Is there such a thing as an advisory board that is restricted on what it can advise?
Apparently, in Boynton Beach there is.
Just ask Boynton resident Harry Woodworth, who pulled out of the running for the seven-member board.
“They have so much egg on their face right now they could have breakfast,” Woodworth said of the five commissioners who run the Community Redevelopment Agency.
City commissioners recently removed two members of the public from a board focused on redeveloping blighted areas in Boynton Beach. That left a vacancy of two, but instead of filling those, the commissioners instead created an additional seven-member advisory board of residents under them.
Woodworth is questioning why advisory board members can’t legally advise the five commissioners when they sit as a CRA board, but they can advise the same five when they sit as the commission.
He argues, isn’t it, in essence, the same thing?
The seven-member board also can’t legally give input to the CRA on incoming development, a topic that could be looked at as being the biggest issue in the city right now.
Mayor Steven Grant has asked for a discussion about the configuration of the advisory board and its role at the May 3 commission meeting.
Some of the commissioners say they want to see how the format works and don’t want to change the board makeup again.
“We’ve gotta give this an opportunity to develop and see where it goes,” Commissioner Joe Casello told The Palm Beach Post. “The naysayers — I don’t buy into that.”
Still, Casello said he had no idea advisory board members couldn’t have a role in development, or that they couldn’t advise the CRA.
“The way the discussion was going, it sounded like they can advise the commission but not the CRA board, which it’s one in the same in all honesty,” Casello said.
Vice Mayor Mack McCray told The Post the confusion will be solved by looking at the mission statement from a similar advisory board the city had in the past. But besides that, he doesn’t want to see any changes regarding the advisory board’s role in development.
“I’m happy the way it is. We don’t need to rock the boat right now we need to let the dust settle,” McCray said.
Advisory Board Chair Linda Cross brought up those concerns about what the board’s responsibilities are at the CRA meeting Tuesday. It led to a confusing question-and-answer session that Mayor Steven Grant tried to cut off.
Vivian Brooks, the director of the CRA, said the advisory board advises only the city commission. Members cannot have input in development projects, and neither does the actual CRA unless it pertains to land the CRA owns. Development projects are seen by the city’s planning and development board instead, and then the commissioners.
Still, it was clear no one knew exactly what the advisory board can and can’t do.
Here’s what the resolution creating the advisory board this past year says: Recommendations should be made to the city commission regarding programs, activities and funding issues affecting the CRA plan. That can include “land use and design regulations and applications; implementation programs and activities; budgets and funding.”
Commissioner Christina Romelus said the CRA advisory board is just one more topic to address for the new commission.
“The previous commission, they created the board and maybe they were misinformed or under-informed as to what role that advisory board would play,” Romelus said. “I still feel that this board is important. It’s valuable to the city. It’s a source of input for the residents. We just have to come to the table… and figure out how to make it relevant in terms of what role they’re going to play in the future.”
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