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Indian Rocks Beach Mayor Cookie Kennedy

INDIAN ROCKS BEACH — IRB runoff elections are officially a thing of the past. At last month’s meeting, the City Commission voted to amend the process for runoff and tied elections. Commissioners reasserted that amendment to the Code of Ordinances by a unanimous vote of 5-0 at the item’s second and final hearing on Dec. 10.

This issue came about when the Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections made it known that there would no longer be support for a runoff election due to a lack of adequate time between the formal municipal election and the date of officer installation. The commissioners decided at last month’s meeting to break potential city election ties in the future by drawing lots, which is how ties are resolved at the state level.

Mayor Cookie Kennedy announced there would not be a commission election in the spring as all three candidates are running unopposed.

Incumbents Kennedy and Commissioner Edward Hoofnagle had no opposition during the qualifying period. Kennedy and Hoofnagle will each be serving another two-year term when they are sworn in again in March.

Vice Mayor Nick Palomba did not run for re-election, but IRB resident Joe McCall qualified as a candidate without opposition. McCall will replace Palomba on the commission for the next two-year term starting in March.

In other commission news:

The Board of Adjustments and Appeals submitted two variance requests for approval to the commission. In both cases neighbors had been contacted and approved the projects.

The first request was to allow a dock facility to exceed the 50-foot length from the seawall by 6 feet for the property located at 349 12th Ave. Hetty Harmon, the city’s planning consultant, established the property had been vacant for a long time and that it had the distinction of being the only property in the entire subdivision where mangroves were growing.

The variance for 349 12th Ave. was approved unanimously. Hoofnagle said, “For the record, (dealing with) the mangroves are a hardship for the (property) owner.”

The second variance request was to use 4.25 feet of the required 25-foot front yard setback for a carport addition on the front of a house at 329 La Hacienda Drive.

The design includes a matching hip roof aspect to make the new construction look like it was part of the original construction.

Commissioner Diane Flagg requested that the variance include the condition that the carport could not be closed in. This condition was approved by consensus of the commissioners and by Randy Mora, the city attorney.

The variance was approved by a vote of 4-1 with Hoofnagle against. “I do not see the hardship to the homeowner in this,” he said.

An Alcoholic Beverage License Designation to serve beer and wine was granted unanimously to Gurbuz Coruhlu, d/b/a Baked Batata, LLC at 321 Gulf Blvd., Unit #D. As a new food and beverage establishment, the restaurant will be on a six-month probationary period for the alcoholic beverage license.