BRADENTON -- At Tuesday's BOCC meeting, members voted 6 to 1 to move forward revising the code enforcement hearing process to utilize special magistrates in place of the code enforcement board. The BOCC voted to adopt Ordinance No. 13-36, an alternate code enforcement system which gives special magistrates designated by the Board of County Commissioners the authority to hold hearings and assess fines against violators of the County Codes.
Ordinance No. 13-36 does not abolish the Manatee County Code Enforcement Board, a separate action will need to first go before the Planning Commission, and then before the BOCC for a public hearing, where a motion and a vote will decide the board's fate.
The special magistrates have the same status as a code enforcement board under Chapter 162, Part I, Florida Statutes. The County Attorney will serve as counsel to the special magistrate, but will not present cases. The BOCC will retain its privilege to enforce county codes and ordinances if it chooses to do so.
The special magistrates may impose fines that do not exceed $250 per day for the first violation, $500 for the second, and up to $5,000 if a repeated violation is found to be irreparable or irreversible in nature.
The BOCC may appoint one or more special magistrates for a term of four years. Each case will be presented by a code enforcement officer or member of the County administrative staff.
In the 6 to 1 vote, Commissioner Gallen voiced the dissent. Gallen's consideration was over losing a board of citizens, and them being left out of the decision-making process.
The ordinance is set for a public hearing before the Manatee County Planning Commission on October 10, 2013. Following a recommendation of consistency by the planning commission, the ordinance amending the Land Development Code will be scheduled for a public hearing before the Board of County Commissioners at a future meeting.
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