REDINGTON BEACH – Town commissioners here got a jump start on updating their code of ordinances Dec. 5 as they gave tentative approval to a half-dozen proposed regulations that would modify building codes.
The changes were presented as commissioners formally requested Town Attorney Jay Daigneault to review all city ordinances after he told them the code was out of date, with much of it having been adopted in the 1950s.
The ordinances, all approved unanimously on first reading, dealt with:
• Seawalls and bulkheads
• Setbacks of swimming pools from seawalls
• Rules and fees surrounding construction of driveways and usage of right of way.
• Loosening restrictions on building construction and home repair on weekends
• Defining “engineer of record”
In presenting the proposed ordinances, Town Planner Bruce McLaughlin said the seawall ordinance had been requested by local marine contractors who work in the community.
He credited authorship of the proposed rules to St. Petersburg professional engineer Reuben Clarson.
McLaughlin said the proposed changes would “strengthen things that needed to be strengthend and relax things that need to be relaxed.”
One of the biggest changes would remove liability for a seawall’s design effectiveness from town officials and place it with the licensed engineer of record.
Action stalled, however, on approving a sixth ordinance dealing with docks. McLaughlin said no staff report had yet been written on the ordinance because despite the contractors’ assistance in writing the seawall ordinance, they were being “a little more obstinate” about changes in the dock proposal. He said the building department was investigating “some factual allegations with respect to the history of docks in this town.”
McLaughlin said a staff report would be available when the ordinance came up for second reading, but action was tabled following extended discussion on questions raised by the ordinance’s wording. Commissioner Dave Will asked whether docks currently legally permitted and built would be “grandfathered” under the proposed ordinance. Otherwise, under the proposed ordinance, any docks that might need to be replaced or subject to major repairs would be considered “non-conforming.” Under such circumstances, the docks would need to apply for new permits and be considered as “special exceptions” by the city.
Both McLaughlin and Daigneault told him the proposal would not change existing rules governing non-conforming docks. The town planner argued the new ordinance merely clarified existing provisions.
Commissioner Tom Dorgan asked for the ordinance to be tabled after 15 minutes of discussion, saying the issue had gone “way beyond the scope of what we’re working on.”
The proposed ordinance on modifying hours for construction on the weekends drew criticism from a resident even before it was voted on.
In his report on the ordinance, McLaughlin wrote that construction is currently banned on the weekends between the hours of 7 a.m. and 6 p.m. and is only allowed on a week day between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m.
Redington Beach is the only beach community to prohibit work on Saturday, according to the report. However, Redington Beach is among six of 10 beach towns that allow home construction or repairs costing $1,000 or more on some holidays. In his analysis of the present situation, the planner wrote that prohibiting work on weekends “enhances the quiet enjoyment of nearby properties.” It also “hinders owner-builders doing their own work.”
The proposed ordinance, which McLaughlin said had been unanimously approved by the Planning Board, would permit work on Saturdays between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. and prohibit construction on all holidays.
“I thought this was a good idea a couple of years ago,” said Mayor Nick Simons after a motion to approve the ordinance was made and seconded.
Resident Deborah Bradbeer immediately objected to the ordinance.
“Absolutely not,” she said. “If I’ve got to walk through town and get signatures from people who object to this, I will.”
Redington Beach doesn’t have to match its laws to other communities, she continued, adding “I think this is a very bad idea.”
The town should have “silent Sundays where nobody does anything, and we have total quiet.”
Bradbeer said, to her, Redington Beach was “a quiet little town” where “everyone is out walking their dog or biking.”
Commissioners unanimously approved the ordinance.
The proposed ordinances, minus the dock ordinance, will be considered for a second and final reading at a future commission meeting.
To read the proposed ordinances, go to townofredingtonbeach.com, click on the “Government” tab, then “Agendas and Minutes.” Scroll down to the meeting date of Dec. 5, 2018, and click on “Packet.”