Apalach delays changes to CRA

Ann Seaton

Ann Seaton

David Adlerstein
Published: Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 09:18 AM.

Apalachicola city commissioners Tuesday night postponed moving forward with changes to a key city board affecting downtown development, after they heard sustained criticism from audience members of how the process to reconfigure the Community Redevelopment Area board was handled last month.

Led by Ann Seaton, a Fifth Street resident who has sat on the CRA for the past five months, about a half-dozen audience members deplored the way city commissioners on Jan. 14 agreed to expand the seven-member CRA board by adding an eighth member who would represent the Main Street organization.

Seaton said Main Street chairman Jim Bachrach, who had pressed for adding the Main Street representative, had made the request in an undated letter, without prior notice so as to be included on the agenda. The matter was introduced in the report by City Administrator Betty Taylor-Webb, and then approved unanimously by the commissioners.

Seaton made clear she did not intend to argue the merits of the change, but wished to address what she made equally clear was a breach of ethics in her book, as well as a possible violation of the Sunshine Law.

“The request was improperly brought before you and for that reason alone, it should be struck,” she told commissioners, citing the fact that it had been included in Webb’s report.

“My understanding of the word ‘report’ is to provide you with new information on pre-existing issues. Not to bring a new issue to you attention,” she said. “In my view this is not only a legal issue but an ethical one as well.”

Both Mayor Van Johnson and City Attorney Pat Floyd disagreed that there had been anything wrong or unusual about the request originating in Webb’s report. Floyd said commissioners were entitled to act on matters that emerged from reports by department heads.

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