BELLEAIR BEACH – Commercial business activities, including home businesses, are currently outlawed in Belleair Beach. A city ordinance declares “businesses, offices, bars, manufacturing, professional services, restaurants, trades, warehouses or other business activities shall not be permitted in condominiums, dwellings, garages, collateral structures or anywhere on property within the city.”
Officials have worked hard over the years to prevent any encroachment in the city’s residential character. But the age of computers, Internet and electronic communication has changed the nature of employment for many Belleair Beach residents. Telecommuting has become common, and the current stance that businesses are not allowed in the city no longer works, City Attorney Paul Marino told City Council members at their Oct. 7 meeting.
Marino unveiled proposed changes to the city code, which he said recognize that technological change means more and more residents work from their home. Revisions to the commercial activities ordinance “grants people a right to have a home occupation while providing a list of things you can or can’t do,” Marino said.
Marino was asked to prepare the changes after some residents had questioned what types of commercial activities are permitted in the city, said City Manager Nancy Gonzalez. Instances were reported in which businesses with several employees were apparently operating from residences, and delivery trucks were making regular stops.
Those types of home businesses will remain banned under the proposed ordinance. The changes permit residents to conduct a home occupation following specific requirements.
The occupations must be carried on by a family member living in the house and be clearly secondary to use of the dwelling as a residence.
A list of limitations is set out. No person outside the owner or occupant’s immediate family may be employed in the business. No signs or other outward indication of the home occupation are permitted.
Marked vehicles cannot be parked or stored in view of any street or other residential lot.
Assembly or manufacture of any item or product associated with the home business is not allowed, and customers may not be entertained or provided any services.
Advertising of the home occupation is not permitted and “no offensive noise, light, vibration, smoke, dust, odors, heat or glare shall be produced on or emanate from the property.”
Allowing home occupations under the conditions specified was acceptable to council members, most of whom agreed a change to the current outright ban was needed.
Council member John Pietrowski said he runs his business by telephone from his home.
“Everybody takes their work home now,” said Council Member Jeril Cohen, who called the current ban on home occupations “ridiculous.”
Council member David Dumville said residents should not have businesses with employees or where people come to their homes. But telecommuting or bringing work home should not be prohibited.
“This (proposed) ordinance makes a lot of sense,” said council member Mitch Krach, who added he believes the current law as it stands “is pretty much unenforceable.”
Council member Wanda Schwerer said the ordinance changes “make legal what I’ve been doing for the past 12 years.”
Martha Vazquez, a resident and Realtor, said enforcement of illegal business activities is still needed. She said a home was showed where no one lived, and it was being used as an office. People came in and would do business, she said, reminding council, “It does happen.”
The council agreed by consensus to move forward with the revised home occupations ordinance.
Bridge repairs approved
A bid to begin $40,000 in repairs to the 22nd Street Bridge was unanimously approved by the council. An inspection of the bridge last year showed 18 or 19 repairs were needed to the structure, including waterproofing and concrete restoration, said Community Services Director Allen Godfrey.
The repairs are being done on a priority basis, and the bid allows the city to do the five most needed, he said.
The company selected was Vinmar Waterproofing and Concrete Restoration LLC of Lakeland. Godfrey said the city had worked with the firm before.
“They have a very high level of product knowledge and specialize in this type of work,” he said.
Stepped-up parking enforcement coming to marina
The city is doing well with collecting parking revenue at Morgan Park, but not so well at the marina, City Manager Gonzalez said.
“We’ve had very few if any citations at the marina,” she said, “and I’m hearing the metered parking there is not being enforced.”
Police Cpl. Kenneth Euler, who was present at the meeting, told Gonzalez the problem would be addressed.