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Business Observer Friday, May 18, 2018 1 year ago

Planning official has his 'mad as hell' moment

Despite his resignation from the Manatee County Planning Commissioner and heated letter, Al Horrigan says he's not 'anti-development.'

The growth vs. slow growth debate, an oft-heard battle in dozens of communities on the west coast of Florida, recently had an “I’m mad has hell and I’m not going to take this anymore” rant moment.

It didn’t come from fictional newscaster Howard Beale, who screamed that famous line in the 1975 movie Network. Instead, this rant is from Manatee County Planning Commissioner Al Horrigan, who resigned his post May 10.  In departing, Horrigan dispatched a letter to county officials where he rued Manatee County's growth policy as "build at unsustainable levels until the system fails."

Added Horrigan in the letter: "Some will say I am disgruntled. If their definition of disgruntled is 'displeased, dissatisfied and disappointed,' they would be correct, I am."

Horrigan's letter starts of questioning the wisdom of commissioners voting to collect less than the advised 100% of funds generated by impact fees, according to the East County Observer, sister paper of the Business Observer.

"A majority of the Board made it clear in statements from the dais how they firmly intended to vote in favor of capping the fees at 90%,” writes Horrigan. “In doing so, the Board made it clear that public input was a required exercise and nuisance they had to endure. In essence, the Board made it known that the citizens of Manatee County could speak, but would be wasting their time and breath.”

The Planning Commission has seven voting members who serve four-year terms. In many counties statewide, planning commissioners are the front line in any battle a developer wages with the community, having the first say in a bevy of projects. Their recommendation usually goes next to the county commissioner level.  

"I am not anti-development," Horrigan writes. "My career was in real estate, homebuilding and development. I have tried to be a voice of restraint and lobbied for good planning principals. Being complicit in a process where the wheels come off the bus is not what I am willing to allow my public service legacy to be."




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