Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Florida Commission on Ethics Complaint re: COMMISSIONER DONALD CRICHLOW, Architect for Ugly 180 St. George St. Project (& Others Before City Boards)
COMMISSIONER CRICHLOW is representing developer in mediation against the City of St. Augustine, pushing for this building, rejected 4-0 by fellow Commissioners June 9th
COMMISSIONER DONALD CRICHLOW, who often represents developers before City Boards and Commissions (whose members he votes to appoint and whose decisions are appealed to City Commissioners)
Text of July 28, 2009 Ethics Commission complaint I mailed today:
1. In 2003, St. Augustine City Commissioner DONALD CRICHLOW pushed for Resolution 2003-1, which allowed a significant deviation from the City of St. Augustine’s nationally-known historic preservation standards – Resolution 2003-1 allows for non-Spanish, non-colonial buildings to be built in St. Augustine’s Historic Preservation Districts in certain circumstances. CRICHLOW admitted on July 27, 2009 at a City Commission meeting that his resolution began with his unnamed architectural client’s desire to tear down or rebuild a brick ranch home located on the Bayfront in St. Augustine, Florida. “That’s kinda where that [Resolution 2003-1] got started.” It was CRICHLOW who presented and made the motion to adopt Resolution 2003-1. The minutes of the meeting where Resolution 2003-1 was adopted are on the City’s website at http://www.staugustinegovernment.com/your_government/agendas2003/minutes2003/ccmin_05_12_03.pdf
2. In 2003, CRICHLOW failed to recuse himself from voting on Resolution 2003-1, voting on a matter that benefitted his architectural clients and was harmful to the public interest in historic preservation in St. Augustine, our Nation’s Oldest City. Two respected City residents, Mr. Henry Whetstone and Ms. Hildegarde Pacetti, mentioned CRICHLOW’s conflict of interest. Id.
3. ISSUE ONE: Was this a prohibited conflict of interest? F.S. 112.313(6). Was there proper disclosure? F.S. 112.3143(2).
4. CRICHLOW is still using the 2003 resolution to push for non-Spanish, non-colonial buildings to be built in St. Augustine’s Historic Preservation Districts in certain circumstances, abusing his public trust for his architectural clients, of whom he has represented a great many before City Boards and Commissions (Planning and Zoning Board, Historical Architectural Review Board, etc.)
5. ISSUE TWO: Is this continuing use of Resolution 2003-1, which was crafted by CRICHLOW to benefit his client, a prohibited conflict of interest? F.S. 112.313(6).
6. On June 8, 2009, Commissioner CRICHLOW, identifying himself as a Commissioner and architect for the developer, published an article in the St. Augustine Record
7. June 8, 2009, Commissioner CRICHLOW’s Resolution 2003-1 was determined by the St. Augustine City Attorney to be illegal, modifying a Comprehensive Plan without a proper public hearing and without adopting an ordinance.
8. On June 8, 2009, City Commissioners rejected Resolution 2003-1 4-0 (CRICHLOW recusing himself) and rejected its putative application to a property at 180 St. George Street for which CRICHLOW was the applicant. CRICHLOW and his clients wanted Commission to authorize a Planned Unit Development (PUD) for an ugly, 17,300 square foot, two-story 20th century building would have been erected by speculator GASPIT SCHECTER– directly across from Government House, the Cathedral and the Plaza de la Constitucion (Slave Market Square). The location was opposed by an outpouring of local residents, including businesspeople and historic preservationists.
9. In response to the 4-0 vote, the developer filed a lawsuit and requested mediation. In the mediation involving the lawsuit against the City of St. Augustine, the St. Augustine Record newspaper reported July 16, 2009 that CRICHLOW is co-represent the 180 St. George Street hotel developer in negotiations with the City o0f St. Augustine:
In Schechter's corner will be St. Augustine attorney George McClure, of McClure Bloodworth, and Crichlow. He'll represent only his client at this mediation, not the city.
10. ISSUE THREE Is Commissioner CRCICHLOW’s representation of a client in mediation in adversary litigation against the City of St. Augustine a prohibited conflict of interest? F.S. 112.313(6).
11. On July 27, 2009, at a City Commission meeting duly videotaped, CRICHLOW stated that the etiology of Resolution 2003-1 was his architectural client who owned a ranch-style house bordering the Bayfront, who did not want to follow Spanish Colonial style.
12. ISSUE FOUR: Does this admission by CRICHLOW of his motive for Resolution 2003-1 last night (September 27, 2009) establish equitable tolling by revealing a fact not known during the five-year statute of limitation? May the Ethics Commission may now consider his actions in adopting Resolution 2003-1 as a timely complaint, notwithstanding the provisions of F.S. 112.3231?
13. On July 27, 2009, CRICHLOW participated in discussions that may lead to an ordinance that would have the effect of benefitting his client and allow non-Spanish, non-colonial buildings to be built in St. Augustine’s Historic Preservation Districts in certain circumstances.
14. At the July 27, 2009 public meeting of the City Commission, the Mayor of St. Augustine (Joseph Leroy Boles, Jr.) and the City Attorney of St. Augustine (Ronald Wayne Brown) cautioned public speakers (including the Mayor’s mother) not to discuss 180 St. George Street during their comments on architectural style at the July 27, 2009, lest it require Commissioner CRICHLOW to recuse himself. This is putting the cart before the horse – censoring the public’s right to object to possible violation of F.S. 112.313(6), in the context of discussing historic architecture in our Nation’s Oldest City.
15. Chilling citizens’ free speech rights to prevent them from mentioning CRICHLOW’s 180 St. George Street project (in litigation with CRICHLOW representing the developer in mediation with the City of St. Augustine) does not cure the conflict of interest.
16. ISSUE FIVE: Is it a prohibited conflict of interest for CRICHLOW to be present and involved in discussions and (eventually) vote on a proposed resolution that may affect his clients -- including the clients for 180 St. George Street, who are currently suing the City in an action in which CRICHLOW (along with attorney George McClure) is representing the client in mediation against the City of St. Augustine? F.S. 112.313(6).
17. ISSUE SIX: Is it a prohibited conflict of interest for CRICHLOW to represent clients in so many contested cases before City of St. Augustine City Boards and Commissions – as many as 48 separate PZB and HARB actions since he became a Commissioner? Does this representation by Commissioner CRICHLOW have a chilling and intimidating effect upon HARB and PZB members, whose appointment CRICHLOW votes found whose appeals are taken to the City Commission? See Exhibit A.
Further affiant saith not.