Sebastian City Council approves changes to waterfront committee

By Ella Chabot-Remington

SEBASTIAN — The Sebastian City Council unanimously voted to approve changing the makeup of the Temporary Waterfront Committee’s membership Wednesday evening.

The changes consist of having a city-designated appointee serve as a liaison instead of a member and to add another spot on the committee for an “at large” city resident.

The resolution calls for a Temporary Waterfront Committee to consist of seven members appointed by the council to serve three-year terms. In addition to the at large member created by the amendment, the committee would include a representative of the Sebastian River Area Chamber of Commerce, two commercial fishermen, a business person located in the city’s redevelopment area district, a member with marine biology or eco-tourism credentials, and a final member who is a historian, historic preservationist, and/or member at large.

In the absence of suitable candidates in any of the designated categories, the council has the ability to appoint a qualified member at large.

“At the last meeting we had discussed on the Waterfront Committee whether there be a conflict of interest with the nonprofit and the members, have you had a chance to find out any more about that?” Councilman Eugene Wolff asked City Attorney Robert Ginsburg.

“The way it works is there’s no conflict of interest just being a member of the non-profit group,” Ginsburg replied. “If you have the responsibility of a director or an officer, then there might be a conflict when a particular item comes up for vote because you have a fiduciary duty to the organization if you are an officer or a director.  That fiduciary duty is not present merely in a member.”

Ginsburg added that it is difficult to determine ahead of time how much of a conflict a member’s obligation elsewhere will impact the Waterfront Committee.

“You really don’t know until you’ve seen six months or more of meetings and agendas if there’s always going to be a conflict,” he said. “If this person who is a member of the organization is always out on conflict issues, or very frequently out, then the person should resign from the board. But that is the distinction. You really can’t do that in advance.”

The Wednesday night meeting was the Council’s last regular session before the Nov. 3 election.  Council members Andrea Coy and Eugene Wolff are running for re-election.  Dale Simchick served her final night on the council and is now campaigning for the District 2 seat on the County Commission.

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