County officials have reviewed the town’s fertilizer ordinance and don’t believe it’s cost effective, let alone enforceable.
At the Wednesday, Sept. 16 Coalition of Barrier Island Elected Officials meeting in Bradenton Beach, community leaders discussed Longboat Key’s fertilizer ordinance, which was adopted in May 2008 and incorporates much of Sarasota County’s stringent ordinance.
The town’s ordinance, which took months of debate and several meetings to accomplish, contains a blackout period of nitrogen-and-phosphorous use during the rainy season, endorses slow-release fertilizer application before the rainy season and favors 3-foot, fertilizer-free zones for waterfront properties instead of Sarasota County-mandated 10-foot zones.
“We, at the county level, can’t afford to enact the Longboat Key fertilizer ordinance,” said Manatee County Commissioner Carol Whitmore. “It’s almost unrealistic for code enforcement to enforce something like this, as well.”
Whitmore said that the county is not fertilizing during the rainy season on its golf courses and county-owned land while it awaits word from state-and-regional officials on a broader fertilizer ordinance the county hopes to adopt.
Bradenton Beach Mayor Michael Pierce told those in attendance that any fertilizer ordinance his city adopts will look nothing like the Longboat Key ordinance.
And, Anna Maria Mayor Fran Barford said her city is waiting to see the guidelines of the state’s ordinance.
“Longboat Key’s ordinance seems too strict and unenforceable,” Barford said.
Whitmore, Barford and others may not be that far off in their assessment.
Code-enforcement officer Heidi Micale confirmed she has not addressed a fertilizer code issue since the ordinance was adopted.
In the past, town attorney David Persson has warned the Town Commission that if the town isn’t going to enforce its codes, they shouldn’t exist.
The commission finally moved forward with its fertilizer ordinance last year because it tired of waiting for the state to present its own fertilizer ordinance, which the commission feared might be more relaxed than what the town wanted to enforce.
“I think we did exactly the right thing with our ordinance,” said Vice Mayor Robert Siekmann, who noted the commission has the right to make changes to it at any time. “Enforcement of ordinances is an issue that every community deals with, regardless if you enact your own ordinance or choose to enact what the state recommends.”
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