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Redington Beach leaders discuss medical marijuana ban
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REDINGTON BEACH – Commissioners are mulling a ban on medical marijuana dispensaries in Redington Beach, even though they agree there are few possible venues for such businesses to set foot.

Banning the stores would require a referendum, the commission was told during their regular meeting on Sept. 6.

During a scheduled discussion, Town Attorney Jay Daigneault noted that in light of recent state law regarding the location and allowable number of medical marijuana dispensaries, some Pinellas County communities were considering ordinances that would prohibit the shops from opening. Seminole has already instituted a ban, he said, while North Redington Beach is considering similar action.

Daigneault discounted the possibility of a dispensary in Redington Beach because “the nature of your town doesn’t lend itself to any dispensary locating here anyway.” Florida law states that communities must allow dispensaries on the same criteria as a regular pharmacy, and Redington Beach has no pharmacies.

Even so, the attorney recommended the commission adopt a ban “so that we don’t get into any fuzzy issues down the road.” 

He cautioned that under the town charter any ban would be considered a restriction on uses of zoning districts and would need to go to referendum for approval.

Mayor Nick Simons said only two businesses in town, both of them currently real estate offices, would “fit the description” of possible locations for a dispensary.

Simons said a referendum would be a lengthy and expensive process, but Commissioner Dave Will said he would like to see one anyway.

“We thought we couldn’t have short term rentals,” he said, alluding to a 2008 ban that failed to go to referendum. “If we don’t specifically ban them [dispensaries] that could kind of surprise us in some way.”

“I don’t want to go down that road again, either,” added Daigneault.

The attorney added that Redington Beach’s charter requirement that zoning changes go to referendum were “unique to Pinellas and the state of Florida.”

The consensus of the commission was for Daigneault to draw up a proposed ordinance concerning medical marijuana dispensaries. The attorney said he would bring the ordinance to the Sept. 20 meeting.

Commissioners also asked Daigneault to develop an ordinance similar to one passed by the city of St. Pete Beach in August that instituted a 120-day moratorium on accepting applications or issuing permits for installation of 5G micro wireless towers and antennas within the public right of way.

The moratorium is in response to a law, HB 687, passed by the Florida Legislature this year that prevents local communities from “prohibiting, regulating, or charging for the collocation” of 5G technology, according to the St. Pete Beach ordinance. The action gives St. Pete Beach officials time to develop a “comprehensive strategy” to deal with the law’s requirement.

Daigneault said the primary concern of the ordinance was aesthetics, because some of the equipment was “big and ugly.”

He said his office had already done research on the topic because several jurisdictions for which his office works had received inquiries from wireless companies some months ago. Presently, Daigneault said, there are no pending applications.

In the first of two public hearings Sept. 5, commissioners reviewed the final 2017-18 budget. It sets total revenue for the coming year at $1.983 million with an expected $779,313 coming from property taxes. 

The current budget is $2.869 million. Commissioner Tom Dorgan, the designated finance director, said this year’s larger budget was caused by receipt of a grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Some $210,819 is scheduled to be set aside for replacement reserve. 

The budget for capital accounts is projected at $569,214. Town Clerk Missy Clarke said an estimated $300,000 of that is reimbursement from the Pinellas County interlocal agreement.

Simons described next year’s budget as “still fairly lean.” He hoped the town’s ad valorem revenue could be increased “by seeing continued improvements to properties in the town.”
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