On March 14, 2017, residents of the town of Windermere will vote on whether to replace the current town charter with a rewritten version. The current charter was adopted in 1970 and was last revised in 2007. In 2015, the town appointed a charter review committee to examine the current charter and make recommendations for appropriate revisions. I was the chairman of that committee.
The 2007 charter contains numerous provisions that are governed by or superseded by Florida law. Also, it is disorganized and contains inconsistent references, typographical errors and many unnecessary provisions. The charter review committee spent more than a year painstakingly reviewing every sentence of every section of the charter, rewriting and reorganizing it, and meeting with the Town Council and town attorneys to finalize a new proposed charter.
This new proposed charter contains no substantive changes. Superfluous provisions, archaic language, and sections rendered unnecessary or ineffective under Florida law were removed. The necessary sections were rewritten using clearer language and were logically reorganized. The 2007 charter contains 50 pages; the proposed 2017 charter contains just 20.
All the important provisions in the current charter remain in the proposed charter (e.g., the supermajority required for changing single-family residential property use; the protection of the 1887 Schoolhouse; the restrictions on municipal borrowing, etc.). Voting “yes” on the question entitled “New Town Charter for the Town of Windermere, Florida” will not change any of these provisions.
There are two other ballot questions regarding proposed changes to the town’s borrowing limitations. I take no position regarding those substantive changes, and the proposed new charter does not contain either of them. The proposed new charter is on the town’s website for review. Regardless of whether you support or oppose the ballot questions on borrowing limitations, I urge you to vote “yes” to adopt the new town charter.
Ernest J. Myers
Chairman of Windermere Charter Review Committee