REDINGTON BEACH — Officials here got a look into how the town may conduct its business in future years with a preview on March 6 of proposed alterations of the town code.
Town Attorney Jay Daigneault submitted 25 pages of proposed code revisions after commissioners several months ago asked for what he termed a “top to bottom” review with the goal of bringing the town code up to current standards.
In a memo accompanying the proposed changes, the town attorney noted that many portions of the code date back to 1980, with other portions not updated for at least 10 years.
The updates cover only chapters 1 through 3 of the code, with more proposed revisions to be presented at future dates.
The proposed changes in these portions of the town code will formally be considered for first reading at the March 20 meeting.
Recommended changes include:
• Repealing sections 1-5, titled “history notes,” and 1-6, “reference notes and editor’s notes.” Daigneault termed these sections “unnecessary clutter” because they represent “legal truism recognized by the courts.”
• Repealing section 1-8, “amendments,” which describes the “mechanical process and look of an ordinance.”
• Repealing section 1-13, “altering code,” which makes it illegal to “change or amend” the code or to “insert or delete pages.” Daigneault said the section was an “antiquated provision” and that Florida law addresses fraudulent changes to the code.
• Three divisions are created in chapter 2, all dealing with city staff and members of boards and committees. One dictates how members of boards and committees interact with the public and commissioners; such groups would be required to have procedures that have been reviewed and approved by the town attorney. Another addition states that membership on such boards is not “a property right” and that members may be removed at the commission’s discretion. The third addition addresses claims against officers and employees, stating how the law will apply to them, how legal representation will be provided and the limits of the town’s responsibilities for legal representation.
• Replacing the language dealing with code enforcement. Much of that language, the attorney wrote, dealt with the code enforcement board model of enforcement, which Daigneault said was now irrelevant because the town had moved away from that method.
• Adding new language authorizing the appointment by commissioners of a special magistrate to try alleged code violations and impose fines and other “non-criminal” penalties, and lays out guidelines for conducting such hearings.
• Adding a new section detailing code enforcement procedures. Specifies that only the code enforcement officer is authorized to initiate enforcement proceedings against a violator and that the officer will allow the violator “reasonable time” to correct the violation.
• Changing the language relating to emergency management, as current wording is now inconsistent with state law. The proposed changes address the mayor’s authority during such crises, and how an emergency will be declared, communicated and ended. A new section addresses curfew, making language consistent with state law.
• Modifying current language restricting the sale of alcoholic beverages within 500 feet of the town recreation center or town park. The town could issue temporary special event permits for such sales.
For the third time in as many meetings, former mayor and resident Peter Farnum addressed the commission about what he considers the panel’s failure to inform homeowners of their ability to appeal a building official’s decision to stop a home renovation for code infractions.
There is “very good news and bad news tonight for our residents who have been red-tagged” about an appeals process, he said during the public forum portion of the meeting.
“The good news is we had one all along. According to the town attorney it is valid and legal. The bad news is it’s taken us two months to find it,” he said.
He charged the commissioners with “complacency” in not knowing that city code set out an appeals process to the Board of Adjustment.
Farnum said Ken Sulewski, vice chair of the Board of Adjustment, had told him that he had been on the board several years and he was not aware of an appeals process.
No one had appealed to the BOA “because they didn’t know they could,” Farnum said.
“Why was the situation allowed to happen?” he asked. “The only logical conclusion that I can come up with is complacency.”
“Why did it take me to do your job? Why didn’t I get any help? Why wasn’t it put on the agenda, Nick,” he said, addressing Mayor Nick Simons. “Four times I asked. You refused. I will let our residents draw their own conclusions.”
Commissioner Fred Steiermann told Farnum the commission itself was unaware of any appeals process because in the last four years no one has ever asked to appeal an action by the building department.
• In other activities, Steiermann announced the shelter at Town Park will be rededicated at 1 p.m., Thursday, March 14, in memory of former Parks and Recreation Board Chairman Bob Fay.