"Cronyism … and Given Port Orange’s Recent History of Incompetence at High Administrative Levels …. "
Mike and Dianne Gardner
618 Ruth St
Port Orange, FL 32127
December 8, 2013
RE: Atlantic Marine Planned Commercial Development
City of Port Orange
Dear Mr Kisela,
We own the property, and reside, at 618 Ruth Street in Port Orange, Florida. Our property backs up to a two-acre-plus parcel that is currently under consideration by the City of Port Orange for development as a multi-use commercial project involving boat sales, repair and storage. Principals in the development are Jack Wiles and Brad Wiles (father and son) of East Central Florida Boat Works doing business as Atlantic Marine. Jack Wiles is well known to elected city officials and staff members through his activities within the local financial community and on local government advisory boards.
Our experience to date has been that Jack and Brad Wiles have blatantly violated the provisions of the City of Port Orange Land Development Code and that the City has aided and abetted these violations by not enforcing its own ordinances. The Code very clearly states its intent in Ch 9 § 9 that “the purposes of this article are to: 1) acknowledge the environmental benefits of trees and natural vegetation, 2) prohibit the destruction of natural vegetation until a development plan, or other specific plan for interim land management has been approved, and 3) provide specific criteria for allowable clearing and grading activities as they affect tree preservation.” More detailed specifications regarding the type of documents required before a developer can begin to clear property abound in the Code. However, when Jack and Brad Wiles caused the removal of trees and natural vegetation from the Atlantic Marine property without an approved Site Plan or even a Tree Removal Permit, and City officials were notified of this violation, they chose to ignore their own ordinances and instead allowed what amounts to wholesale clear-cutting of the land to continue.
Those officials did not enforce Ch 9 § 22(a) of the Code which specifies that “all violations of this article involving the unauthorized removal of trees and vegetation shall require the land owner to file a restoration plan as provided for below.” Instead, they issued a Tree Removal Permit that would be laughable in its deficiencies were it not for the damage already done by the developers. All natural barriers between the Atlantic Marine development and at least ten adjoining properties have now been removed and homeowners in the neighborhood are reasonably asking what recourse they have available to them.
When we voiced our concerns to staff in the Planning and Code Enforcement Departments, their responses were pleasant enough but they also clearly indicated that nothing substantive would be done about them. It is fairly obvious at this point that when it comes to protecting the health, safety and welfare of its citizens, the City of Port Orange places more importance on the wishes of insiders than on the protection of average citizens. Cronyism seems an appropriate term to use for this practice, and given Port Orange’s recent history of incompetence at high administrative levels, not an unsurprising one.
Please let us know what solutions, if any, you can offer within the existing City framework for grievances before we look for solutions outside that framework.
Mike and Dianne Gardner