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SSPOA President’s Message – October 2018
Anniversaries mark an event in our lives, a significant event which we either celebrate or on which we reflect. September 10th marked the one year anniversary of hurricane Irma’s landfall in the Florida Keys, an event for which we had an unfortunate front row seat. October marks the one year anniversary of recovery, a point in time on the calendar to which we can look and measure our progress of recovery.
Resilience. Perseverance. These words among others have been used frequently to describe island communities as well as our larger Keys community post-Irma. With respect to the calamitous event we endured and the effect it had on our lives, both personally and collectively. With respect to how we emerged from the seemingly endless weeks of clean-up, recovery, and repair, which for many continues. With respect to how we worked together, neighbors helping neighbors, and continue to move forward with a stronger commitment to our island communities. With respect to the range of emotions we have experienced and the support from the unexpected. We are resilient and we have persevered.
However, Irma took too much from some of us, too much from which to recover. Whether it was due to the scope and scale of the physical damage to their homestead, the psychological impact from the storm, the irrefutable and fatiguable bureaucratic morass of Insurance, or other reasons unknown, some long-standing neighbors have moved away from their island home and will be greatly missed.
Significant events also provide opportunities for growth and for change. Communities are continually growing, evolving, and changing, which can be both positive and negative depending on one’s perspective or position. This can be a positive and healthy process; however, there is cause for alarm and concern when development and change is eagerly promoted in the wake of a calamitous or significant event.
Ownership of the two vacant parcels of land, referred to as Section F, on either side of South Point Drive along US-1, recently transferred to a local developer who is currently working on two workforce housing projects in the Lower Keys, and has indicated that he intends to build workforce housing on Section F.
The prospect of workforce housing on Section F may concern some and be welcomed by others. Regardless of opinion, current county documents, code, and procedures provide ample opportunity for resident input and ensure measured, appropriate growth and development with respect to the island community.
However, existing procedures are in jeopardy. County staff created Goal 109 during the months following Irma which would facilitate the replacement of workforce housing (ground level homes and trailers) in the Lower Keys destroyed by the hurricane. Goal 109 proposes drastic and impactful changes to existing limitations to the density, scope, and size of workforce housing projects along with changes to the public input and approval procedures.
As many of you are aware, some residents in South Point have independently created South Point Homeowners LLC with intent to protect our community’s character. Your SSPOA board is equally concerned about the development of the vacant parcels on South Point. The SSPOA board scheduled a very well attended special neighborhood meeting last month during which board members informed residents about current zoning and code restrictions, the intentions of the new land owner of Section F and the impacts of Goal 109, and the purpose and goal of the South Point Homeowners LLC.
Your SSPOA will work with South Point Homeowners LLC in the interest of protecting the unique character of our island and community with regard to future development. Goal 109 could significantly alter our community by significantly increasing the density of housing projects, increasing traffic on the highway and impacting our lifestyle.
We will keep you informed and will ask you to do your part by writing to our elected officials and, when possible, attending county committee and commission meetings to be seen and heard. Watch for upcoming emails from your SSPOA board and our public policy committee chair for more information.
October also marks the beginning of our general membership meeting season. Remember, our membership meetings are held the last Tuesday of the month, October through March with no meeting in December. We are scheduled to have our first meeting of the 2018-19 season on Tuesday, October 30 in the Sugarloaf Firehouse community room upstairs. The half-hour social begins at 6:00pm before the start of the meeting.
Our October guest speaker is Monroe County’s strategic planner Kimberly Matthews. Ms. Matthews is beginning the process of the county’s new strategic plan and is seeking input from all county residents. The meeting will be interactive as she will seek anonymous input from participants via their Smartphone devices. Please be sure to bring your iPhone, Samsung, Android, or whatever Smartphone you may use.
Before then, however, we hope to see you at our first social of the season on October 18 from 5:30 - 7:30pm at the Sugarloaf Tiki. This is our opportunity to welcome our seasonal residents back to the island and to catch up with our neighbors and friends. We look forward to seeing you on the 30th of October: social at 6:00pm, meeting begins at 6:30pm.
As always, be kind, be neighborly, pick up after your pet, and enjoy our island paradise.