Civil War on Las Olas – A Temporary LullKeep in mind that your correspondent has a major conflict of interest in this report. I live in Colee Hammock. So does Fred Grimm, the talented Broward columnist for the Miami Herald, from whom we hear nothing.
There has been an armistice of sorts in the battle between the Colee Hammock Homeowners Association and the First Presbyterian Church on the church's plan to build big on Las Olas Boulevard. Wednesday's hearing at the Fort Lauderdale Planning and Zoning board will not vote on the issue. Reason: There is no quorum. The board has nine members and four recused themselves last month. That leaves five, and one member can't make the meeting. No vote possible.
This works for the benefit of the neighborhood, and is a backfire of the church's effort to force members to recuse last month. The tactics were crude. There was pressure on the city attorney to demand the recusals. The city, of course, denies this. But too many people of strong character will stand up to argue that point. Four board members did recuse; three would have voted against the church. One of those who recused felt pressure from his employer. Word of this is all over town, and the people in adjoining communities – the Las Olas Isles, Victoria Park, Sailboat Bend, even Rio Vista – are realizing that this Planned Unit Development (PUD) can be used on their own turf to permit developers to destroy zoning codes.
It is one hell of a political battle. Dan Christensen, whose Broward Bulldog blog broke the story and is keeping it alive, has lined up people at least as powerful as the church and the developer, Stiles Corporation. That story will break in a timely fashion. Christensen's sources include important members of the church, who are furious at their leadership, and are coming out of the closet, one by one. This is a civil war amid a civil war, much as the real one some 150 years ago. The story has been slow breaking, but breaking it is, and the month's delay before final arguments at P & Z only works to strengthen the numbers of green shirts in the audience.
The green shirts are not Notre Dame's big game jerseys. They say "Colee Hammock 1916," and that says a lot.