At the Alta Vista Neighborhood meeting on Thursday night, Commissioner Bilyeu answered a few questions about his vote to approve Downtown Core density right next to a single family neighborhood.
Bilyeu commented: I know that all of you are disappointed with your commissioner, but I am not disappointed in you. [This was met with silence.]
He said he was not trying to jam something down your throats. He said he knows your concerns and wants to work with a group to address those concerns....
He said he represents not only the voters in his district but even those that didn’t vote for him--- people like those that own property in the district, people that work in the district and those in nearby areas like downtown.
Question: why was there no discussion of, nor questioning of, the neighborhood concerns with the developer; why didn’t you bring up the neighborhood concerns? Bilyeu’s answer: silence.
Question: Did you consult with anyone in the neighborhoods in your district, or anyone in your district before this hearing? Answer: No
Question: Federal Law established 3 districts in Sarasota so that citizens would have a representative that would look out for their interests. Did you look out for our interests? No response.
Question: Why the rush to vote on this proposal. Response: I did not see it as a rush. I had plenty of time to read it and understand it.
Question: when did you see it? Answer: at about 3:30 PM - I was probably the first to see it. I saw everything I needed to see.
In between questions he rambled about taking a year and a half to understand land use issues, that he had been through these exact same issues before in his own neighborhood - and a good project will result from it in the end.
The Alta Vista residents expressed displeasure at having spent many months and many hours in meetings with neighbors, commissioners and city staff becoming familiar with the process and the implications of the proposed changes. What was particularly galling was the last minute major change in the project and the subsequent vote to approve with without any analysis at all.
There were no answers as to why their commissioner turned his back on his district voters while embracing yet another developer's money making scheme.