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Redington Beach seeks clarity on dock code exceptions
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REDINGTON BEACH – Town Attorney Jay Daigneault asked Redington Beach commissioners June 21 how to resolve what he considered an “ambiguity” relating to variance requests for docks that fall outside the town’s building codes.

Language within the construction rules is contradictory and must be changed, he said.

In a memo to the mayor and commissioners, Daigneault said current ordinances allow the Board of Adjustment to grant variances for special exceptions to existing regulations for docks. He noted the existing code states that “all non-conforming dock facility permit requests shall be handled as a special exception.”

Daigneault said his interpretation of that section “allows for a special exception to an already non-conforming dock facility,” but not for newly built docks or docks that currently meet code.

The code grandfathers in any non-conforming docks, but adds that no changes can be made to such docks “which will increase its degree of non-conformity.” This provision, the attorney notes, makes “the special exception wording moot.”

Furthermore, Daigneault cited a section of the code that spells out a list of restrictions that docks “serving any lots in the town” are required to meet.

“This section appears to apply only to newly constructed docks and does not allow for any special exceptions to the criteria contained in the code,“ Daigneault commented in the memo.

In concluding his memo, the attorney said “it appears that Chapter 5 (of the building code) does not allow for any special exception to be made for the erection of either new construction or non-conforming dock facilities. It also does not allow for application for a special exception to make changes to an existing, conforming dock facility. So, currently, the Board of Adjustment arguably does not have the power to hear any variance of special exception requests for dock facilities, and the code, as written, arguably does not permit any variance or special exception requests to be made.”

In a footnote, he added, “save for a non-conforming dock facility which can only have a special exception granted as long as it becomes conforming, thereby making the special exception unnecessary.”

Saying the code had “internal inconsistencies,” Daigneault told commissioners “the code cannot presently stand as written.” He asked them for direction on how to proceed. He suggested two options: he could rewrite the code based on information the commissioners provided or he could meet with building officials to determine changes they would like to see.

After several minutes of discussion, commissioners reached a consensus that Daigneault should meet with building officials at Florida Municipal Services to come up with an appropriate solution.

Home rule

In a presentation to the commission, State Rep. Kathleen Peters, R-Treasure Island, summarized the recently concluded session of the Florida Legislature, during which, she said “there was a huge attack on home rule.”

“There is a movement to eliminate home rule,” she said, and asked Redington Beach commissioners and those commissions in other towns she represents “to be vocal in Tallahassee,” and if their representatives were not listening to the commissioners, “to be vocal with your citizens.”

She referred to House Speaker Richard Corcoran’s comment post-session that Tallahassee was closer to the wishes of citizens than local representatives as “way off the mark.” She cited as examples two bills that were introduced into the legislature. One would have banned local officials from regulating local businesses and another that would have limited cities’ financial reserves to 30 days.

“Next year,” she said (such bills) “are all coming back.”

Other action

In other action, the commission:

• Agreed to change the start time of the commission’s semimonthly meetings to 6:30 p.m. The change from the current 7 p.m. time will begin July 5.

• Adopted on consensus a policy for reserving parks for private functions. Among the rules is a requirement that if alcoholic beverages are served, the hosts must provide liability insurance and have a police officer present.

• Approved a new contract with Daigneault’s law firm, Trask & Daigneault LLP, to continue providing legal services to the city. Under the new contract, the firm’s hourly rate will rise to $165 an hour. The firm’s rate has been $145 for the past six years.

• Approved a three-year contract extension with Waste Connections, which provides the city’s garbage collection. The current rates will stay in place for the first year of the contract.

• Approved an interlocal agreement with Pinellas County for the county to clean up debris in Redington Beach following a disaster. The county will bill the town for its services.

• Entered into a binding agreement with Duke Energy to underground utilities on the east side of Gulf Boulevard within the town’s boundaries at a cost of $157,441.
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