In the end, David Brenner’s resignation as chairman of the Longboat Key, Lido Key, St. Armands Key Chamber of Commerce’s Economic Development Council wasn’t enough.
The Longboat Key Town Commission decided not to re-appoint the town’s current Planning and Zoning Board chairman to a second, three-year term at its Monday, May 4 regular meeting.
Brenner, 73, took to the stand before the decision was made, making his case for a second term.
“In the three years I have served on the planning board, among other things we have created a visioning plan, which led to the adoption of the recent referenda that will create tourism opportunities,” Brenner said.
Those looking for confirmation on some of Brenner’s work only had to look at the meeting agenda, which earlier in the evening included first reading and public hearings on voluntary rebuild- and tourism-unit-pool ordinances that were approved unanimously by the commission.
“My only goal for both organizations has been what’s best for Longboat Key,” Brenner said. “I implore you to put aside personal conflicts that have been perceived and make appointments for the best interests of the citizens. They deserve no less.”
But the plea didn’t do enough to assuage the majority of commission members who were looking to shake up the dynamic of a nine-member board that just recently added John Redgrave and Morton Siegler to the mix.
Mayor Lee Rothenberg, Vice Mayor Robert Siekmann and Commissioners Gene Jaleski and Hal Lenobel voted for Zoning Board of Adjustment board members Patricia Zunz and Phineas Alpers to take planning board seats instead of Brenner. And, planning board member John Wild was re-appointed to a second three-year term.
Siekmann explained that in recent months, the planning board had been acting “as an activist group,” which he realized helped spread the word for two charter amendments that voters approved in March 2008.
“But the role of this board as an activist group is finished and it’s time for this board to transition back to a traditional group,” Siekmann said.
After the meeting, Brenner called Siekmann’s comments “a bunch of smoke and mirrors.”
“There is nothing the planning board has ever done that we didn’t get permission from the commission to do,” Brenner said.
Brenner said he believes the real reason he did not get re-appointed “stems from a group driven by personal motives.”
“The bottom line is the planning board accomplished a lot of things in a relatively short period of time and that has demonstrated how ineffective the commission has become,” Brenner said. “I hope the commission’s behavior of late will act as a wakeup call to the residents of this Key, who have a golden opportunity by means of elections to shape the commission in the coming years.”
Siekmann said he was bothered by accusations that there was a personal vendetta against Brenner.
“We have not done a huge disservice to Mr. Brenner,” Siekmann said. “We now have more volunteers than we have ever had before.”
However, the commission only appointed two out of 11 newcomers, while reappointing four board members and transferring two zoning board members over to its planning board.
Commissioners George Spoll, Peter O’Connor and Jim Brown, all former planning board members who nominated Brenner, were upset with the outcome.
“I am embarrassed for this commission on what it did to Mr. Brenner today,” Spoll said.
Then, planning board members B.J. Webb and John Redgrave made their way out of the room, shaking their heads with looks of disgust on their faces.
NEW BOARD MEMBERS
In total, 11 newcomers vied for seats on the town’s three boards and a pension board seat. Those residents included Andrew Aitken, Gaele Barthold, Rosemary Dilgard, Patrick Mellett, Chuck Nechtem, Lee Pokoik, Richard Weber, Woody Wolverton, Thomas Murphy, Reina Berman and Shannon Gault.
Only Barthold and Gault received appointments.