BELLEAIR SHORE – Since joining the Belleair Shore Commission last fall, Commissioner Jennifer Lindsay has emerged as a forceful advocate for enforcement of laws protecting the town’s appearance. Her concerns have ranged from dogs and bicycles on the beach to illegal home rentals and unkempt properties.
Violations are not numerous in Belleair Shore, an upscale enclave of large, generally well maintained properties that front the beach north and south of the Belleair Beach Causeway. But because of the community’s small size – only 58 homes and 70-plus residents – noncompliance stands out, and actions that mar the idyllic setting are noticed.
Cleanups and compliance don’t always happen though, and Lindsay wants to change that. The Jan. 21 town commission meeting took up several compliance issues, at her request. Action is being taken on all concerns.
A home on Gulf Boulevard is apparently being rented by the week to vacationers. That is a clear violation of a town ordinance that allows a minimum 30-day rental, for no more than three consecutive months, not more than three times a year.
Lindsay said the property is being advertised in fliers and on the website beachtimerentals.com, which shows clear pictures of the house and grounds. “There is no question it is the same home,” she said.
In that case, the commission authorized Town Attorney John Elias to send the property owner a notice of violation, which gives the owner 10 days to comply. If that does not happen, an appearance before the town’s special magistrate will follow. The magistrate has the authority to levy stiff fines of up to $500 a day and place liens on the property.
A potential problem came up with that solution. Elias pointed out the special magistrate being used by the town had retired and will need to be replaced. A resident told the commission letters have been sent in the past to the property owner, “but nothing has changed.” The notice of violation may fare better than the warning letters sent then, Elias said.
Dogs and bicycles on the beach appear to be spillovers from neighboring Indian Rocks Beach. People walk their animals past the borderline, where there are no signs posted listing Belleair Shore’s restrictions. Also the signs at the town’s three beach accesses are old and illegible, Lindsay said.
Mayor John Robertson, who has been mayor since 1998, said the access signs were there “before I came.”
“They look it,” Lindsay replied.
Those concerns are also getting action. Signs will be installed at the southern beach boundary with Indian Rocks Beach (violations at the northern border with Belleair Beach have not been a problem), and the aged ones at the beach accesses will be replaced.
Proofs of the new signs will be ready at next month’s commission meeting, Town Clerk Bonnie Dhonau promised.
Enforcement of the law could be an issue, Commissioner Robert E. Schmidt said. Dogs also are not allowed in the Intracoastal beach area on the north side of the causeway. That message is posted. Yet, Schmidt said he recently saw a woman walking several dogs there, in full view of a police cruiser.
Lindsay told of another property on Gulf Boulevard that she said was “very overgrown with weeds and high grass.” Low hanging trees also are hindering sidewalk access in front of that lawn.
A letter will be sent to the property owner, who has multiple addresses, and the enforcement process will begin.
Robertson said that that property has been a concern before. “(The town) cleaned it up several years ago, but the owners have done nothing since,” he said.
Despite the difficulties in enforcement, Lindsay vowed to continue pushing for compliance with laws that better the town’s appearance.
“We don’t want people coming in and ruining our neighborhood,” she said.