ST. PETE BEACH — The Community Development Department’s attempt to address requests by residents wishing to install ornamental structures in their front yard, by amending the Land Development Code, was sent back to the drawing board by the City Commission, with Commissioner Melinda Pletcher categorizing it as “a horrific fail.”
On Sept. 28, Community Development Director Wesley Wright said “the purpose of this proposed change to Land Development regulations stems from recent requests to place 3-dimensional works of art within front yards in close proximity to the street. The concerns of the city include the size and placement of these features, and proper storage of these features during major storm events.”
“Recently, we had lots of requests at the front counter in Community Development regarding the allowing of ornamental landscaped features in front yards of property,” he added.
The proposed change to the Land Development Code adds a definition for ornamental landscaped features, such as statues and sculptures. Under the change, statues, metal work and sculptures would be permitted as “a decorative element with certain stipulations,” and not considered functional or practical as are planters.
Wright explained in the front yard a statue could only be placed 10 feet or more from the property line. Only 2 ornamental features, limited to 4 feet in height, would be permitted. In the rear or side yard, it could not encroach more than 15 feet.
In a rebuke of the proposed amendment, Pletcher said, “I think this is just a horrific fail in what we are trying to achieve. I’m so disappointed I can’t even tell you. … I don’t think this has hit the buttons on achieving anything. … I think it’s very subjective and not achieving anything.”
City Manager Alex Rey told Pletcher said “the approach you suggested really doesn’t give us the right solution for what we are looking for,” although he did not elaborate on Pletcher’s suggestions.
“What this ordinance is doing is basically saying that the maximum height of any of these ornamental features is 4 feet anywhere on the property,” Rey said. “It limits the number in the front yard to two and has setback requirements. … We could work on actual language and make it more strict; if you don’t pass this we are back to (having) nothing.”
Pletcher answered “if we pass this we are going to be allowing something we don’t currently allow. If we pass this, things will be allowable that we don’t want.”
City Attorney Andrew Dickman explained “whenever we see a lot of variances and code enforcement actions, staff tries to address it through the legislative process and err on side of caution.” He noted maybe a more targeted approach is necessary.
Commissioner Doug Izzo said he agreed with Pletcher.
“I’m not really sure what the problem is,” he said. “I’m not in favor of regulating this much of what (people) can do on their own property.”
Commissioners accepted the city attorney’s recommendation “to table it for now; let us bring it back and see if we can sharpen it up.”