The agenda for the Longboat Key Code Enforcement Board meeting was simple: The board wanted to know why a string of meetings has been canceled and to debate whether the board is needed because of a new philosophy for dealing with code violators.
Code Board member Joel Mangel said Monday, April 8, there’s been a “dramatic change” in the board’s use, noting the last eight meetings have been canceled.
Planning, Zoning and Building Director Robin Meyer told the board he takes full responsibility for the canceled meetings. He said code-enforcement officer Amanda Nemoytin has worked well with people to resolve complaints before they have to come before the board.
“We are getting compliance and are working with people to resolve issues,” Meyer said.
Mangel said he’s baffled the new approach would create a string of eight meeting cancellations.
“I’m not in favor of more meetings, but I question the use of this board if it’s never going to meet,” Mangel said.
Nemoytin explained that instead of sending a letter right away, forcing people to come into compliance within three to five days, she tries to get in touch with them before sending a notice of violation to resolve the issue.
Sending a notice of violation automatically brings the case before the board, and Nemoytin noted that most of the cases listed on the board’s meeting agendas are closed by the time they come before the board.
“People are more responsive and receptive to my calls and willingness to work it out than they are to a notice of violation in their mailbox,” Nemoytin said.
Code Board member Beverly Shapiro, though, said she believes the board has a responsibility to review cases at board meetings, whether they are open or closed.
“There appears to be some kind of control now over violations,” said Shapiro, who believes Nemoytin’s new approach could show favoritism to some code violators. “My gut tells me it’s inappropriate not to be hearing violations on a monthly basis.”
“I have to use my staff’s time as efficiently as I can,” Meyer said.
Meyer said the board receives an overview of all the cases the code department is pursuing and agreed to come back to the board next month to discuss ways to elaborate on those report recaps. But he said he won’t bring reports to the board to hold meetings for resolved cases.
“If you want work, I can give it to you, but, quite honestly, there is nothing out there for you to see right now,” Meyer said.
Board members also questioned whether town staff and the code department were giving special treatment to the shuttered Colony Beach & Tennis Resort, which has a myriad of code issues. Meyer told the board the Colony’s issues are handled directly by Deputy Town Manager Anne Ross.
Former Mayor George Spoll questioned the new philosophy of the town’s code department at the meeting.
“Apparently a miracle has occurred on this Key,” Spoll said. “I’ve driven every square inch of this Key, and I can show you all sorts of violations out there.”
Mangel also expressed concern that the code board wasn’t an active participant in property code changes that the Planning and Zoning Board is reviewing.
Meyer and town attorney Kelley Fernandez explained that, although the commission could ask for the code board’s help, the idea is for board members not to help make code changes that the board must enforce.
The board will further discuss its future and the possibility of reviewing more detailed closed reports next month, with Code Board Chairman Robert Krosney making a motion to request the commission include the board “in the loop” for changes to ordinances it reviews.
Mangel and other board members, though, continue to express displeasure.
“Some members of this board don’t believe we are being utilized,” Mangel said.