A rift in the Longboat Key Planning and Zoning Board emerged at the beginning of Tuesday’s regular meeting at Town Hall.
Planning and Zoning Board Chairwoman B.J. Webb started the meeting, by explaining she hoped that board members Allen Hixon and John Wild would decline their nominations for the board’s vice-chair position and vote board member Jack Daly to the post, instead.
Both Hixon and Wild declined Webb’s request by not speaking on the matter, which led to a tense discussion about personality clashes and what Webb perceived as inappropriate behavior after meetings.
At the board’s Sept. 18 regular board meeting, there was a 4-4 tie, when Hixon and Wild were nominated for the post.
When Webb called for the vote again, the vote was still split at four votes apiece, and the board agreed to wait until the October meeting to settle the tiebreaker.
Webb, who received unanimous support to continue on as chair of the planning board, made it clear Tuesday she wasn’t comfortable with either candidate being her vice chair any longer.
“This board does a lot of important work, and it’s critical at all times that we disagree in a respectful and civilized manner,” Webb said. “I do not believe it’s in the board’s best interest to have the continued divisive issue between two qualified vice-chair candidates. I would like to ask those two candidates to step down so we can select someone this entire body can get behind and not waste time any more with personality issues.”
Webb had asked Daly to accept her nomination and checked with Town Clerk Trish Granger and the town attorney’s office to make sure she was following proper procedure.
Although assistant town attorney Kelly Fernandez confirmed she was, neither Wild nor Hixon followed Webb’s request to step down, leading to a three-way vote for the vice-chair post.
Before the vote, some board members questioned the reasoning behind Webb’s stance, noting that because a full board was present, a tie vote couldn’t be reproduced at Tuesday’s meeting.
But Webb was insistent she wasn’t comfortable with either board member becoming vice chair.
“What I heard in the halls following the meeting in September and the language I heard and the words I heard about this disgusted me,” Webb said. “Let me assure you it’s not what I think is in the best interest of this body.”
Before the vote, Hixon said everyone has one equally weighted vote on the planning board.
“It’s incredulous to believe you, George, or you, B.J., or you, John, would change your deciding votes because of how others voted rather than on the issues at hand,” Hixon said. “Personalities have no place in our actions for our future, and I sincerely hope we can move beyond this controversy with cooperation, intellect, good judgment and good humor.”
When the vote was made, board members Leonard Garner, George Symanski Jr., Hackett and Hixon voted for Hixon. Board members Laurin Goldner, Webb and Wild voted for Daly. Board member Andrew Aitken voted for Wild.
After the vote, Hixon asked the board to proclaim Daly as the unanimous choice for vice chair, and Wild seconded the motion.
After the meeting, Wild said, “It was probably wise to find someone that was acceptable to everybody.”