REDINGTON BEACH – The Redington Beach Commission agreed March 18 to proceed in revising an ordinance that addresses nonconforming structures and the rules that govern them.
At the board’s request, Town Attorney Robert Metz added two new exceptions to the ordinance to cover acts of God, such as a hurricane, and demolition of existing structures.
According to Metz, Redington Beach is somewhat unique in wanting to include exceptions in its ordinance regarding structures and lots that fail to meet code.
“Most cities want to get rid of nonconforming uses; they want everyone to come into compliance,” he said.
In short, the provisions drawn up by the attorney go like this. A resident wishing to tear down a nonconforming structure and rebuild on a site that does not meet the size and/or setback code, the proposed exception would allow the owner to build another nonconforming house as long as the new structure would not increase the degree of the nonconformity and it complies with all other regulations.
For cases in which Mother Nature demolishes a building, the proposed exception would allow a property owner to rebuild all or part of a non-existing structure as it existed prior to the damage on the same lot within the same footprint provided it meets the existing codes and land development regulations.
One issue to emerge from the discussion concerns the length of time a nonconforming structure may be rebuilt.
Currently, the town allows a six-month period in which a property owner can apply for a permit to rebuild a nonconforming structure. After that time lapses, however, the nonconforming use is discontinued, and the structure must be built according to code in which it is located or else a variance would need to be requested.
“The only problem I have with a time frame is depending upon the severity of the act of God, there may be infrastructure problems the town is not aware of,” said Mayor Nick Simons.
“I guess the intent would be not to allow somebody to tear down a house in 1984 and then come back and build a house in 2013 under this provision,” said Commissioner Tom Dorgan.
“In a worst case scenario, it could be months and months out before you could even think of rebuilding,” said Commissioner Frederick Steiermann.
Commissioner Mark Deighton raised the question of keeping a lot empty and whether it requires that a structure be rebuilt, citing several vacant properties within the town.
Dorgan said it was not what the revisions seek to address.
“It doesn’t say you have to build anything ever,” he said. “It says at some time this grandfather clause will expire. You can’t hold it open forever.”
Commissioner Dave Will questioned the need to place a time frame on a property, citing excessive restrictions might discourage construction, resulting in empty lots scattered around town.
Metz said most municipalities do have a time frame included in their ordinances for rebuilding a home but 18 months seems to be the norm.
“You don’t want to create an unnecessary hardship for someone if a hurricane comes through,” said Metz.
Mayor Simons asked the town attorney to submit another draft of the proposed revisions for additional discussion at a future meeting.
Commission seats remain unchanged
Dorgan and Will were again sworn into office. Both commissioners were elected to serve on the board in March 2010.
Since they were unopposed, the town had no municipal election.
Deighton made a motion, seconded and voted unanimously by the rest of the board, to appoint Dorgan as his replacement for the seat of vice-mayor.
Originally from Seattle, Dorgan has lived in Redington Beach since 2004. He served on the town’s finance committee for the past three budget cycles. He currently works as a computer programmer and has worked in management positions in the restaurant and automotive businesses.
Will hails from Chicago and moved to Redington Beach in 1992. He served on the town’s Board of Adjustments for two terms and is active with the Redington Beach Property Owners’ Association. He is also the captain for the annual Christmas boat parade. He owns and operates a small business, Caveman Concrete.
Commissioners and the mayor are elected and serve for staggered two-year terms.
All candidates for the commission must be residents of the town for at least one year.
Welcome to the neighborhood
Linda Walston, vice president of the Redington Beach Property Owners Association, came before the commission seeking permission for the organization to go door-to-door and greet new residents and let them know about the organization.
She said the group is strictly apolitical and is mainly a social vehicle for neighbors.
“We will not leave anything on the doors or in the mailbox,” Walston said. “We just want to knock on doors and introduce ourselves.
“Our demographics have really changed in this town. As a matter of fact, on my block, we’ve probably had 10 people who have moved in within the last year or so.”
Simons pointed out that the town has a no-solicitation ordinance and if granted, it would be an exception and wondered aloud where the town would draw the line.
Walston, however, said in the past the POA has, in fact, visited individual homes encouraging residents to join the organization. “No one complained,” she added.
Metz asked Walston if in the course of going from home to home, the group would be looking for money.
“It’s more of a welcome wagon,” Walston said. “However, if someone wants to join while we’re there, it’s $20, and they fill out an application and we can mail it for them.”
Commissioner Fred Steiermann noted that membership in the organization is not a requirement for attending the Wine Fest or the Easter egg hunt – POA-sponsored events that draw from the community at large.
Once it was determined no actual solicitation for money would be involved, the proposal met with no objection from the board or the town attorney.
Simons asked Walston to submit the time and the dates the group plans to canvass.
Perking up the parks
Park Board member Marilyn Barber came before the board seeking the commission’s approval to begin the process for developing the town’s newly acquired vacant lot.
Barber said the Park Board’s desire, at present, is to tap the University of South Florida’s architectural and design program for ideas.
“I think everyone is anxious to do some development of the new lots. We have been asking for suggestions, finding out what people wanted,” Barber told the commission.
The commission recently voted unanimously to pay $300,000 for the 12,000-square-foot, two-lot parcel adjacent to Town Park at Gulf Boulevard and 164th Avenue in hopes of adding more green space to the park system.
Redington Shores owned the property. After several months of negotiation, the two towns reached an agreement. The sale, funded by money from Redington Beach’s capital improvement budget, was finalized in January of this year.
While seeking to keep as many of the current facilities on site as possible, Barber said the current playground equipment is designed for very young children and will inevitably need to be replaced in the near future.
She added that the basketball and shuffleboard courts and the shelter would all be retained, but residents have voiced support for adding exercise equipment geared for adults and older kids.
Steiermann, who oversees the town’s public works and parks division, said the discussion actually centered on looking at green spaces throughout the town and coming up with a “best use” plan for each one and design accordingly.
With a capital budget described by Deighton as “flush” finding the money to pay for various upgrades and improvements is unlikely to prove burdensome for the town.
Simons gave his approval to pursue the project and told Barber she may contact USF to get the ball rolling, find out the necessary steps that need to be taken as well as any inherent costs and report those findings to the commission for further discussion.