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Date of Issue: October 12, 2006

Special master meets muster in Bradenton Beach

Code enforcement in Bradenton Beach will indeed take a more professional, if less personal, approach.

City commissioners unanimously approved the measure of hiring an "attorney, judge or person with specialized legal training appointed by the city commission to hear and decide code enforcement violations with the authority and powers ... to hold hearings, make findings of fact, render conclusions of law, issue orders and assess fines against violators of the city codes and ordinances."

The special master provision abolishes the existing code enforcement board, city residents who served as judge and jury on code violations ranging from construction permitting problems to overgrown landscaping.

The decision to go with a special master has been lauded by commissioners as being more professional and less prone to legal challenge.

But the special master provision did not sit well by businesswoman Barbara Rodocker.

"What's happened to our city?" she asked commissioners during last week's public hearing on the matter. "You're giving so much power to one person - I don't like it. I object to this. I think the city can handle it in a much better manner."

"The citizens are not being expeditiously served by our code enforcement board," Commissioner Janie Robertson said. "I feel it's a good way for our city to go at this time."

Commissioners are expected to advertise for the special master position and retain someone for the position later this year.