It’s a new era for code enforcement on Longboat Key.
The Code Enforcement Board held its first meeting in eight months Feb. 10 to welcome new Code Enforcement Officer Jeff Karr and to review how the code officer position will be handled moving forward.
Planning, Zoning and Building Director Alaina Ray and Police Chief Pete Cumming explained to the board that Karr will split his time between the PZ&B and police departments in the future.
“Recently, we made an administrative change, and the code officer will now report to the police department,” Ray said. “We are hopeful this will allow for faster response times with code violations.”
Karr will have a radio with police officers for both safety and response reasons.
“It’s an organizational change we think will benefit the town,” Cumming said.
Cumming said it’s a change that makes sense because police officers already respond to violations that deal with dogs on the beach and alcohol violations on the beach. Now Karr can assist police with those types of violations.
“When officers receive a code violation moving forward, they may work with Jeff, send him to the violation address alone or assist him as needed with violations that are deemed as dangerous in nature,” Cumming said.
Karr, who retired as a captain with the Sarasota Police Department in December after 28 years of service, told the board he is immersing himself in the town’s codes.
“I’m learning about the community and its standards,” said Karr, who will also attend a couple of code enforcement classes.
While Karr told board members it’s his intent to only bring cases before the board “as a last resort,” he promised to communicate closely with board members and provide quarterly reports of code enforcement activity.
Board members, who have complained recently that they haven’t reviewed any cases and questioned how code cases are being handled, were happy to hear the news.
“I appreciate your intent to keep us all informed,” said code board Chairman Robert Krosney. “I have felt superfluous for months and I would like more of an open dialogue.”
Code board member Joel Mangel also praised the new direction.
“The focus has always been centered upon getting compliance,” Mangel said.
The town hired Karr Jan. 7, at an annual salary of $41,516.80.
Hometown: Rochester, N.Y.
Family: Wife, Linda; two children; and four grandchildren
Hobbies: Photography and wildlife
Interesting fact: Karr is an avid bird watcher and naturalist.
Contact Kurt Schultheis at [email protected]