Back to drawing board for Family Dollar

Published: Wednesday, March 19, 2014 at 12:48 PM.

The dramatic anticipation at last week’s appeal hearing by Family Dollar before the Apalachicola city commission turned out to be short-lived.

No sooner had the March 11 hearing opened before a packed room when City Attorney Pat Floyd rose to advise commissioners that they ought to start the special exception process over again by sending the matter back to planning and zoning.

Panama City Beach developer Brett Woodward, represented by attorney Robert Hughes, was hoping city commissioners would reverse the Planning and Zoning Commission’s Nov. 18, 2013 vote that gave a resounding no to a proposal to relocate the store from its current site adjacent to the Gulfside IGA to a lot that neighbors the Best Western Inn.

Floyd told commissioners that the first question they must ask, before the content of the appeal, was whether or not Blue Current Development LLC had been provided a quasi-judicial hearing by P & Z. He said such a hearing is called for by case law, not by any particular stipulation in the city’s land development code.
A “quasi-judicial decision requires certain due process rights, regardless of merits,” he said. “Required and guaranteed are that applicant have the right to present evidence, crossexam witnesses have record established on which decision is based.”

Floyd said all parties involved would agree that “the unquestionable determination is that those requirements were not complied with as part of P & Z, were not provided at that level.

“My recommendation is you make decision to quash the decision that was made, and send it back to P and Z to do that procedure. Send it back and have them conducted properly and able to be done on its merits,” he said.

Commissioner Frank Cook moved, and Mitchell Bartley seconded, a motion to follow Floyd’s advice, and the motion passed unanimously without discussion.

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