Jupiter Island Latest News From The June 25, 2023 Edition




There was a presentation regarding the town’s new website including a module for the meetings.


Unfortunately, the static from the dais was continuous on the recording making it almost unintelligible. You could only hear the mayor and, for the most part, Commissioner Scott though the sound quality was atrocious. Whenever Commissioner Field spoke, I did not hear anything. The same for Commissioner Collins.

Commissioner Smith and Manager Garlo were in and out. At least Mr. Baird and the speakers at the podium were quite easy to understand. This is not a new problem but a continuing one.


I think it has two parts. One some of the commissioners don’t speak directly into their microphones or forgot to turn them on. The other issue is that the static hum is so distracting that, at times, it is louder than those speaking. If recordings of the meetings are going to be made, they should be done so that those not in the audience can listen online or later.


I believe this was an information only item since it falls under the manager’s purview.


In a 3-2 vote, the board affirmed the Impact Review Committee’s decision for 486 South Beach Road. It was a very long discussion. However, since I could not hear much of what was said, it is impossible to provide accurate reporting.


At that point, I stopped listening to the meeting because it was not going to be productive. I urge each of the commissioners to listen to an hour of this meeting and ask themselves if that is acceptable for the Town of Jupiter Island. I would doubt that any to think it is.



Jupiter Island Latest News From The June 11, 2023 Edition


The next meeting will be June 13, 2023




There must be something in the water provided by South Martin Regional Utility that makes Jupiter Island Commissioners more susceptible to not following the Public Records and Sunshine Law.


At a May 9th special meeting, the commission fired Michael Ventura as town manager. It seemed that at least some of the commissioners were aware of the reason for the meeting.  No advanced materials were provided nor was there an agenda item that stated the purpose for the meeting. How did the commissioners know what the special meeting was about? It seemed to me they did as was evident by remarks made by the commissioners during the meeting.


Did the commissioners need to fire Ventura so quickly that they couldn’t wait for a noticed meeting? To act so quickly, did all or a few commissioners communicate outside of the normal channels. Or did they use a person acting as a conduit to relay information?


There was no public comment time offered during the meeting in violation of statute because as Mayor Townsend claimed it is a personnel matter and not a legislative one. Where is that exception provided under the law? Or does Jupiter Island have its own exception?

Another interesting matter was a “private letter” sent to Governor DeSantis by Townsend as a private citizen urging him to veto a bill that impacts Jupiter Island and their lawsuit with the Testas. I can’t understand how a letter can be sent personally on a matter that she will vote upon as a member of the commission.  Simply saying a communication is sent as a private citizen doesn’t mean that is true.


Townsend is clearly stating her personal opinions on the matter. She has made up her mind on Ordinance 376 and the pending litigation. As such she has as much declared that she will not be listening to any argument by Loeb and his clients on this matter.


Is the letter a violation of Sunshine? By giving a copy of the “private letter” to her fellow commissioners, the mayor has telegraphed how she would vote on a matter under consideration with no public discussion and no commission-noticed debate. Commissioner Scott immediately jumped in that she would send the governor a similar letter thereby signaling to the others her intentions.


On June 1st these allegations and more were presented in court in a lawsuit between some Jupiter Island residents and Mayor Townsend and her husband. Peter Townsend became a party since his devices and email addresses were used instead of her public email provided by the town. Once again Jupiter Island Commissioners are being accused of breaking public records and sunshine laws.


Just a little over a year ago, two commissioners resigned over these same type matters. Now it is happening again. And it is so avoidable. Ethan Loeb, the attorney who has brought this suit, is currently representing the landowners who would be most affected in a negative way by rescinding Ordinance 376 regarding the shoreline protection area.


Will Townsend end up resigning as her two other board members did last year? Will the State Attorney step in with a criminal investigation? How about the Florida Ethics Commission? For this same problem to repeatedly occur on Jupiter Island, there must be something in the water causing commissioners to forget their responsibilities to their office.


You can see the letters and court filings here





Jupiter Island Latest News From The May 28, 2023 Edition


The next meeting will be held June 13, 2023





Jupiter Island Latest News From The May 14, 2023 Edition




Mayor Townsend commented that she had a delightful time at the Mayor’s Coffee. She thought it was such fun that she suggested that they change the name to Commissioner’s Coffee and rotate different commissioners through the schedule. All the commissioners agreed.

Scott suggested that commissioners have individual town hall hours to meet constituents. This idea will be discussed at a subsequent meeting. Any commissioner at any time can have regular office hours.


The shade meeting to discuss current litigation strategy was put on hold until May 18th. A shade meeting is one where the commissioners, town manager, and attorney meet behind closed doors. There is a court recorder present to make a written record which is released once the litigation is over.


He There has been some uneasiness over the possibility of commissioners and board members being sued for their actions. Town Attorney Baird ran through how commissioners and volunteer board members are protected from being sued and litigation expense. The town has an insurance policy from the Florida Municipal Insurance Trust, an arm of the Florida League of Cities, that will defend the members if a suit is brought for one of the covered perils. It is similar to officers & directors’ insurance. The commission had a consensus that there may have to be a fund and more insurance coverage.


The commission passed a ZIP (Zoning In Progress) for pickle ball courts.


They also want to discuss nonresidents using the parking lot at Jupiter Island Town Hall to park when overflow is needed at the public beach. There currently is an interlocal agreement with the county to allow it at certain times and days. It appears some of the commissioners want to revisit this agreement.


Scott wanted to put aside the RFQ that had been requested at the last meeting concerning legal services. It can be revisited at a future date. Also at this meeting, the commission gave a proclamation to retiring attorney from the town to Skip Randolph. Tom Baird from the same law firm, Jones Foster, will apparently be filling his shoes.


After discussion, it was decided that a new task force would be created to examine the LDRs. They already have several volunteers, and they will be using a Palm Beach building official as a consultant. This has been an ongoing project with two past commissioners working on it. I hope that their work can be handed off to this new body.

Scott then brought up how their lobbyists had let them down by not informing them of pending bills in the legislature that would affect the commissioners. One of the bills will change the filing of financial information from the relatively easy Form 1 to the much more complicated and intrusive Form 6. That really will present an undue burden on many smaller municipalities like Jupiter Island. There are many other bills that will impact local government.


Town Manager Ventura stated that the lobbying firm was not charged with looking at how every bill will affect the town and commissioners. I don’t think any firm could possibly catch it all. But Jupiter Island, like every municipality in Florida, has lobbyists already that do this. It is the Florida League of Cities.


The League of Treasure Coast Cities is the local league which has a membership of 23 municipalities including Jupiter Island. For at least the past decade, the organization has been trying to encourage Jupiter Island’s involvement. Commissioner Scott mentioned that she had attended a town hall meeting at the Flagler which is where she learned about many of the things she brought up.


The League would welcome the town’s participation. It may do the commissioners some good to speak with other elected officials. The social cross pollination would be good for all parties.


There was discussion about hiring a clipping service to make sure the commission is aware when things about the town are written. It appears that some things written in this publication have precipitated the suggestion.


Two issues ago, I wrote that new Commissioners Smith and Field were not sworn in at the meeting and were participating remotely. Though not mentioned by anyone at the meeting, it was noted on the agenda that they had been sworn into office previously. The clerk wrote me an email pointing to the error. I printed the email and agenda in the next edition and gave my rationale for thinking why they had not been sworn in.


We will always admit when something we publish is amiss and correct it. In fact, we would love for the five commissioners of Jupiter Island to become regular subscribers. Then there would be no need for a clipping service because they could read it directly.


Further, I offer the opportunity for Mayor Townsend or Commissioner Scott to write a piece for us. Better yet, how about a monthly column with the town’s viewpoint on things? Come on and join the rest of Martin County and read Friends & Neighbors.




City Manager & Finance Director Michael Ventura is out after 13 years with the Town of Jupiter Island.

A special meeting was called by the mayor today. The objective was to see whether Ventura would resign or be terminated. There didn’t appear to be a third alternative.


Anne Scott wanted to terminate Ventura for cause. However, no cause was ever given except Resolution 376 was mentioned by her. I don’t understand unless Scott is claiming he didn’t follow it after the commission voted to adopt it.


Mayor Townsend pleaded with Scott not to go ahead with his leaving in this manner. Commissioner Smith claimed he doesn’t know enough. Commissioner Field stated that Ventura at first had not acted with adequate responsiveness though he was improving, He thought it was a premature decision. Smith thought the die was cast and the commission should get on with it.


Ventura had proposed a separation agreement with 20 weeks’ severance as per his contract. The insurance and benefits would also continue for that period. He agreed then to resign, and he would be willing to stay as a consultant on a per hour basis to unravel the town’s business at the pleasure of the new manager. This would be beneficial for the town.


Scott and several other commissioners wanted to see a separation agreement before agreeing. Since one had not been drafted yet, the meeting was adjourned to 1 pm for Ventura’s attorney and Town Attorney Baird to get together and draft a written agreement.


The board reconvened and a written agreement was presented with the terms outlined plus a release. Mr. Ventura can rescind the agreement in 7 days. However, that is to allow Mr. Ventura to be an employee through the end of the month for pay and benefits before the separation kicks in. The 20 weeks then goes through September 30th.


Ventura’s consultant offer was apparently rejected so it was stricken from the agreement. Michael Ventura will be gone as of 5 pm today.


The commission appointed Deputy Town Manager & Public Safety Director Bob Garlo as acting town manager. By statute, he will need to appoint someone else to act as Public Safety Director while he is Acting Town Manager. An exciting day on Jupiter Island.





Jupiter Island Latest News From The Apr 23, 2023 Edition




After the last edition reporting on this meeting, I received the following email from Town Clerk Kimberly Kogos.


Good morning, Mr. Campenni.  Regarding your latest news publication pertaining to the Town of Jupiter Island, it is important to note that all commissioners were sworn into office on or before April 4th.  Those out of town were sworn in prior to leaving town.  The April 4th meeting was lawful, and Marshall Field is/was permitted to be voted as Vice Mayor.


Regarding Jones Foster and Skip Randolph, please note that Mr. Randolph rendered his resignation effective April 4, 2023, thus retiring from service to the Town of Jupiter Island.  The firm has not resigned, and Tom Baird is the Town’s legal counsel at this time.


Please let me know if you have any questions. 


My best,


Kimberly Kogos, CMC


I told her I would print the email and here it is.


I am also enclosing the agenda here which does show that both Commissioners Field and Smith were sworn in prior to this meeting. Therefore, Smith’s votes would count as would any motions made or seconded by him.


I should have looked at the agenda and read it far more carefully and not just for the items that were going to be discussed. I wish someone would have mentioned the fact that the two commissioners had been sworn in at the meeting so that the public who hadn’t read the agenda thoroughly would have known.




Jupiter Island Latest News From The Apr 9, 2023 Edition




The meeting began with Mayor Pidot gaveling the commission into session.


He was given a well-deserved congratulatory resolution and symbolic key to the town on this his last day on the board. The commission motioned to approve the minutes from the previous meeting. They also motioned to certify the results of the election of Anne Scott, Tim Smith, and Marshall Field for new four-year terms.

Re-elected commissioners Penny Townsend and Moira Collins were sworn in for their new two-year terms. Anne Scott also took the oath of office. The three then sat on the dais. Both Smith and Field were on the phone. It was decided that Smith could actively participate as a commissioner. He was attending telephonically because his brother had passed away unexpectantly.


The town attorney, Tom Baird, filling in for Skip Randolph, cited several attorney-general opinions which said it was fine for Smith to do so since it was an emergency. Field was in Africa and therefore it was deemed not an emergency so he could not vote.


No mention was made regarding Smith having not been sworn in before leaving town, which should affect not only participating in commission discussions but also voting. It is my understanding that you cannot take the oath of office remotely. Smith’s vote should not be counted.


I am not sure whether the meeting was lawful given the set of facts. Field did not vote but he participated in lengthy discussions without being sworn in. It looks like this commission won’t let many things get in their way of obtaining their goals.

Townsend was chosen as mayor. The motion was made by Collins and seconded by Scott. It passed 4-0 with Smith voting. Scott made a motion for Field to be vice mayor which Smith seconded (without being sworn in, can he do that?). It passed 4-0 with Smith voting.


