Torn screening, peeling paint and browning grass can be eyesores. They can also adversely impact the property values of neighboring homes. But these issues are outside the scope of town codes, which are generally limited to weeds-and-grass violations and life-and-safety issues. Code enforcement staff can’t issue violations for aesthetic concerns.
As a result of ongoing aesthetic issues, some of which are a side effect of increased foreclosures and abandoned properties, the Longboat Key Town Commission considered amending the town’s code Thursday, Oct. 6, at a special workshop.
Two weeks earlier at the commission’s Sept. 22 regular workshop, Planning, Zoning & Building Director Monica Simpson told the commission about many of these issues and suggested that the commission consider adopting the International Code Council’s International Property Maintenance Code, which addresses many of these issues, either in its entirety or in parts.
Commissioners agreed that many issues needed consideration. But they worried about the extent of enforcement — whether, for example, one piece of fallen fruit from a tree or a small amount of flaking paint would constitute a violation.
“Is one picket that’s cracked or something, is that disrepair?” asked Commissioner Phill Younger.
Vice Mayor David Brenner pointed out another concern with additional enforcement.
“If you’re really going to expand enforcement, there are costs associated with that,” he said.
That concern was one that Simpson pointed out at September’s workshop. She said that with current staffing levels of one full-time and one part-time code-enforcement officer, the transition to an amended code would be more “reactive than proactive” and would likely be slow.
The commission directed town staff to identify which items from the presented list to pursue and agreed to seek additional community input about code concerns.
“I think this is a good starting point,” said Commissioner Jack Duncan. “I think (town attorney) David (Persson) has to play a critical role in this, because whatever we do has to be enforceable.”
According to a Sept. 30 memorandum sent to commissioners by P&Z Director Monica Simpson, town staff identified the following complaints received that could not be addressed by current codes:
• Maintenance of swimming pools
• Peeling, flaking and chipping paint
• Maintenance of doors, windows and window frames
• Maintenance of parking lots
• Landscaping issues, such as overgrown hedges, dead vegetation and grass and fallen fruit from trees
• Items stored on the exterior of structures