Pensacola Politics

Weekend Buzz: City fireworks over zone change, Ellington on rampage, Evers okay and Gallery Night off

November 18, 2013

Fireworks may explode at city Town Hall
Mayor Ashton Hayward is hosting tonight at 6 pm a town hall meeting for District 1 at the Vickery Center on Summit.

He may have a packed house if all those upset with city government appear.

The Vickery Center is just blocks away from where neighborhoods along Spanish Trail have heard that a Dollar General Store may be built. Last week, the city’s planning board approved a change in zoning on the corner of Spanish Trail and Summit Blvd from medium density residential to C-1 commercial. The property is currently owned by East Hill Baptist Church.

Councilman Andy Terhaar has come under criticism for his involvement in the zoning change and posted Friday about it on his blog. He wrote, “I want to voice my strong opposition to the rezoning and let all my constituents know that I will help in any way that I can to make sure that the property in question does not become zoned C1 commercial.”

Terhaar said that his partner Don Neal was contacted by the owner of the property to help facilitate the sale. “This relationship has caused me to have a conflict of interest, and per the Florida Code of Ethics,” he said, “I will have to abstain from the voting on this issue should it come before council.”

Also the mayor’s office has yet to do anything about the traffic problems on Burgess Road. I will have more on this later today. We have heard the citizens from that area may attend and remind the mayor of the comments he made at the last District 2 town hall meeting.

And we have “blanketgate.”

Nov. 15 Gallery Night off
We have heard the weather may have negatively impact this month’s Gallery Night. I’m not sure whom the DIB board members polled to determine that the downtown businesses wanted a Gallery Night every month. My conversations haven’t been positive about the decision. We will find out next year if the low crowd was a fluke or a trend.

Ellington walking the halls for Visit Pensacola bylaws
Hotel lobbyist Ron Ellington has yet another version of bylaws for Visit Pensacola, the 501(c)6 corporation formed by the hotel industry to control the county’s $5-$6 million in bed tax dollars. He wanted the commissioners to vote on them at its Nov. 21 regular.

Incoming Commission Chairman Lumon May has refused to put it on the agenda for vote. The commission voted in late September to bring it up for vote for its Dec. 5 meeting—which will give the commissioners and the public time to examine the latest draft.

The bylaws will be discussed on Nov. 19 at the commission’s Committee of the Whole. Ellington is trying to get May’s fellow commissioners to overrule the new chairman and get it on the agenda. I don’t see that happening.

We have heard that Ellington and his gang met last week outside of the “Sunshine” and handpicked the Visit Pensacola board members. The media was not invited to the meeting.

Isn’t this what got the Pensacola Chamber in trouble?

AFP smear campaign on Evers has little impact
Americans For Prosperity Florida has sent out mailers attacking State Senator Greg Evers (R-Baker) for not being conservative enough for the billionaire Koch Brothers.
The mailers instructed voters to call Evers’ office and complain.

I spoke with Sen. Evers and his staff. As of Thursday afternoon, the office had received only 15 calls, majority of which were in support of Evers.

Quote of the Week:
We asked Mayor Hayward for his position on expanding gambling and allowing casinos in Florida. This is the written statement we received:

“I welcome the Florida Senate Committee on Gaming to Pensacola and appreciate their interest in hearing from the public in our community. This is an important issue facing our state, and public participation is critical.”
– Mayor Ashton Hayward

I laugh every time I read this.

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  • Pat Kerrigan November 18, 2013 at 12:25 pm

    Thank you for your continued coverage and the updates about zoning changes, the needs on Burgess Road, and so many other issues critical to area citizens. Your news organization provides a valuable service and I appreciate it all the time.

  • Lara McKnight November 18, 2013 at 11:33 am

    Your story regarding the Summit/Spanish property really spurred our community into action – thank you for the heads up! We appreciate you. :) The Facebook page has provided a good education about the “process” that City Government follows as well as reinforcing the importance of good communication both within our neighborhoods and between the neighborhoods and City Government.

    I know the folks over near Burgess Road have been seeking relief for quite some time – speed issues and a lack of sidewalks create unsafe conditions for kids who walk to and from nearby schools and are of great concern to the neighborhoods along that route. Our neighborhood association has been looking for relief, as well, here in Scenic Heights. We’re hoping to develop a neighborhood traffic plan that will enhance our pedestrian-friendly vibe, slow down speeders and increase safety along our lovely wide avenues such as Langley, Leesway and Hilltop. I sure hope that this issue is a priority for the Mayor.