Rules are well established

Editor:

The ordinance the Historic District Overlay Committee wanted to rescind was 154.154E –– requiring a 75 percent approval vote before any group can interfere with private property rights. Additionally, the Historic Tome Overlay District Committee missed the deadline to appeal the commissioners’ decision of requiring the 75 percent agreement between property owners, and now HTODC wants a second chance to interfere with landowner’s property rights. This was the issue before the commissioners on March 6, 2019.

Landowners agree with the 75 percent approval requirement. How many times will HDOC be allowed to harass these owners and go against their will? All legal and appropriate procedures were followed in establishing the approval requirement.

By rescinding 154.154E, HDOC could push forward proposals creating historic districts without landowner consultation or approval, impacting all landowners of Valencia County.

HDOC claimed the 75 percent approval requirement was “unprecedented, arbitrary and capricious.” By taking a moment to review the March 6, 2016, meeting minutes, anyone can easily understand the approval rate decision was not made lightly. Instead, there was much debate and even commissioner compromise.

Kuddos to Commissioner Saiz for asking relevant questions about how the decision for the percentage amount was reached. The P&Z coordinator Jacobo Martinez recommended a 100 percent requirement amount given the potential impact and burden on private property rights. Commissioner Eaton suggested a 51 percent approval. After much negotiation, the parties agreed on the 75 percent requirement.

Referenced in her April 4, 2019, letters to the editor, Rita Padilla-Guiterrez accused Commissioner Carlberg of not voting as his constituents would want, claiming his vote was “unbelievable on its face.” Kuddos to Carlberg for actually representing his constituents: 33 on file as opposed, 395 who did not return the petition. More than relying on petition answers, Carlberg listened — consulting with his constituents and attending meetings held by the Tomé Historic Overlay Committee.

Carlberg was prepared and efficiently executed his job; he certainly does not deserve personal attacks simply because his vote was unpopular with HDOC.

Padilla-Gutierrez stated the petition for inclusion in the Tomé Historic District was provided to 650 landowners. Owners were instructed that if they resided or owned property, they were to complete, sign and return the petition to record preference of property inclusion or exclusion. Some landowners were deliberately excluded from the petition mailing list because the committee “knew” these landowners were “opposed.” Given that, can this “survey” truly be considered valid?

The “two very big millionaire farmers,” who own the most land and would incur the most impact are concerned about any Historic Overlay. Padilla-Gutierrez insinuated they maliciously influenced the commissioners’ decision. The success of these landowners does not dictate malfeasance. These families have worked hard to achieve their American dream and should not be a target for slander.

HDOC needs to accept the landowners’ stance within their proposed Historic Overlay. The Historic Tomé Overlay Plan is still a working draft. After being in progress for five years, it is surprising this plan is no more than a working draft. It is neither prudent nor responsible to expect landowners to make a decision on historic district inclusion when the plan is vague and not in final form.

This committee needs to plan with purpose and finalize their draft, hold multiple public meetings to clearly articulate for landowners both the benefits and drawbacks of historic district inclusion. HDOC should apply the same weight and value to the community’s interest as it does to historic significance. Without clear communication, listening, and positive responsible community action, HDOC is trying to bully residents and ram a seemingly self-serving plan down landowner throats.

There are currently enough ordinances in place in Valencia County without the need for any more. I welcome a meeting with the Historic District Overlay Committee to clarify many outstanding concerns and questions. Many landowners are willing to pay the annual dues to become members of the Historic Tomé-Adelino Neighborhood Association. Where do we sign up?

Evelyn Braman

Tomé/Georgia

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