The board set the next three dates of their meetings which are April 24th, May 18th, and June 12th.


A discussion regarding continuing to employ lobbyists to plead the town’s case in Tallahassee occurred. The discussion was in regard to what is considered a glitch bill to rectify a ruling by the appeals court on adjourning meetings without readvertising. It was a case brought against the town by the Testa family that resulted in the ruling.


It is a common practice to adjourn the item to a date certain when a matter cannot be voted upon. That practice began so that the applicant would not need to readvertise the matter. The Florida Legislature then introduced bills in both the House and Senate correcting this, not only going forward but retroactively, so that perhaps thousands of local government decisions couldn’t be challenged. The bill in the Senate then had a provision inserted that the bill does not apply to pending litigation. The only pending litigation is the Testa case against Jupiter Island.


The dispute goes back to moving the dune line for building. Whether it should have been done or not can be debated. Now that it has been moved, there are property owners who would be deprived of their right to build if the line was returned to the old boundary. The election that swept the three new commissioners into office is partially about this line. Scott, Smith, and Field along with Townsend would not have moved it.


Stopping the lobbyists from pushing to remove the section of the bill about pending litigation will result in the continuation of the court battle. And I would imagine the new majority will be instructing staff to discontinue fighting that decision in court. Even if Testa prevails and the line reverts to the earlier version, the litigation is far from over.

Jupiter Island Sky View

There are several landowners ready to file suits and seek damages. Ethan Loeb, their attorney, is probably ready to sue Jupiter Island for depriving his clients of their property rights. He is very good at his job.


During the election, he wrote a letter to every town resident regarding what resulted when Scott was on the county commission and her actions with the Lake Point debacle. Loeb represented Lake Point. It ultimately cost the county millions of dollars.


Scott made the motion to stop lobbying until a shade meeting can be held after the April 24th meeting to explain the need. It was seconded by Smith. It passed 3-1 with Collins dissenting.


Scott wants to go out for an RFP to obtain service for a new town attorney. She said, “Let’s give Randolph a resolution thanking him for his service.” She, along with Field and Smith, want it on the agenda for the April 24th meeting. I was told that Randolph’s firm has resigned.




Jupiter Island Latest News From The Mar 26, 2023 Edition




The primary reason this digital newspaper exists is to write about local Martin County governments.  Jupiter Island is one of those governments.


Another reason we cover Jupiter Island is because their issues, while recognizable, (e.g., struggles over development) are resolved differently than in other Martin County governments. Since the residents are by far wealthier than other Martin County residents, generally one side in a dispute will not throw in the towel until they are at a point where there are no options left. Money to pursue their goals is readily available.


The purpose of this special meeting was because of an exceptional pending piece of legislation.

Jupiter Island Sky View

There have been ongoing court cases involving the town and some residents regarding development on the island. Development on the island doesn’t mean runaway growth or multi-family projects being built. It is about dune lines and setbacks and how and where to build a home on a piece of land costing millions of dollars.


The election being held on March 21st will be, to a large extent, about whether to allow the current building setbacks or not. Except for Commissioner Penny Townsend, the existing commission would keep everything in place. Commissioners Townsend, Collins, Johnson, and McChristian Jr are running again. Townsend and Collins are already re-elected for two-year terms since they had no opposition.


Mayor Pidot is leaving. He has more than ably guided the town, but he has decided not to seek re-election. I believe he will be missed.


Both Johnson and McChristian were appointed to the commission filling the terms of two commissioners who resigned. They are seeking four-year terms as are Marshall Field Jr., Laurie Gaylord, Ann Scott, and Emmet “Tim” Smith. The three candidates with the highest vote totals will be elected.


A recent Florida appellate decision has gone against the town regarding what constitutes adequate notice of a meeting. Until this decision was reached earlier this year, every municipality would adjourn meetings to a date certain without readvertisement of the new meeting date. It was quite a common occurrence. This decision found that re-advertisement of a new meeting date was necessary.


To re-instate this common practice in all counties and municipalities, the Florida Legislature inserted into a Senate Bill (170) and a House Bill (1515) a legislative cure retroactively. Now here is where the intrigue begins. SB 170 had originally read: “This subsection is remedial in nature, is intended to clarify existing law, and should apply retroactively. On March 8th, the following was added “except as to a court challenge under this section that was filed by January 1, 2023.”


Did someone whisper a word in Tallahassee to allow the court decision to stand? At the special meeting, it was stated that only Jupiter Island is affected by the additional language. Any decision regarding whether the decision stands or not will be worth millions of dollars.


It’s not only about the dollars but also whether the owners of the lots in question will be allowed to build their homes. And if so, according to the old setback lines or the ones now in place if building is even an option. One thing is for sure…the litigation is not over.


At this specially called meeting to determine what to do next, the commission voted 4-1 with Townsend dissenting to have their staff engage lobbyists and attorneys to have the carve-out language in the bill removed.


After the election, will the new commission continue with the work of the old or will it be in favor of changing the setbacks? Whatever the decision, the town will need to defend its decision in court. Because this is far from settled no matter what.




The voters of Jupiter Island indicated they wanted to go in a different direction today.

Incumbents Tucker Johnson (194) and Joseph A. McChristian, Jr. (129) came in 4th and 6th respectively in the six-person race for three positions of four-years on the commission. The three winners were Marshall Field, Jr. (301), Emmet C. “Tim” Smith (256), and past town and county commissioner Ann Scott (246). Former school board member and superintendent Laurie Gaylord came in 5th with 155 votes.


The election results will be made official at the April 4th commission meeting. Field, Smith, and Scott will be sworn in then. Current commissioners Maura Collins and Penny Townsend ran unopposed for two-year terms.




Jupiter Island Latest News From The Mar 12, 2023 Edition


Unfortunately, I was unable to cover the last meeting.




Jupiter Island Latest News From The Feb 26, 2023 Edition


The next meeting will be March 7, 2023




Jupiter Island Latest News From The Feb 12, 2023 Edition




When I watch the Ocean Breeze or Stuart commission meetings, I sometimes think how underexposed the commissioners are to the entire world. The same thing happens when I look at Jupiter Island.


Obviously in the first two examples, the elected officials are from working class communities and just have not had the opportunities that the more rarefied Jupiter Island folks have had. If you live in Stuart or Ocean Breeze, you probably didn’t attend Choate, Exeter, or any other of the elite boarding schools. JD Parker, Stuart Middle, and Martin County were where you matriculated.


Jupiter Island residents are just as myopic wrapped in their cocoons. While the elected officials from Stuart or Ocean Breeze mingle with their peers and take part in organizations like the MPO, Florida League of Cities, and even the Airport Noise Advisory Committee, the commissioners on Jupiter Island never are seen at any of these organizations.


They are oblivious to what other municipalities are doing and have done. This is why when things like adding a property rights element to the comprehensive plan is required, they appear to mimic a “deer in the headlight.” Under Florida law passed last year, Tallahassee has mandated that a property rights element should be in every comprehensive plan.


There are four mandated provisions. They all really say the same thing which is to recognize the rights of a property owner. Those rights are already enshrined in the U.S. Constitution, Florida Constitution, federal and state law, court decisions, and even the town’s own ordinances. In other words, what is the big deal?


To help municipalities, the Florida League of Cities came up with a draft element to incorporate. The Florida Association of Counties has a similar one for county plans. It mimics the state statute. There is no choice and must be added to each comp plan and approved by the state by 2025.


Former county and town commissioner, Anne Scott, loves to throw up roadblocks to the simplest of items. It was telling when she asked how could they be sure that the Florida League of Cities represents Jupiter Island’s interests? In all the hundreds of meetings and events I have attended during my decade-long involvement with FLC, I remember seeing only one commissioner from Jupiter Island…Whit Pidot.


I can see that there is not much in common between Pidot and perhaps a commissioner from Port St. Lucie. As an example, during a luncheon I was seated next to Pidot and a Port St. Lucie Commissioner where the commissioner kept mistaking Jupiter Island for the Town of Jupiter. These two clearly spoke different languages and translation was hard.

But Pidot is out in the wider world, while Scott and frankly the other commissioners never venture to reach out to their colleagues from the rest of the state. It is unfortunate because I believe the threat to home rule will only get worse. Imagine how helpful it would be if a JI commissioner went with the Treasure Coast League’s delegation to Tallahassee to lobby on cities’ behalf. Their sophistication and, quite frankly wealth and political clout, would be an asset.


Because they do not take part in these efforts that the other municipalities do, Jupiter Island has no idea what is befalling them as a municipality. Things like this element to the plan are trivial. There are many other matters that are not. Could they stop legislation that is harmful to cities? In some cases, I believe so. You must be in the game to do that.


Anne Scott, who may be elected to the town commission next month, is the antithesis of Pidot, who is not running. Her approach is that her opinion is the best and it should carry through even if lawsuits ensue. This comp plan element was a no brainer and, frankly, there is no choice. What the town is proposing to do with their LDR rewrites is where much discussion should occur.


After much ado, the motion to include the element as written was approved unanimously on first reading.


The element and other backup can be found here




Jupiter Island Latest News From The Jan 29, 2023 Edition


The next commission meeting is February 7, 2022




Jupiter Island Latest News From The Jan 15, 2023 Edition




There is no secret that Mayor Whit Pidot and former town and county commissioner, Anne Scott, do not like each other.

She has attacked the “Mayor’s Coffee” with particular ire. The “coffee” takes place a few days before the regular commission meeting and is a prelude to it. Residents can informally speak to Pidot and town staff about what is on their minds.


Ms. Scott believes that they are a waste of money and staff time. She claims they act as a Bully Pulpit for Pidot. It may not be a function that all residents want to attend, but for some it seems a nice touch that they enjoy. The expense that Scott harps on is inconsequential.


In a few months, the seats of all five commissioners will be up for election. Pidot has indicated that he will not run again. I don’t know how many of the current commissioner, if any, will. Scott seems like she is teeing up her campaign.


It appears she does have a few points that should be addressed. The main one is development which has been exacerbated with the move of the waterfront setback line. This is valuable oceanfront property and owners want to build on lots they own.

Scott brought up some problems with the way meetings are conducted. One is she would like to see public comment at the beginning of the meetings. She is right that every other jurisdiction opens the floor to anyone for usually 3 minutes to speak about anything.


She has also complained about the terrible audio of the meetings and the static picture. At this meeting, most of the commissioners spoke into their microphones, but that is not always the case. Generally, it is difficult to hear them, and most of the time, no one reminds the commissioners to speak directly into their microphones.


Scott also claims, with justification, that the agenda does not contain any backup material online. The only ones who receive it ahead of time are the commissioners. It is not acceptable. Scott claims that she can’t get these public records which is not true. Everything is available from the clerk by sending a simple email. However, they should be readily available with the agenda online.


Another one of her pet peeves is the examination of the LDRs by Commissioner Tucker Johnson. She states that he is not an attorney or planner. LDRs are highly technical, and it is highly unusual that a member of a commission is tasked with this function. It should be done by someone who is not on the commission and is a professional in this discipline. This is all contained in her emails that can be looked at here


When Pidot asked Scott, who was attending the meeting, to make public comment on what she had written, she refused. That was the moment when she should have made her case without rancor. By refusing to speak Scott, seemed petty and bitter. Too bad because some of what she was complaining about has merit.


The Taylor Subdivision at 374 South Beach Road was approved 5-0.


The lot split mirrors the unity of title that occurred twenty years ago when one person acquired both properties. It is being done so that each of the owner’s children can have a lot. The lots are from the ocean to the intercoastal.


You can see the presentation here




The makeup of the current commission is coming to an end.


With the March 21st election, all 5 commission seats will be up for grabs. Mayor Pidot, who has been a stabilizing force, is not running for re-election. He has served at least a decade and is ready to retire from being a commissioner.

In the last few years, there has been much more animosity as to how the town settles differences. Political differences end up in court instead of respecting commission action. This is politics by lawsuit which becomes very expensive for everyone concerned.


Most of the descension is regarding the right to build on one’s property. A small minority believe that unbuilt parcels should remain unbuilt. Green space should be maintained even if the parcel is owned by individuals. It is NIMBYism from a wealthier perspective.


