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Inverness boat ramp will stay for now

After a lengthy discussion among city officials about improving the boat ramp area on N Apopka Avenue, the Inverness City Council decided Tuesday to move forward with a plan that included removing the ramp but left room for modifications if necessary.

Then members decided that might not be such a good idea.

After protests from residents, who want the boat ramp to stay, the council voted to throw out its previous decision and talk about the issue some more.

Plans to enhance the area include a boardwalk on Little Henderson Lake, picnic shelters and a decorative fence.

In other city business:

Council member Ken Hinkle is the new mayor _ for now. Hinkle was appointed mayor pro tempore Tuesday, after Joyce Rogers' recent resignation. He will assume all mayoral duties, as stipulated in the city charter, with one exception: He will not have veto power.

Saying now is the right time, council members also decided to hold a workshop to discuss the mayoral position.

The city does not need the ceremonial position, said council member Richard "Dick" Kaufman, and in other cities, the mayor functions as the city manager does in Inverness.

Any changes to the position would mean altering the city charter, which would require a referendum vote by residents at the next regular election.

Meanwhile, the date for a special election to fill the vacancy created by Rogers' resignation will be set at a future council meeting.

Council members minus John Sullivan, who sat this one out, voted to cover the $1,170 in legal costs used to defend Sullivan in a complaint to the state ethics board by Brian Snapp, who ran against him and narrowly lost in the last council race.

The complaint against Sullivan involved his position as a council member, City Manager Frank DiGiovanni said in a Jan. 15 memo. In addition, DiGiovanni wrote, the city charter and an opinion from the State Attorney General authorized the city government to pay for the legal services.

The council unanimously approved installing a sign that lists stores in the city and arrows pointing in their direction. The 195-square-foot sign will rise at State Road 44 W and U.S. 41 N, on the Griff's property. It will advertise, among others, the Inverness Regional Shopping Center.

The council also unanimously voted to amend the city's Land Development Code so that retail stores and shopping centers are required to have fewer parking spaces. Businesses are now required to have four parking spaces for each 1,000 square feet of floor area. Before they were required to have 5.5 spaces for each 1,000 square feet.

_ Suzannah Gonzales can be reached at 860-7312 or sgonzalessptimes.com.

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