UPDATE: May 19: Fort Lauderdale’s zoning board voted this evening to hold a special meeting at 6:30 p.m. on May 27 to decide whether to approve First Presbyterian Church’s controversial expansion plans.
UPDATE, MAY 18: Wednesday’s expected vote by the Fort Lauderdale zoning board on First Presbyterian Church’s controversial expansion plans has been delayed. The reason: city officials have learned there won’t be enough board members on hand to make a quorum. The board’s next regular meeting is June 16, but a special meeting could be convened before then, said city spokesman Chaz Adams. Broward Bulldog will post the date and time when it’s announced.
By Dan Christensen, BrowardBulldog.org
Fort Lauderdale City Commissioner Romney Rogers has been on the job little more than a year, but today he’s the man to watch in a high-profile zoning fight between expansion-minded First Presbyterian Church and its angry neighbors.
Rogers’s district includes historic Colee Hammock – home to the church and hundreds of nearby homeowners.
Church leaders argue $20 million in new buildings are desperately needed to fulfill the church’s ministry. The Colee Hammock Homeowners Association says the buildings are too massive and will disrupt the neighborhood and depress property values. They also fear that the church wants to use the buildings to open a school – something the church has denied.
The zoning board is expected to decide whether to recommend the project to the commission at its May 19 meeting. The board postponed a decision last month when an overflow crowd of speakers for and against caused a meeting to run past 1 a.m.
People on both sides want to know whose side Rogers is on. That’s because he’ll likely account for two of the five votes that will ultimately decide who wins — his own and Mayor Jack Seiler’s. Seiler’s general policy is to follow the lead of district commissioners on votes in their backyard.