Town of Ocean Breeze
City of Stuart
Ocean Breeze Latest News From The November 22, 2020 edition
COUNCIL MEETING NOVEMBER 9, 2020
There was an uncontested election in Ocean Breeze. Three council members, Gerold, Locatis, and Wagner were sworn in for a new two-year term. Karen Ostrand was unopposed for Mayor.
Congratulations to all!
Yet it is a little sad that no residents from the new homes chose to run. Maybe at the next election they will. Once they settle in a bit, they may start to wonder what is the purpose of the Town of Ocean Breeze?
While the residents of Sun Community (all current elected officials live within the park) have their real estate taxes as part of their land rent, that is not true of these new homeowners. Each of them receives an individual tax bill outlining exactly what they pay to be a citizen of the town.
Council Member Docherty mentioned that one of the boards that he is a member of on behalf of the town meets at the same time as the monthly council meeting. That introduced the larger matter of whether the time for the council meeting should be changed. Docherty stated that he and most of the new home residents work full time which makes it harder to attend daytime meetings.
Docherty was not in favor of changing the meeting time now but would like it considered after the first quarter of next year. A couple of the council members said that the newer town residents could read about the meeting on the town’s website since they could not attend.
Locatis and Arnold were not in favor of changing the time. Gerold wants to study the matter more. The Town Clerk said that staff was hired with the understanding that meetings were held during the day.
Docherty made a motion that staff bring back what I believe would be a draft ordinance. Staff is to ascertain the pros and the cons of changing the meeting time. It was seconded by Gerold. Interestingly, President De Angeles did not have the clerk do a roll call vote. It appeared to me that the motion failed on the voice vote, but he said it passed.
At some point, there needs to be a serious discussion concerning the merits of Ocean Breeze’s designation as a town. What does it supply its residents…all the residents? There really is little infrastructure. Most roads are private. There is zoning but really it has only PUD agreements to enforce. Code enforcement is done by the same person that is responsible in the county.
Moving the time of the meeting is the least of the worries. An incorporated municipality is different from a homeowner’s association. Taxes are not association dues. If the town is going to survive having new residents, it needs to offer them something more than a name.
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Ocean Breeze Latest News From The November 8, 2020 edition
The Next Council Meeting will be November 9, 2020
Ocean Breeze Latest News From The October 18, 2020 edition
COUNCIL MEETING OCTOBER 12, 2020
It was a meeting that lasted less than a half hour.
Town Consultant Terry O’Neil spoke about how the County will be making West End Avenue one way. It is anticipated that it would be south bound. The Town asked for an analysis since that will impact traffic flow. According to Mayor Ostrand and O’Neil, the County has not been as cooperative as they could be.
That is too bad since Ocean Breeze constituents are part of the County. If West End becomes one way south, then all traffic leaving by that exit will need to turn onto Maple Avenue to get to Jensen Beach Blvd. That would include the RVs that primarily use that exit.
Mayor Ostrand mentioned a blood drive in partnership with Sun Communities on November 7th. It is by appointment only. There will also be a 60-year celebration of the founding of the Town on November 9th. There will be a cupcake tree and other things. Be on the lookout for flyers for both those events and you can contact the Town Office for more information.
Ocean Breeze Latest News From The October 4, 2020 edition
The next meeting will occur on October 15, 2020
Ocean Breeze Latest News From The September 20, 2020 edition
The Town Council passed its annual budget.
Ocean Breeze Latest News From The September 6, 2020 edition
The next meeting will be September 14, 2020
Ocean Breeze Latest News From The August 23, 2020 edition
COUNCIL MEETING AUGUST 10, 2020
The meeting was about finalizing the docks for Sun Communities. For the past year or so, Sun Communities and the Town have been discussing placing the docks in the river. They have gone back and forth. For a moment, it seemed that another meeting would be needed because of confusion about the number of posts needed for the elevator lifts.
If you look at the diagram, you will see that there are no lift posts attached. Why the Council cares about this is another question. The two things that boards should be concerned about are how many docks will be permitted in total and whether they will be allowed to be rented to others besides residents. Everything else will be handled through permitting with the Town staff and DEP.
I wonder when the owners of the new homes will start to come in and want to know why their taxes are so high and why they have no representation on the Council. They are going to want to have amenities and they could not care less about Sun Communities. This Council needs to broaden its scope to look at things that all residents of the Town are concerned about. The diagram can be found here
A motion was made by Gerold and seconded by Docherty. It passed 5-0.
Ocean Breeze Latest News From The August 9, 2020 edition
Next Meeting August 10th
Ocean Breeze Latest News From The July 26, 2020 edition
Next Meeting August 10th
Ocean Breeze Latest News From The June 28, 2020 edition
The next meeting is scheduled for July 13, 2020
Ocean Breeze Latest News From The June 14, 2020 edition
COUNCIL MEETING JUNE 8, 2020
The meeting was held at Riverside Park at the Francis Langford Pavilion. It was good to be back after a couple of months.
