DUNEDIN – City commissioners agreed June 7 to establish an advisory committee that will make recommendations to city officials on architectural styles for proposed developments

Having the Architectural Review Committee may not be perfect, Commissioner Deborah Kynes said, but it is better than having the commission make architectural decisions.

“I don’t have that expertise,” Kynes said. “I’ll be the first to say.”

Dunedin Planning and Development Greg Rice said that at a recent Local Planning Agency meeting, board members voiced several issues and did not recommend creating an architectural review committee.

At a subsequent LPA meeting on May 23, City Manager Jennifer Brawley discussed the issues pertaining to the committee with the LPA. After the end of the meeting, members said that they appreciated the presentation.

The staff is confident that if there was a second vote taken by the LPA, the result would have been approval of the ordinance to establish the committee, Rice said.

Commissioner Deborah Kynes said at the June 7 meeting that the LPA works hard.

“We’ve been honoring people for their service, and it makes me feel badly, when it feels like to them that we were negating their influence,” Kynes said.

During the first reading of the ordinance establishing the Architectural Review Board, questions were raised about the need for such a board, which doesn’t have decision-making powers.

“The intent of the board is to be more of an informal peer review of the architecture and building elevations and the plans and those type of things,” Bramley said.

She said the board would most likely meet in the afternoon and be responsive to the architects and applicants for the plans.

“There would be I imagine plans in the middle of the table, sleeves rolled up. There will be a dialogue as well. Much as there is now with design review with the architect,” she said.

That’s different from the LPA meetings, which are formerly noticed with specific times and agendas. Sometimes the meetings can be lengthy as commission meetings, she said.

“The intent of the Architectural Review Committee is not to exclude their comments in any way shape or form but to add to their comments as far as the architecture goes,” Bramley said.

Commissioner Heather Gracy said she thinks it is “the collaborative effort here is that we really very much value their expertise. I just think it was a breakdown in communication.”

She said she thinks forming the committee will be a good step for the city.

“I just don’t want to hamstring what was an efficient process,” Gracy said. “But I do understand there needs to be a lot of dialogue on development. So, I’m appreciative of the move. City manager I know you brought this here to help us, and it is a tool in the toolbox. So, thank you for that.”

Kynes said she called a council member of another municipality, who spoke with her at length about the committee. He said there is often a lot of concerns and his experience with such a committee was that it has been very helpful.

“We have called for so long to be able to have a third-party expertise in this area,” Kynes said.

Though she said she wished the process of forming the committee would have been smoother, she supported it.

Commissioner John Tornga, who cast the lone dissenting vote, said he believes the LPA has the capacity to do a lot of the work.

He also thinks that the board would be able to meet quickly to reconsider whether they are in favor of the commission forming a committee.

“They are just an important part of this city for as long as I ever remember,” Tornga said. “I think everyone agrees with part of it.”

He also expressed concerns about the possibility of creating more bureaucracy.

Commissioner Moe Freaney said she talked to some of the LPA members, and she thinks some of the issues were that they didn’t feel respect.

“So, I feel comfortable moving forward,” Freaney said.

She also feels that the committee will be a tool for the LPA and the commission, though she also worries that the process could get bureaucratic.

But she added that she has great respect for Bramley, who has much expertise in this area of government and has seen such a committee work well.

“I think we need the expertise, and I think it’s a good way to get it and I think it’s worth a good try,” Freaney said.

Bujalski also said she thought Bramley had explained to the LPA the direction the commission was going with the committee.

Bujalski suggested that city officials have an informal advertised lunch meeting inviting LPA members and other interested parties to discuss concerns about issues that come the boards way.

“I think it would do a world of good for all of us,” she said.

She also supported the motion to form the committee based on Bramley’s experience with it.

“The reason I’m not thrilled about it being in the LPA’s hands, is if the LPA gets a plan and doesn’t like it, they have no way of sending it away,” she said.

If the LPA denies it, the applicant still has the right to bring the plan to the City Commission.

“And what good did that do?” she said.

She said having the architectural committee sit in a room with staff, a lot of developers will bring computers and make changes then and there to address the committee’s concerns.

“Essentially, the architectural review committee is an arm of the staff,” Bujalski said.

Tornga cast the dissenting vote.

About the committee

The city is seeking applicants for its newly established Architectural Review Committee.

The Architectural Review Committee will consist of five members and one alternate member appointed by the city commission to serve for a term of three years.

The committee will be an advisory board to the City Commission, the city manager and his/her staff and to departments of the city. The primary duties of the committee will be:

• To establish architectural guidelines and/or requirements.

• Review, comment and make recommendations regarding architectural style to the City Commission on projects requiring City Commission design review and review compatibility with surrounding built environment, provide corridor design evaluations, and make recommendations to city staff and the City Commission on projects requiring City Commission design review.

The city is now accepting applications from professional architects, landscape architects and interior designers.

An application is available on the City’s website www.dunedingov.com under the City Clerk’s Department; Click on Boards and Committees. Anyone interested may also request an application by contacting the City Clerk’s Department at 727-298-3039 or asignh@dunedinfl.net