Town code enforcement officers now have the authority to issue fines to individuals found violating a handful of town rules.
A new ordinance passed by the Town Commission this week gives code enforcement officers the authority to fine people up to $500 for breaking town rules regarding construction, business taking place on town property, sea turtles and short-term rentals.
The measure was passed with unanimous support from the Town Commission. The codes now enforced by means of citation include:
- A ban on renting a home for less than 30 days;
- Rules against construction work after hours and without appropriate safety measures;
- Protection for sea turtles, including light restrictions and beach furniture removal; and
- Regulations against commercial business on town-owned property.
Officials are hoping this new authority given to code enforcement officers will help the town enforce rules that otherwise would have required at least three points of contact before fines could be imposed.
Fines may now be issued at any point when a violation is found.
These citations work much like traffic tickets — a town code enforcement officer may issue a fine to an individual found in violation of a town code. If found to have broken the same rules again, higher fines are possible.
A code enforcement officer may fine an individual $100 for a first-time violation, $250 for a second infraction and $500 for a third transgression. Total fines may not exceed $5,000, according to the Florida Constitution.
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 be assigned to a special magistrate hired by the town to decide matters of code enforcement.
The Code Enforcement Board, which now functions to decide how code violations should be handled, will be abolished by next fall in lieu of a special magistrate.
The rules took effect after the ordinance was passed at a Monday Town Commission meeting. Any infraction from then on are subject to fines. Previous violations are subject to action by the town’s Code Enforcement Board.