Swing vote, or deciding vote, but the correct vote.

At the March 2 Ocean Ridge commission meeting (my last meeting as vice mayor), I was personally admonished by a resident for my vote on regulating synthetic grass. I was told that my vote in favor of this ordinance on second reading would be a disservice to the residents that I was elected to support.

The unfavorable comments went further, suggesting that by moving from Ocean Ridge, I no longer cared that a group of residents wanted me to vote against Ordinance 2019-15.

To say that I was taken aback would be a gross understatement.

It was definitely not the way I wanted my last meeting as vice mayor to end.

I was elected to the Town Commission in 2017 by a 35% voter margin. Those who knew me understood that I would always work hard to preserve the unique ambiance of our community.

My mandate was clear, based on Ocean Ridge’s comprehensive plan, which reads: “Ocean Ridge is a beach-oriented town characterized primarily by single family homes with lush, well- maintained landscaping.” 

To my mind, “lush, well-maintained landscaping” did not include synthetic grass.

My involvement during the past three years as a steering committee member of the Southeast PBC Coastal Resilience Partnership and a member of the PBC Water Resources Task Force have provided me with a useful education concerning South Florida’s water resources. I understand completely the need to reduce water unnecessarily used on residential property. Synthetic grass is a viable option in that regard. 

The pros and cons of synthetic grass were well researched and presented at commission meetings. But, without the passage of Ordinance 2019-15, the positive effect and use of synthetic grass will be lost in a maze of personal choice. 

To say that my vote was prejudiced based on my moving from Ocean Ridge was a totally unfair tactic. After the comments by the resident — and knowing that I was still planning to vote in favor of Ordinance 2019-15 — the town attorney was asked if I should be recused from voting based on my term ending and my moving from Ocean Ridge. Another ridiculous tactic. 

Ocean Ridge is “my hometown.” I voted to keep its “lush, well-maintained landscaping.”  I voted understanding the months of work put forth by the Planning and Zoning board drafting the ordinance. I voted understanding that, first and foremost, an ordinance must require a permit to install synthetic grass in order to protect the aesthetics of Ocean Ridge as defined in our comprehensive plan. I voted understanding that a “home rule” ordinance now could protect us from state laws in the future.

Time will tell as to the forethought of P&Z’s drafting Ordinance 2019-15 and the wisdom of three commissioners who approved it by a swing vote, or deciding vote, but the correct vote.

Don MaGruder 

Former vice mayor

Ocean Ridge

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Replies

  • Significant research is coming to light now, based primarily on empirical data collected in Asia, that synthetic grass or “AstroTurf” can provide a dangerous breeding ground for covid-19 and similar coronaviruses if not properly and continuously disinfected.  

    I for one salute you Mr Vice Mayor for having the vision and personal strength to stand up to this growing threat.  

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