Vero Beach Council reconsidering committees’ makeup, usefulness

VERO BEACH–Several committees and commissions that serve to advise the Vero Beach City Council could soon be disbanded, merged or re-formed.

The new council has decided to scale down the number of people serving on the different boards and, in some cases, restrict membership to city residents only.

“My concern is that we’re not utilizing this resource well,” Vice Mayor Pilar Turner told her fellow council members during a recent workshop discussion.

Any changes that the council decides to make regarding the committees and commissions will require revising or rescinding ordinances and resolutions that put the boards in place.

The first opportunity to make changes will come at next week’s council meeting, which begins at 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday.

Though the council members could not vote during the workshop, there was a consensus to limit the number of members to five unless state statutes mandate another number. Also, they decided that they would prefer to have city residents sitting on the committee and commissions rather than county residents – unless so mandated by the state or because of a lack of interest from city residents.

During one point of the discussion, it appeared as though the council was going to disband the Architectural Review Committee, rolling its responsibilities into the Planning and Zoning Board.

However, the council later decided that it might be best to keep the committee, only to review large commercial projects.

Planning Department Director Tim McGarry has been tasked with determining what square footage would trigger the need for the committee’s review.

In the past, the committee has, according to council members, gotten bogged down in the minutiae of design plans with debate over the size of bathroom windows for a single-family home.

The council has agreed to limit the Architectural Review Board to only commercial developments and possibly to specially designated zones for architectural conservation or redevelopment.

Like all other boards, the council has also agreed to limit the number of people serving to five, a request brought forth by Councilman Craig Fletcher.

“It’s a thing I can’t pronounce here in public,” Fletcher said of having committees larger than five members. “It’s a bad thing.”

Another board the council discussed was the Finance Commission, on which Vice Mayor Turner once served.

“It’s a very important group,” Fletcher said, noting it would be equally important for it to consist of people the new council appoints.

To that end, the council agreed to advertise the committees and commissions and seek applications from the public for consideration. Council members expect to appoint their representatives on the boards from that pool and supplement as needed by asking individuals to apply.

Applications are expected to be available at the City Clerk’s Office, where they would be returned and distributed to the council members.

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