Santa Rosa Appointing All-New Zoning Board

Nov 14, 2019

Santa Rosa County Commissioners are starting from scratch with appointment of an all-new zoning board, three weeks after dismissal of all 10 previous committee members.
Credit Sandra Averhart / WUWF Public Media

The Santa Rosa County Commission is ready to approve an all-new group of appointees to the county’s zoning board. The new members will get right to work, with a new formal set of ground-rules.

Commissioners are appointing an entirely new zoning board, three weeks after controversial remarks by three members prompted commissioners to dismiss all 10 individuals from that advisory committee, and any other committees on which they served.

In an effort to regroup, the county put out the call for applications and received a flood of responses, more than 90 total.

That is just phenomenal,” said Commission Chair Sam Parker, who says one-third of those applications came from residents in District 1, which he represents.

“Part of you is kind of ‘Wow, that’s a lot of people to go through.’ And, I tell you we had such amazing applicants in my district, it really became a daunting task to narrow it down.”

At Tuesday’s committee meeting, the list was narrowed and revealed to the public.

Parker announces the names.

The appointees from District 1: Derrick Sammons and Adam Principe; District 2: Bill Dubois and Rich Santo; District 3: Laurie McGaughey; District 4: Cherie Rice and Kirk Darby; and District 5: Margaret Neyman and Daniel Bowen.

That leaves one additional appointment from District 3 commissioner Don Salter.

District 2 nominee Bill Dubois, the only one with previous zoning board experience, has asked for his appointment to begin in January.

There was no immediate opposition to any of the new appointees. Board chair Parker credits the high caliber of applicants, “Many entrepreneurs and professional folks, and career folks, and even CEO’s of very large companies.”

At their next regular board meeting on tomorrow, commissioners will confirm the zoning committee appointments, and plan to adopt the county’s first-ever policy for citizen advisory boards.

The new document sets terms to run concurrently with that of the commissioners who appoint them. Additionally, it limits citizens to service on one advisory panel at a time, and establishes guidelines for member attendance and conduct.

“And, it clearly states that this is an at-will position,” Parker declared. “That way, if you do have some unfortunate things happen, whether it be what happened with disparaging remarks or unprofessional behavior, then it lets them (committee members) know that’s an at-will position and you’re representing the commissioners and the citizens of the county and that’s not something that’s guaranteed if behavior dictates otherwise.”

The new zoning board members will hit the ground running, with confirmation in the morning and orientation tomorrow evening at 6:00 at the Tiger Point Community Center, 1370 Tiger Park Lane in Gulf Breeze.

“It really is going to be a welcome, kind of a meet-and-greet for the board members,” said Shawn Ward, planning and zoning director for Santa Rosa County.

Ward expects seven of the 10 new zoning board members to attend.

“They’re going to receive copies of the Santa Rosa County Land Development code and Comprehensive Plan. The county attorney is going to discuss items such as ethics (Code of Ethics) and “Sunshine” (Sunshine Law), because any board members that are appointed are within “Sunshine” within the state of Florida.”

Additionally, training for the new zoning board members will entail simulation of an old case.  

“We’re just going to run through that case. Staff will do a presentation, show them a PowerPoint show, and then just give them the opportunity to run through it and discuss and then vote on it, kind of as a trial run,” Ward said.

Those attending the orientation will elect a chair and vice chair, and get packets for their first working meeting on November 21, at 6 p.m. in the commissioner’s boardroom in Milton.