REDINGTON BEACH – Pushing aside charges of favoring developers, Redington Beach commissioners unanimously approved an ordinance Jan. 2 that will allow home construction and renovation on the weekends.
Expressing their dislike of the proposal during a second and final reading of the ordinance, residents said the code changes would disturb their otherwise quiet weekends and decrease their quality of life.
The ordinance will allow construction work between the hours of 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. on Saturdays. Work on Sundays will be allowed between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. only in the interior of the building “provided that there are no external indicators” such as noise, dust or odor.
Construction on holidays would be prohibited.
Previously, work was allowed only on weekdays between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m. and on holidays if the holiday fell on a weekday.
In a written analysis of the ordinance, Town Planner Bruce McLaughlin said Redington Beach was the only beach municipality to prohibit work on Saturdays and that six of the 10 towns permit work on some holidays.
Foreshadowing arguments pro and con for the ordinance made that evening, McLaughlin wrote that “prohibiting work on weekends enhances the quiet enjoyment of nearby properties, limits noise and disruption over the weekend, enhances the ambiance of the town over the weekend and avoids practical difficulties related to required inspections.”
However, he added, “prohibiting work on weekends hinders owner-builders doing their own work and may also be detrimental to contractors’ schedules.”
Speaking at length, resident Hank Eisinga charged the new rules favored contractors, saying they now had “a free card to do whatever they want to do.” He lives between two construction projects, he said, and about twice a month he sees people working on Saturdays.
“They (contractors) don’t need these hours,” he said. “They’ve got 55 hours a week to work.”
Eisinga said he moved to Redington Beach 16 years ago and “this is not why I came to Redington Beach. I thought it was a special community, and it still is, but it’s declining. The quality of life is declining also due to short term rentals. I have suffered through that for about 10 years.”
He also questioned whether the weekend work hours would receive sufficient scrutiny from the Sheriff’s Office.
“It would be naïve to think you can enforce this,” Eisinga said, “because you can’t enforce it now.”
Another resident, Deborah Bradbeer, praised the work of the building department, calling them “fabulous,” but told commissioners “you represent we the people.”
The “bottom line,” she said, is the “quality of life here.”
Allison Eisinga questioned whether the ordinance should go to referendum. Saturdays, she said, were the only time she had to rest or for others to be with their families.
Mayor Nick Simons rejected the claim that the ordinance was “contractor driven.”
He said many people who were redeveloping their property wanted to be able to work on Saturday. Vice Mayor Dave Will said he had heard similar comments from residents.
Commissioner Tom Dorgan added that because the town is almost fully developed, most of the construction work is re-development by residents.
McLaughlin noted construction did not happen in a steady uninterpreted flow because work had to stop frequently for inspections. Change in the weekend hours was a “significant compromise,” he said.
Both Simons and Commissioner Fred Steiermann expressed concern about the additional noise from the weekend construction.
Steiermann said enforcement of the construction code had increased by the Sheriff’s Office and suggested the commission give the ordinance a six-month trial before considering any changes.
Commissioner Tim Kornijtschuk said that on the weekends, noise was often produced by residents mowing their grass or performing other tasks out of doors.
“In the big scheme of things,” he said, “weekends are not quiet anyway.”
Commissioners quickly approved on second and final reading, with little or no comment, four other ordinances relating to building codes:
• Ordinance 2018-01 amends the building code regulating seawalls, bulkheads and retaining walls. In a memorandum accompanying the ordinance, McLaughlin wrote that marine contractors had requested changes to a number of technical provisions of the existing code. The changes, he said “not only modernize the code, but they also significantly enhance the code to current standards and norms.”
• Ordinance 2018-04 changes the rules regarding setbacks of swimming pools from seawalls. In an executive summary, McLaughlin wrote that “Modern engineering permits pools and seawalls to be constructed closer than the town code requires. Therefore, there have been several variance applications seeking to shorten the distance between pools and seawall. If accompanied by appropriate engineering, these variances are routinely granted. This standard should thus be varied administratively.”
• Ordinance 2018-05 changes regulations regarding right-of-way usage and connection of driveways to that right-of-way.
• Ordinance 2018-02 defines “engineer of record” as a licensed Professional Engineer who is “in responsible charge” for the preparation, approval and issuance of any engineering documents “for any engineering service or creative work.” The title had not been previously defined in the town’s codes.
In other business:
• Mary Cariello, president of the Redington Beach Garden Club, told the commission the garden club had voted in October to “disband” the planned butterfly garden in Friendship Park after realizing they had received inaccurate information when planning the project. In addition, she said, the garden required year-round scheduling but only five of the club’s members lived in town on a permanent basis. Of that small number, some were unable to work in the summer heat.
Admitting the club’s inability to move the project forward was “embarrassing a little bit,” Cariello said they would release the $2,250 the town had budgeted for the garden.
• Kornijtschuk reported crime in town was down “across the board 30 percent” for 2018.