Manager pulls ordinance after deferral by council

By Gary Alan Ruse….

Steven J. Alexander

Cutler Bay town manager Steven J. Alexander introduced a “walk-on” ordinance at the last minute during the Feb. 16 town council meeting regarding building inspections that raised concerns among homeowners groups and council members as well.

A walk-on ordinance is one that is put before the council without prior public notice, and in this case not even the mayor and other council members had a chance to study it before being called upon to vote on it.

Stephen Zarzecki of Concerned Citizens of Cutler Bay (CCCB) was disturbed enough by the implications of the proposed ordinance that he contacted others in the community about the issue.

“This is apparently requiring a homeowner, before he or she can sell his or her house, to contract for and pay for an inspection ‘for the purpose of determining whether or not the residence complies with all building codes and zoning codes.’ The findings of this inspection must then be submitted to the town, along with a fee for having performed this self-inspection, to facilitate ‘enforcement action’ against the homeowner,” Zarzecki said in his message.

“I believe that this proposed ordinance is an unnecessary intrusion into the privacy of our homes and violates our constitutional right to protection from self-incrimination. I believe that the existing state law requiring full disclosure is adequate to alleviate any safety concerns.”

At the council meeting, the council members decided to defer the first reading until the next meeting so that the public could become aware and informed of exactly what the manager’s proposed ordinance would involve.

In a statement made to the Cutler Bay Newsafter the meeting, Mayor MacDougall explained that the ordinance was essentially a “re-do” of one that had come about because of concerns over a home that appeared to be on the verge of being converted to an assisted living facility, but that the ordinance had been rejected by the town council back when he was still vice mayor, and that he was surprised to see it put before them at the Feb. 16 meeting.

“I have been opposed to walk-on legislation but I have never been in a position to change things,” MacDougall said. “Our charter prohibits such and, although the manager and I disagree on the concept, I am correcting the practice. I have already requested a resolution be put forward in the March meeting that will set policy in accordance to our charter that will memorialize the issue.”

The CCCB conducted a regular meeting on Tuesday, Mar. 1, at the Jim Shiver Community Center at Cutler Ridge Park, 10100 Cutler Ridge Dr., to discuss several matters, and Mayor Ed MacDougall attended to inform them that the ordinance has been withdrawn by the town manager and would not be brought up at the next town council meeting.

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