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The staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Dunedin eyes rules to regulate private businesses operating on city property




DUNEDIN -- The city is proposing a new ordinance aimed at protecting Dunedin from potential liability from private businesses that don't have a licensing agreement with the city.

The issue has been ongoing for years, but came a head this summer when officials realized a man named "Carolina Mike" Berthold was running kayak tours out of the Dunedin Marina.

Berthold says Wet Dog Adventures is a club whose 1,000 members also meet for biking, hiking and other outdoor fun at various spots around the state -- not just Dunedin. But Dunedin officials contend he's illegally using the city marina to run a business.

The proposed ordinance would expand one already on Dunedin's books that bars commercial businesses without permits from operating on the Dunedin Causeway. Under the new rules, anyone providing a service at any city facility - from a tennis instructor giving private lessons to an ice cream truck driver selling goods at a park - would need to sign a licensing agreement.

Officials say the main protections upheld by licensing agreements are:

*Safety. A licensing agreement lets the city require businesses to have insurance to cover injuries and to perform background checks on those working with children.

*Competition. Businesses with licensing agreements establish a profit-sharing deal with the city. Wet Dog Adventures poses direct competition to Sail Honeymoon, a boat rental company that currently has a permit to operate out of the Dunedin Marina.

*Regulation. City attorney Tom Trask said Wet Dog Adventures members who showed up at the marina last month clogged the area's limited parking spaces.

Public hearings on the matter are set for Thursday and Oct. 20, during the City Commission's regularly scheduled meetings.

Read more about the stances of Berthold and the city here. You can also check out the documents filed with this week's meeting agenda here.

[Last modified: Monday, October 3, 2011 11:41am]


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