Merrill wants to build a 40 ft. tall, 28 ft. wide billboard east and south of the Fish House. He has not been required to specify where it will face.
(Click on any image to enlarge)
No notice was given to anyone before ARB (Architectural Review Board) approved. Historic District landowners are not happy.
Date: September 22, 2015
Re: Architectural Review Board
The architectural review board is given authority to operate under Section 12-13-3 of the Pensacola Code of Ordinances. The ordinance allows the board to adopt their own rules for the procedure for the transaction of business, so long as they hold monthly meetings, open to the public, and keep a written record of the proceedings filed in the office of the secretary of the board.
Specific procedures are laid out for the granting of variances, including strict notice requirements. However, some decisions of the ARB do not fall under the notice requirements, even though the decisions can adversely affect neighboring landowners. These landowners have some protections through 12-13-3(M). Subsection M states, in pertinent part: “Any person or entity whose property interests are substantially affected by a decision of the board may within fifteen (15) days thereafter, apply to the city council for review of the board’s decision.”
However, the current record keeping of the Board does not allow easy access to decisions made by the board within the fifteen (15) day time period. As it currently stands, the decisions of the board are not posted on the Architectural Review Board’s website or in the documents for the meetings posted on the site, until the following month. It is not clear based on what gets posted by the board if a decision is made at all, let alone what the decision is, until the following month.
For example, the Fish House sign approval was first brought up in a memorandum dated August 11, 2015 that was posted in the August meeting packet posted AFTER the August 20, 2015 meeting under “new business.” No indication was given that the board was going to vote on this issue at the August meeting, or that any vote was ultimately held. It was not until the September 17, 2015 meeting packet became available on September 20, 2015 that it was made publically clear the Board had already approved the project conceptually. It is now known to the public, thanks to an independent newspaper article, that the Board gave final approval of the sign in the September meeting, but no mention of approval is made in the September 17th meeting packet listed on line and will not be made easily accessible to the public by the board until the agenda from the October meeting is posted, well after the 15 day appeal timeline has run.