Should there be rules and setbacks? Sure, there should be, but they must be reasonable and ultimately respect the rights of those who own the property. If individuals want to keep open space, then they should purchase it and place it in conservation. Just because a piece of land doesn’t have a building on it now doesn’t mean there should never be one built there.


Two commissioners resigned last year which highlights the danger of trying to circumvent the rules when it comes to open government. There are currently two commissioners, Johnson and McChristian, who were appointed members to the board by the other remaining commissioners. Will they seek elected terms of their own, I don’t know. Will Commissioners Townsend and Collins run again? The qualifying period for the March 21st election will be February 16th through March 1st.


It is likely that others not currently on the commission will run because they disagree with a policy or two that the current board has championed. The ballot box is the appropriate place to settle political differences…not in the courts.




Jupiter Island Latest News From The Dec 18, 2022 Edition


The next meeting will be December 19, 2022




Jupiter Island Latest News From The Dec 4, 2022 Edition



The next meeting will be December 19, 2022





Jupiter Island Latest News From The Nov 20, 2022 Edition


The next meeting will be November 21, 2022





Jupiter Island Latest News From The Non 13, 2022 Edition




The commission once again tackled the new golf cart ordinance.


After the September meeting, the commission asked Public Safety Director Garlo to solicit residents’ opinions regarding the minimum age of the drivers from sunset to sunrise. Initially it was determined that 16 would be the approved age. After further discussion by the commission, the decision was made to leave the age at 14 during daylight hours and 16 in the evening.


The ordinance was passed on first reading. It will be heard at the November 21st meeting reflecting the new changes. You can find the ordinance here


The bulk of the 8+ hour meeting was to hear 11 applications to allow construction during the winter season. There were no surprises. The applications where it will be allowed were decided logically. I applaud the commission for being focused for the discussions and votes.

While staff can administratively allow some of this work to continue or commence, it is hard to blame them for not using that authority on Jupiter Island. Nobody wants to become embroiled in what can become a neighborhood dispute. So, the commission deciding what in other places would be a staff decision makes good sense.


There was a “lot split” request for 374 South Beach Road. The lots will run from ocean to river bisected by the road. It had been two lots until 2006 when a Unity of Title was issued. The property is returning to the original configuration. The family representative that owns the property stated that the purpose was for estate planning of the current owners’ two children.


The lots will be roughly 3.5 acres and 2.5 acres. Commission approved it 4-0. The presentation can be found here






Jupiter Island Latest News From The Oct. 16, 2022 Edition


The next meeting will be October 28, 2022.





Jupiter Island Latest News From The Oct. 9, 2022 Edition


The next meeting will be October 28, 2022


Jupiter Island Latest News From The Sept 18, 2022 Edition




It was a marathon affair beginning at 9 am and lasting until after 5.


It was several different meetings, but the two that took up the most time were appeals of decisions made by other boards. Both have to do with whether a beach cottage should be built in the 300 block of South Beach Road. There are two lots on either side of the road with a “third” lot that intersects Beach Road.


The problem is not the second house being built on the property. The house itself is the reason for the pro and anti-development factions to do battle. Battles on Jupiter Island are not ordinary fights between residents but rather full-scale wars because the amount of money to defend or attack a position is not an object.

Generic Beach Photo

Since there is plenty of disposable cash for all sides to hire their legal mercenaries, compromise never seems to be in the equation. In every other community in Martin County, most disagreements can be settled by the parties sitting down and negotiating. Except in very rare instances do the parties resort to courts to plead their cases. Because the residents of Jupiter Island have so much money at their disposal, more disagreements can end up in legal battles.


When the property in question is worth millions of dollars and the players are all Type A personalities, the alternative to having lawyers fight it out could be pistols at 20 paces. Some residents believe that they are preserving the Jupiter Island way of life by trying to stop building on every available lot. Others, especially newer landowners, believe if you spend millions for your ocean view parcel, you should be able to build a beach cottage across the road from your main home.


The majority on this commission sides with the idea of being pro property rights. It is not because they are anti environmentalists, but they don’t believe that a desire not to have any change is a reason to prohibit an owner’s use of his property. Since Florida DEP issues the necessary permits for building on a coastal lot, no permit would be issued if there were problems with the design or is an environmental hazard.  The DEP permit is a prerequisite before the town will approve any building.


In both appeals, the commission upheld the Board of Adjustment’s and the Impact Review Committee’s determination 4-1 with Commissioner Townsend voting against. I think in both cases the commission made the right choice. There needs to be a good reason before government deprives a person of the use of his property.


Land that is empty of structures yet privately owned is not a park or preserve just because some may wish it were. The same holds true whether it is in Stuart or Jupiter Island. If the owner wanted to dedicate the property as a park, then they would be free to do so. Most owners on Jupiter Island have the where-with-all to do that or spend thousands for lawyers if they want to build a cottage.





Jupiter Island Latest News From The Sept 4, 2022 Edition


Next Meeting will be September 12, 2022




Jupiter Island Latest News From The Aug. 21, 2022 Edition


Next Meeting will be September 12, 2022





Jupiter Island Latest News From The Aug. 7, 2022 Edition


Next Meeting will be September 12, 2022





Jupiter Island Latest News From The July 24, 2022 Edition




County Commissioner Harold Jenkins should be commended for attending municipal meetings within his district. He is a regular at both Jupiter Island and Indiantown. Because of that, he can better represent his constituency. He even attended the Mayor’s Coffee. Jenkins gave a report on what is going on in the district.

At this meeting, Commissioners Penny Townsend and Moira Collins were attending remotely. The feedback from the digital connection throughout the meeting was almost unbearable. One or two of those commissioners did not mute themselves causing reverberations. It would be helpful if the commissioners who were present would speak into the mics. Constituents who tune in are not getting a full understanding of what is going on.


For these past many months, the new dock lighting ordinance has been discussed by the commission, changed by staff, and sent to the residents. On first reading, the commission approved the attached ordinance adding that the lights can only be white and green. The ordinance can be found here

The same thoroughness can be said for the golf cart ordinance. There was a question about whether someone from the mainland could drive their vehicle over the bridge. It was determined that to do so would be illegal because golf carts would not be allowed on the bridge. It was approved on first reading. You can find the ordinance here


The tentative budget was presented by Manager Michael Ventura. The estimated 2023 Taxable Value is $3.56 billion which is a 13.5% increase over the current year. In 2021, 38 properties sold for a total of $391 million which is an average of a little more than $10,289,000 per property.


The budget for next year, including transfers from reserves, will be $10,877,166 or 13.8% more than last year. The COLA adjustment will be 8% for employees. Staff is looking at self-insurance for employee health care. They use the Gehring Group which is the same company used by the School Board and the City of Stuart.


The millage will remain the same at 4.0214. The commission approved the tentative millage for the TRIM notice 5-0. To see the entire presentation with all the numbers, you can go here




Jupiter Island Latest News From The July 10, 2022 Edition


Next meeting will be July 11, 2022



Jupiter Island Latest News From The June 26, 2022 Edition


Next meeting will be July 11, 2022

Jupiter Island Latest News From The June 12, 2022 Edition




The first item the commission discussed was their Errors & Omissions Policy. Currently, they have $5 million defense and settlement coverage with a $25,000 deductible. The commission is really worried about Bert Harris claims due to pending litigation and the likelihood of future litigation. The agent will come back with further alternatives.


The Board is closer to deciding about dock lighting and golf carts. For the past few months, the commission has discussed what should and should not be allowed. The question to be decided for dock lighting is whether there should be a time frame to come into compliance. At some point, everyone’s dock lights will need to be replaced due to corrosion by the elements. Should that be the time that the lights come into compliance or sooner? As to golf carts, the commission wants to keep the driving age at 14. Both will go out to the residents for comments. They are attached here

The preliminary budget is attached. There is an increase of about $900,000. It appears much of that goes for payroll. The budget also includes $800,000 of expense for electric undergrounding that will be paid off in 2027. Once that is done, there should be enough to stop using reserves in the budget. According to staff, the reserve accounts currently have more than the town needs. That is why they have been using it to fund operations in the past few years. You can find the budget presentation here




Jupiter Island Latest News From The May 22, 2022 Edition




The first item on the agenda was the hurricane forecast for this season. According to the town’s expert, they expect 19 named storms. Of those, it is estimated that 4 storms will be Cat 3-5. Of course, that number will not necessarily come ashore on Jupiter Island, but it is the prediction for the Atlantic basin. Hurricane season begins June 1st and runs through November 30th.


The commission had another discussion on dock lighting. One item that had extensive deliberation was whether the new regulations should have a time frame by when new lighting must be installed. Since it was lighting some commissioners were afraid that the fixtures would just be replaced without the need for a permit. It was unclear from the discussion whether a permit was needed or not.


Another point of discussion was the proper lighting of a flagpole displaying the American flag at night. There is no law requiring the pole be lit, but custom and protocol dictate that the flag be illuminated when flying after dark. Nothing has been decided at this point.


The commission consensus was that staff clean up language of the ordinance and craft a letter to residents. It will come back at the June 1st meeting for the commission to review before sending it to the residents for their thoughts.


Legal fees for the town for the various suits are close to $500,000. The town manager gave a brief synopsis. A new interlocal agreement for the county to provide a full-time paramedic and fire/rescue services is ready to be voted upon. The town will vote first and then the county commission. The cost will be $1 million per year with a 3% increase for the five-year agreement.


The commission once again discussed having a golf cart ordinance for nighttime. It will exclude private roads. By state law, the golf cart cannot exceed 25 miles per hour. If it goes at a higher rate of speed, it becomes a low-speed vehicle. It then must have a front wind shield, brake lights and head lights.


The argument was whether the age should be 16 or 14 years old to drive a golf cart. According to staff, the state statute is 14. Most municipalities that have such an ordinance restrict drivers to be a minimum of 16 years of age. The ordinance will go to residents for more feedback.


Right outside the town on Bridge Road, an 18-acre property just sold. It has been cleared of exotics as per Martin County code to receive a building permit. There will be one single-family residence on the site. Most of the parcel are wetlands, and without the vegetation, the view is not as nice. And while exotics are the bane of Florida habitat, they do allow for things to remain green. Not much can be done in this instance



Jupiter Island Latest News From The May 1, 2022 Edition


The next meeting will be May 9, 2022



Jupiter Island Latest News From The April 17, 2022 Edition




Tucker Johnson was sworn in as commissioner to serve in the seat vacated by the resignation of Michael Brooks. He was appointed by the town commission. Johnson will serve in that capacity until the next election in March of 2023.


Pidot addressed emails sent by former county and town commissioner, Anne Scott to town residents. The March 22nd one refers to several points that has her “hair on fire” as she has framed it.


Scott’s biggest complaint is the Guardians’ endorsement of the rural lifestyle amendment. As you know this newsletter also has had problems with why Martin County needs this land use. Scott believes that it is the worst possible outcome for land planning. Pidot believes that the presentation of that development and others by other groups is fine, but it is debatable whether town government should weigh in on non-town matters.


Other items Scott mentioned and to which the mayor responded:


  • The selection of commissioners by appointment instead of a special election. In truth the charter does give the commission the authority to appoint replacements if needed. Jupiter Island has been doing it this way for years. They did it when Scott was on the commission.
  • Scott complained that the town is not taking a position on growth. They have heard several presentations. Besides Discovery, there is the 3 Lakes Golf Courses project. None of the growth is within town borders.
  • As to who county commissioners are and why should residents care…they should care. Is Scott mad because individuals who are sitting on the county commission currently don’t believe what she believes?
  • She complained about the Mayor’s Coffee, the costs, and why the people do not meet with other commissioners. Pidot stated and it was re-iterated by Manager Michael Ventura that except for the cost of the coffee, there is no additional cost to the town. As to other commissioners, Ms. Scott may had forgotten about “sunshine” and how other commissioners cannot meet outside of regularly advertised meetings. Of course, any citizen can meet with any individual commissioner.
  • Scott also claimed it is hard to obtain public records from the town and that public meetings should be more public. Pidot refuted both of those points. I don’t know how you can say public meetings are secretive. Ventura also mentioned that the town will be using federal ARPA funds to upgrade their recording capability. And they should do that.

