(Today’s bridge over to No Name Key)
A whine to the recent ”No Grid Key” Today’s Flakey Drivel post to GoodMorningFloridaKeys.com. It also was posted to yesterday’s Coconut Telegraph page of bigpinekey.com. I don’t think I know this person, whose first name is Jim (all he gave me), because I don’t recognize his email address. My reply follows.
Sloan – What Are You Smoking? Sloan, my friend, I had high hopes for you on the CT till I read your last post about No Name. Now I thinks the only thing high are not my hopes but you. Are you serious? Writing about what you heard from someone who heard something from another? Getting ‘answers’ from Mayor Smurphy? Please! Your dates are wrong and none of your facts are, well, factually correct.
Let’s start with the numbers. So you say Mayor Smurphy has explained that power will cost $ 900,000? BZZZ! Sorry, wrong answer. The current quoted cost is $ 690,000 and is dropping. Just to bring you up to speed since you have been gone a bit bro, those that oppose power on NNK broker in misinformation and lies. They also like to trump up the numbers every chance possible, $ 1,000,000 being the often quoted figure over the last year. Your Mayor’s figure of $ 900k works nicely to continue the deception and lies but the cost is under $ 700 and likely to go down.
Not that the cost cost matters, or should, to you or the ‘lawyer’ you ‘interviewed’. No Name has 43 homes. 30 of those homeowners have agreed to pay the entire cost, all of it my friend. They have not asked or demanded that the County pay for this service. Now if the County further attacks and trys to stop us from bringing something so unremarkable as power to our homes then your lawyer friend and you might want to worry. But first, if I were you, I’d worry about the type of government that would do what this one has dating back four decades to the islands residents.
You say you don’t like that some on No Name want power to increase the value of their home. Well, this morning I woke up in the United States of America and in my America my fellow citizens thankfully have the right to think and feel however they want. Sloan, are you writing from CUBA? Sure, some want power to increase their home’s values, so what? Some want it for life safety reasons. Some (many, most even) for environmental reasons. Some want it because they just want it and don’t want to be told that you can have it and they can’t. Some want it for all of these reasons. Sloan, why do you want and have commercial power, air and such evil luxuries?
I don’t smoke.
Or take pills, mushrooms, LSD, etc.
It’s au naturale with me.
Hmmm, although you use a “keysconcerns” email handle, it looks to me that your concerns are isolated to No Name Key homeowners, including yourself, who bought off the grid with eyes wide open, and now want on the grid.
The $900,000 above ground estimate for electricity to No Name Key homes was reported in KW Citizen. Sylvia Murphy was not the original source for me, but she had heard the same number. Of course, the final cost estimates are what they are. The lower the cost, the better for No Name Key residents who want power. And water. If it happens.
I was not aware there were 30 homeowners on No Name Key who wanted power and water run out there. I picked 30 out of the air in my earlier post, for the sake of having a number to work with.
I was not aware those 30 want to pay the entire cost. Nor, from what I’ve heard, does the County Commission know that.
If there are 30 homeowners who have agreed to pay the entire cost, is there something in writing from them, signed by each of them, agreeing to pay the cost?
If so, do they agree in writing to pay the entire cost up front? Are they willing and able to put the cost into escrow, to guarantee past and future work done by the Aqueduct Authority, Keys Energy and County staff on their behalf is fully reimbursed?
People who built/ purchased homes on No Name Key have the same legal rights now that they had when the homes were built/purchased. Won’t surprise me if a local court decides what those rights are. Won’t surprise me that whatever the court decides, there is an appeal. Maybe a few years later we will have a final legal ruling. And it won’t surprise me if the loser has to pay the winner’s litigation costs.
Please do not take any of the above as my consent to electricity and water being run out to No Name Key. I oppose it totally. You and the other 29 knew there was no electricity or water on No Name Key, when you made it your home. You knew the restrictions in effect. Either you later had a change of heart, or you had an agenda all along to speculate that you could get power and water out there and profit from your speculation. Either way, I don’t feel sympathetic.
I purchased a one-acre lot, with a trailer on it, on Little Torch Key in 2006. I paid cash. I bought at the top of the market. It had a ROGO letter from the County, saying the trailer could be torn down and removed and a dwelling built, all with proper county permitting and oversight. It lies next to a dedicated wildlife refuge. The premium I paid was worth it to me, because of the ROGO letter and abutment to the refuge. I probably could have purchased on No Name Key, but I didn’t want to live off the grid.
