Although the Village Council denied Palmer Trinity’s application April 14, 2008, they continued to file lawsuits against the Village, trying to more than double their enrollment. They are fighting the community by putting out fancy flyers that are misleading and a distortion of the ballot question.
Palmetto Bay is facing another wave of political storms this coming week as ballots are mailed out in their Special Election. The storm is not brewing over mitigation or the police or even a charter change as it usually does in municipal politics. The lightning bolts are flying over Palmer Trinity’s (an exclusive private school in Palmetto Bay) conscious effort to distort the facts on the private school item on the ballot:
On the ballot is a question (#3) which is about allowing neighbors of existing (or future) private schools to have input in enrollment increases. It encourages schools to work with their neighbors to ensure that any expansion is realistic and attuned with the neighborhood’s character and the Village.
A recent example of the need for this amendment is Palmer Trinity’s proposed expansion plan to more than double their student enrollment. In 2008, Palmer Trinity wanted to double their size smack dab in the middle of a residential community. That would be a campus of 1200+ students, 160+ teachers and service personnel. Along with this increase in staff and students came massive buildings, a bell tower and an enormous sports complex with the accompanying negative impact on an already insupportable traffic problem. Additionally, they have plans for long-range growth that would be equal to placing a major business (such as a hospital) 20 feet from your back door literally overshadowing your patio.
Palmer Trinity never has come into compliance with the previous 1999 zoning hearings. In fact, in 2008 while involved in new zoning hearings, the head master and his board of directors were ignoring zoning violations on the existing campus along with not being able to account for the overage in the number of students permitted.
Although the Village Council denied Palmer Trinity’s application April 14, 2008, they continued to file lawsuits against the Village. So, the neighbors were required to defend their community’s interests in court when Palmer Trinity appealed and sued to over-turn Village Council’s ruling in the zoning hearing. Because of the 2008 hearing, the neighbors gathered enough signatures (over 2000) to get a ballot question requiring all private schools to work with their surrounding neighbors when deciding to apply for a growth change.
Palmer Trinity is continuing to fight the community by putting out fancy flyers that are misleading and a distortion of the ballot question. They have their students in parking lots approaching strangers, they have them knocking on doors and they are using calling machines to preach their outline of the truth. The two kids that approached me in the doorway of a restaurant were not from Palmetto Bay. These kids are campaigning against a ballot item in a community that they do not live in and will not return to once they graduate. Their family’s investment in Palmetto Bay is the 30k a year they give to Palmer Trinity.
Palmer Trinity’s representation of the question would lead you to believe that a “yes” vote would result in children being deprived of an education that would allow them to be a doctor, lawyer, or community leader. They overlooked the children needing an education to prepare them to be plumbers, store managers, firemen and public school teachers. Other than Palmer Trinity’s campaign literature is not about diversity, it definitely makes one think that the ballot question is concerned about public schools, enhancement of parks, the environment and oh my, SMART GROWTH! They are using all the “buzz” words with the cute children pictures and warm fuzzy handouts. It is great that Palmer Trinity can tap some of their student’s tuition for glossy PR pieces.
Just to set the record straight ---The ballot question is about preserving the integrity of the Village as a whole and it’s neighborhoods. This ballot question lays groundwork for communities throughout the State of Florida given Governor Crist’s inability to deny developers in his quest for higher office.
A YES vote would result in private schools having to meet with the people who live next door to the school to resolve the direct impacts of being next to a business. The YES vote would force the schools to develop concepts to make their school‘s business plan compatible with the people who have invested their dreams in their homes and neighborhood. Smart Growth is making smart decisions for the entire community, not for just a student body.