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Longboat Key Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2019 1 week ago

Longboat's new magistrate takes over code enforcement

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Town honored members of phased-out Code Enforcement Board.
by: Eric Garwood Managing Editor

Beginning Monday, Oct. 14, the town enters a new phase of code enforcement with the first hearing headed by special magistrate Milan Brkich, scheduled for 10 a.m. at Town Hall.

Brkich, a retired lawyer who spent 17 years as an assistant county attorney in Sarasota, was hired in June to preside over cases previously heard by the town’s appointed seven-member Code Enforcement Board.

In a ceremony at a Town Commission workshop in September, Vice Mayor Ed Zunz honored the members of the phased-out board with plaques and official thanks for their service to the town. Jack Wilson, Gary Ehlers, Joel Mangel, Terrie DuCray and Robert Krosney were the final five members of the board.

Town Commissioners in June unanimously signed off on a three-year contract with Brkich, paying him $275 an hour for a minimum of two hours for code enforcement meetings or hearings. In addition to the three-year contract, the possibility of two one-year extensions was included. Brkich will not be an employee of the town and serves at the pleasure of the Town Commission.

Milan Brkich will assume the same duties and quasi-judicial responsibilities of the Code Enforcement Board.

Brkich will assume the same duties and quasi-judicial responsibilities of the Code Enforcement Board. Appeals of his decisions would go straight to the 12th Circuit Court, not to the Town Commission or other town entity.

Brkich retired from Sarasota County in 2017 after a 34-year career in the legal profession. In addition to his work in the County Attorney’s office in Sarasota, he served in a similar capacity in Charlotte County. Harmer, formerly the County Administrator for Sarasota before coming to Longboat Key in 2017, worked directly with Brkich at the county level.

According to a town memo from Planning, Zoning and Building Director Allen Parsons to Town Manager Tom Harmer, the intention in making the switch to a magistrate is designed to “promote, protect and improve the health, safety and welfare of the town’s citizens by providing an equitable, expeditious, effective and inexpensive method of enforcing town codes and ordinances.’’

Anyone in receipt of a citation from the town — much like a traffic ticket — has the right to challenge the assertion they broke local rules. That challenge, instead of going to the Code Enforcement Board, will now be assigned to the special magistrate.

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