Last updated on May 26, 2023
This amendment would empower residents to sue any governmental or corporate bodies polluting local waters, including the Indian River Lagoon.
In November 2022, Titusville residents voted in favor of a charter amendment which would encode the right to clean water, with 82.57% in support of the bill, of over 18,000 total votes
However, city officials delayed certification, fearing conflict with state laws. This led the Council to request a declaratory judgment, a legal determination of the referendum’s legality.
Circuit Court Judge Charles Holcomb ruled on Monday that the right to clean water does not violate the Constitution or state law, requiring the city to certify the results. Judge Holcomb declared the citizens’ ability to amend the city charter even against the governing body’s opposition.
Holcomb’s ruling sided with Speak Up Titusville, the environmental group that penned the referendum and campaigned for its place on the ballot last year.
The amendment was brought forth following years of sewage spills into the Indian River Lagoon and city ponds due to the city’s aging infrastructure. As a consequence, Titusville incurred substantial fines from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, which was ultimately used towards the repairs of the Sand Point Park Spill
City officials had previously expressed concerns over potential costly and frivolous lawsuits which might hinder cleanup and repair funds. Officials were apprehensive about the Clean Waterways Act signed by Governor Ron DeSantis in 2020, which inhibits local governments from recognizing the “rights” of nature.
Advocates of the clean water measure, such as Toni Shifalo, voiced opposition against further deliberations, saying “What strategy is there? You’re just going against all the citizens and voters who want to hold polluters accountable and save the river.”
Council member Sarah Stoeckel stated that the meeting would be part of the legal process. Closed-door meetings are permissible in specific cases, such as city litigation.
Talk of Titusville will always be free to access.
If you love what we’re doing, please consider becoming a monthly Supporter HERE.
William Klein, a member of Speak Up Titusville, criticized the city’s handling of the issue, likening it to Don Quixote tilting at windmills. He condemned the city’s efforts in court as attacks against the organization rather than addressing the issues at hand.
In Tuesday’s City Council meeting, City Attorney Richard Broome and council members scheduled a closed-door session for May 31, where they will discuss further legal actions, including possibly appealing Judge Holcomb’s decision.
The meeting will take place at Titusville City Hall and will start at 5:00pm, specifically in the Council Chamber on the second floor at 555 S. Washington Avenue, Titusville, FL 32796.
During this meeting, the Council will begin in the public City Council Chambers as required by Florida Statutes Section 286.011(8). They will then move to a private Attorney-Client Session in the Round Room Conference Room on the first floor of City Hall.
Those attending the private Attorney-Client Session will include Mayor Daniel E. Diesel, Vice Mayor Joe C. Robinson, City Council Members Herman A. Cole Jr., Col USAF Retired, Jo Lynn Nelson, and Dr. Sarah Stoeckel, Litigation Attorney Leonard Collins, City Attorney Richard Broome, City Manager William S. Larese, and a certified court reporter.
The private session is expected to last approximately one hour, but it may continue longer if deemed necessary by the Council. After the private session concludes, the meeting will resume in the public City Council Chambers on the second floor of Titusville City Hall, following the guidelines of Florida Statutes Section 286.011(8).
For more information about the meeting, please contact City Clerk Wanda Wells at 321-567-3686. If anyone wishes to appeal any decision made by the City Council during this meeting, they should ensure a verbatim record of the proceedings, including testimonies and evidence, is made.
The City aims to accommodate individuals with disabilities, so any physically handicapped person who wishes to attend the meeting should submit a written request to the chairperson at least 48 hours before the meeting, as stated in Chapter 286.26 of the Florida Statutes.
View the courts order below
Be First to Comment