Sunday, May 15, 2016

New Meeting Schedule Begins Tuesday, May 17

There is a Belle Isle City Council meeting on the coming Tuesday, May 17. This specially-called meeting begins at 6:30 p.m., consistent with the new schedule to be voted upon by council. If approved, the new city council meeting schedule will be the first and third Tuesday of every month at 6:30 p.m.

The council will also be addressing voluntary annexation of the new Mattamy Homes development on Daetwyler Road. This item is only scheduled for a first reading, so no final action can be taken on the annexation until a second reading takes place at a future meeting.

You can read more about these and other issues up for discussion in the meeting agenda, located here:

City Council Meeting Agenda - May 17, 2016

Thursday, May 5, 2016

City Council Meeting Highlights - May 3, 2016

Here is a brief recap of the May 3, 2016 Belle Isle City Council meeting. Please note that this is not intended as a comprehensive review of everything that happened at the meeting, but just an overview of some of issues discussed and actions taken by the council. If you'd like more detail about what happened at the meeting, please look to the official city minutes and audio recordings (once available).

New Meeting Schedule

The council took an first vote approving a new meeting schedule that will allow better access for residents. Once this schedule is formalized by a second council vote, regular meetings will be held at 6:30 p.m. on the first and third Tuesday of each month. Additional workshop meetings will be held on an as-needed basis. Consistent with this new schedule, there is a specially-called meeting coming up on Tuesday, May 17 at 6:30 p.m.

Advertisement of City Manager Position

In the few months since accepting the position, interim city manager Richard Anderson has been doing an excellent job helping our city run more smoothly. He is ready to move forward with the search for a permanent Belle Isle city manager. To this end, the council approved a new job description and discussed salary guidelines for all current and future city employees. Over the coming weeks, we will be advertising the open city manager position and accepting applications for council review.

Cornerstone Service Learning Club

The council recognized the Cornerstone service learning club for its great work in promoting student volunteerism and community involvement. Thanks for helping to make our community a better place!

Vice Mayor Election

The Belle Isle vice mayor position has been vacant since former vice mayor, Lydia Pisano, took office as our new mayor. A vice mayor is selected each year by consensus of the city council. At the May 3 meeting, the council elected Commissioner Harvey Readey as our new vice mayor. Commissioner Readey has the most council experience of any present commissioner, having served on the Belle Isle City Council since 2006.

Future Construction

Construction on Gene Polk Park / Delia Beach will begin soon. Residents expressed satisfaction with the city's plans to improve the park aesthetics and stormwater treatment functions. The council also considered a number of potential future projects, including possible completion of the roundabout fountain on Nela that began so many years ago, but no specific proposals were presented or voted upon. The council also discussed reinstatement of a Belle Isle neighborhood grant program to fund small neighborhood improvements throughout the city.

Code Enforcement

Code enforcement officer Robyn Winters gave a thorough presentation on the enforcement process, including some suggestions about how this process can be improved in the future. April Fisher also gave a brief presentation regarding the city's plans for revising and updating our city code to make it more effective and enforceable in the future.

And More...

Of course, there was quite a bit more discussed than what is recounted above. For complete meeting records, please refer to the city minutes and audio recordings (once available).

For those of you who haven't attended a city council meeting lately, I highly recommend taking advantage of the new 6:30 p.m. meeting schedule and attending a meeting. Learn more about your city and take part in the process!

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

City Council Meeting Highlights - April 12, 2016

Wallace Lot Acquisition

After a lengthy presentation by interim City Manager Richard Anderson, the Belle Isle City Council voted unanimously to move forward with the purchase of the large grass lot at the corner of Wallace and Matchett. The lot is to be utilized as an open city green space, the details of which will be resolved at future meetings. The purchase price is not to be paid from the city's general fund, so this purchase will not affect the city's cash reserve or general fund balances stated in the recent 2015 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR).

Acquiring this lot for the city is important for a number of reasons. It is a beautiful open field that the seller has previously allowed to be used as a practice field as well as for the city's recent Easter Egg Hunt event. The property is in close proximity to Lake Conway, but without actually incurring the enormous costs and potential liabilities that come with being on the lake itself. It is also one of the most historic locations in Belle Isle, being part of the old Will Wallace Harney homestead - site of the original 1800s "Pine Castle."

