Resident Alert : Chapter 50 Its Still Not Over!!!! Attend FEBRUARY 20th meeting or lose property rights
Location: City Commission Chambers, 214 Sams Avenue, New Smyrna Beach, Florida, 32168.
When: Feb. 20th at 5:15 PM
On February 20, 2024, the City Commission will hold a public workshop to begin the review of Chapter 50 of the City Ordinance that deals with Historic Preservation.
You stood up and won when they tried to pass the HOA (Text Amendment).
Its time to stand up again. There are those who hope you aren’t paying attention and will let these changes to Chapter 50 slip through.
Like the Text Amendment, Chapter 50, will extend government control over your private property.
The Alliance again urges you to retain your rights of ownership.
What they are proposing to change:
- The requirement for resident approval from 2/3 thirds to 50% plus one (fewer votes needed to control your property).
- Increase penalties for non-compliance (This puts a bigger burden on residents who are not wealthy)
- Significantly longer delays to get approval for modifications or rebuilds on your own property.
Don’t let this happen attend the meeting on February 20th.
The Alliance spent many hours reviewing the proposed Chapter changes and submitted our own recommendations that would retain and solidify your control over your own private property and prevent the un-elected of their never-ending overreach . Our changes are simple and direct; owners retain control over their own property rather than submitting to more government overreach. The sum of our changes are: unless you specifically relinquish control via a notarized affidavit, you remain in control. The Alliance recommended changes (shown in colored changes) to the current proposal can be downloaded by CLICKING HERE!
The Alliance has reviewed the most current version of City ordinances Chapter 50 and has the following position on it:
- Your real property is yours and government needs to keep its hands off of it.
- That position falls directly in line with our overall philosophy of limited government, even at the local level.
- As a result, any Chapter 50 oversight needs to focus on only those structures which have been voluntarily locally designated as historic!
Controlling Legislation Impacting Oversight on Historic Structures
- Chapter 50 of the New Smyrna Beach Ordinances – local.
- Certified Local Governments Historic Preservation (CLG) – State; a process that recognizes local government support of historic preservation through participation with its requirements.
- National Historic Districts – Federal; but come with no oversight enforcement authority and which New Smyrna Beach has two, one beachside and one mainland.
Previous Efforts at Oversight of Local Properties in New Smyrna Beach
- In the 1990s New Smyrna Beach applied for and received designation from the Department of the Interior of two National Historic Districts; one beachside named Coronado Historic District and one mainland named Canal Street Historic District. Maps of those districts can be found on our website under Historic Preservations. These districts come with recognition only and no Federal oversight.
- Since then, a small group of residents have attempted twice to use a provision of the current Chapter 50 to encourage residents of those districts to transition to a locally designated districts, which would bring the full force of oversight of the city’s Historic Preservation Commission (which will be renamed as a Board in the proposed revision and are not elected by the residents) to all structures within those two districts. These attempts failed miserably as they needed a 66 and 2/3 vote of the property owners, in one case less than 10%!
- Despite these failures, the current Chapter 50 has been used by the Historic Preservation Commission to control what private citizens do with their property if they lived in these Historic Districts, sometimes with adverse impacts.
- As you may recall, that small group attempted earlier this year to eliminate the ability of property owners to modify their property by limiting height and aggregation of two more lots again within these National Historic Districts. But once again property owners voiced their opposition and the City Commission responded by voting down these proposals.
Two years ago, efforts began, again sponsored and pushed by this small group, to update Chapter 50. In doing so they hoped to increase their hold over property owners by reducing the designation preference from the previous 66 2/3 to 50% plus one, as well increase fines and wait time for demolitions. A consultant was hired to rework the text in Chapter 50 along their desired lines. However, at the same time, the State was in the process of changing the requirements for certification under the Certified Local Government process. In doing so the State clarified the oversight authority to “locally designated structures or districts”, thus not a blanket authority over those structures in the National Historic Districts. This will greatly reduce the oversight authority of the HPC. The revisions to the state CLG did authorize a reduction from the 66 and 2/3% to 50% plus one, but does not prohibit retention of the 66 and 2/3 if desired.
For sake of clarity as there have been numerous edits, the City Attorney cleaned up the document and that will be the one the City Commission will review. The Alliance has extensively reviewed the City Attorney’s version, including input from a Florida based attorney. We made recommendations for change as shown in the document which you can download by clicking HERE.
A summary of those changes include:
- We combined Sections I and II to reduce redundancy and increase clarity in application.
- In the section that shows the CLG 50% plus one as the tipping point for designation of a district, we returned it to the 66 and 2/3% previously used. Our rationale here was that a decision so such as this that would essentially destroy the homeowner’s property rights needs far higher bar than just a fifty percent vote.
- Regarding the above voting, we also removed the provision where the city owned property would automatically be considered a YES vote. We found that totally improper has the City Commission had specifically not voted for such an approval. In our view, the city should and must remain neutral in such initiatives.
- We applied the requirement for a notarized statement from the property owner to be included in any mass voting for a district. Again, if you require such a statement (and we think that is a good idea) for an individual request, then the same should be applied to large scale designations such as moving a National Historic District into locally designated status.
- We clarified the section on demolitions to include the limiting criteria of only locally designated property or structure to be consistent with the remodeling section as well as the CLG mandates.
- We returned the grossly excessive proposed fines of $25,000 back to their previous $5,000 as well as returning the delays after demolition without a HPC permit (not the regular city permit) from 22 months to their previous 6 months. It was our position that the proposed fines and delays were not justified and excessive, especially given a person’s property rights.
- The purpose of all of these was to reinforce property rights and reduce government overreach by an unelected board.
We encourage you to read the full text of our recommended changes in the PDF on our website you can access by clicking HERE.
What Do We Need You to Do?
- Write the City Commission at the following email addresses, supporting the Alliance reasonable and property rights protective changes to the proposed Chapter 50. Their emails are:
- In that email make it clear you are opposed to government overreach that reduces your property rights.
- Come to the February 20th meeting at 5:15 in the Commission chambers and speak during public participation supporting the reasonable changes made by the Alliance. Clearly tell them:
- You do not support further government intrusion into your property rights by an unelected board (HPC).
- You think our recommendations make sense and support those changes.
Speak to your neighbor and discuss the impact of this proposal. Get them to attend the meeting and speak out supporting the Alliance.
CLICK HERE to download a copy of the Alliance’s recommended changes to the most current version of Chapter 50.