The County gave a COVID-19 update. There has been no one from the Town that tested positive. There was also a hurricane shelter presentation. Because of social distancing, the County is looking at opening 8 or 9 shelters instead of the usual 4.
John Maehl, the County person in charge of water issues, asked that the Town support the County’s position regarding the federal water savings clause that the County is against. Stuart already has signed a letter of support of that position. A motion was made by Arnold and seconded by Locatis to follow that lead. It passed 6-0.
Their audit report had a clean opinion. There was both income and expenses that were less than they previously were. It was pointed out that grant money had come to an end and all work was completed.
The entire report can be found here
Several months ago, the Council instructed its staff to engage Marcela Camblor to see whether it is feasible to have a multi-modal connection to the plaza where Publix is. That would mean going outside the Town onto Maple Street and Jensen Beach Blvd. Although doable, there are challenges.
Currently, it is illegal to use a golf cart on County roads unless the cart is street ready. While you could use sidewalks, the current ones are not wide enough to legally do so. There would need to be negotiations with property owners. Gerold also brought up that the railroad crossing will be reconfigured when the second track is added. This is complicated. Further state roads do not allow golf carts, and Jensen Beach Blvd becomes a state road after the tracks.
To read her report click here
10 YEARS INTO THE FUTURE
The Mayor has a vision. It did not look like that vision was shared by the Council.
It was interesting that this could have been the most important part of the meeting. Yet I and only one other resident stayed for what should have been noticed as a visioning session. The Council President called the items out, and the Mayor (whose show this was) led mostly a discussion with herself.
The first thing she wanted to discuss was paying the Council and officers a salary…not much of one but something so that people would understand their worth. Both the President and Vice-President flat out said no. The rest stood silent. In my opinion, the Town of Ocean Breeze should not have a paid Council. They were right to say no.
The second thing mentioned was regarding quorum and voting. The Town Attorney said that he can only remember once in 35 years where there was a problem with having quorum. The Council of 6 members, which is an even number, has not had very many tie votes. It is also unusual that there is an elected mayor that is not a member of the Council. Again, no member of the Council wanted to discuss any changes.
Mayor Ostrand then mentioned changing the meetings to perhaps later in the day to accommodate the residents from the new homes. The only Council Member that seemed interested was Docherty. He still works full time. The time of their meeting is set by ordinance and not by statute so no charter amendment would be needed. At some point if the new residents become involved, most will probably be working and then it may be necessary to change the time.
She wants Ocean Breeze to have its own Town Hall. The only problem is there is no place for the Town to do so within the Town boundaries. There was some confusion as to whether legislation had been passed in Tallahassee to allow a meeting place outside of the Village. Mr. Crary will have to investigate it. The building Ostrand found is the Wells Fargo building in downtown Jensen Beach for about a million dollars.
The Mayor said she could find grants for the purchase. Nothing was really mentioned about the costs of renovation. There is much due diligence needed before proceeding including an appraisal that can support the price. The Town is rather small and there are only a few employees, I cannot see going into debt for it. The Council recommended she gather more information including ongoing maintenance costs.
The idea of Town promotional events was raised…to silence.
Lastly, she wanted to speak about annexation. That would not be a bad idea if you pitched it to the businesses of Jensen Beach. The only reason they would want to begin paying higher taxes would be if they received a benefit. It would have to be to encourage heavier development, and ultimately, a loss of control for the current Council.
Also, the way annexation works is that the property owner comes to you and requests it. This fact will make it less likely to occur unless they begin negotiating with Jensen so that Jensen could use Ocean Breeze as a shell to have its own municipality free of Martin County.
Ocean Breeze Latest News From The May 31, 2020 edition
At present there are no meetings scheduled.
Ocean Breeze Latest News From The May 20, 2020 Edition
At present there are no meetings scheduled.
Ocean Breeze Latest News From The May 3, 2020 Edition
At present there are no meetings scheduled.
Ocean Breeze Latest News From The April 17, 2020 Edition
The April 13th Meeting was cancelled.
CORRECTIONS: In the last newsletter, I stated that the RV parking would end in January 2021. The correct date is January 2022.
The phone number for the office was listed incorrectly in what I was provided. It should be 772-334-6826.
Ocean Breeze Latest News From The April 5, 2020 Edition
Until further notice the Town’s offices are closed to the public. They will continue to be manned Monday-Friday 9 AM to 2 PM. You can reach them at 772-334-6828 or the Clerks cell at 772-807-2557. The email is firstname.lastname@example.org
All further Council meetings have been cancelled until further notice.
