Legal: “Palm Beach County moves to expand ban on floating structures anchoring in county waters”

Legal: “Palm Beach County moves to expand ban on floating structures anchoring in county waters”

Photo: Allen Eyestone, Palm Beach Post

“…Palm Beach County is one step closer to expanding a local law that bans floating structures from anchoring in county waters, with some exceptions.

If passed, an update to the Cindy DeFilippo Floating Structure Ordinance will apply to floating structures anchoring or mooring in all waters within the county, including those under the jurisdiction of a city or town.

County commissioners will take a final vote on June 15.

A floating structure isn’t a boat or other watercraft, which the state defines as a ‘vessel’ and requires registration.

Rather, it is a ‘floating entity … not primarily used as a means of transportation on water but which serves purposes typically associated with a structure or other improvement to real property,’ according to the state. These can include functions such as a residence, restaurant or clubhouse. ”

— Hannah Morse, Palm Beach Post

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Legal: “New sign code could limit ‘obscene language’ in Punta Gorda”

Legal: “New sign code could limit ‘obscene language’ in Punta Gorda”

Photo: Daniel Sutphin, Sun

“A new Punta Gorda law is in the works that could restrict indecent or obscene language on residential signs and flags — and even a person’s clothes if worn in public places.

‘We get complaints about people putting up — whether it’s a flag or sign or (wearing) apparel, whatever — that has the F word on it,’ said City Council Member Nancy Prafke…

The city began reworking its current sign code in January 2020 due to an abundance of Realtor signs in public areas.

During the 2020 U.S. presidential campaign, more issues came to light with residential flags and signs, the amount of them, and even the language some featured that could be deemed as offensive.

At Wednesday’s meeting, the City Council approved the first of two readings of the city’s new ‘Sign Standards’ code that would try to control some of these issues…

With the new code, however, the city plans to restrict offensive language, defining it as ‘fighting words,’ ‘indecent speech’ or ‘obscene.’

The City Council also amended the new code to include apparel should a shirt, hat, or other piece of clothing display language in a public place that could be found to be in violation of those definitions.

‘So, when you’re driving down the street and someone has a sign (with offensive language) in their yard,” said City Manager Greg Murray, “that can be enforceable but if it’s inside a place like Fishermen’s Village (it’s not because) you’re on private property.’

Murray went on to say that if a person was wearing an ‘offensive’ shirt in a public place like the city’s Harborwalk along Charlotte Harbor, they would be in violation of the new code.

What are “fighting words?

In the new code, the city defines this as words or graphics which ‘by their very utterance’ have a direct tendency to incite immediate breach of the peace by the person to whom, individually, the remark is addressed.

Fighting words include, but are not limited to, defamatory remarks made to private citizens; and epithets (or labels) based on the person’s race, color, religion, disability, national origin, ethnicity or sex.

What is ‘indecent speech?’

In the new code, the city defines this as language or graphics that depict or describe sexual or excretory activities or organs in a manner that is offensive as measured by contemporary community standards.

What is ‘obscene’ language?

In the new code, the city defines this as language or graphics that depict or describe sex or sexual organs in a manner appealing to, or intended to appeal to, the average viewer or reader’s visceral sexual (prurient) interests, and taken as a whole, lacks any justification from a political, literary, artistic or scientific value.

What is a sign?

In the new code, a ‘sign’ is defined as any device, structure, item, thing, object, fixture, painting, printed material, or visual image using words, graphics, symbols, numbers, or letters designed or used for the purpose of communicating a message or attracting attention.

City Attorney David Levin told the City Council that this definition could ‘arguably include something being worn.’

Mayor Lynne Matthews thought a more clear definition was needed.

‘We should include something specific about apparel of any kind,’ Matthews said. ‘It needs to be added specifically because anything you leave to subjective opinion goes by the wayside.’

What’s next?

The amended ‘Sign Standards’ ordinance still has to come back before the City Council at a future meeting before anything becomes official.

As far as how the new code will be enforced, Assistant City Manager told The Daily Sun that it is currently ‘under staff review.'”