I would add that the town should post full agendas and attachments to their website in anticipation of meetings which they do not currently do. They should have downloads of past recorded meetings on the town’s website. Perhaps with the improvements that Ventura spoke about, this will all be routine as it is in other municipalities. I have had only one instance where a public records request was not easily obtainable from staff. However, within 24 hours of my contacting Pidot, I had the information.

  • Scott also mentioned the town hiring a flak and asked who else he works for? Pidot went into some detail that the company had been used by the town numerous times as a consultant. Of course, the company works for others…as they should.


You can find the two emails here


Lastly, I once again urge the commissioners to speak into their microphones. They are on the air live and if they do not speak directly into the mics, how is the public going to hear? Pidot is quite understandable, but the others are not especially Townsend.



Jupiter Island Latest News From The April 3, 2022 Edition


The next meeting will be April 11, 2022



Jupiter Island Latest News From The March 20, 2022 Edition




The first item of business was swearing in Joseph McChristian Jr. as a commissioner. He was chosen by the commission to fulfill the term of Hank Heck at the February meeting. He will serve until the next election in March of 2023.


The mayor mentioned that the Guardians will be hosting a meeting regarding the county’s rural lifestyle comp plan amendment. The mayor stated that the Guardians have taken a positive position on the amendment and may have proposed changes. They have gathered the questions and have answers asked by the public at the last BOCC meeting.


The meeting will be held on March 23rd at Indian River State College Chastain Center in the Wolf Technology Lab at 4 pm. For more information, you can go on the Guardian’s website. County staff will also be there to answer technical questions.


There was still an opening on the commission due to the resignation of Michael Brooks. The commission had two applicants who had submitted interest, Marshall Field VI and Tucker Johnson. Mr. Johnson has served on town boards for two decades. It seemed that almost all commissioners had been on a board with Mr. Johnson and knew his work well.


Commissioner Townsend likes his work so much that she couldn’t vote for him to go onto the commission because his current board, the Impact Review Committee where he is Vice-Chair, needs him too much. I guess the moral of that story is to not be too conscientious or you could be left in the cold.


Three other commissioners wanted Johnson to join them on the commission. The vote was 3-1 in the selection process followed by a vote of 4-0 to appoint Johnson to the commission.





Jupiter Island Latest News From The March 6, 2022 Edition


Next Commission Meeting March 16, 2022.



Jupiter Island Latest News From The February 20, 2022 Edition



Commissioner Michael Brooks has resigned.

Michael Brooks

It was inevitable that he did. As I wrote in the last newsletter, his constant recusals made him a non-entity on the commission. His resignation letter is here


The commission is now looking to fill two seats. Even in this community there is such a thing as the Public Records Law and being liable to tortuous interference of a contract. As these issues move through the court, it was apparent to all that Brooks’ tenure on the commission was coming to an end.




When there are only three commissioners on the dais, it can be a lonely place.


Yet it was up to Pidot, Collins, and Townsend to pick Heck’s replacement today. Heck resigned from the commission earlier. Three people expressed interest in the position. The board spoke about what qualifications they believed pertinent to the job. It seemed that the commission thought the applicant needed experience on town boards and with LDRs.


When the public spoke, one commenter thought it would be appropriate for the applicants to state their position on the 2019 setback line and that they would vote to keep it. Pidot thought that would be inappropriate as did the town attorney.


The three applicants were Marshall Fields VI, Joe McChristian Jr., and Tucker Johnson. It was done by written ballot and the results were read by the clerk. On the first ballot, each candidate received one vote. A second ballot was done and McChristian was elected.


He will be sworn in at the March meeting and will hold that position until the next election in March of 2023. McChristian will be at that meeting to choose Brooks’s replacement with the rest of the commission.


I am hopeful that the Jupiter Island Commissioners are done with recusal on votes for anything but what is allowed under statute. There needs to be five people weighing the options for the town going forward. And following public records and sunshine laws when doing so.




A second good project (after Discovery was at an earlier meeting) was presented to the commission. It is the Three Lakes Golf Club.


Interestingly, even though the Jupiter Island Commission has no jurisdiction in the matter, the developers were running it past the town. Politically, anything that will be on Bridge Road needs to have their buy-in. And there doesn’t seem to be any reason not to get it.

It is on Bridge Road and goes to both sides of Kanner Highway. It is comprised of 1217 acres, and there will be three full size golf courses and one executive course. There will be (at most) 72 cottages that can be rented by the members when they are using the golf courses plus accommodations for staff next to the industrial zoned KO Waterside parcel on Kanner. And here is why it is so great for western Martin County…there will be no homes built.


That means that 95% of the property will be green space including the courses. 3% will be hardscape. The irrigation water will come from the St. Lucie Canal. And the stormwater will be 100% kept on the property. Plans are for them to have their own wastewater treatment and potable water.


Most of the property now is not undeveloped land. It has been used for agricultural purposes for years. Ag pays very little in property taxes and does not need to meet the same storm water requirements as other classifications. This is a win for Martin County which will have much greater tax revenue.  But since no homes are being built, there will be very little need for county services.


It will come in under the Rural Lifestyle classification if that classification is approved by the commission. You can find the presentation here



Jupiter Island Latest News From The February 6, 2022 Edition




The meeting was held to discuss the Testa lawsuit against the town and what to do regarding the Zoning-In-Progress (ZIP).

The town and intervenor, represented by Loeb, have prevailed in the Testa court case. Once a final order is entered there will be a thirty-day period to appeal Judge Sweet’s decision. And make no mistake that order will be appealed.


The Testas have now asked for a court to review each of the decisions that the commission upheld from the Impact Review Committee regarding building permits using the 2019 dune set back line.


The three commissioners sitting on the dais, Pidot, Townsend, and Collins, looked isolated and forlorn. The fourth commissioner, Michael Brooks, joined them electronically. Occasionally, when asked if he wished to comment, he appropriately said, “no comment.”


When it came to discussing the ZIP, it was acknowledged that it had been almost an entire year since it had been instituted. The town’s experts have said there are no technical or environmental concerns to continuing the ZIP.


The commission seemed not to want to decide. Town Attorney Skip Randolph said that, legally, the best course of action was to allow it to expire. Townsend went back and forth but seemed to want to go back to the time when things like this would be settled at the club over a few drinks. Those times are past.


Pidot, no matter what was decided, wanted to make sure that his mantra “equal protection line” was not crossed. As of now there has been no diminution of anyone’s property rights, and he wants to keep it that way. While it was explained by one of Testa’s experts that there are few court decisions which upheld Bert Harris claims, there have been many monetary settlements between the parties.


Pidot wanted to make sure that people knew that the town was not anywhere near insolvency. There could be an additional tax burden. The Testa lawsuit has eaten up a third of a million dollars.


Ethan Loeb, attorney for those seeking to build using the 2019 line, argued for allowing the ZIP to expire. Adopting the solution presented by town’s staff, there are still substantial property rights that will be impaired. Once the ZIP ends, then property owners can seek permits, and regardless of what is decided, they would fall under the existing regulations.


Commissioner Townsend continues to believe that Testa & Loeb will somehow come together and seek compromise. I don’t see how that is likely. This is now a war and more legal battles will have to be fought before someone sues for peace.


The town attorney wanted Brooks to state his reasons for abstaining. He said he wanted to insure an objective outcome. Attorney Randolph coaxed him to say that he was abstaining because of some financial gain or loss. The best Brooks can come up with is being named in Loeb’s lawsuit for public records violations for concealing his emails.

Michael Brooks

There still has been no Form 8-B filed by Brooks which members of boards are required to file when they are recusing themselves from voting stating the reason. It is apparent that Brooks will be MIA for everything having to do with land development and approvals. Aren’t the citizens of Jupiter Island entitled to full representation?


If you use Brooks’ logic, he won’t be able to vote on the budget since so much will be regarding defending existing or proposed lawsuits. He won’t be able to vote on any land use changes or any land development because it could be used against him. The very essence of why Jupiter Island exists is to avoid having Martin County in charge of their development. Brooks has taken himself out of those decisions.


Some residents may hope to keep this controversy alive to influence the election in less than 14 months. If a commission that favors a repeal of the 2019 dune line comes to office, that would only encourage Mr. Loeb and his clients from continuing or bringing new actions.


Commissioner Collins wants to move ahead and let the ZIP expire. That seems like the most prudent action the town can take. The Testas’ suits are being disposed of in Jupiter Island’s favor. Collins and all three of the active board have said that they are in favor of leaving the dune line in place. So why not just do so.


The proposed changes offered by staff should be a nonstarter. The changes are what bureaucrats and entrenched politicians do to seek to please all…but rarely do. Pidot has said that he believes that the staff changes could be seen as a taking of property rights. Loeb has said it will be cause for litigation.


Townsend made a motion to continue the ZIP until the February 16th meeting. In the interim, the code will be studied and the staff compromise ordinance should be reviewed. Pidot seconded. The vote was 2-1 with Collins dissenting and Brooks abstaining.


Loeb has now filed another suit against Brooks, Dena Testa, and others for tortious interference of a contract. And the beat goes on!




Jupiter Island Latest News From The January 23, 2022 Edition




There was a discussion about what to do with the vacancy created by Heck’s resignation from the commission.


Pidot, Collins, and Townsend were in favor of an appointment by the commission as outlined in the town’s charter. The appointed person would remain in office until the next election in 2023. Appointment is the way the commission has handled vacancies in the past.

When asked, the town’s attorney said they could have an interim election. Brooks wanted that option and cited his own decision to run the day before he filed stating that campaigns could begin, and candidates could be found immediately. The others were in favor of using the same method as had been used in the past which was to solicit residents to submit their names and any backup material to the clerk.


Collins said that, at present, there was too much animosity in town and an election would only stir it up more. That was the view of three, and so it will be an appointment. A notice will be sent out to the residents to solicit applicants for the vacancy.


There was a presentation by the staff about how to move forward on the ZIP (Zoning in Progress) for the dune line. As it was being presented by staff, I thought that the proposed solution could make matters worse. It looked to me as a taking of the property rights from some parcel owners. Apparently, Pidot believes that also because he indicated that his support would be contingent upon it being part of a universal settlement, and everyone agreed. Ethan Loeb, an attorney for several of the 300 block owners, concurred.

It appears adopting the staff’s recommendation will not be the solution. You can find the proposal here


The next day, Judge Sweet ruled from the bench that the suit brought by the Testas regarding inadequate resident notice for the adoption of Ordinance 376 was dismissed. This will probably be appealed, but there is little chance of it being overturned. The Town immediately sent out a notice to town residents.


It is sad when a former county and town commissioner needs to cast aspersions about this newsletter and Hobe Sound Currents for reporting on town business. Yelling “fake news” and living with “alternate facts” may be the new reality now when detractors use these tactics instead of using reasoned argument. I have not reported anything that was untrue.


In fact, most of my reporting was centered on the fact Commissioner Brooks could not recuse himself from voting just because he was being sued for sunshine violations by one of the parties to the Beach Road debacle. And with that reporting, I even offered Brooks’ attorney a chance to send me where in statute it stated that he could recuse himself for this reason.


Nowhere did the former commissioner have a reasoned argument in her diatribe. I assume that Hobe Sound Currents will continue reporting the facts. I know I will come what happens with people trying to stop me.





Jupiter Island Latest News From The January 9, 2022 Edition


The next meeting of the commission will be on January 13, 2022.




This promises to be a difficult year for Jupiter Island.


The town commission is beset with dealing with different resident factions. To some extent, those factions may be represented on the town commission. The 2019 ordinance regarding where to build because of the dune line is what has brought this to the fore.


The fundamental issue is property rights. Owners of real estate parcels made plans in accordance with the rules that were in place including the 2019 ordinance. Should they now be penalized for relying on those rules?


By taking the position that they should not be allowed to build, there will be multi-million dollar claims against the town, and if the town is unsuccessful in defending in those lawsuits for infringing on property rights, ultimately the taxpayers are on the hook. Conversely, the opposing position would be that nothing should be built using the 2019 rules to preserve the character of the town.


