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Manatee Contemplates Moving Some Land Development Codes to Property Maintenance


BRADENTON -- They are calling it a "housecleaning" effort, in order to get more tools in their tool box. Manatee County's Planning Division is rewriting the Land Development Code; moving much of what its manager says doesn't belong, to its already overwhelmed Code Enforcement Division, forcing its management to write a new Property Maintenance Code. At a BOCC work session Tuesday, commissioners got brought up to speed on the proposed plan.

Planning Division Manager Bob Schmitt says he's taking a book two inches thick, down to one inch. And "what comes out, will have to go somewhere else." Someplace else would be Joe Fenton, Manatee County's Code Enforcement Division Manager. Items now considered too big to fit under Manatee's Land Development umbrella; garage sales, grass mowing, parking of commercial vehicles, storage sheds, pools, drain covers, and the placement of fire and exit alarms, will soon be on Fenton's to-do list. 

Fenton says he is already operating with not enough, and will most likely need more boots on the ground, if the new tools in the box are to be effective.

"We need to do something about all of the boarded-up properties," said Fenton. "The neighborhood suffers if we don't."

County Attorney Mickie Palmer says that he county attorney's office is supportive of the clean-up efforts, but what appears to be needed most is support from the budget. 

Director of Financial Management, Jim Seuffert, said, "The impact fees of 2008 that brought in $10 million, were reduced to only $1 million in 2010." 

Having to do more with less, is a song being sung through many departments in Manatee County government. Commissioners admitted this shift of responsibility will come at a cost.

Commissioner Gallen said, "This is important to me, and if it means getting funds to do it, I'm behind that."

The new Property Maintenance Code draft presented to the Commission Tuesday is a thick 39 pages of administrative oversight. Schmitt says he hopes to have work sessions and public comments to the changes of the LDC process done by the end of the 2nd quarter of 2013, and by the 3rd quarter, have the Comp Plan Amendment process finished, so he can have the transition complete by the end of 2013.


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