious zoning change.
He then admitted he had voted in favor but still had numerous issues with my description of the zoning change.
Perhaps he’d like to do the editing for the LMKA newsletters. But he is probably too busy right now.
I am not too busy. I would like to do some editing of the story in his campaign website regarding the old Gimpy Gulch saga. I remember well and have recently reviewed the numerous documents in the Village Gimpy Gulch file. Go to Gimpy Gulch Revisited to see my thoughts from documents from the Village files.
For years County planners refused to acknowledge legality of numerous dwelling units at 139 Gimpy Gulch. Gregg bought the property for $579,000 knowing the numbers were in question. Sheryl Bower, Director of Planning for the Village, agreed with Monroe County and would not grant Gregg extra building rights. In 2003 Village Manager, Charles Baldwin, directed Bower to sign a letter to Gregg who was then Village Mayor, agreeing to the extra building rights. She refused and was subsequently fired. Ed Koconis became Director of Planning and signed the letter the manager requested.
Gregg sold the property and eight development rights for $3,450,000 and moved to Micanopy Florida. Read his interview in the October 14th 2007 Orlando Sentinel: “Fed-up Conchs find haven in Micanopy” where he was quoted as saying "We cashed out and took the millionaire boat to Central Florida". (https://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/os-xpm-2007-10-14-micanopy14-story.html)
Mark’s version in his campaign website, https://mark4council.com/, sounds quite benign compared to my research.
This is not intended to be a negative campaign story – just the facts from differing viewpoints. Read both his version and mine. You decide. The 2020 Village election is critical. Vote wisely.
From Mark Gregg:
Hello Sue, You are correct, I made an error in reading your newsletter in which I mistakenly believed that you were referring to the February 10, 2020 LPA hearing for the 3 adjacent dry lot parcels. That is my mistake and I apologize to you and Robert for not reading carefully. The reason for my mistake is because I was confused and misled by the way you described the rezoning hearings. The impression I have from reading your report is that the LPA was guilty of "ignoring well over 50 neighbors strenuously objecting" when it unanimously voted in favor of the change. As I recall the LPA rezoning hearing on this canal parcel last December 9th, no neighbors showed up or filed any written objections, thereby giving me and the other LPA members the impression that none of the neighbors were concerned about the proposed zoning change, and that was a significant factor in the LPA's recommendation to the Council for their approval. Because you mentioned the LPA's approval after you mentioned the objecting neighbors, I believed that you were referring to the subsequent LPA hearing in February 2020 for the proposed zoning change for the 3 adjacent dry lot parcels where the LPA voted to continue the hearing for up to 180 days in order to allow for the parties to work on a compromise expressly because there were so many neighbors who objected to the zoning change at this hearing. The fact is that the LPA did not ignore anyone, and that is why the LPA voted to continue that hearing. Additionally, your report on only the canal parcel does not tell the whole neighborhood story and still contains 2 major factual errors and is still misleading. First, the Council did vote unanimously in favor of the zoning change on the canal parcel, however the Council's vote on first reading to approve the zoning change was expressly conditioned upon a declaration of restrictions offered by the applicant which substantially reduced the commercial uses to be made on the parcel. This was done based upon the demands of the attorneys for the objecting neighbors and as suggested by the Council, and the details of the declaration of restrictions were negotiated over several weeks prior to the hearing between the applicant and the 4 attorneys representing the concerned neighbors. You omitted the important facts that there were no objecting neighbors at the initial December 2019 LPA hearing, and that the Council's approval was conditioned upon a restrictive covenant for the benefit of the neighbors, both of which are inconsistent with your claim of "ignoring well over 50 neighbors strenuously objecting." The second major error is your statement that the parcel was "rezoned", which leads your readers to conclude that the process of rezoning was complete and final. As you know, a rezoning application requires 2 readings/hearings, and so far we have only had the first reading and hearing. The hearing on the required second reading has not yet occurred or been scheduled, nor has the subsequent required approval by the DEO been received. So, factually, the parcel is today unchanged from its original single family zoning designation, and no rezoning has occurred, and neither the LPA nor the Council ignored any of the the concerned neighbors. I believe a more comprehensive report would have also included an account of the LPA's continuance of the rezoning application hearing of February 10, 2020 referenced in my previous email, since all 4 parcels affect the same neighborhood. This would, in my view, provide a more fair, balanced, and objective big picture from which your readers could draw their own conclusions. A fair statement would have been: "At the initial LPA hearing, there were no neighbors in attendance and no neighbors objected before the LPA unanimously recommended approval to the Village Council which required a restrictive covenant reducing the allowed uses before approving the zoning change at the first of 2 required hearings. A second hearing and approval by the state DEO are required before the zoning change is final. A hearing on a zoning change for the 3 adjacent dry lot parcels has been continued by the LPA to allow time for the applicant and concerned neighbors to work out an amicable solution." So, again, I am sorry for my mistake, but I still insist that you should provide more accurate factual details and correct the mistakes in your news letter out of fairness to the LPA and Council, and because it would provide a more detailed account of the facts that would allow your readers to make a more informed decision about how they should vote. Sue, I have known and respected you for over 30 years, and I am very sure that you would ask for the same fair and objective consideration if you were running for office. Please give me a call at ...-...-.... if you would like to discuss this further. Thank you, Mark.
From Sue Miller:
There was not a factual error in the LMKA newsletter regarding this issue.
The map changes from residential zoning to commercial zoning were discussed at the December 9 meeting of the LPA. LPA did in fact vote to recommend approval to the Council of the change to commercial.
There were three members of LPA who were absent. Chairman Pete Bacheler abstained as he represents the property owner seeking the zoning and Future Land Use map change from residential to commercial.
The vote by the LPA was in fact unanimous 3-0 with candidate Gregg voting to support both the zoning change and the Future Land Use Map change.