Both sides will use legal claims such as insufficient resident notice of a change back in 2019. Like all things in Martin County, it is a pro- or anti-development stance that is really at play. No matter who wins in the court challenges to come, the town will lose.

With the resignation of Commissioner Hank Heck who is facing a lawsuit from Ethan Loeb, representing two owners of properties on the 300 block, the commission is facing meltdown. The lawsuit which is a public records request alleges his failure to provide a voice mail recording to Loeb. The lawsuit will go on whether Heck is a commissioner or not. Even Jupiter Island commissioners must obey the law.


Jupiter Island commissioners are accomplished, successful, and rich. The last thing they need is something unsettling like lawsuits for what they believe is performing a public duty. Jupiter Island is supposed to be a tranquil gentle place not a political quagmire. Who will want to take on the responsibility of being on this board?

Michael Brooks

Commissioner Brooks recusal at some point will be challenged. He has his own problems with the public records law. Can his resignation be far behind?


In the last newsletter, I wrote that I thought Commissioner Brooks’ recusal to vote in the appeals of two homes being built using the 2019 rules was not justified by anything I found in statute. Michael Durham, his attorney, wrote me this short e-mail on December 22nd:


Hi Tom, I read the article re abstaining on conflict.


I wanted to provide you with the Statute section regarding quasi judicial hearings.  The law was amended to allow recusal without a financial conflict.


Let me know when we can talk.


Cordially Yours,


Michael D. Durham

Board Certified

City, County, & Local Government Law


I wrote back the same day:


Dear Mike:


Sounds great. Please send me the information on the amended law and your phone number. I will get back with you next week.


Have a Merry Christmas!


I have not heard anything else. In this instance, I would love to have been proven incorrect.


Barbara Clowdus is doing some great reporting on this in her Martin County Currents. No one beats Barbara when it comes to getting to the roots of a story. If you want to read about Jupiter Island’s messy spill over, go here




There was a status conference on the Testa court case this morning. The town’s motions for summary judgement to dismiss the case. The judge set a January 14th date  for an in person hearing  for all three motions. It will be a very interesting January 13th commission meeting.




Jupiter Island Latest News From The December 19, 2021 Edition




Jupiter Island was supposed to be the genteel part of Martin County. It looks as though that may be a thing of the past.


The first meeting of four today was requested by Commissioners Heck and Brooks to speak about what happens if a commissioner resigns. Mayor Pidot asked a very pertinent question, which was if either Heck or Brooks intended to resign? Heck said he had no intention; Brooks was a bit cagier.

The town charter spells out that if a commissioner resigns, then the remaining commissioners will appoint his/her replacement. So why was a meeting called to discuss a replacement if none was needed?


Was Brooks trying to see whether the commission would select a replacement that was in line with Brooks’ views on the dune line? If the commissioners identified the name of the replacement and it was someone that Brooks knew would vote against the decisions reached by the IRC (Independent Review Committee), would he have resigned? Perhaps he naively thought that the commissioners would discuss names before a resignation was given.


After an hour, the meeting ended in no one resigning.

Generic Beach Photo

In preparation for the hearings on whether the IRC’s decisions approving the permits for 310 and 322 South Beach Road were in keeping with the towns zoning, LDRs and comprehensive plan, Brooks recused himself and stepped off the dais. He would not be hearing the appeals. But why?


Ethan Loeb represents the owners of 310 and 322. They filed plans to build houses on pristine beaches using the 2019 dune line that is part of the town code. Mr. Loeb is a well-known attorney when it comes to defending property rights. He was the attorney that represented Lake Point against Martin County which ended up costing the county about $20 million.


In the Martin County suit, Loeb eventually discovered that three county commissioners had possible public records law violations and obtained a monetary settlement with the county. In Jupiter Island, Loeb’s clients sued Brooks personally for having a private email account for town business and apparently blind copying emails to other commissioners. So, is this suit enough to allow Brooks to recuse himself in this matter?


The law is clear that if a voting member of a board or certain members of his family have a financial interest in a matter before the board, he/she must not vote on the item.


FS 112.3143(d) “Special private gain or loss” means an economic benefit or harm that would inure to the officer, his or her relative, business associate, or principal, unless the measure affects a class that includes the officer, his or her relative, business associate, or principal, in which case, at least the following factors must be considered when determining whether a special private gain or loss exists:

1. The size of the class affected by the vote.

2. The nature of the interests involved.

3. The degree to which the interests of all members of the class are affected by the vote.

4. The degree to which the officer, his or her relative, business associate, or principal receives a greater benefit or harm when compared to other members of the class.

The degree to which there is uncertainty at the time of the vote as to whether there would be any economic benefit or harm to the public officer, his or her relative, business associate, or principal and, if so, the nature or degree of the economic benefit or harm must also be considered.


(2)(a) A state public officer may not vote on any matter that the officer knows would inure to his or her special private gain or loss. 


There does not appear to be any financial gain or loss to Brooks. I had requested a copy of the mandatory 8-B. The clerk said that he need not file one since there is no financial conflict. There is no other form to file when recusing oneself.


There is also this:


286.012 Voting requirement at meetings of governmental bodies.—A member of a state, county, or municipal governmental board, commission, or agency who is present at a meeting of any such body at which an official decision, ruling, or other official act is to be taken or adopted may not abstain from voting in regard to any such decision, ruling, or act; and a vote shall be recorded or counted for each such member present, unless, with respect to any such member, there is, or appears to be, a possible conflict of interest under s. 112.311, s. 112.313, s. 112.3143, or additional or more stringent standards of conduct, if any, adopted pursuant to s. 112.326. If there is, or appears to be, a possible conflict under s. 112.311, s. 112.313, or s. 112.3143, the member shall comply with the disclosure requirements of s. 112.3143. If the only conflict or possible conflict is one arising from the additional or more stringent standards adopted pursuant to s. 112.326, the member shall comply with any disclosure requirements adopted pursuant to s. 112.326. If the official decision, ruling, or act occurs in the context of a quasi-judicial proceeding, a member may abstain from voting on such matter if the abstention is to assure a fair proceeding free from potential bias or prejudice.


Nowhere in the statute does it say that a commissioner can recuse himself because he is being sued or has a perceived bias. Imagine if that were the standard for recusal. The week before a vote, one side or the other would file a lawsuit for something against a board member who has been against or for development in the past.


I have reached out to Brooks’ attorney but as of now have not heard back.

Michael Brooks

Without Brooks, the commission had a tie vote for both hearings. That means the IRC decisions stand and Mr. Loeb’s clients as of this meeting will be permitted to build their homes using the 2019 dune line standard. However, Mr. Singer, the attorney for the Testas and their group, “Jupiter Island Forever,” is awaiting a summary judgement decision from a lawsuit they filed against the town stating that not enough or improper notice was given before the dune line was changed.


Being a property rights advocate, I believe the IRC got it right. The property owners were following the codes. Some people may not like the code and that may result in it being changed again which is the reason for the ZIP. However, the people who want to build on the parcels had applied when the 2019 dune line was in effect.


It also appeared to me that the IRC relied on “competent substantial evidence” including the town’s own staff and experts. Mr. Singer also mentioned that the proposed homes had not taken the characteristics of the surrounding area into account. The surrounding area is beach lots. If you take that standard, then the first home ever built on the island would not conform to the surrounding areas. Nothing would have ever been built.


Many people tend to believe that vacant land should not be developed…ever. I am speaking of vacant land that is privately owned. It is not a park or owned by the government. The private owner, if he/she follows the rules, has a right under the U.S. and Florida Constitutions to indeed enjoy the use of the property. We lose sight of that fact…especially in Martin County.

I believe Pidot and Collins were right to uphold the decision of the IRC. Heck and Townsend got it wrong. The one thing those four commissioners did was vote. Having a point of view and even expressing it does not mean the four commissioners, in this case, would not approach their decisions with an open mind. As a commissioner, Mr. Brooks should have followed that standard.


No matter what happened today, more court battles will follow. Both sides have the money to spend millions in litigation. The losers, of course, will be Jupiter Island taxpayers.


Mr. Brooks’ vote would not have made a difference ultimately since the matter is headed for the courts. That does not matter, however, as Mr. Brooks was obligated to vote in this instance. The law clearly states so. Brooks did not file a Form 8-B. He quoted 286.012 as his reason to abstain which is the statute I cited above. There is no financial conflict which would obligate him to do otherwise.


If a commissioner has expressed an opinion or is being sued by a party to the proceeding, that is not grounds for recusal. If true, then all any attorney would have to do is commence a lawsuit against a commissioner that he/she knows won’t vote the way his/her client wants. If that were the standard, then Commissioner Heard would be sued several times a week.


There is no financial reason for the recusal. The statutes that Brooks claims allows him to recuse himself deals with financial matters. The legislature has not changed the reasons for recusal.


An Attorney General Advisory Legal Opinion in 1987 states that the legislative intent of 286.012 was for financial conflicts and no others. The statute does not allow an elected official to walk away from his/her duties every time a hard vote comes up by claiming animosity between himself and one of the parties.  While judges may have a range of reasons for recusal, Florida Statute has narrowly drawn defined limits for elected and appointed officials.


The entire opinion can be found here


If you want a deep analysis of the controversy regarding this, Barbara Clowdus of Martin County Currents has just done an in-depth series. You can read it here



Jupiter Island Latest News From The December 5, 2021 Edition


This is an email to Friends & Neighbors from Bob Garlo, Deputy Town Manager & Public Safety Director.

In 2018, the Town of Jupiter Island undertook a study of the waterfront setback line, which had not been updated since 2000.

Over the course of a total of nine public meetings, the Town Commission moved to update the waterfront setback line, modifying it in May 2019 upon second reading and passage of Ordinance 376.


In response to newly proposed development applications and public concerns, the Town Commission in May 2021 directed staff and leading coastal experts to review the waterfront setback line.


Town Commissioners also declared a Zoning in Progress (ZIP) for new development applications related to the waterfront setback line. Further, Town Commissioners directed staff to review the waterfront setback line in accordance with the town’s comprehensive plan.

In addition, the town hired law firm Greenberg Traurig to review the comp plan in relation to the waterfront setback line. Attorney Barbara Hall stated that in her opinion, the town did not violate its comp plan.


As a separate matter, in June, town resident David Testa filed suit against the town alleging that in 2019 the town didn’t meet heightened notice requirements per F.S. 166.041.


In September, the Town extended the ZIP through January 2022.


At the October Town Commission meeting, the town manager offered to meet with various stakeholders independently. Those meetings took place.



Jupiter Island Latest News From The November 21, 2021 Edition


The meeting held on November 16, 2021, could not be covered. We intend to follow up with the town.


Jupiter Island Latest News From The November 7, 2021 Edition


Next meeting will be November 16, 2021


Jupiter Island Latest News From The October 24, 2021 Edition




7 South Beach Road has requested a subdivision plat. It is currently two acres. There are no common areas. Both owners would be responsible for landscaping and other buffers. There are two 10-foot utility easements per code according to the owner. The existing septic system will be abandoned. Invasive species are being removed.


There is also a 10-foot easement that has never been recorded with SMRU for an outfall carrying water into the sea. The outfall extends 1500 feet offshore. SMRU has had the easement since 2002. There can be shrubs, but no trees planted. And here is where the problems begin.


The neighbor has hired an attorney with several objections. After further and extensive discussion by the commission, a motion was made with conditions including a letter of opinion from SMRU’s counsel regarding the easement (that is to be recorded) and that the septic is in compliance. It passed unanimously.




The town’s attorney will meet with different parties to see whether a resolution can be worked out regarding where the dune protection line is located. The Zoning In Progress (ZIP) will continue. The item should come back in November to see whether it needs to continue to apply to the 16 miles of town waterfront or can be contained to one area.


Adina Testa, a founding member of Jupiter Island Forever, made a presentation. She stated several landowners in the disputed area will place their properties under permanent conservation. The focus of her presentation was to request that the dune setback line return to the line drawn in 2000 to protect the dunes.


There were two property owners represented by Ethan Loeb who want to develop their properties in accordance with the revised 2019 line. There is a suggestion of raising unjust taking claims against the town. If property rights of an owner to build on his property are interfered with it would be considered an unjust taking. To make matters more complicated, there are owners who want to build and are not in the disputed area. They have also been blocked.