Sun Communities is continuing to allow RVs to park on its pads. As you can see from the emails below to some residents it is a concern:
From James Lynch who lives at Ocean Breeze:
Why is ocean breeze still bringing in RV rentals?
4 today 1 from NY (JL)
Do you live in Ocean Breeze? (TC)
Yes, I do. (JL)
OK I will see what I can find out for you. (TC)
Here is what I sent to Chris Walters (Resort Manager) below and his reply
RE: Keep us safe
Florida says no more rentals and for us at ocean breeze close the gates. They have been open for 3 days
Florida Gov. DeSantis suspends new vacation rentals amid COVID-19 concerns
Pursuant to our March 28th 2020 Face Book post we are aware of the Governors order to suspend Vacation Rentals and are in compliance. Our Main gate only is currently programmed to be open from 7am to 7pm at this time to accommodate the large volume of our at risk resident deliveries from Amazon, Fed Ex, UPS, Meals on Wheels, Home Health Care and other carriers in an effort to encourage Social Distancing and to ensure that the much needed supplies reach our residents . Ironically I found myself locked out of the coastal gate while making a quick trip to the grocery store this morning while forgetting my phone. Should you observe suspicious individuals it is my recommendation that you contact the Martin County Sheriff’s office at (772) 220 – 7000 while providing their office with a description to include the vehicle, plate number if available and description of the suspect to include details such as clothing. It has been my experience that the Sheriff’s office responds in a matter of minutes and this description is extremely helpful in their investigation. Hope that you, Dawn and family remain safe.
After speaking with Terry O’Neil, the Town Consultant, I wrote back to Mr. Lynch:
I spoke with Ocean Breeze Consultant Terry O’Neil today.
According to him and from what I understand the Governor’s Order states is that resorts are exempt.
Terry did tell me that Sun has stopped renting their units. As to the RVs headquarters hasn’t told them to stop them as of yet. Under the PUD Agreement they may have RV rentals until January 2021.
If there was enforcement because of the Governor’s Order, Mr. O’Neil stated it would be by the Sheriff’s purview.
Not very helpful I know.
Thomas, thank you your quick response and hard work.
Mayor Ostrand spoke at the special BOCC meeting held on April 3rd. She was asking the County for help to stop this from happening. If Mr. O’Neil is correct, then the County could not do anything.
For two reasons it would not be possible. One is that the Governor’s order supersedes any local jurisdiction and it permits that use. Second, the County has no authority to do anything about the situation within the boundaries of Ocean Breeze.
Ocean Breeze has its own authority as a chartered municipality. As a municipality it gave Sun Communities the right in the PUD agreement to rent RV spaces until January 2021. The governor’s order notwithstanding, the Council now must live with the agreement until the end of the year even if the dreaded RVs are from New York and they are fleeing the pandemic.
Going to the County and thinking they can solve your problem because you changed your mind on the terms of a PUD goes against every principal, I have heard the Mayor express about home rule. The County is not in charge of any city. I am all for cooperation and teamwork, this is not that.
The Mayor’s letters to the County can be found at:
FROM MARCH 22, 2020 EDITION
COUNCIL MEETING MARCH 9, 2020
The Town did not receive very much input from Sun Communities at the long-awaited hurricane meeting.
And herein is the problem with the fundamental nature of Ocean Breeze. It became a municipality so that the Hoke family, which owned it all, could better control their trailer park. It wasn’t about home rule or local decision making. It was about control by one family. There is no way that the state would allow for incorporation today.
Sun Communities, the owner of the original Hoke trailer park, has really made a vast change to that area. No one could argue it isn’t better. Ocean Breeze remains a company town. Sun owns the land and, while they must conform to the PUD Agreement they have with the Town, they still hold the upper hand. It is a shame that when the residents had an opportunity to buy the park and then own the ground, they couldn’t pull it off.
The Town consists of three distinct areas. There is the Publix Center that is controlled by the owner of the center, there are the new homes in the rear of the Town that will be governed by their homeowners’ association and then the Sun portion. Once the homeowners begin paying Town taxes, the squawking by them will begin in earnest. The tax rate is way too high for the level of service.
Ocean Breeze has the highest combined millage rate in the County at 21.6038. It is higher than Stuart and Jupiter Island which have their own Public Safety Departments. Sewall’s Point has a Police Department and buys Fire/Rescue from Stuart. Ocean Breeze has a part time clerk, finance person, and Terry O’Neil, the Town Consultant, is part time as is the Attorney. There is very little infrastructure.
Sun Communities can ignore the Town because Sun Communities, along with Publix and the new home association, are the Town. There must be some value for the taxes paid. The government must be able to have ordinances that can be enforced. Ocean Breeze must serve all the people in Town including the new ones moving there.
