Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Madeira Beach considers new nuisance ordinance

MADEIRA BEACH — If it takes kicking a few people out of town or levying huge fines on property owners, that is what officials and residents appear ready to do to make their city livable.

The problem has gotten worse over the years, according to Mayor Travis Palladeno, resulting in deteriorating properties and an influx of criminals.

"We do not want to be a police state. That is not what we are trying to do here," Palladeno told residents at a City Commission workshop last week. "I wish it were a perfect world, but we have to figure out something because it is getting out of control."

The proposed solution is a new, tougher nuisance ordinance that would let city officials cite and force property owners to appear before a special magistrate to answer charges as serious as tenants involved in criminal activities to eyesores of overgrown lawns or junk cars.

Last week, the commission debated the proposed ordinance and listened to resident complaints for more than three hours.

City Attorney Tom Trask, who wrote the proposed nuisance ordinance, said current codes take too long to enforce and do not give the city the power to address many situations, including crime.

The new rules would let the city fine property owners up to $250 a day for an initial violation and up to $500 a day for repeat violations.

Residents sharply criticized what they perceived as past failures by the city to enforce codes already on the books.

"It seems to be common knowledge that Madeira Beach is where the drunks and drug addicts come to play, work and make a little money," said resident Tom Poe.

He cited the city's many cheap rentals and empty houses as "real breeding grounds for trouble."

Trask said the ordinance would let the city force landlords to evict tenants who are repeatedly involved in crime.

"The city has no ability to control who rents a house," Trask said, but can act if it can show "continuous illegal activity."

Residents living along 144th and 145th avenues complained about constant traffic from people coming into their neighborhood to buy drugs.

Palladeno and Trask urged them to call the Sheriff's Office each time they see criminal activity.

"That is how we build a case," Trask said.

Other residents complained about derelict vehicles, tall grass, and landlords who do not keep their structures up to code.

Trask strongly defended his draft ordinance, despite sharp criticism from resident Joe Jorgensen and former City Manager Jim Madden.

"I don't need to take a second look at it. I am comfortable with the way it reads," Trask said, citing his 25 years experience dealing with municipal code enforcement issues. He urged the commission to schedule formal hearings and a vote.

Interim City Manager and Fire Chief Bill Mallory's efforts to enforce codes also was criticized.

"Please, please if you are going to pass an ordinance, put somebody here that is going to enforce it and not come up with excuses," Jorgensen said.

Mallory repeatedly explained that current city laws do not give him the ability to stop certain behaviors.

He also said he is in the final process of hiring a code enforcement officer who should be on board within the next few weeks.

At the end of the discussion, the audience applauded Palladeno as he urged the commission to act.

"I cannot do anything about the past," Palladeno said. "All we can do is start tonight and move forward."

The commission agreed and will formally consider Trask's proposed ordinance at meetings scheduled for Oct. 25 and Nov. 8.

Madeira Beach considers new nuisance ordinance 10/11/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, October 11, 2011 2:09pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Encounters: Trial by storm for a rookie principal

    K12

    DUNEDIN — When he nodded off to sleep, the hallway lights outside Michael Vasallo's office were on, so the sudden darkness woke him.

    The glow of his desk phone dimmed.

    Michael Vasallo, right, the first-year principal at Dunedin Highland Middle School, talks with the school's head plant operator Clint Case near the back-up generator on campus. The generator failed just as Hurricane Irma passed through Pinellas County, making for a stressful night. The experience made Vasallo long to return to his regular job, educating middle schoolers. [COLEEN WRIGHT   |   Times]


  2. Who is in charge during a hurricane? Hillsborough County and Tampa still can't agree

    Hurricanes

    TAMPA — Who has the authority to order an evacuation during a hurricane?

    Mayor Bob Buckhorn says he has evacuation authority.
  3. Gators rally past Kentucky, streak hits 31

    Blogs

    LEXINGTON, Ky. — For the second week in a row, Florida found itself storming the field in a game that came down to the last second. A 57-yard field-goal attempt by Kentucky kicker Austin MacGinnis came just a few feet short of making history and snapping a 30-year losing streak, as the No. 20 Gators escaped a …

    Florida wide receiver Brandon Powell (4) scores a touchdown during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Kentucky, Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017, in Lexington, Ky.
  4. Pen makes it way too interesting as Rays hang on for 9-6 win

    Blogs

    A couple of home runs provided the news pegs of the night for the Rays, but it was more topical to talk about what nearly happened as they hung on for a 9-6 win over the Orioles.

    Lucas Duda's three-run homer in the third inning was the Rays' record-breaking 217th of the season, as well as his …

  5. An attempt to project what Rays will look like in 2018

    The Heater

    BALTIMORE — We know what the Rays look like this year: a team that had enough talent but too many flaws, in construction and performance, and in the next few days will be officially eliminated from a wild-card race it had a chance to win but let slip away.

    Adeiny Hechavarria, high-fiving Lucas Duda, seems likely to be brought back.