For the sake of the community, I hope this is settled amicably. I fear that will not happen.





Jupiter Island Latest News From The October 10, 2021 Edition



There is a high stakes game happening on Jupiter Island.


It is being conducted in a gentlemanly way, but make no mistake, there are millions of dollars in the balance. Right now, it is still more or less internal with the players being neighbors, friends, and homeowners on the island. The stakes are for what you can build and where on your property. That can translate into vast sums per buildable parcel.


When you listen to some commissioners and residents, they are a little heartbroken to see the town changing from a sedate enclave to a more “palm beachy” place. The dispute settles around where the waterfront setback line should be. It was last evaluated in 2019, and several months ago the commission decided to discuss it again.

To thoroughly examine the parameters of the waterfront rule, the commissioners issued what is known as a zoning-in-progress to prevent further building applications from being processed. This has resulted in some wanting to keep the setback line where it is and others to begin or threaten lawsuits since it impacts their property rights and pocketbooks.


Jupiter Island has been a place for the wealthy for generations. Most thought of it as a place for “old money” to live…those content with relatively small and non-flashy homes instead of the Palm Beach mansions. That has certainly changed over the years a bit. Yet even with the addition and subtraction of big-name celebrity, it had Martin County values.


Most residents are or were the working wealthy. They are the products of the right schools, white-shoe law firms, and corporate jobs. Some started out as working class, but most were either born well off or had the advantage of the right family connections. Yet while I am sure there are snooty residents, everyone I ever met was always polite and welcoming. The island is exemplified in my mind by gentlemen like Nat Reed and Whit Pidot, who give or gave unselfishly to their communities.


In 2021, however, Americans are different from who they were before. Love of place can be set aside for more pecuniary reasons. To its credit, the commission is trying to balance competing interests, the future of the community, and environmental concerns. There are no good guys and bad guys, just Type A personalities having the dough and the savvy to try and get their way.

The town could be in for millions in Bert-Harris Act claims and other damages. Bert-Harris is a statute that protects the property rights of owners. Government in Florida cannot inordinately burden owners with what can be allowed on private property. Commissioners are sad, residents are sad, and even outsiders should be sad. This is not how Martin County behaves. Jupiter Island is part of Martin County.


Yet Martin County was embroiled in a lawsuit recently with Lake Point over property rights and is in another one with Harmony Ranch. In the old days, everyone would meet and amicably settle things like that. The times are changing including on Jupiter Island.


The zoning-in-progress will remain at least through January 31, 2022. The town may begin non-binding mediation with most of the parties. Perhaps the pending litigants will see whether a larger settlement is possible.


One of the things that did come up yesterday was the lack of transparency in the town. Some were claiming that it was difficult to know when meetings would be held.  In my experience it is easy to obtain information from staff. However, the website can be a little hard to navigate. The agendas have no backup materials provided or detailed explanations on what the item is. This could lead to residents not being able to know how significant an agenda item is.


There is no set monthly meeting date. Yes, the commissioners are busy, have multiple homes, businesses, and responsibilities but a meeting date that is the same every month would go a long way in being transparent. The commission does not need to start it immediately but can do it beginning in the 2nd quarter of next year to allow for the transition and their personal planning.




Jupiter Island Latest News From The September 5, 2021 Edition


The next regular meeting is September 15, 2021.

Jupiter Island Latest News From The August 22, 2021 Edition


The next regular meeting is in September.



Jupiter Island Latest News From The August 8, 2021 Edition


The next meeting is in September.

Jupiter Island Latest News From The July 25, 2021 Edition


Unfortunately, I was unable to attend the meeting.




Jupiter Island Latest News From The July 11, 2021 Edition


The next meeting will be July 15, 2021


Jupiter Island Latest News From The June 27, 2021 Edition

The next meeting will be July 15, 2021


Jupiter Island Latest News From The June 13, 2021 Edition




Lynn Griffith Jr., a noted arborist, gave the commission advice on the disease that is killing the trees of the Ficus Allée. The good news is that it is a slow progressing disease. While the bad news is that there is no known cure.

The disease is spread by spores entering the tree through cuts in the bark. Griffith suggests that they try several new fungicides and see what happens. He does not see any need to panic. The older the tree, the more likely that it will become infected. Trees are like other living organisms that have a life span. Some of the trees are reaching the end of their natural life, and just like people, they are more susceptible to disease as they age.


There was a place holder for an executive session due to a lawsuit brought by residents because of the current dune line regulations. There is a zoning-in-progress (ZIP) which prevents new building application from being processed and approved.  The town attorney, John (Skip) Randolph, stated that he did not need to have a shade meeting on the pending suit at this point.

            John Randolph

Mr. Randolph is an eminent legal presence in municipal government law and seemed to be a little annoyed with some members of the commission. Usually, the elected officials are apprised of matters once there is a settlement offer or a policy decision that must be made. They do not advise legal counsel on strategy or what pleadings should be made.


There are five quite accomplished commissioners, two of whom are attorneys. It seemed that some members of the commission were offering legal advice that was not apropos to their positions. Pidot knows how to steer the conversation back to what is acceptable. Randolph will chart strategy and involve the commission when appropriate.


The Building Official, Reuben Cruz, discussed the other zoning-in-progress regarding dock lighting. His memo can be found here here


There are currently 2 residents that want to build new docks. Cruz wants to set up a demonstration to show the commissioners different lighting intensities. It was decided to extend the ZIP while this occurs.


Town Manager Michael Ventura gave the current financial condition of the town plus introduced the draft budget for 2022. The budget has increased 5.25% to $9,516,585. This is not the final budget but only projected at this point. Included in his presentation was a timeline for final approval.


You can find the presentation here



Jupiter Island Latest News From The May 23, 2021 Edition




The meeting began with a proclamation honoring former Commissioner Barry Hall. He decided not to run for reelection. He appeared to be a good solid member of the commission.


Jupiter Island is an enclave for the very rich. What it is not is a vulgar ostentatious place. It is no Palm Beach. For the most part, the residents (including the commissioners) try to be good stewards of the environment. Yet in attempting to do just that, they sometimes run into trouble. Managing where the setback line for construction should be can bring out many inhabitants.

According to a memo given to commissioners: The Waterfront Setback Line (WFSBL) is a plotted line along both the Atlantic Ocean and the Intracoastal Waterway/ Indian River Lagoon that represents the rear yard setback of all waterfront properties.


The entire reason to have a setback line is to not have construction too close to the water and obstruct the views of existing structures. It helps the environment and makes sure that other valuable properties do not become less valuable.


The criteria for the ocean lots are:


  • 50 feet landward of the “mean high water line.”
  • 50 feet of the landward dune line (+14’)
  • 50 feet landward of existing seawall/coastal structure
  • Line of sight between closest habitable conforming buildings within 1000 feet
  • Average setback from the mean high water of closest conforming buildings within 1000 feet.


Those lots facing the river have only two:


  • 50 feet landward of the “mean high water line.”
  • Average setback from mean high water of closest conforming buildings within 1000 feet.


On Jupiter Island before any decisions can be made, experts need to weigh in. More municipalities would have better results if they followed this course of action. Usually if there is one consultant’s report covering everything that would be sufficient.


Both the Clean Water Act and Endangered Species Act need to be taken into consideration. The Aquifer must be considered as well as the Gopher Tortoise. Before construction, a coastal control line permit must be obtained from the state so that shore and water birds are protected. There are other safeguards in addition to the town’s own.

Under their program and in cooperation with Martin County, the beaches have done remarkably well. They are growing in depth from where they had previously been in mid-20th century. This is a continuous process. The base line for measuring this is 1973, and there is 187 more feet of beach today.


There is an old saying that you can’t fight city hall. It usually is true because most of us can’t or won’t pay the legal fees necessary to do so. On Jupiter Island that saying does not apply. A couple, David and Adena Testa, have hired a law firm to fight the 2019 ordinance that sets the criteria. Their argument is that the ordinance is in violation of the town’s comprehensive plan.


Since the beach, dune lines and mean high water lines have changed because of renourishment what was true in 1973 is no longer true today. That is a common sense reading of the situation. That does not mean it is the legal one. Town codes cannot be in contradiction to the comp plan. If the ordinance being reviewed (376) conflicts with the plan, it may end up being determined in court.


The zoning in progress was extended to the September meeting by the commission in a vote of 5-0.


The presentation and objection letter may be found here




Jupiter Island Latest News From The May 9, 2021 Edition


The Next Commission Meeting Will be May 10, 2021



Jupiter Island Latest News From The April 25, 2021 Edition




Mayor Pidot began the meeting by recounting his Coffee with the Mayor. He mentioned the entire home rule issue and how local government is deprived more and more of exercising this supposed constitutional right. He specifically mentioned House Bill 1053 which would give the Attorney General the right to take over any case that she found had a state impact.


With the erosion of home rule, I would not be surprised that in the future our descendants would be driving to Tallahassee to apply for a building permit. It seems that even our own representative thinks that the legislature is better able to write architectural codes that our local governments.




There are currently two Zonings in Progress regarding dock lights and waterfront setbacks both of which were extensively discussed at the last meeting. The town has employed several consultants to advise the commission on what to do.


This has to do with resiliency. The Town of Jupiter Island is an exclusive enclave that prides itself on having homes in a beautiful setting. And undoubtably a piece of property that looks upon the ocean or the river or both is beautiful. But there are challenges to living in that environment.


I applaud the commission for trying to preserve that beauty. Not much of the public knows about the Island even within Martin County. The residents there like it that way as compared to the glitz of Palm Beach. I think they have it correct.


I also believe that they are willing to trade off what can be done architecturally for the preservation and natural beauty that is there.


Commissioner Heck has undertaken a project to find out what those residents who serve on town boards want to see. It is quite illuminating.


You can see the comments plus presentations HERE




When building on Bridge Road even on the mainland west of Federal Highway, it is a good idea to make sure Jupiter Island is on board. That was what this presentation was all about. It is true that the development will need SMRU to provide water and sewar for this to proceed, but there was more than that.


Becker Farms owns the 1757-acre site that was an orange grove. Currently, it is zoned for 20-acre ranchettes and it contains the Hobe Sound Polo Club. Michael Jordan’s Golf Club backs up against it and contains 257 acres of the property already. The remaining 1500 acres will be known as Atlantic Fields.

The 800-acre Becker Tree Farm, which borders I-95, will be placed in an agricultural easement. They will keep the open area that borders Bridge Road. The Polo Club will remain and will be open to the public. Some of the land will be returned to a flow way from Atlantic Ridge State Park south which had been cut off when it was agricultural land.


There will be a donation of a pathway into the park for hikers, bikers, and equestrian riders. Becker Farms will also build and donate an equestrian center in the park. The old Hobe Sound train station that is now used as an office will be returned to downtown Hobe Sound.


The Discovery Land Company will be the developer-operator in this joint venture with Becker. They are an luxury resort home land developer with properties in Portugal, Barbuda, Dominican Republic, Montana, and many more places.


There will be 317 home sites from a 1/3rd of an acre to 4 acres. The starting price of a lot is $3 million and then you build the house. They will have a clubhouse and golf course. There will also be a beach club with clubhouse somewhere in the area that will have limited parking and be accessed by member shuttle. It will not be in the Town of Jupiter Island.


According to the presentation, most residents of communities such as these have several other comparable homes throughout the world, so this is not for full time living. They estimate that occupancy at any one time will be only 20 to 25%. They are supposedly placing a deed restriction limiting residents from attending Martin County schools. Discovery through their HOA document will limit the number of days of occupancy for homeowners in the year.


There are no helicopter sites. Most will use Witham Field or Palm Beach. This is ultra-luxury living for those that can afford the price.


What are the upsides to a community like this in the county? Well, the county’s ad-valorem will grow by more than $30 million, and there will be no homesteads if the number of days is adhered to in the documents. This also stops the likelihood of a mass type home developer coming in and building hundreds of rooftops with the sprawl and congestion that will be associated with that type of development.


It will also make the likelihood of the Loxa/Lucie project happening much stronger. There will be a vested interest in having more property and especially wetlands and upland preserve area stay out of development. If we are going to preserve our western and southern environment this is a good way of doing it.