Sun will continue to do the minimum. And at some point, the new folks will begin to revolt because of the high taxes, besides paying association dues for internal infrastructure. This Council and staff better get out in front before the revolution begins
FROM THE MARCH 8, 2020 EDITION
The next Meeting of Ocean Breeze will be March 9, 2020 at 10:30 am
February 23, 2020 Edition
One of the impressive things about Ocean Breeze is the large number of people that turn out for the meetings.
Both Kate Cotner from FPL and Robyn Cryer from the U.S. Census gave brief presentations.
There also was a presentation of the budget to date which can be found at this link:
WEST END AVENUE
At the last meeting, the Council decided to move forward with a professional services contract for improvements to West End Avenue. Staff recommended Marcela Camblor to do the work. The contract calls for two stages with a total of $5700.00. The second stage, in the amount of $2500 of the total, won’t proceed without Council approval. The money will come from Ocean Breeze’s portion of the gas tax receipts fund which is $81,000.
Camblor has and continues to do substantial work for Sun Communities. While this road belongs to the Town, most of the streets are the responsibility of Sun Communities. She has all the dimensions and conditions because of her association with the developer so that is a plus. It may seem like a conflict, but I guess it is not.
TOWN VERSUS DEVELOPER
During public comment there was a lot of complaining.
One resident was moving out of the park after having been born and raised there because of its changing nature. Apparently, she had a run-in with another resident because of the park’s rules or was it because of the Town’s ordinances. Hard to tell.
Several others were complaining because Sun had recommended contractors that were not properly licensed. Sun’s private building inspector had certified that work was done to code but hadn’t been. Larry Massing, acting as the Town’s Building Official, is in the process of documenting the problems.
Who is responsible for what? Sun owns the land and is in charge of the common elements of the park. Each house sits on someone else’s property. The Town government’s “territory” is essentially divided into three parts; the park, the shopping center, and the new homes that are being completed in the rear. The park is controlled by Sun, the homes by the builder (but will shortly be controlled by a homeowner’s association) and the shopping center by that owner.
The Town’s authority to regulate is through the PUD Agreements. This leaves residents with a feeling that things can fall through the cracks. For example, if a street within the park needs repair, it is Sun’s responsibility. Homeowners would complain to Sun, and if the road wasn’t repaired, the Town could code enforce Sun because of the PUD Agreement.
It is more complicated than in most municipalities. Incorporation of Ocean Breeze would not happen today. The Town government would more than likely be called a homeowner’s association.
Ocean Breeze Latest News
FROM THE FEBRUARY 9, 2020 EDITION
Next Meeting February 14, 2020 at 9:00 AM
Ocean Breeze Latest News
JANUARY 26, 2020 EDITION
COUNCIL MEETING JANUARY 14, 2020
At the first meeting of the year, Former Council Member Ann Kagdis received an award from the Florida Municipal Trust. As an elected official she served on that board for many years. The Trust is the insurance arm of the Florida League of Cities. It was a good way for them to show their appreciation for Ann’s service.
Mayor Ostrand wanted the Council to approve going out to bid for a feasibility study regarding West End Avenue. The entire Council felt that the street was dangerous. Ostrand mentioned several times that this was only the beginning of the process. Council Member Gerold wants the study to be paid from the Town’s share of the gas receipts.
A motion was made by Docherty and seconded by Arnold to have the Town Consultant prepare the RFP.
SHORTCUTS NEVER ARE
Back in October the Council gave Sun Communities an agreement which, if signed, would have allowed the construction of docks to proceed without going through amending the PUD. That supposedly would have been quicker. The Town’s attorney and Sun’s attorney would easily come to an agreement.
As of this meeting there is no agreement. It seems that when government tries to circumvent their processes, it isn’t any faster. There are technical reasons why a meeting of the minds did not occur. This Council is composed of no experts on these matters.
Staff asked that this go through the PUD process. A motion was made by Wagner and seconded by Docherty to do just that. It passed 5-0.
THE BATTLE FOR FLC
For many years Ann Kagdis was the Council’s representative to the Treasure Coast Regional League of Cities, Florida League of Cities, and the different committees. Ostrand had been the alternate. She had been learning the ropes from Ann. When Ann was defeated in her reelection bid last year, Ostrand stood in as her alternate. She fully expected to become the representative of Ocean Breeze.
President De Angeles, though, believed it was his turn. He requested the appointment. A battle for FLC was joined. It was so hard for the Council to decide that Gerold motioned to put the item to the end of the meeting (which was 2 items hence). When they took it back up, Ann Kagdis spoke stating that Karen had forged relationships, walked the halls in Tallahassee, and made contacts throughout the region.
That turned the tide! Ostrand was appointed.
Ocean Breeze Latest News From The November 8, 2020 edition