Tempers flared on Tuesday morning during the discussion of a possible new ice machine in Eastpoint.
During the regular discussion of Planning and Zoning (P and Z) recommendations, Bob Allen, owner of property located at the northwest corner of Highway 98 and North Bayshore Drive, demanded to know why P and Z recommended denial of his request to install an ice machine there.
Allen said his project was not given a fair review. “People were telling us two weeks in advance P and Z was opposed to this business,” he said.
He said his lot was zoned commercial and large enough to accommodate the machine and traffic.
County Planner Alan Pierce said the issue was traffic flow. “It’s a very busy intersection,” he said.
Pierce said the plans presented to the commission on Tuesday had been modified to address the issue of traffic since the P and Z met earlier this month.
Commissioner Pinki Jackel, whose district includes the Eastpoint site, said tyhat since the plans contained new information, they should be sent back to P and Z for review.
But Allen protested. “The issue is time,” he said. “This is the beginning of our season and my ice machine is sitting under a tree.”
Commission Chair Cheryl Sanders asked if P and Z board members had said they were opposed to Allen’s project in advance of the formal discussion. He was adamant that they had.
Pierce said P and Z should have tabled the request, and given Allen an opportunity to make changes to his plan rather than deny it. Pierce said the plans presented may have been vague and confusing to P and Z board members.
“We showed them the site plan and were told it was appropriate before the meeting,” said Mike Hobson of Port St. Joe, whose company builds the ice machines.
“I think it needs to go back (to P & Z) with the new information.” said Commissioner Smokey Parrish.
Sanders told Pierce to arrange an emergency meeting of P and Z to address Allen’s request.
“P and Z members should to be told to refrain from public comment,” she said. “If they can’t do that, we need to find new board members.”
Pierce said because P and Z is a volunteer board, he couldn’t say exactly when it would be possible to obtain a quorum. He said he would have to call individual members.
Parrish asked that Pierce attend the emergency P and Z meeting. Jackel said Preble Rish; the county’s engineering consultant, should send a representative as well.