NORTH REDINGTON BEACH – After the town’s old sign ordinance was recently found to be unconstitutional in federal district court, the North Redington Beach Town Commission sought the advice of an expert to amend the ordinance, leading to a newly-revised sign ordinance, which passed unanimously on its first hearing April 13.
John Messmore, owner of Sweet Sage Café, was cited in 2015 for signage in violation of the town’s pre-existing sign ordinance. Messmore pursued and won a lawsuit against the town regarding whimsical signs he affixed to the fence around the parking lot of his business. The judge ruled in Messmore’s favor, citing the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.
As a result, the old sign ordinance has been repealed and consultant Steve Suzanski submitted recommendations for a new ordinance in a detailed 22-page report with an attached 39 pages of exhibits. The new ordinance omits the offending sections of the old ordinance in order to be constitutionally sound.
A second and final reading of the new proposal will be held at a public meeting April 26 at Town Hall.
Town attorney Jay Daigneault said that after the Sweet Sage litigation, the town did the right thing by hiring a sign compliance expert to address the issue. This action “best served the town at this juncture,” said Daigneault.
A second ordinance regarding changing the hours of alcoholic beverages sales and service within the town passed unanimously on its first reading during new business. Prohibited hours for the sale or serving of alcoholic beverages are “from 2 a.m. until 8 a.m. of every day,” according to the new ordinance. Previously, prohibited hours had been from 2-11 a.m. on Sundays and 2-8 a.m. the rest of the week. The old ordinance was a remnant of the former “blue laws” that prohibited or limited certain activities on Sundays, which were considered church attendance days.
The new ordinance “is the mimosa rule,” said Mayor Bill Queen. The second reading also will be held April 26.
In other action, a resolution passed unanimously in support of the extension of the 1-cent government infrastructure surtax also known as the “Penny for Pinellas.”
The Town Commission was in agreement that the Penny improves the town with a variety of projects.
“A third of it (Penny for Pinellas revenue) is paid (for) by tourists,” said Queen.
Consent agenda passed unanimously, including two proclamations and one resolution in addition to the March 16 meeting minutes. The first proclamation proclaimed May 2017 as Older Americans Month, and the second proclaimed April 28 as Pay It Forward Day. The resolution was in support of home rule powers, to encourage the Florida Legislature to support home rule, and to return local government authority to regulate vacation rentals.