NORTH REDINGTON BEACH — Although the legal battle between the town of North Redington Beach and Sweet Sage Café over that restaurant’s parking was settled last spring, resolving the town’s off-street parking space requirements, in general, was not. A new ordinance amending off-street parking passed unanimously on its first reading at the town hall meeting on Nov. 14.

The ordinance addresses off-street parking for offices, restaurants, bars and lounges, and outdoor dining. Having passed 4-0 with Commissioner Corey Thornton absent, the ordinance seemed amenable to both the Board of Commissioners and the business owners in attendance.

The new ordinance ties parking to the square footage of the establishment rather than to the seating as the previously withdrawn ordinance did. Minimum off-street parking for restaurants, bars and lounges will be “10 off-street automobile parking stalls per 1,000 square feet of gross floor area for standalone restaurants (or) eight off-street automobile parking stalls for restaurants that are part of a mixed-use development, not to include a hotel or motel.”

Minimum off-street parking for an office will be one space for each 250 square feet of gross floor area. Other establishments will be required to have one space for each 200 square feet of gross floor area.

Town Clerk Mari Campbell explained that this ordinance applies to new restaurants, as pre-2009 establishments are grandfathered in.

Mayor Bill Queen asked John Messmore, owner of Sweet Sage Café, for his input on the new ordinance. Messmore said, “This is fine with me.”

Prior to the second reading, compatibility of the ordinance with the fire code will be confirmed. Additionally, the Planning and Zoning Board will review the ordinance.

Also, during new business an ordinance passed unanimously on first reading to increase parking fines from $25 to $50 per violation.

Safety issues are a major concern to the town. “(Illegal) parking in front of fire hydrants and crosswalks has been the greatest problem,” said the mayor.

In conjunction with illegal parking is the problem of overflow parking of non-residents. An ordinance revising the issuance of resident parking permits passed unanimously on its first reading. Only residents who own or reside in real property within the town not bordering Gulf Boulevard will be granted Gulf Park parking permits.

Another ordinance passed unanimously during new business concerning regulations within Josephine Baldanza Park. The ordinance specifically prohibits animals within the enclosed toddler playground.

“No adults or service dogs are allowed (in the toddler playground) unless they are accompanied by a child under the age of 12,” said the town clerk.

The ordinance was developed as a result of complaints of dogs encroaching in the toddler enclosure. In addition to the very real danger of dogs being in an enclosure with young children, some of the animals were further reported as not being on a lease.

“All dogs, even service dogs, must be on a lease (at all times in public spaces),” said the mayor.

Also, an ordinance passed unanimously to change the requirements for updating the town’s schedule of capital improvements found in the capital improvements section of the town’s comprehensive plan. The passage will eliminate the need for the town to publish the updated schedule every year; thereby, saving the town an average of $75 in advertising expenses annually.

A resolution permitting sewer rate increases of 9.5% over the next four years was unanimously approved during new business. The increases will span the years 2020, 2021, 2022 and 2023.

Two ordinances passed unanimously during old business during their second and final readings.

The first adopted the Capital Improvement Plan for the years 2020-24.

The second established the municipal election to be held on March 17 for commission seats 3 and 4 currently held by commissioners Corey Thornton and Kevin Kennedy. The qualifying period is 8 a.m. Dec. 6 to 1 p.m. Dec. 20. The town clerk said qualifying information packets for candidates would be ready Nov. 26.

During miscellaneous business, Queen announced upcoming holiday events. The holiday tree lighting is Dec. 6, the boat parade is Dec. 22 and the house decorating contest is Dec. 19.