INDIAN ROCKS BEACH -- The Indian Rocks Beach City Commission had before it Tuesday night two appeals from the city's Board of Adjustments and therefore was sitting as a judicial board.
But instead of thinking legally, three of the five commissioners were thinking like legislators (with a sense of playground fairness), and failed to distinguish between the two cases, turning both appeals down.
True, most of the time the commission is a legislative body. But when appeals come before it, the legal thinking cap must be donned. Tuesday night it was not.
The cases were similar in that both involved swimming pool construction in which the owners were seeking a variance in the setback from the seawall in each case.
At present, the city requirement is 12 feet but engineering technology is able to mitigate any loss of integrity to seawalls, so the requirement is thought passe and the commission indicated that soon it will revise the code in this respect.
In the first case, in which the applicant failed to appear for the second time, the possible mitigation of the seawall was noted but was not certified by sealed engineering drawings.
The commission denied the appeal by a unanimous 5-0 vote, eschewing as dispositive the fact that the applicant was a no show. The decision seemed to be made on the plain language of the setback requirement with no certification of any mitigation.
On the second case, however, there was a sealed engineering drawing that certified substantial mitigation of the 12 foot setback requirement and plenty of evidence that seawall integrity had been maintained.
Commissioners Bill Ockunzzi, Jeremiah Carmody and R.B. Johnson failed to think legally and note the distinguishing difference and voted against Commissioner Jim Palamara's motion to approve.
Mayor Bob DiNicola, obviously thinking in legal terms, backed Palamara's motion, but the issue failed.
The three no votes came from commissioners whose comments clearly indicated they were thinking in legislative terms.
DiNicola pointed out that the two cases were not on all fours and it was a case of mixing apples and oranges.
Return to Home Page
Return to Current Edition