Purchasing the Wallace lot ensures that it will remain a city greenspace. This will, in turn, protect our lakes by eliminating the construction of multiple new septic tanks as would be needed for housing development. The Wallace lot is also one of the few remaining open spaces that we can acquire to fulfill our city goal of maintaining open spaces, as described in the 2010 Belle Isle Comprehensive Plan.

City Council Meeting Schedule & Procedures

In addition to discussing the property purchase, the council also informally agreed to move forward with establishing a new city council meeting schedule. Under the newly-proposed schedule, city council meetings would be held on the first and third Tuesdays of each month at 6:30 p.m. This schedule precludes the need for separate workshop meetings, which do not allow for citizen input or council action. The future meeting schedule will be discussed further and formalized by the council in the coming weeks.

The council also briefly discussed the possibility of adopting simplified rules of order for its meetings. This issue will be more fully addressed at a future meeting along with the possible purchase of inexpensive reusable signs to be posted around town in advance of each meeting.

In Closing

Please keep in mind that this is not meant to be a complete recap of everything that happened at the April 12, 2016 Belle Isle City Council meeting, simply an overview of the most important decisions and discussions.


Want to contact your mayor or city council members? Please use our official email addresses and phone numbers, provided in representative map linked below. This link is always accessible from the right column of the Belle Isle Sun homepage.

Representative Map & Contact Information

Please note that under Florida's Sunshine Law, all communications with city email and phone accounts are archived as public records subject to request.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Swearing-In Ceremony & Reception on Tuesday

The Belle Isle City Council meeting scheduled for this Tuesday, April 5 at 6:00 p.m. will be held in the Cornerstone Charter Academy auditorium (click for map). It will feature a presentation to honor our outgoing city officials: Commissioners Keith Van Dyke, Karl Shuck, and Larry Ady as well as Mayor William Brooks.

The meeting will conclude with the swearing-in of our new city officials, Commissioners Katy McGinnis, Jeremy Weinsier, and Bobby Lance as well as Mayor Lydia Pisano. Following the meeting, the city will hold a reception in the Cornerstone atrium for all residents and attendees.

You can find a full meeting agenda at official City of Belle Isle website. Hope to see you there!

Friday, March 25, 2016

Florida Sunshine Law and the Belle Isle Sun

The Belle Isle City Council election results were certified today by the Orange County Canvassing Board, meaning that I am now officially your commissioner-elect for Belle Isle District 3. As a commissioner-elect, I fall under the purview of the Florida Sunshine Law. Many readers have wondered what this means and how it will affect future publication of the Belle Isle Sun.

Although there are many nuances to the Florida Sunshine Law, the basics are very simple. Communications with any city official regarding issues that could potentially come to a vote before the city council are governed by the Sunshine Law and may be requested by the public. Communications with city accounts and devices are generally assumed to be public records regardless of content, so please be mindful of this when communicating with your elected officials.

To ensure full compliance with the Sunshine Law, I will only be using my city-issued phone and email accounts to discuss city business. Therefore, I am no longer monitoring the contact@belleislesun.org email account. To contact me regarding city business in the future, please use my official Belle Isle email address or phone number, soon to be issued and listed on the City of Belle Isle website. Please note that based on Florida's Sunshine Law requirements, all communications with city email and phone accounts will be archived as public records subject to request.

With regard to future publication of the Belle Isle Sun, Florida law clearly states that there is no problem. In Advisory Legal Opinion 2008-07, the Florida Attorney General spells out the guidelines for a city council member operating and publishing on a private website. As it relates to publication of the Belle Isle Sun, the opinion states that a city council member may operate and publish on a private website regarding city issues, so long as other city council members do not respond to the posts.

Responses from other city council members are not an issue here because the Belle Isle Sun does not accept reader comments. This policy not only avoids the need to moderate user content for profanity, but also eliminates any possibility of our commissioners using the Sun to communicate regarding city business.

I look forward to providing residents with important information about our city through the Belle Isle Sun whenever necessary. However, my hope is that as we continue working to improve city communications, residents will be able to find more and more of the information they seek through official city sources.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

2016 City Council Election Results [FINAL]

Here they are, the unofficial results of your 2016 Belle Isle City Council election! Remember, these results are unofficial until final certification by the canvassing board.

