REDINGTON BEACH – This town of Redington Beach may have “dodged a bullet” shot by Hurricane Irma’s dangerous winds, but officials here have relaxed some building restrictions so that residents can quickly repair damaged properties.
Speaking at the Sept. 20 Town Commission meeting, Commissioner Dave Will reported that 13 homes were affected by the hurricane, with eight of them either having their roofs blown off or damaged. His home was among the eight.
Will serves as the building and codes director.
Consequently, Will said the building department won’t be assessing fines for starting repair work “as it pertains to hurricane damage” without a permit. However, he asked those homeowners to get a permit.
He added that restoration work will be allowed on Saturdays and Sundays for the next 30 days.
Mayor Nick Simons said the community “dodged a bullet,” noting that damage was largely limited to “lots of limbs and trees uprooted.”
He praised the town’s entire four-person staff for their work before and after Irma’s arrival, saying “how proud I am” of their effort.
Prior to Irma’s arrival, the mayor said, Town Clerk Missy Clarke secured vital records and hauled them away in a rented truck, while public works employees began checking for damage within hours after the storm passed.
Clarke is also in charge of emergency operations for the town, Simons added, and was prepared to set up a command center at the Emergency Operations Center in Seminole if necessary.
Simons said there were some problems with access that needed to be worked out. The sheriff’s office had restricted public access to the beaches after the storm and Clarke had not been allowed back on the islands despite her re-entry pass and her official credentials. Simons said he had to contact the sheriff’s office so he himself could return.
However, public works staff were able to quickly get back into Redington Beach because they were driving town vehicles, the mayor said.
Simons began the meeting by asking for a moment of silence “to remember those people who have been affected by Harvey and by Irma and also the earthquake in Mexico.”
In the only business of the evening, commissioners unanimously approved a 120-day moratorium on accepting applications or issuing permits for wireless communications companies to put facilities, towers or antennas on public rights-of-way.
The delay allows Town Attorney Jay Daigneault time to draft ordinances to regulate the placement of such devices so the local rules meet state and federal laws.
In a brief 3-minute public hearing the evening before, commissioners approved the 2017-18 budget. The $2.65 million budget retains the current millage rate of 1.8149 mills, which is a tax increase because rising property values will produce more revenue than this year.
The budget was approved on a 3-0 vote. Commissioner Will and Vice Mayor Fred Steiermann were absent.
Steiermann said later he missed the meeting because he misread the agenda and thought the meeting, which began at 6 p.m., started 30 minutes later.