At Tuesday night’s regular meeting, the Port St. Joe City Commission once again turned their attention to a sign ordinance which has affected numerous businesses not currently in compliance.
After a motion was made to pass the ordinance, which would cause area signs to become more uniform in size, height and setback from city and state roads, Commissioner Bo Patterson seconded for discussion and expressed confusion as to why buildings larger than 20,000 square feet would be able to have larger signs than small businesses.
“We’re telling small businesses they can’t have a larger sign unless they increase their business,” said Patterson. “That’s discrimination in my book.”
Patterson asked the commission for additional time to review the ordinance
Mayor Mel Magidson said that most businesses have not had an issue bringing their signs into compliance. He said that aside from David Costa, owner of the McDonald’s off of Highway 98, he hadn’t heard any other complains.
Costa’s sign has been in violation for five years and at last month’s meeting he received a six-month extension to bring the Golden Arches up to code.
“Let’s get this down to something we can live with,” said Patterson as he crumbled up the ordinance page from his agenda. “I can’t live with this.”
Commissioner Rex Buzzett, who joined the meeting by telephone, told Patterson that the group could look at any city ordinance and it wouldn’t be agreed upon by everyone.
“Many business owners came into compliance in order to be good tax-paying citizens,” said Buzzett. “People don’t like change, but once it happens, they’re glad it did.”
Patterson rescinded his second while Commissioner Phil McCroan urged the group to pass the ordinance and deal with any variances on a case-by-case basis. Despite Patterson’s protests, the ordinance was voted in.
“We’ve got a good ordinance,” said Buzzett. “If everyone complies, we’ll treat them all the same.”
Tom Conley with the Florida League of Cities paid a visit to the commission to issue a refund on the city’s insurance premium. He congratulated the commission for being six years hurricane-free and presented Magidson with a check for $40,818.
Cape San Blas Lighthouse
A professional Lampist will soon be visiting the Cape San Blas lighthouse to remove the large glass lenses and begin the process of relocation.
Lisa Curry, who with the assistance of BP funds is creating a documentary on the process, will be on-hand to capture video of the event. The lenses are expected to be removed within two weeks.
The planning board is up for re-appointment and is currently without enough members to make a quorum. Seven candidates submitted letters of interest for the volunteer position with the majority of current members expressing an interest to return.
Magidson told commissioners that he didn’t want to rush the decision since there weren’t any pending decisions to be made, and would prefer to appoint the four needed members simultaneously in order to review the qualifications of all candidates.
When asked by a member of the audience what the qualifications for the PDRB board was, Magidson answered, “That you have your head screwed on straight.”
Commissioner William Thursbay made a motion to accept three of the candidates, which excluded previous member Patti Blaylock, who had volunteered to continue serving.
After the motion passed, Buzzett made an additional motion to re-appoint Blaylock, which failed 3-2.
A new agenda policy requires that all discussion items be provided to city staff by 5 p.m. ET on the Thursday before meetings are held. Agendas can be amended to include time-sensitive or emergency materials if they are provided to staff by noon on the Monday before a regular meeting.
This policy prevents commissioners from voting on items that the public may not be familiar with.
“We represent people in this city,” said Magidson. “They have a right to know what we’re doing.
“This is to be sure we’re serving those people who elected us.”
Items not on the agenda can still be discussed if a successful motion is made by a commissioner at the beginning of a meeting.
BP funds for softball
After visiting the girls’ softball fields, Commissioner Thursbay made a motion to dedicate BP funds toward a new batting cage and ice machine. According to Thursbay’s estimates, a new cage would cost approximately $3,500 and the ice machine, $1,500.
The group recognized an influx of softball participants and decided to allow $5,000 to be used for the equipment. Any additional funds would be collected through fundraisers.