Sweet Sage files lawsuit against North Redington Beach

The town of North Redington Beach May 1 reached a settlement with John Messmore, the owner of Sweet Sage Café, regarding the last unresolved segment of Messmore’s ongoing lawsuits against the town. Messmore filed his first lawsuit against the town on Nov. 15, 2015, over signage, the next four over seating, and this last one just settled before it was scheduled to go to a jury trial in June.

NORTH REDINGTON BEACH – An ordinance providing a method to count seats in bars, lounges and restaurants passed unanimously on its second and final reading during old business at the Sept. 13 town hall meeting.

During the public comment section related to the ordinance, John Messmore, owner of Sweet Sage Café currently in litigation with the town over his restaurant’s seating violation, said that he was being “targeted” and that this “all started over one seat” that code enforcement required him to remove. A court reporter was present at the meeting at Messmore’s request.

The new ordinance was created at the recommendation of the town’s magistrate to clarify and amend the town’s existing seating ordinance from 2009. Town Attorney Jay Daigneault said the 2009 seat numbers are grandfathered in, and that this new ordinance provides a method to count those seats.

The initial intent of codifying restaurant, bar and lounge seating was done by the town as a method of keeping business parking from spilling over into residential neighborhoods - a concern that is still relevant to the town.

David Hitterman, owner of the Frog Pond, expressed his concern over the ordinance, saying that he calculated a significant loss of revenue if the ordinance passed. Daigneault asked Hitterman how many seats he was allowed in 2009. Hitterman replied, “91.”

“Then, you may still have 91 seats,” said Daigneault.

Daigneault further advised the residents that “anyone can call town hall to ask questions,” and that a workshop had been held on this ordinance that had been open to the public.

Ordinance eyes business tax procedures

An ordinance amending an existing ordinance regarding business tax procedures passed unanimously on its first hearing. The ordinance defines and clarifies a person who is engaged in doing business for the purpose of the ordinance, and identifies business licensure application, display, dues dates, and enforcement.

When public comment on the ordinance was permitted, Messmore said that he was going to sue the town over this ordinance also.

Appointment to library board

Ray Erikson was appointed to the library board for a two-year term ending in 2020. “I look forward to serving on the library board with distinction,” said Erikson as he accepted the appointment.

Flood insurance meeting scheduled

During miscellaneous business, Mayor Bill Queen announced that the flood insurance meeting is scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 27, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at 9100 113th St. N. in the Seminole Recreation Center.

Ongoing red tide cleanup

Queen also addressed the red tide cleanup during miscellaneous business. “(Pinellas) County is doing a great job cleaning up,” said the mayor.

Commissioner Kevin Kennedy gave an update on the cleanup of the dead fish resulting from the algae bloom on the beaches of North Redington Beach. “They (Pinellas County) had everything cleaned up; then, it started up again today at 3 p.m.,” said Kennedy.