The decision by the Apalachicola city commission to approve the terms of settlement that ended the lawsuit brought by the developers of Denton Cove is not in the best long-term interest of any of its citizens. Equally disappointing is the process used by the city to reach its decision to settle, which effectively precluded any meaningful opportunity to receive thoughtful comment before the final decision was made.

                The city, not the school board, is the political body with the responsibility to make land use decisions for Apalachicola, and to be accountable for those decisions. The net effect of the settlement is to move the political heat to the school board for a land use decision that is, at best, incidental to their core mission of overseeing the education of Franklin County’s children.

                The settlement terms leave the legal question of who owns the streets and alleys firmly in limbo. We respectfully dissent from the city’s assertion that it does not own the land; the city’s decision to settle forecloses it from seeking a definitive judicial determination, leaving it to be pursued, or not, by others. This result is not wise stewardship of the city’s historic plat or a progressive alternative path for affordable housing in this community.

                However, the question of who owns the land was not, and could not have been, the basis for Denton Cove’s federal lawsuit. Their core allegation was that the city was guilty of racial discrimination in failing to close the streets and alleys so that Denton Cove’s project could move forward. Under current federal law racial discrimination by the city could occur either as a matter of straightforward intention or as a result of a seemingly neutral policy that serves no legitimate purpose and has a disparate impact on a minority group.

But, and this is key, the federal court threw out the allegation based on disparate impact. What the city ducked by settling was the only remaining claim, that of intentional racial discrimination. While we are not so naïve as to think that racial discrimination never occurs in Apalachicola, in this particular case, on this particular occasion, there appears to be no evidence to suggest that the city’s decision was caused by racial bigotry. We are disappointed that the city was not willing to confront, and defeat, that claim head-on. Nevertheless the city has taken binding action and the case is over; the only remedy left to its citizens is the ballot box.

Those of us who are opposed to the Denton Cove project, not because we are bigots, but because its design is not consistent with the best alternative for affordable housing in Apalachicola and because it would obliterate forever the historic plat, must turn our attention to two goals. One, we must push ahead to achieve progressive, affordable housing. There are several proposals on the table to accomplish this. Two, we must be vigilant and supportive of the school board’s power to decline to sell Denton Cove the additional land of the streets and alleys. We owe it to ourselves as a community to unite behind these goals.

Bonnie Davis

Apalachicola

Additional signers include:

Sandra Allen

Capt. Gil Autry

Lane Autry

Renee Bacot

Catherine Bailey

Robin Bailey

Mariterese & Patrick Balthrop

Dustin Bergan

Richard Bickel

Jack & Diane Brewer

Bill Brown

Holly & Creighton Brown

Anna-Maria Cannatella & Erin Rodriguez

Kay Carson

Deborah Case

Danny R Case

Lesley & Jay Chesley

Leslie & George Coon

Pam & Terry Corcoran

Tammy & Ed Davis

Dan Davis

Carol & Bill Dick

Liz Early

Connie & Richard Finneran

Vicki Fowlkes

Mark Friedman

Heather Friedman

Marcie & Phillip Fuerschbach

Jessica Gary

Despina George

Ron & Jane Harris

Paul Hausmann

Lin Hawkins

Alisa Hand Hendels

Krystal Shuler Hernandez

Rick Hernandez

Chuck Hess

Barbara Holmes

Sam Houston

Dale Julian

Shannon Lease

Holly Flowers Lemons

Jaime Liang

Robert Lindsley

Sandi Garrett Little

Mark Little

Jaime Liang

Robert Lindsley

Susan Macken

Ginger Madewell

Torben Madsen

Marie & Willoughby Marshall

Lance & Paula Martina

Paul Mcabee

Edward & Jill P Michaels

Mark Milliken & Teresa Elizabeth Zingarelli Milliken

Susan Morgan & David P. Morgan

Terry Nelson

Callie Nichols

Margene E. Off

Robert Overton

Natalie & Mark Parsley

Dixie Partington

Constance Peck

Tyler Poloronis

Lindsey Doll Poloronis

Debbie Poloronis

Tim Poloronis

Karen Redic

Susan Richardson

Kathy Holtom Robinson

Sarah Robinson

Jody Rosenbaum

George & Carol Bella Rudo

Charlie Sawyer

Dennis Schaeffer

Carole & Michael Seibert

Grayson Shepard

Edward Springer

Coral & Denny Sprouse

Joan Stanton

Gina Taranto

Sondra Taylor-Furbee

Anthony & Toni Taranto

Lowell & Janet Thomas

Dr. Helen E. Tudor

Gary Ulrich

Luis Ramon Valenzuela-Lopez

Marcy Valenzuela

Karen Ventimiglia

Robin Rickel Vroegop & Michael P. Vroegop

Dave & Michaelin Watts

Lynn Wilder

Pete Whitesell

Kathy Willis

Greg Wynot