Beach commision addresses host of important issues

On December 2, 2019, the City of St Augustine Beach held a Regular Commission Meeting, discussing and presenting issues like an appointment to the Comprehensive Planning and Zoning Board, Beach Blast Off into 2020, amendments to the comprehensive plan, and the reappointment of two members to the Sustainability and Environmental Planning Advisory Council (SEPAC).

To begin, the City Commission interviewed and appointed Mr. Larry Einheuser to fill a vacant junior alternate position on the Comprehensive Planning and Zoning Board. Mr. Einheuser has been a resident for three years and has a background as a swimming pool contractor.

Following the appointment of Mr. Einheuser, Communications and Events Coordinator Cindy Walker gave a presentation on the upcoming New Year’s Eve celebration, Beach Blast Off into 2020. For more information, including parking locations and schedule of events, please visit www.sabevents.com.

Next, the City’s planning consultant, Ms. Janis Fleet, presented amendments to the comprehensive plan. These amendments, recommended by the Department of Economic Opportunity, address sea-level rise and coastal flooding mitigation in the Conservation/ Coastal Management Element of the Comprehensive Plan. After discussion and slight modification, the Commission passed these amendments as Ordinance 19-17 on first reading. The second public reading and final hearing will be held on the January 6th Commission Meeting.

The City Commission appointed Dr. Lonnie Kaczmarsky and Ms. Sandra Krempasky to another three-year term on the Sustainability and Environmental Planning Advisory Council (SEPAC.) This committee still has vacancies. If any residents are interested in serving, please visit https://www.staugbch.com/community/page/vacancies-city-boards.

Legal services, an assessment on the collection of solid waste, changes to land development regulations, an ordinance to ban the rental of e-scooters, an annual review of the performance of the Police Chief and City Manager, and the election of a Mayor and Vice Mayor for 2020 will be discussed at a continuation meeting on Tuesday, December 3, 2019 at 6:00 p.m. at St Augustine Beach City Hall located at 2200 A1A South, St Augustine Beach, FL, 32080.  This meeting is open to the public and the public is invited to attend.

On December 3, 2019 the City of St Augustine Beach held a Continuation Commission Meeting, discussing and presenting issues like an annual review of the performance of the Police Chief and City Manager, legal services, an assessment on the collection of solid waste, changes to land development regulations, an ordinance to ban the rental of e-scooters, and the election of a Mayor and Vice Mayor for 2020.

First, the Commission decided to move the discussion of their performance evaluations of the City Manager and the Police Chief the January Commission Meeting, since all the performance evaluations have not been submitted yet. To review the performance evaluations that Mayor George, Commissioner Kostka, and Commissioner Rumrell have submitted, please visit the Commission Book on the City’s website at https://www.staugbch.com/sites/default/files/fileattachments/city_commission/meeting/packets/41401/commission_book_12-02-2019.pdf.

At the April 1 meeting, Attorney Wilson announced his intent to resign. So, the Commission directed staff to prepare a Request for Proposals (RFP). At the April 29 meeting, the Commission approved the RFP. The Commission received two proposals, reviewed them at the June 17th special meeting, and did not accept either proposal. So, Current City Attorney Jim Wilson provided a proposal from Coquina Law Group at the July 1 meeting and the Commission accepted that proposal. The Commission also decided that they would re-advertise another RFP for legal services two to three months after the July 1 meeting. The Commission has received ten proposals in response to this RFP and scheduled to interview them at a Special Commission Meeting on January 13, 2020 at 6pm at St. Augustine Beach City Hall. This meeting is open to the public and the public is invited to attend.

The Commission continued their discussion concerning the addition of a non-ad valorem assessment, Ordinance 19-13, and how businesses/ transient rentals would be assessed. Ordinance 19-13, which just states the Commission’s intent to levy the non-ad valorem assessment, was passed after discussion. (Please note, even though this Ordinance was passed, the Commission could still decide to NOT levy the assessment in 2020.)

As a separate issue, the Commission considered raising the annual commercial solid waste fee.  Currently, the commercial establishment collection fee is $1.76 per can. The true cost to the City for commercial collection is $2.90 per can. After discussion, the Commission requested City staff to conduct more research and present it at the January 6 Commission Meeting.

Next, the City Commission discussed rules of civility for public participation. These rules aim to eliminate disruptions to meetings and create a positive atmosphere where all persons who wish to speak will feel comfortable doing so. These rules will also direct speakers to be respectful and focus on issues instead of personalities. After review, the Commission decided to add the “Rules of Civility” pledge to future commission meeting agendas and public speaker cards.

Building and Zoning Director Brian Law presented the changes recommended by the Planning and Zoning Board to land development regulations, specifically signage regulations. (For a complete list of changes, please visit the Commission Book on the City’s website

After discussion, the Commission directed the City Attorney to draft an ordinance including all the discussed changes and present it at the January 6 Commission Meeting.

At the November Commission Meeting, the City Commission requested the City Attorney to draft an ordinance to ban the rental of e-scooters and e-bicycles within City limits. Since the ordinance was not drafted in time, this topic will be moved to the January 6 Commission meeting.

By December 31, 2019, Mayor George will have served two consecutive terms as Mayor, which is the maximum allowed by City Charter. As a result of Mayor George having to step down, the Commission selected Margaret England to serve as Mayor and Maggie Kostka to serve as Vice Mayor in 2020. They will be sworn in at the January 6 Commission Meeting.

The January regular Commission Meeting will be held on January 6, 2020, at 6 p.m. at St. Augustine Beach City Hall (2200 A1A South, St. Augustine Beach, 32080.) Also, there will be a special January Commission Meeting on January 13, 2020 at 6pm to select the new City Attorney. The public is invited and encouraged to attend both meetings.

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