City Council, District 2:
Anthony Carugno - 1037
Katy McGinnis - 1086

City Council, District 3:
Karl Shuck - 1056
Jeremy Weinsier - 1065

City Council, District 4:
Larry Ady - 510
Bobby Lance - 1584

We had great voter turnout in Belle Isle! Thanks to everyone who voted this year!



UPDATE 3/15/16:

The Supervisor of Elections has updated its election results based on additional absentee ballots processed. The updated totals are reflected above.

At this time, absentee ballots have been fully processed by the canvassing board. However, these results are still unofficial pending final review on Thursday.



UPDATE 3/18/16:

After processing provisional ballots, the District 3 race was close enough to trigger the Florida automatic recount procedure. Therefore, a recount was performed this afternoon by the Orange County Canvassing Board at the Supervisor of Elections office. You can find the results of that recount posted below.

The updated totals above are now final, although they will not be certified until Friday, March 25 based on Florida law for presidential primaries. Thanks to everyone who participated in the City Council election process this year!





UPDATE 3/25/16:

The above election results were certified on March 25, 2016 by the Orange County Canvassing Board. Congratulations to the winners!

Monday, March 14, 2016

Vote Tomorrow - 7am to 7pm

Election day is tomorrow! Voting begins Tuesday, March 15 at 7:00 a.m. and polls will remain open until 7:00 p.m.

Voting Locations

You must vote at your assigned polling location. Not sure which is your polling location? Check your sample ballot or use the link below:

Orange County Supervisor of Elections - Find Your Polling Location

Once you have found your proper polling location, you can click on the links below for a map:

Belle Isle City Hall, 1600 Nela Avenue
Pine Castle Masonic Lodge, 1216 Hoffner Avenue

Election Results

Get your election results first from the Sun! If you haven't already, sign up for Belle Isle Sun email alerts, which will notify you each time a new article has been posted. Emails usually go out no more than once a week, and often much less.

You can find the "Subscribe" link at the top right of the page under the Belle Isle Sun banner when viewed on your PC. This link may not appear on your phone or tablet. You can also follow the Sun on Twitter (@belleislesun) for new article notifications.

Monday, February 29, 2016

Early Voting Starts Today!

Early voting for the Belle Isle City Council and presidential primary have begun! Early Voting Centers will be open seven days a week from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. through Sunday, March 13.

Voters may vote at any of the locations listed below. The closest locations are the Southeast Library at 5575 S. Semoran Blvd. and the Supervisor of Elections Office at 119 W. Kaley St. 


Saturday, February 20, 2016

Belle Isle Candidate Forum - Monday, February 22

There will be a Belle Isle Candidate Forum on Monday, February 22 at 6:00 p.m. All six candidates from the three Belle Isle City Council races have been invited to participate in this yearly event.

The forum moderator will be former Orange County Mayor Rich Crotty, also a Belle Isle resident. The moderator will prepare questions to be addressed to all of the candidates present. Residents in attendance will also be able to submit questions for the candidates. Resident questions will be reviewed and selected by the moderator for presentation to the appropriate candidates.

The Belle Isle Candidate Forum will begin at 6:00 p.m. at the Cornerstone Charter Academy auditorium, located at 5903 Randolph Ave.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Time To Vote By Mail - Request Your Ballot Now!

Absentee ballots have been mailed by the Supervisor of Elections. If you requested an absentee ballot but haven't yet received it, you can check the status of your request by clicking here.

If you would like to request an absentee ballot, there's still time to request one. It's easy to do online:

Supervisor of Elections - Request an Absentee Ballot

Requests for absentee ballots must be received no later than 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday, March 9, but it is highly recommended to make your request earlier if possible. All registered voters can elect to vote by mail, no reason or excuse is required.

Remember, Belle Isle City Council members are elected at large - each member is voted upon by residents throughout the city. Accordingly, all seven council members are tasked with representing the residents of Belle Isle as a whole, not just the residents of their own districts.

Therefore, this is an important election for all Belle Isle residents, not just those in the districts up for election. So whether you vote by mail or in person, be sure you vote!

Friday, February 5, 2016

Duck Hunting In Our Belle Isle Backyards?!