Alas, the real estate market collapsed, I’d take a bath if I tried to sell it. The market collapsed, in large measure, due to the County Commission letting far too many homes be built in the Keys, many on speculation. I suppose I could dream up some sort of screwy allegations to file in court that the County Commission is responsible for the big devaluation in my property. I saw screwier things happen when I practiced law, much of which time was devoted to representing home buyers and sellers, and even real estate companies and developers before I became a home buyer and seller advocate.
I developed a national reputation, infamous mostly, in the residential real estate industry, after I was interviewed by Jane Pauley on the TODAY Show in early 1985, over my first book, HOME BUYERS: Lambs to the Slaughter?, in which I laid bare to the bone the way real estate agents and brokers, mortgage lenders and home sellers “conspire” to fleece the buyer. I was interviewed and reviewed all over the country over that book, and its successor, SELLING YOUR HOME $WEET HOME, and the third book, KILL ALL THE LAWYERS? - A Client’s Guide to Hiring, Firing, Using and Suing Lawyers.
So when you speak to me of home buyers’ rights, you speak to someone who used to be the lead lawyer in America on the subject. You speak to someone who would have told you back in 1985, if you had been on TODAY with Jane Pauley, the General Counsel of the National Association of Realtors and myself, that you had no moral or legal right to complain about buying a home on No Name Key that had no public electricity or water when you purchased it. You knew what you were getting going in, and now you have to live with it.
Were I a judge presiding over this case today, I’d tell you the same thing. Were I an appellate judge hearing your appeal, I’d tell you the same thing. Even if you were willing to pay for the entire cost of running electricity and water out to No Name Key, all by yourself, I’d tell you the same thing. You have no legal right to it. Not even if you pay for it. What you have a legal right to is what you have: a home off the grid.
In some dedicated wild life refuges/nature parks, homes like yours are being condemned and purchased by local, state or national governments, and then torn down and removed. Maybe you should try that approach. Maybe it will prevail because No Name Key now is a dedicated wildlife refuge.
P.S. After making my reply yesterday, I read in KW West Citizen that the U.S. Department of Fish & Wildlife, which overseas the National Key Deer Refuge, sent in a letter asking for more information about running utilities out to No Name Key, and suggesting any electrict service be run in under ground, and that the U.S Government (U.S. taxpayers ultimately) will not pay for any of it. I had read in an earlier Citizen article that underground power to No Name Key was preliminarily estimated to be $1,500,000, which comes to $50,000 each for the 30 homes said to be wanting and willing to pay for it. I imagine running public water out there will cost a pretty penny, too, per home wanting it.
Even later yesterday, I received a resend from John Hammerstrom, about cistern water on No Name Key. I had sent the original to Ed at bigpinekey.com, to post to the “Coconut Telegraph” gossip page, but I don’t know if Ed posted it. It bears on the safety of cistern water generally, so here it is again. I’d not accept any water sample Beth Ramsay-Vickery produces, because I would not be able to trust it was authentic. Were I the county, and I’ve suggested this before, I’d send someone to her home unexpectedly to take samples from her cistern for evaluation in the county lab.
You’ve no doubt had a full in-basket and plenty of facts, but in case you may have missed it, here’s a repeat of an earlier, related email regarding the attempt to force the Aqueduct Authority to install utility water on No Name Key.
Ms. Ramsay-Vickrey contacted scientists regarding her assertion that rainwater cisterns are inherently unsafe. The answer of at least one of those scientists was not forwarded to the Health Department and the Florida Keys Aqueduct Authority.
Below is the email sent to Ms. Ramsay-Vickrey by Dennis J. Lye – Research Microbiologist with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
The letter that I sent you is probably the best that I can do foryou. There is no evidence that cistern water (in general) poses considerable health risk. Your particular situation may warrant such a statement but I cannot supply it for you. Perhaps someone in the local area could support your stance for your particular system (especially as
far as chemical exposures are concerned).
There are hundreds of non-chemist lay people that are successfully implementing multi-level treatments systems and generating potable quality water from cistern systems. In fact, most users have the opposite opinion that you express. Most users of cistern systems contend that they are capable of generating potable quality water.
I quite agree that a public system would relieve users of the effort needed to produce good quality water from their cistern systems.
From your description, it would seem that your best presentation would be concerning possible chemical contamination of the rainwater which requires costly remedial treatments. You will probably have to
produce evidence that your particular cistern system contains water contaminated with specific chemical compounds.
Sorry that I cannot offer more assistance.
Dennis J. Lye
The opinions expressed in these statements are solely those of Dr. Dennis Lye and are not meant to represent any endorsement, recommendation, or policy proposed by the USEPA.
Dennis J. Lye
P.P.S. In case anybody wonders, yes, the county commissoners all receive email copies of of my posts, and some of them tell me they even read them.