What is the downside? Martin County, at least in the southern half of the county, will become even more exclusive than it is now. Carpenters, plumbers, and painters will not be living anywhere near their work. Never mind having affordable, workforce, or attainable housing.


Yet weighing everything in perspective, it probably will keep Martin County greener than any of the surrounding counties. That also means there must be a commitment to develop more housing within the CRAs and municipalities. You need housing for working people, middle class people, and even professional people a place to live that is affordable.


More very wealthy people moving here may stop county sprawl. That only works if governments recognize its responsibility to approve denser projects elsewhere in the county so people can afford to live here. It is a balance. One that is doable if the county commission has the fortitude to demand it.


You can see the presentation HERE




Jupiter Island Latest News From The April 11, 2021 Edition

The next meeting will be April 14, 2021





Jupiter Island Latest News From The March 28, 2021 Edition




Who would have imagined that the Town of Jupiter Island would have had such a contested election?

Politics, like other things, is a matter of timing. Apparently current commissioner and mayor, Whit Pidot, still has the backing of the voters of Jupiter Island. He handily defeated former Jupiter Island and County Commissioner Anne Scott in the race for a two-year term )240 votes to 136 votes). It seems that Mr. Pidot knowledgeable and rather genteel manner was desired by the island.


Incumbent Harold Heck and newcomer Michael C. Brooks were elected to the four-year term seats. Brooks received 291 votes, Heck had 157 votes, followed closely by Emmet Smith with 153 votes and Joseph A. McChristian Jr. with 103 votes.


The commission re-elected Pidot as mayor and Maura Collins as vice-mayor for another year. It appears to me that Pidot has used his legal training to guide the town to some soft landings with thorny issues at times. On many occasions, the commission has allowed him and staff to negotiate on their behalf to achieve reasonable outcomes.




In this age of increasingly unpredictable weather, how far from the water should your house be?


This is an extremely complicated decision. Jupiter Island is a barrier island. According to Wikipedia, “Barrier islands are coastal landforms and a type of dune system that are exceptionally flat or lumpy areas of sand that form by wave and tidal action parallel to the mainland coast.” In other words, barrier islands are not meant to be static. They adjust to the ocean’s flow. That is what makes Jupiter Island so beautiful.

Yet when you are dealing with homes worth many millions of dollars, people want to take advantage of the property they own. In 2019 the setback rules were changed. It seems that some have second thoughts about any changes that were made. It is time to rethink those decisions.


After nearly 2 hours of discussion between themselves and the public, the commission decided to have staff engage the requisite experts to begin to look at the changes to where the setback lines should be. The motion passed 5-0


There was also a motion to enact what is known as “zoning in progress” moratorium to ensure that no more new construction or extensive exterior remodeling is done on lots that have either river or ocean front. Further, no new applications will be accepted by the town. However, applications already in Town Hall will be processed. The vote was 5-0



Jupiter Island Latest News From The March 14, 2021 Edition


There will be an election for commission on March 16, 2021 to be conducted at Town Hall. There are two positions for a four-year term and one for a two-year term.


Those running for to be on the commission for four-years are: Michael C. Brooks, Harold D. Heck, Jr. (incumbent), Joseph A. McChristian, Jr. and Emmet C. Smith. For the two-year term, candidates are Whitney D. Pidot (the present mayor and incumbent) and Anne Scott

A biography of each candidate, which was published in the Jupiter Island Residents Associations newsletter, can be found here


The next commission meeting will be on March 17, 2021.





Jupiter Island Latest News From The February 28, 2021 Edition




Commissioner Hall stated he would not seek re-election. This will be his last meeting. Hall was celebrated by his fellow commissioners. He will also be stepping down from the finance committee.

Both Mayor Pidot and Commissioner Heck intend to file by the March 1st date to run in the March 16th election.


The entire audit report for the year ending September 30, 2020 was presented. It was given a clean report. As Pidot said it is a real business. You can find the letter of opinion and audit here


And here




The weather tower that the conservancy wants to allow University of Florida to construct at Blowing Rocks Preserve is still trudging along.


The commission has been working on it for some time. Each commissioner has visited the site. They have all weighed in with their opinions. There are conditions for approval that have been drafted. Now the Impact Review Committee has written that they should see this item also.


Mayor Pidot and the commission have really done everything that the committee would have done anyway. Pidot stated that the committee would be necessary if this were attached to a residential property. The commission will move forward by allowing the mayor, the town attorney, and staff to finish up the conditions that are needed.


Heck voted no because he believes that the weather station strays from the original intent of the preserve when dedicated. The item can be found here


The South Beach Road interlocal with the county for repaving is still unresolved. The county wants to cut down trees of more than a 4” circumference back from 6 feet of the roadway. The town has worked out 3 feet with them indemnifying the county if an accident occurs because the trees were not taken.


Apparently, there are not very many trees once the exceptions are taken into account. The entire report can be found  here




Jupiter Island Latest News From The February 14, 2021 Edition

The next meeting will be February 17, 2021

For more information on becoming a sponsor, please contact Chriss David at or 561-358-1119. She will explain how you or your business will be featured in the newsletter and on our websites.


Jupiter Island Latest News From The January 24, 2021 Edition



The town has undertaken providing vaccine to its residents.


At first, I thought that the rich have an advantage over the rest of us once again. Then I quickly realized that what they are doing is what other municipalities could be doing. Their advantage may be that they have a well-run government. I guess that is what having the ability to adequately tax can buy.

Jupiter Island is carefully following Governor DeSantis’ executive order. They are prioritizing the still extremely limited vaccine doses to be given by age. (The first person to receive it was 99.) In total, the Town has vaccinated 40 residents so far with 400 having signed up. I applaud the town for showing how government can be used to help their citizens.


Places like Stuart, Indiantown, and even Martin County do not have the financial resources to make sure that all their citizens have a viable way to sign up for their inoculations. Our seniors are left scrambling to make hundreds of phone calls in the hope of someone at the health department will pick up and make their appointments.


Jupiter Island is not doing anything untowardly. More governments need to strive to be at their level of service. Perhaps someday we will get there.


There was also an excellent report given regarding COVID. It can be found here




The Nature Conservancy’s Blowing Rocks wants to team up with the University of Florida to construct a 30-foot weather tower. It will be on the mid northern portion of the parcel between South Beach Road and the Intercoastal.


Each commissioner made recommendations as to what the conditions for approval would be. It appears most residents feel that a weather facility on the island would be a positive. The tower will not be accessible to the public and supposedly hard to see.


One commissioner mentioned that introducing things like a tower goes against the original grant to the Conservancy. There may be a point to that view. Yet that commissioner and the others feel that if development conditions can be adhered to by Blowing Rocks, then it would be a net benefit.


Staff will take ideas that were expressed by the commissioners and work with the mayor to comeback at the next meeting. The agenda package can be found here





The next election for town commission will occur on March 16th. There will be three commission seats up for election. Two will be for a new four-year term (Whitney Pidot and Barry Hall) and one for two additional years (Harold Heck.) The qualifying period is February 16-March 1st. Those Jupiter Island residents wishing to run should contact Town Hall for further details.


Martin County and the town are still working out details for the South Beach Road project. The decision about which tress will be removed will be finalized in the next few weeks. The entire presentation can be found  here

For more information on becoming a sponsor, please contact Chriss David at or 561-358-1119. She will explain how you or your business will be featured in the newsletter and on our websites.



Jupiter Island Latest News From The January 10, 2021 Edition

The next meeting will be January 14, 2021


For more information on becoming a sponsor, please contact Chriss David at or 561-358-1119. She will explain how you or your business will be featured in the newsletter and on our websites.


Jupiter Island Latest News From The December 13, 2020 Edition

I was unable to attend the meeting held on December 9th.


Jupiter Island Latest News From The November 22, 2020 Edition



The first order of business was the nicest part of the meeting. Several months ago, during a lightning storm, the Johnsons (both father and son) were struck by lightening while they were on the beach. Public Safety Officer Frank Lasaga and Corporal Matthew Potsko of Jupiter Island’s Public Safety Department rushed to their aid and saved their lives. With the Johnsons there, the two employees were recognized.


I know Mr. Lasaga from his time as a Stuart Fire Rescue employee. You couldn’t find a nicer person. Often in public discourse, we speak about heroes. I think we throw that term around very loosely. In this instance, both these guys are just that. And it was nice that they were recognized for their feat of saving two people from death.  

The Jupiter Island Arts Council is making its final request for support from the town government. They were looking for the exact amount of $19,111.70. After that, they will be a self-funding independent nonprofit. They may look to partner with the town, or the town may contract with the council to put on events.  

Mayor Pidot stated that it would probably be better to award a grant than allocate funds for the council’s tax purposes. To that end Pidot, suggested the amount of the grant be $20,000. A motion was passed 4-0 with Commissioner Collins abstaining because of a conflict since she is on the Arts Council Board. 

The presentation and financials can be found here  

Town Manager Ventura presented the end of the 20/21 fiscal year. It is not been finalized. It shows the town came in underbudget. You can find the report here



Jupiter Island Latest News From The November 20, 2020 Edition

The Next Commission Meeting will be November 16, 2020

Jupiter Island Latest News From The October 18, 2020 Edition



The Guardians of Martin County made a presentation about creating preserve land on Bridge Road.


According to the presentation, this is a joint effort between the Guardians and Treasured Lands Foundation to preserve 138 acres on a two mile stretch of Bridge Road in Phase 1. The project is being called the Loxa-Lucie Headwaters. Most of the land is wetlands so huge parts would be undevelopable.

The property is for sale and the owner would like to see it go into conservation. To date, fundraising has resulted in donations and pledges of $1 million. The total price for acquisition is $2.5 million. It is in the Secondary Urban Services District but abuts the Primary District. They believe this can be turned into a recreation area as well as a water management use facilitated by grant funding.


They are not asking for any money from the Town or Martin County though they are applying for federal and state grants. Both the Town and County have 30% of their land as conservation areas currently. To see the entire presentation go here here




In some instances, before Martin County came into existence in 1925, roads were platted, easements given, and development contemplated that never happened. Many times, the nature of development changes over time. Originally, what was then known as Bon Air Beach Plat 2 in 1924, many streets were envisioned that never were built by Palm Beach County then subsequently Martin County and since its 1953 incorporation Jupiter Island.


The same platted map shows small 50-foot-wide lots that bear no resemblance to the size of the properties that are there today. In other words, things change. If there hasn’t been a need to have a road for one hundred years, then the Town will not be building one now. So why shouldn’t adjacent landowners to these be given the opportunity to vacate the easement. The owners of 12 and 16 North Beach Road are asking that very question.


Unfortunately, the neighbor who is not objecting but is not consenting is not a person but FWC, a government agency. While it appears that the last Refuge Manager had no objections, the current one is not so sure. Will they ever use the easement even though they apparently haven’t in the past?

The Commission made some tweaks to the ordinance and passed it unanimously on 1st Reading. When it comes back for 2nd Reading, the hope is that everyone will be happy.


Commissioner Collins wants to look at all the unused roadways. That is a good idea.


You can see the ordinance and the applicant’s presentation here




The Town Commission was not happy that the County did away with the mandatory mask ordinance.


They will be making it Town policy and sending a communication to all the residents that they wear masks and follow CDC guidelines. The Commission realized that the County had no way to enforce having masks mandatory after Governor DeSantis removed local government from having a penalty for non-compliance.


As one of the Commissioners said, “You can’t have a rule if you can’t enforce it.” That is right and County Commissioner Jenkins said the same thing on Tuesday. If the state is not going to have a policy, then local government should be able to set one…and enforce it.


The Commission believed, and it makes perfect sense, that as cases climb again businesses will suffer. With restaurants and other non-essential venues operating at 100% capacity, the spike should not take long. While there won’t be any formal shutdown, people will retreat from those places and many will close.


Jupiter Island Latest News From The October 4, 2020 Edition

The next meeting will occur on October 15, 2020

Jupiter Island Latest News From The September 20, 2020 Edition

I was unable to attend the September 16th meeting. If something occurred of interest I will report.

