REDINGTON BEACH — Town officials here will ask a judge to decide the fate of a decade-old ordinance that forbids short-term rentals but has never been enforced because of questions about its validity. 

Commissioners authorized Town Attorney Jay Daigneault on Jan. 16 to file paperwork in circuit court seeking a judicial decision on the ordinance on the advice of David Theriaque, a Tallahassee-based attorney who specializes in land use issues.

Daigneault reported to the commission that the attorney, who reviewed the ordinance at the request of commissioners, “shares the concern that we’ve discussed many times concerning the adoption (process) used” for the ordinance.

Commissioners approved the ordinance banning rentals shorter than 181 days in 2008, based on an opinion from their town attorney at the time that the ordinance did not need approval in a referendum. That advice has since been questioned.

In 2011, the Florida Legislature passed a law prohibiting restrictions on rentals but allowed existing local regulations to stand. 

Daigneault has advised commissioners not to enforce the ordinance because of the potential for lawsuits that could invalidate it.

Commissioner Fred Steiermann requested an independent review of the ordinance in 2017. However, action was cut short after the Legislature failed in 2018 to approve a bill submitted by Redington Beach for a referendum on short term rentals.

The panel also unanimously approved, on final reading, ordinance 2018-02 that restricts docks to 30 feet in length. Local marine contractors had requested allowances to permit longer docks for special circumstances. They also wanted a “neighbor waiver” that would allow homeowners seeking a variance for a non-conforming dock to avoid a Board of Adjustment hearing by getting written approval from adjacent neighbors. That change also was rejected by commissioners. 

Contractors had sought the changes because of what they termed “confusion” over the likelihood the Board of Adjustment would approve a variance.

Also approved unanimously was ordinance 2018-13 that reinstates rules about parking on swales. The regulations were repealed last year over technical issues, Town Planner Bruce McLaughlin noted. The ordinance is now in a new place in the building code.

Commissioners approved a request by Commissioner Dave Will to consider a possible redesign of Friendship Park. 

The action came during a discussion about renovation of the park pavilion, which has developed cracks. 

Last year, commissioners agreed to spend $2,600 to have a compound injected into the concrete that would re-level the surface. However, the contractor, Alpha Foundations, says the compound must be protected from sunlight to prevent deterioration.

Will told his fellow commissioners that to build a wall around the pavilion that would provide the appropriate protection would cost about $32,000. 

Rather than spend that much money, Will suggested “starting over” at the park, including relocating an outflow pipe and creating a canoe/kayak launch.

“At what point do we stop patching and repairing out there and just start over?” he asked.

In other business, Joseph Fleish was reappointed to a position on the Board of Adjustment. His earlier appointment expired in December.