The fate of Treasure Island as it stands now just might rest on this year’s elections and City Manager Reid Silverboard is being accused of overreaching his power to sway voters’ opinions in the upcoming election.
Residents of the city will be faced with nine different referendum questions and charter amendments on the ballot. Of these, six correlate to proposed land development regulations; all six are referendums.
The first asks if the maximum height in the Planned Development Zoning District should be increased from five to seven floors. Next, it asks if the maximum density of resort facilities should increase to 75 units per acre rather than the current 50 units per acre. A similar question is posed for commercial buildings. Following the height regulations, the fourth, fifth, and sixth referendums ask if air conditioner units, generators, accessory improvements and architectural features should be allowed to protrude past the roofs of buildings.
It is believed these new ordinances would only benefit certain property owners.
City commissioners approved the regulations for the ballot in July 2016. They did this to give voters the option to decide the future of the city.
City ordinance says: “any changes in the land development regulations of the city that would allow an increase in the number of units per acre (density) or an increase in allowable height of buildings must be approved by a majority of the qualified electors of the city.”
Kenneth Weiss, 68, is a Treasure Island resident advocating to keep regulations as they are. He spoke out against the proposed changes stating, “either you’re for tall buildings or you’re not,” in an April 2016 article in the Tampa Bay Times.
A complaint filed by Weiss requests amended “emergency motion for preliminary injunction complaint for a writ of mandamus” — or an order from the court to a city government official to correct an abuse of power. The filing was in hopes of getting the city and its manager to comply with Florida law.
In this case, the abuse of power refers to Silverboard’s recent actions.
Weiss claims that Silverboard illegally spent tax dollars to influence voters regarding the referendum. With the money, he allegedly spread misleading and false information to voters.
On Aug. 22, Silverboard executed a “Political Campaign Agreement” with Quest Corporation of America to market their political agenda. He did so without commission authority.
City code states that council must approve expenditures over $10,000. In this case, the cost on the books was $10,000, but that did not include costs to make and distribute the materials. Public records obtained by Weiss show the total spent on the political effort was $15,000.
Silverboard also broke Florida law by spending municipal funds on political advertisement and by using his authority to interfere with an election, Weiss alleges.
The money came from the approved city budget; there was insufficient funding for this endeavor. The suit suggests that Silverboard’s unconstitutional actions should require him to pay for the whole thing out of his own pocket.
Along with illegally funding a political scheme, Silverboard is accused of refusing to provide public records to Weiss. He claims the city manager is intentionally delaying the requests.
Because the vote was set to take place Tuesday, Nov. 8, Weiss had sought a preliminary injunction be issued without notice to the city. He believes the harm cannot be repaired and will continue until they are stopped.
As a taxpayer, citizen, voter and resident, Weiss feels it is in the best interest of all citizens to be informed of the claims against Silverboard.
Weiss waited until Oct. 25, 2016, to file his complaint in hopes that the city would take matters into their own hands before it got to this point.
If all the referendum passes, property owners could see values double.