Tampa City Council holds off on Ordinance dealing with neighborhood groups

06/28/07 Mitch E. Perry
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Last week Tampa City Councilman Charlie Miranda questioned the appropriateness of a developer giving money to a neighborhood association. Saying he was uneasy about such side deals, he introduced a resolution that added a provision to the City Ethics Code, prohibiting requests for "money, service or other thing of value" in exchange for support or opposition to a matter pending before the council. Miranda also directed the city legal staff to change the city code so that rezoning petitions for West Tampa and East Tampa will no longer have to be reviewed by neighborhood groups. Today he said that it was critical that such groups, like the West Tampa Community Development Corporation, or CDC deal with developers in the open (roll tape#1 o.q.”that’s the intent of this thing”) The CDC is a nonprofit that focuses on improving housing in West Tampa. The issue in that led to Miranda’s concerns involved a developer who would have given the CDC $225,000 to improve housing. Miranda raised that objection on the same day it was revealed that Tampa Police are investigating another developer promising $50,000 to a different neighborhood association. Whether that is legal is questionable, but Councilmembers all say it is inappropriate. Councilman Miranda said that all negotiations should be done in front of the City Council, regardless of how lengthy it takes (roll tape#2 o.q.”want the same thing”)
As discussion on the proposal began, City Attorneys were questioned by Councilchairwoman Gwen Miller as to why the City’s Ordinance only calls out the East and West Tampa overlay districts.
Such rezonings work differently on the Hillsborough County Commissioner. Former Commissioner and now City Councilman Thomas Scott said the City should model the County and use a Hearing Master, so they wouldn’t have to contend with such issues(roll tape#3 o.q.” you still hear it”) That proposal brought out many citizens from West Tampa, saying that changing the Ordinance was a move in the wrong direction, such as Delphine Jones (roll tape#4 o.q.”’til it’s right”) Janice Dewlan said she was a lifelong resident of West Tampa.(roll tape#5 o.q.”til it’s right”) Because the Chair of the CDC, Margaret Fisher, was not present, the Council voted 6-1 to continue the issue until later….But Councilman Charlie Miranda voted no because he said nothing could change his mind on that the revised ordinance is required (roll tape#6 o.q.”so my mind is not going to change”)
The Council will vote on the issue probably sometime later next month

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