Last Sunday, January 31 at 7:15 a.m., residents living near the mouth of the canal leading to the Hoffner Bridge were awakened to the sound of shotguns discharging nearby. Upon investigating, they soon learned that these were duck hunters from Lake County, shooting dozens of the mallards that populate our Conway lakes. One Belle Isle resident was nearly hit by a shower of shotgun pellets in his backyard:


I have lived in Belle Isle my entire life, and to my knowledge this kind of incident has never before occurred on our lakes. Most Belle Isle residents, including our elected officials, believed that duck hunting was illegal in Belle Isle under our City Code, Section 4-1, which designates Belle Isle as a bird sanctuary and prohibits duck hunting within city limits. But this law was preempted by Florida Statute 379.104, which establishes a statewide right to hunt.

However, the Florida right to hunt is not absolute. Florida Statute 379.3001 tempers the right to hunt for "reasons of public safety, fish or wildlife management, or homeland security" on lands managed by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. As discussed at the February 2 City Council meeting, these hunters presented a homeland security risk because of frequent low flying airplanes at the nearby airport, as well as a public safety risk from the hailstorms of high-velocity pellets falling on residential property.

Opposition to this backyard duck slaughter was shared by everyone at the meeting, including local hunters such as the owners of Oak Ridge Gun Range, who are both Belle Isle residents. Commissioner Readey, also a long-time hunter, expressed that this event was a tragedy - there is no sportsmanship in killing roosting ducks that have grown tame after years of feeding and sheltering by local duck lovers.

Aside from issues of safety and sportsmanship, this is a serious issue of local home value. Continued hunting in our Conway lakes could taint our City's public image and reduce demand for local homes, especially those on the lake. One witness to the hunting just purchased his Belle Isle home, and it's easy to wonder whether he would have chosen to go forward with the purchase knowing that hunting would happen in his own backyard.

Regular duck hunting season ended on January 31, but there is a youth season this weekend from February 6 to 7. Residents should be aware that there is a possibility of more hunting this weekend. After this weekend, there will be a wood duck season in September followed by another open season beginning in November. Refer to the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission for more info about waterfowl hunting seasons.

According to the information presented at the recent meeting, our city council is not able to address this problem alone because their hands are tied by state law. Although our city attorney and elected representatives are doing what they can to address the situation, a solution to this problem must come from at least a state level. Therefore, residents are encouraged to contact state representatives Mike Miller and Andy Gardiner to request their assistance in this matter.

For more information about this hunting issue, please see the recent WFTV report:

Friday, January 1, 2016

Weinsier for City Council @ BrighterBelleIsle.com

Weinsier for City Council

Announcing the launch of BrighterBelleIsle.com, my personal campaign site for the 2016 Belle Isle City Council election. The site is pretty bare at the moment, but more content will be added over the coming months leading up to the March 15 election!

You may have noticed that campaign yard signs started going up today. Please use the request button at BrighterBelleIsle.com or email BrighterBelleIsle@gmail.com to request delivery of a "Weinsier for City Council" sign to your yard!

Belle Isle Sun subscribers will NOT automatically receive "Weinsier for City Council" campaign emails, so please subscribe now at BrighterBelleIsle.com or using the below form:






2016 Belle Isle Candidate List

Belle Isle candidate qualifications took place back in November, so this isn't exactly hot news. But without any further ado, here is a quick rundown of the candidates in our 2016 Belle Isle election.

There are a total of four positions up for election this year, including three City Council seats and the mayor. The candidates are:


Mayor:
Lydia Pisano (running unopposed & presumptively elected)

City Council, District 2:
Anthony Carugno
Katy McGinnis

City Council, District 3:
Karl Shuck (incumbent)
Jeremy Weinsier

City Council, District 4:
Larry Ady (incumbent)
Bobby Lance


As you can see, all three of these City Council seats are contested and the incumbent from District 2 is not seeking reelection. Therefore, at least one and as many as three new City Council members will be elected this year. The 2016 Belle Isle City Council election will coincide with the presidential primary on Tuesday, March 15.

You may have noticed that my name is included as a candidate for the District 3 seat. For additional information about my 2016 "Weinsier for City Council" campaign, please visit BrighterBelleIsle.com.