Special master for Bradenton Beach resigns

Bradenton Beach Special Master Harold Youmans has submitted notice to terminate his contract with the city.

Since 2005, when Bradenton Beach opted to hire a special master to hear code enforcement cases, Youmans has been called in to conduct quasi-judicial hearings for the city.

In a letter dated Dec. 11, Youmans provided the 60-day notice required to terminate his services.

Youmans complimented the city’s professionalism and wrote, “Thank you for the privilege of serving the citizens of Bradenton Beach.”

The city issued a request for proposal a few weeks ago to hire a secondary special master because of Youmans’ limited availability from his Orlando residence.

City clerk Nora Idso told The Islander that the hiring of a secondary special master was not mentioned in Youmans’ resignation. The retention of a secondary special master was to ensure that hearings would move forward in the event that Youmans was unable to travel to the city.

“He did not provide us with a reason, but I know he had been considering retirement,” said Idso. “We appreciate the professionalism and fairness he brought to the hearings for both the city and our citizens.”

Idso said there are no pending hearings in the 60 days leading up to Youmans’ official last day. The search for a secondary special master has now turned into a search for a primary special master.

“We placed an advertisement on our website when the city began looking for a secondary special master,” said Idso. “Thus far we have only had one applicant. In the interest of fairness, we will advertise in the Bradenton Herald until Jan. 16.”

She said that should be enough time for commissioners to receive new applications, review them and make a possible decision before any new hearings are scheduled.

Special master hearings are fairly rare in Bradenton Beach. Building official Steve Gilbert, earlier this year, said variance requests are common, but that the city works diligently to first resolve the requests to the satisfaction of homeowners and the city before escalating to hearings.

Since the city moved away from the board of adjustments in favor of a special master, there have been about five hearings. Gilbert said board of adjustments hearings were equally rare, but keeping enough volunteer board members and the concern of neighbor-versus-neighbor scenarios led the city to adopt the special master plan.

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