TARPON SPRINGS – The long-disputed ordinance on outdoor displays at the sponge docks passed unanimously at the Dec. 3 City Commission meeting.
Ordinance 2013-24 limits the outdoor display of retail merchandise along public streets and sidewalks to the primary frontage of a building. Five additional criteria were approved as part of the ordinance:
• Displays won’t block access to the public sidewalk.
• Displays cannot extend more than 30 inches deep and 36 inches high.
• Displays located entirely on private property under a roofed porch area at least 36 inches high can use display racks up to 66 inches high as long as they don’t obstruct accessibility.
• Merchandise cannot be hung except from permanently installed racks on the face of the building.
• Merchandise cannot be displayed or sold on vacant lots unless others approved by the city.
Five residents spoke against the ordinance, including Rita Giatras, the owner of Rita’s Creations, who had argued at previous meetings that her hanging wind chimes should be excluded from height restrictions.
“I’ve brought my displays to ordinance, but the shop across the street still has a 7-foot statue up,” she said. “How is that fair?”
Commissioner David Banther said that the code enforcements he had seen were a success already.
“I haven’t seen (the sponge docks) look this good in years,” he said.