Jupiter Island Latest News From The September 6, 2020 Edition

The next meeting will be September 16, 2020.

Jupiter Island Latest News From The August 23, 2020 Edition



Mayor Pidot held one of his “Coffee with the Mayor” and he said he had quite a few people attend virtually.


Pidot was particularly hard on the County Commission for letting the mandatory mask ordinance expire. He said he would shop in Palm Beach County where it is still mandatory instead of Hobe Sound. He felt much safer with it in place. Many store owners liked the idea of the County being responsible instead of the store for instituting the policy.


He may need to speak with his County Commissioner, Harold Jenkins, for Jenkins stated at the last BOCC meeting that he was not in favor of re-instituting the mandatory ordinance.


It would not make much difference practically but symbolically if the Town passed such an ordinance it would show at least one County Commissioner that it mattered to a very influential group of his constituents.


The Commission sat as a quasi-judicial body to hear two appeals in the same dispute from decisions of the Appeals Board. It took more than three hours to hear and decide the matter. It was good to see the Commission took their time in deciding the outcome. I do not know if any other governing board in Martin County could have come to such a reasoned decision.


They denied the appeals. The appeals were technical in nature. Without reading and studying the testimony and the transcript of the Appeals Board’s deliberation, it is not possible to venture an opinion. I wonder whether it will now go to District Court.


Jupiter Island Latest News From The July 26, 2020 Edition

Next meeting August 20th

Jupiter Island Latest News From The July 26, 2020 Edition

Next meeting August 20th

Jupiter Island Latest News From The July 9, 2020 Edition

Next Meeting is scheduled for July 14, 2020

Jupiter Island Latest News From The June 28, 2020 Edition

Next Meeting is scheduled for July 14, 2020

Jupiter Island Latest News From The June 14, 2020 Edition



Dr. Shamarial Robertson, Deputy Secretary of the Florida Health Department, spoke from Tallahassee and our own busy Carolann Wegener-Vitani from Martin County accompanied her virtually. Robertson did not know when the order for electronic meetings would be lifted in Tallahassee. There has been an uptick in cases in Indiantown and Stuart zip codes. However, at the Stuart meeting, it was disclosed that by checking the addresses of those that were positive, only 40 people were within Stuart borders. Ms. Vitani said that the virus was spreading in the Hispanic community among landscape workers.




The Public Safety Chief gave a report about what to expect with this year’s hurricane season. We can all expect a more active one. We can have anywhere up to 10 hurricanes with perhaps 6 being considered major. Because of COVID-19, many of the Town’s residents may not be leaving for other places this summer. Some may have never been through a storm. The Public Safety Department goes to every home to see how many occupants are there and any needs they may have.


To see that presentation


The department has an investigator that is adept at monitoring social media to see whether there are any marches or rallies that would affect the Island. There was one supposedly happening on Bridge Road and Federal Highway for later in the week. The Town’s first line of defense would be the Sheriff and then, if it seemed to unwieldy, they could raise the bridge connecting the island to the mainland. Those optics could surely be problematic!


Two employees of the department were instrumental in responding to two fishermen struck by lightning on the beach. One of the victims had no pulse and they were able to revive him. Both will be receiving lifesaving awards from the Town.




The Town Manager gave his monthly report on the current year’s financials. Everything seems to be in budget with total revenues of $7,385,000 and expenses of $5,203,000. Some savings were found by Town Manager Ventura continuing with his position of Financial Director and Chief Garlo as Deputy Town Manager. The only additional employee is a senior accountant.


The report can be found here


The draft budget for next year is less than 2020 by about $230,000. There is a small 2% COLA increase for employees. The Town will have a mil rate of 4.0391 which is the same as 2020. To view the entire 2021 proposed budget, go here




The best part of what I do is everything I learn new. I did not know that there was a second Arts Council in Martin County. Jupiter Island has its own well-run council. It is an independent 501(c)3. It has a speaker series at Town Hall and has on loan the wooden Blue Heron sculpture in front of the chamber.


This Arts Council has even given almost $8,000 in unused grant money back to the Town. A list of projects and art is in the attached packet. It is quite substantial.


I wish there could be better coordination with the Martin County Arts Council. It just seems the non-profits in Martin are so busy doing their own things that the combined energy of working together is lost. We have so many wonderful people yet so disconnected. Too bad.


The presentation can be found here



Jupiter Island Latest News From The May 31, 2020 Edition



Mayor Pidot and the Town Attorney drafted a proposed new parking agreement with the County for Hobe Sound Beach. Most of the provisions were lifted from the 2007 agreement that had expired. The agreement covers the weekends and holidays for 54 spaces at Town Hall. It is almost identical to the past agreement.


The Town has decided that they will not allow the County to use those spaces for the upcoming Memorial Day weekend unless it signs the agreement. It is a good deal for the County and the Town because it prevents illegal parking on the side of the road. It passed 5-0. The Commission gave Mayor Pidot the right to make minor tweaks to the agreement if needed.


The proposed agreement can be found here


 The Town Manager gave the Financial Report. The Town’s income and expenses are within budget currently. The report can be found here

Lastly, at the Shore Protection Meeting, there was an extensive briefing on the current conditions. Staff was seeking $42,991.00 for Gahagan& Bryant Associates to conduct this summer’s survey and analysis. The motion passed 5-0.


It was decided to see whether Jupiter Island could partner with the County for the survey. The Commission was told by staff that the Town’s survey is more in depth than Martin County. The Town will speak with Martin County staff. For those who wish to have a better understanding of shoreline protection, you can look at the presentation here


Jupiter Island Latest News From The May 20, 2020 Edition

The next meeting will be May 18, 2020. Please check the website for instructions on attending virtually.

Jupiter Island Latest News From The May 3, 2020 Edition



Mayor Pidot spoke about COVID-19. Just as everywhere else, the residents of Jupiter Island are concerned.


When the State Health Officer for Martin County, Carol A Wegener-Vitani, gave her update she reiterated about testing or the lack thereof. Apparently in Palm Beach County, anyone can line up and receive a test which is different than Martin County. It was also stated that Martin County residents could go down there if they wanted the test.


I will not give you the numbers because they do change daily. There is a dedicated dashboard that can be found at:




The Police Chief gave a report about how the department patrolled with the Sheriff last weekend on the water. There was a high percentage of people trying to use the sandbars. It is amazing to me why you would want to mingle with strangers at this time.


A letter will be going out to all residents regarding the governor’s orders and what the Town expects. You can find it at:






Ever since Parkland and the requirement to have School Resource Officers in every school, there has been increased demand for sworn police officers. The staff of Jupiter Island has recognized the fact and decided to negotiate increased wages for their Public Safety Department.

I do not know what the cost is for training, but it must be significant. Each public safety officer is cross trained as a firefighter, EMT, and police officer. To hire and then keep those certifications does not come cheap. But the lure of more money does matter.


The costs will increase by 3% plus other benefits. The PBA contracts for both sergeants and officers and the newest MOU agreements can be found at:








The motion to accept was passed unanimously.



One of the things that the Town is known for is its ficus trees. A canker disease has infected two of those trees and they must be removed. While this disease is not new, it is relatively recent to South Florida. Once the trees are cut down, the Town will need to wait before planting anything new.


Palm Beach County has also had this occur, and they have substituted a different type of ficus tree or a buttonwood. This is critical because most of the trees are ending their life expectancy. In the next decade or so, they will need to be replaced. Mayor Pidot stated that he would like to see a plan for this.


The Town is building a garage addition at its Public Safety Building. There were two estimates received. Staff recommended that the least expensive one for $61,847.00 be accepted. Motion passed unanimously.


The Allée, garage and projects for North Beach Road and South Beach Road can be found at:



Jupiter Island Latest News From The April 17, 2020 Edition

The next meeting is scheduled for April 21st at 9 am.

Jupiter Island Latest News From The April 5, 2020 Edition

The next meeting is scheduled for April 21st at 9 am.



Longtime Manager Gene Rauth has been to his last meeting as Town Manager. He is retiring from what must be a rewarding yet very challenging position. He is a CEO of a place in which many residents have worn that hat. The Town likes to keep a low profile yet make sure that Martin County knows who they are.

He is being succeeded by his 2nd in command, Michael Ventura. The hand off is to occur at close of business on April 3rd. Gene always treated me well. I am sure he may be retired from this job but not gone from Martin County. I look forward to having the same working relationship with Mr. Ventura.




There is nothing wrong with the Town’s fiscal situation.


For a place this small, it has a huge impact on the entire County. Mayor Pidot stated that 13% of Martin County’s taxable value is on the Island. The water utility has 10,000 customers. This is big business for little Martin.


The 2019 financial audit can be found at:





Former Jupiter Island and County Commissioner Anne Scott is looking for records.


The Mayor hosts a coffee for residents a day before the monthly meeting. At the coffee, people would put their names on a piece of paper so that Pidot would know who they were. According to the Town Attorney, it was not a formal sign in sheet nor is the coffee clutch an official meeting.


Virginia Sherlock, a Martin County attorney, made a public records request for a sign-up sheet for a meeting that was not required to have any. Will it go any further? Only time will tell.


Former Commissioner Scott addressed the Council regarding weekend parking at Town Hall for beach goers. The beach is a public beach open to all not just Jupiter Island residents. Pidot and Scott are attorneys, so legal jargon was used extensively during their exchange.


The gist is that this accommodation was reached with the County over a decade ago. According to Rauth, it has caused no trouble. The County is not pressing for more. The Town is not having any difficulties. So, what is the problem? Scott believes that the rest of the County is not appreciative enough of this gesture.


Scott proposed that a sign be erected that this parking was allowed by the benevolence of the people of Jupiter Island. That seems similar to when Leona Helmsley said to her maid that only little people pay taxes. I do think the days when you erect signs like that are past. Thankfully, the Council thinks so too.


Jupiter Island Latest News

The next Meeting is March 9, 2020 at 9 am


February 23, 2020 Edition

The next Meeting is March 9, 2020 at 9 am


Town of Jupiter Island Latest News


Next Meeting February 14, 2020 at 9:00 AM


Town of Jupiter Island Latest News



What does it mean to be listed on the National Register of historical properties, especially if you are a tree?


The Island has a magnificent stand of ficus trees. This acts as a gateway to a quiet town that is averse to notoriety. Unlike its splashier neighbor to the south, Palm Beach, Jupiter island exudes refinement. It is Greenwich, Connecticut without the cold.


Martin County is fortunate to have a place like Jupiter Island to enrich our tax base. Perhaps in the past, it was more integrated into County life but from this outsider’s perspective, they just want to be left alone. And there is not much on the island for a visitor to look at except perhaps those trees. There is concern about accepting any type of designation that may change the character of the Town.


That is why placing these trees on an official registry is such a discussion item. Technically, most of the “ficus allee” is on roads where either Martin County or the state have the rights of way. Yet, the Town maintains most of the road where those trees are located. By placing the allee as a part of the National Register, you do have some advantages.


If road work is contemplated, the state must consider that the trees are registered as historically important. There are also grants associated with the designation. But grants are the last thing that Islanders would contemplate because then the Town’s hands begin to be tied. If you do not take funds, then the Town can do what it will. That is important when you want to preserve your anonymity. One of the questions asked by Commissioner Townsend was about the publicity associated and the increased traffic of people trying to look at the allee.


It was decided that Mayor Pidot would work with the County and the Town Attorney to ascertain the next steps.


The presentation can be found at:




Jupiter Island is facing the same problem as Sewall’s Point regarding aviation, but it seems that Jupiter Island has sea plane issues rather than the landing of helicopters. Different flying machines but with the same problem. Neither should be allowed in a residential community.


If you want to be able to take flight from your backyard, then move to an airplane community. There are a couple such places in our area. Jupiter Island is not one of them. This is not a case about a community that is being unreasonable. Landing or taking off a seaplane poses a risk. Further, why should anyone believe that it is fine to subject a community to the noise and pollution that aircraft entails.


I have no problem with private aviation. Anyone who owns or uses his own plane for business or personally is welcomed as far as I am concerned. However, Witham Field is the proper place for private aviation not a back yard. It would be hypocritical to suggest otherwise.


The ordinance that was passed on first reading can be viewed below:



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