SEMINOLE — While voters have been focused on deciding which candidates to support, some homeowners in this city have been casting a completely different type of ballot.
The ballot, actually a survey that's being treated as a kind of vote, is giving those homeowners a chance to weigh in on the issue of boat and RV parking in residential neighborhoods. The surveys let Seminole officials get people's thoughts before considering a possible change to city rules.
"They really would like to have a reaction from the public before (council members) develop anything or decide not to do anything," Seminole City Manager Frank Edmunds said.
Because the questions have been asked of candidates for several years, Edmunds said officials assumed there is "some interest" from homeowners in having some restrictions on the parking of boats, trailers and RVs in residential neighborhoods."Where it goes from there is the big question," Edmunds said.
Seminole has few restrictions on the parking of boats, RVs and cars on residential streets or in yards. But Edmunds said over the course of time, council members on the campaign trail have heard complaints about those lax rules. After last March's election, the council decided to poll owners of single-family residences who would be the most affected by any changes.
Those surveys — 4,005 of them — went out early this month and were due back by Friday. Rather than counting them as they came in, city staff members created a sealed "ballot box" and stuffed the surveys in as they were returned.
The box was unsealed Friday, and the surveys were stacked on a table. Mark Ely, head of the city's development department, said it was unclear how many there were or how long it would take Seminole City Clerk Lesley DeMuth to count them, tally the answers to each of the three questions and tabulate them according to subdivision.
Ely said the public is welcome to come watch the tallying as it happens so residents can be sure there's no miscount. After the tabulation, the surveys will be available for public study.
The information, Ely said, will be used to build a database, which will then be taken to the council at a workshop, probably in November or December. At that time, council members also will have a chance to see what rules Pinellas County and the cities of Largo and Pinellas Park have as a way of comparing how the issue is handled elsewhere. (See box.)
Council members will then decide what rules they want to establish, if any.