The Indian Trail Improvement District Board of Supervisors met with its Feasibility & Charter Review Committee for the final time on Wednesday, Sept. 1. The FCR committee turned over a proposed charter to the ITID board for approval.
After the board approved the study and charter, it turned responsibility over to a three-person committee to navigate the proposed incorporation through the legislative approval process in Tallahassee.
The 26-member FCR committee, made up of board members and residents from different ITID development units, has been meeting for the past two months to draft a proposed charter to create a new municipality. The proposed charter had to be finalized and sent to Tallahassee by Thursday, Sept. 2.
Members of the three-member citizens’ committee are Acreage Landowners’ Association President and FCR Committee Member Bob Morgan, FCR Committee Member Elizabeth Accomando and longtime resident Lou Colantuoni, who said he favored protection for ITID in the face of surrounding development.
“We’re at a point now where the Feasibility & Charter Review Committee needs to review the recommendations on the feasibility study and the charter to the board of supervisors,” ITID President Betty Argue said.
Supervisor Jennifer Hager made a motion to receive the feasibility study and proposed charter from the committee, which carried 4-1 with Supervisor Joni Martin opposed due to community opposition she has seen.
“The next thing we have to decide is what we want to do with respect to submitting to Tallahassee. Mr. Colantuoni made a recommendation to take this on as a citizens’ initiative, and I recommend that,” Argue said. “I think the board of supervisors has gone as far as we can go, and I think the residents need to spearhead this from here on in. The board of supervisors and FCR committee members, the people who have learned from this process, can facilitate and help, if they wish, with the landowners moving forward.”
Supervisor Keith Jordano said he did not feel comfortable handing over the process to a group of residents, but ITID Attorney Mary Viator said there is nothing that prohibits that, if it’s what the board wants to do.
“There is nothing that would prohibit from turning it over,” Viator said. “This could be a citizen initiative. There’s nothing that [forbids it] in the legislation that Rep. [Rick] Roth passed. It just provided for a feasibility study and for the preparation of a charter, so you could certainly go ahead, once the committee and the board have fulfilled that duty, and pass it on to private community members.”
Argue said that based on what ITID is authorized to do in its charter, and the criticism ITID has received for using taxpayer dollars to initiate the process, the district should turn it over to residents.
“If people really want it, they’re going to get engaged, or they’re not, and the onus isn’t on Indian Trail,” she said.
Jordano pointed out that the Acreage Landowners’ Association could pick up the ball.
Argue said she felt turning over the process to residents is a way to protect the process and avoid sabotage attempts that are going on.
“There are outside entities that do not want this. They want to torpedo this before it gets to Tallahassee,” she said. “They want to torpedo this before it gets to a referendum. I think the best way to end that at the moment, and to ensure that the process is protected, is to turn it over to a group that is going to move it forward.”
She pointed out that Morgan, the ALA president, was present, and the ITID board could not have a discussion about turning the process over to the ALA due to the Sunshine Law.
“Time is of the essence,” Argue said. “We’re trying to protect the community, and I’m trying to protect the process right now.”
Roth recommended allowing a three-person group to submit the feasibility study and proposed charter, and to select that group that evening in order to transmit it in time to get them to Tallahassee by the deadline.
After more than 10 people volunteered to be on the citizens’ committee, the list was narrowed down to Morgan, Accomando and Colantuoni. The proposed charter would need to gain approval from the legislature in Tallahassee before a referendum is held among residents of the proposed municipality.
“The next thing we need to do as a board is to dissolve the FCR,” Argue said.
Hager made a motion to dissolve the FCR committee, which carried 5-0.