INDIAN ROCKS BEACH – The City Commission decided Tuesday evening to send the Nuisance Abatement Board ordinance to workshop, with much protest from Mayor Bob DiNicola.
The ordinance would establish a seven-member Nuisance Abatement Board responsible, in conjunction with the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office and Florida Statutes, for hearing cases and determining action against rental and business owners supporting illegal criminal activity on their property.
“This board would add more meat to ordinances than what we have seen in the past,” City Attorney Andrew Salzman said. “Something like this has been approved and passed muster in St. Pete.”
Salzman also said that this board could be used as a tool to deal with property owners who are allowing crimes to be committed on their property. The board would have the power to strip owners of their property or force them to sell their business if more than two nuisances were documented by the police on their property within a 6-month period.
“The board will be dealing with property, prohibiting property owners from harboring criminals,” Salzman said.
“It will be a greater opportunity to rid problems from the city.”
Protest and concern over the language of the duties of the board, however, emerged.
“I’ve been here for 25 years and this is one of the most ridiculous ordinances I have ever seen,” Mayor Bob DiNicola said. “This is a witch hunt, a poor piece of legislation. We might as well have vigilantes come in and start pointing.”
Other commissioners and citizens in the audience argued that the vague definition of what a nuisance is might cause confusion and expressed concern over some businesses being targeted unfairly.
“The definition of nuisance is a little broad because the penalties are so great,” Salzman argued. “It will include crimes such as felonies, drug activity, egregious activities, that is what we are looking at here.”
He explained that the board will work hand in hand with the Sheriff’s Office and only act upon clear and convincing evidence, not accusations.
City Manager John Coffey presented the commission the year-end budget amendment report, outlining specific services and unexpected problems that call for an increase in unbudgeted funds. The total amount of money asked to cover unexpected city expenses was $37,850. A budget reserve of $9,700 knocks the total down to $28,150. Coffey explained that the additional approximate $200,000 in year-end revenue coming into the city will pay for the budget amendments.
The commission also voted to create an Intracoastal Waterway Ad Hoc Committee and discussed initiating an oversight review process for the Pinellas Suncoast Fire and Rescue District.