‘Threatening’ city employees resolution added to City Commission agenda

The Safety Harbor City Commission had a fairly routine agenda for Monday’s meeting, but in a Facebook post Saturday morning, Mayor Joe Ayoub said he would put forth a resolution condemning “threatening behavior” toward city employees at the meeting, which likely will spur some fireworks based on social media interaction over the weekend.  

Monday’s meeting will begin at 7 p.m. Here is the link to the agenda, with additional material, known as “backup,” available via the hyperlink on each item: http://safetyharbor.granicus.com/GeneratedAgendaViewer.php?view_id=6&event_id=1675

This post on Mayor Joe Ayoub’s official Facebook page prompted considerable conversation over the weekend.

In the post on his official Facebook page, Ayoub wrote, “On August 8th, three residents met with the city’s tree arborist (Art Finn) at Café Vino Tinto to express their displeasure with his performance. After the meeting one of the residents wrote to the other two that it ‘was completely inappropriate and I am upset and ashamed by my participation in it’ and went on to say that the meeting ‘went off the rails, and afterward I felt sick at heart about it.’ She also said the meeting left our arborist feeling ‘ambushed and threatened.’ “

Ayoub went on to write, “The resident that expressed these sentiments has since shown remorse and apologized to the city manager and to our arborist, and I thank her for doing so. However, the other two residents have not apologized. Our arborist wrote that one of them said she would ‘work on getting somebody else for the job.’ This is not the first time this resident has overstepped with our arborist, so now there is a pattern that has me concerned. As a result, I’ve drafted a resolution that will be placed on Monday night’s agenda expressing opposition to threatening behavior towards city employees.”

Resolutions, unlike ordinances, are merely statements of sentiment, so there will be no official change in city policy if Commission adopts it. But they are ways for Commission to communicate desires to residents or, as recently on gun legislation policy, to the State Legislature or other governmental bodies. 

ALSO ON THE AGENDA …

Code amendment discussion: This item was on the previous meeting’s agenda, but because the meeting was running late, Commission agreed to move it to this meeting instead. At a previous meeting, Commission directed city staff to research possible changes to three code amendments involving impervious surface ratios, which is the amount of land that is covered by a building and driveways, secondary front yard setbacks, which are present on corner lots that technically have two front yards, and submerged land coverage. City staff has researched all three and is seeking Commission direction on how to proceed. 

Draft ordinance for requirements for residential poles with recording devices: At a previous meeting, several residents of the Coventry neighborhood expressed concern that a neighbor had affixed a camera to a pole, apparently to monitor their activities. Commission asked city staff to draft an ordinance to regulate such recording devices. Staff is seeking Commission feedback on the draft ordinance, which bans any recording devices being installed on poles above the roofline of structures if such an installation infringes on an area where a reasonable expectation of privacy exists. 

Lot coverage waiver request: Dean Dobbs, owner of 226 Third St. N, says the property is in need of repairs and a renovation and is seeking a waiver to increase the maximum lot coverage from 35 percent to 40 percent, citing superior alternatives, protection of a significant feature and a technical impracticality. At its last meeting, Commission voted 5-0 to approve two other waivers for Dobbs.

Sidewalk waiver request: Clifton Harris is looking to build a single-family home on 12th Avenue North and is seeking a waiver to not have to build a sidewalk the entire length of the property. City staff recommends approval, as a sidewalk exists across the street from the property.

Setting 2020 election date: Commission is being asked to approve March 17 as the date of the next municipal election to coincide with other Pinellas County elections, including the presidential preference primary. Two seats are up for election – Mayor and Commission Seat 4, presently held by Carlos Diaz. 

Budget amendment: Commission is being asked to approve the transfer of money from the city’s reserve fund to pay for Main Street improvements, maintenance costs at the Northeast Wastewater Treatment Plant and to buy a new Sanitation Division vehicle.

Special event approval: Harborside Christian Church is asking Commission to approve a special event called Christmas at the Harbor at Safety Harbor Waterfront Park on the evening of Dec. 24. City staff is recommending the event’s approval, though registered a concern about making city employees work on Christmas Eve. The organizers have expressed that they’ll provide enough volunteers to staff the event, and city staff says it will make the event an option for city employees to work, but none will be required to do so.

Christopher Palmieri Employee of the Quarter Award: LeAnna Kiggins of the Library will be honored.

Consent agenda: Items expected to have little debate, such as approval of the last meeting’s minutes and most contracts, are included en masse in the consent agenda, though any Commissioner can ask for any item to be considered separately. This meeting’s consent agenda includes approval of agreements for street sweeping, disaster debris removal and disposal, disaster debris removal monitoring and a replacement of the city records retention building’s metal roof. 

HOW TO PARTICIPATE

Attend the meeting: The meeting starts at 7 p.m. at City Hall, 750 Main St. Meetings typically run from 1.5 to three hours. Residents are given the opportunity to speak on all agenda items, except for presentations and consent agenda items. Come forward when asked by the mayor, state your name and address, and you’ll be given three minutes to address the Commission. For any issues not on the agenda, or any item that is on the consent agenda, residents get three minutes to speak at the beginning of the meeting during “Audience to be Heard.”  

Watch from home: Meetings are live-streamed to the city’s website at http://cityofsafetyharbor.com/557/Streaming-Media. The following day, a video of the meeting is posted for residents to watch.

Contact your Commissioners in advance by leaving them a message at City Hall at (727) 724-1555 or emailing them:

Mayor Joe Ayoub – jayoub@cityofsafetyharbor.com

Vice Mayor Cliff Merz – cmerz@cityofsafetyharbor.com

Commissioner Carlos Diaz – cdiaz@cityofsafetyharbor.com

Commissioner Andy Zodrow – azodrow@cityofsafetyharbor.com

Commissioner Nancy Besore – nbesore@cityofsafetyharbor.com

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