By Jim Hoy, Editor Emeritus
Over the past decade the number of Cedar Key ordinances has nearly doubled in number. They are approaching number five hundred. The ordinances can be categorized: as either enforced, unenforced, haphazardly enforced, or unenforceable. Over the past three years the Commissioners and their successive City Attorneys have wrestled with a commercial sign ordinance that has not been enforced, and is therefore judged unenforceable. (Among the sign ordinance problems is a provision for fees required of sign owners. That has resulted in lost badly needed revenue for the City.) In recent years the numbers of signs, like the ordinances, have proliferated. Big signs, multiple small signs and trashy signs abound.
Ordinances enacted by our Commission include a tree ordinance, a seawall ordinance, a noise ordinance, an animal ordinance, a fence ordinance and the sign ordinance. When was the last time one was enforced?
At the May 1, 2012 Commission meeting a proposed sign ordinance came up for a vote after much legal work. A motion in favor of the ordinance failed for lack of a second. A compromise motion then failed on a two to three vote. Now, two years later the four candidates for Commission in public forum all agreed that many ordinances remain unenforced or haphazardly enforced. One candidate opined that someone must make a written complaint, but that we must avoid turning neighbors against one another. He added that Commissioners cannot initiate complaints because they might need to participate in resulting hearings.
The new Commission will have the opportunity to make the sign ordinance, the tree ordinance, and all the others enforceable and enforced or take them off the books. It is up to the voters of Cedar Key to let the Commissioners know that they want clear enforceable ordinances put into effect in an even-handed way.