— Daniel Sutphin, Sun

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Leesburg Historic Preservation: “Lee School plan gets planning and zoning blessing for multi-family housing”

Leesburg Historic Preservation: “Lee School plan gets planning and zoning blessing for multi-family housing”

Photo: Cindy Peterson
“…While the main building will stand, other buildings will be razed on the five-acre site, including a large brick building just north of the main building…

Plans meet four city goals and requirements…remove blight, fit in with the city’s Historic District, and be compatible with the Downtown Master Plan and surrounding zoning.

Currently, the rundown buildings are an eyesore and a sometime home for vagrants and homeless people.

The back-and-forth sales and proposals for the old school site are almost as historic as the building, which was erected in 1915.

Former mayor and president of the Leesburg Heritage Society, Sanna Henderson, is onboard with the plan.”

— Frank Stanfield, Daily Commercial
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Legislative Alert: Florida bills could bar local government design review and authority for residential buildings

Legislative Alert: Florida bills could bar local government design review and authority for residential buildings

“One of 1000 Friends’ foundational priorities is to help build better communities in Florida.

But SB 284 /HB 55, entitled Building Design, would take yet another tool away from local governments. This legislation seeks to remove local government authority to regulate building design in many areas, although designated local historic districts, Community Redevelopment Authority (CRA) districts, and Planned Unit Developments (PUDs) are exempt.

The bill would:

• Take away the authority of local governments to work with citizens to protect the character of certain neighborhoods and districts important to the community’s character.

• Undermine local economic development efforts that capitalize on the unique character of distinctive areas in the community.

• Remove the ability of neighborhoods and local governments to promote neighborhood reinvestment through maintaining neighborhood character.”

— 1000 Friends of Florida

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Legal: Can a city maintain any distinction between on-premise and off-premise signs?

Legal: Can a city maintain any distinction between on-premise and off-premise signs?

Photo: Jay Janner, Austin American-Statesman

“Reagan and Lamar sued the City of Austin when the city denied approximately 85 digital billboard permits for off-premise advertising billboards arguing that the City Sign Code’s distinction between on-premise and off-premise signs violated the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment free speech clause.

The case was first heard by the US District Court for the Western District of Texas, and held FOR the City, ie, that the city sign code on/off-premise distinction was not content-based and was constitutional using an intermediate scrutiny standard of review.

On August 25, 2020, a three-member panel of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the US Western District Court and held:the Austin Sign Code’s on-premises/off-premises distinction was content-based and must therefore be subject to a strict scrutiny standard of review. The Fifth Circuit concluded that under that higher standard of review, the city’s on/off-premise distinction was content-based, thus unconstitutional.

The City of Austin has announced it will appeal to SCOTUS—filing due January 21, 2021.”

— Scenic Texas

Scenic Texas legal experts weigh in on this case

Read additional article about this battle in the Austin American-Statesman

“Walton commissioners could fast-track development along U.S. 331”

“Walton commissioners could fast-track development along U.S. 331”

Illustration: Walton County
“Walton County commissioners have taken a first look at a set of proposals that could reshape the economic potential of the U.S. Highway 331 corridor…

The proposed development standards — more specifically, the establishment of scenic overlay districts — would apply restrictive development standards extending to 400 feet from the affected sections of the two routes…

But as a result of recent action by the Walton County Planning Commission, new-vehicle sales lots — originally proposed as an excluded use — would be allowed along the scenic corridors, if that provision survives further review and action by the County Commission…

One of those sections extends from Choctawhatchee Bay north and west to the edges of the city of Freeport, and also incorporates acreage roughly bisected by SR 20.

A second section, bounded by the south side of Interstate 10, extends north and west from the southern edge of DeFuniak Springs.

…Adoption of the amendments would mean that neither the Planning Commission nor the County Commission would get to review any project that met existing county requirements for job creation or economic development…

Leigh Moore, executive director of Scenic Walton… cautioned commissioners to take a longer-term view of the proposed scenic corridor requirements.

‘I understand the concern about economic development, and I also encourage that to be a major focus,’ Moore said, ‘but please keep in mind … that if you don’t have some good aesthetic and (traffic) access management guidelines, then in the medium- and longer-term it ends up hurting economic development …’

Moore said Scenic Walton is not against growth along the U.S. 331 corridor.

‘But we want to do it in the right way, and that requires some local government control and regulation over what can and can’t happen in that corridor,’ she said…”

— Jim Thompson, Northwest Florida Daily News
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