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Date of Issue: October 06, 2005

Newsrack ordinance again proffered in Bradenton Beach

newsrack pictures
Freestanding newspaper boxes placed next to existing modular newsracks has been described as a problem in Bradenton Beach. Officials are suggested an ordinance to regulate the racks be approved. Islander Photo: Paul Roat

Regulation of newspaper boxes is again under debate in Bradenton Beach.

The city's planning and zoning board was scheduled to discuss the matter at presstime Tuesday, Oct. 4. The city commission has the item on its agenda for Thursday. Both agenda items are for discussion only - public hearings must be scheduled and public input taken before any final action is reached.

City commissioners began discussing the idea of newsrack proliferation in 2001. After heated exchanges between media outlets and commissioners, it was determined that the news organizations would attempt to regulate themselves as a means to cut down on the free-standing newspaper boxes in the city.

Modular newspaper racks - call them newspaper condos – were installed in several key locations in Bradenton Beach and elsewhere on the Island. However, earlier this year the city's scenic highway committee noted that free-standing newspaper boxes were again sprouting up and suggested the new law.

The ordinance, modeled after a similar law in the city of Sarasota, prohibits free-standing newspaper boxes on public property within 250 feet of a modular rack, among other elements.

Ordinances elsewhere in the state often generate a firestorm of controversy, as newspaper publishers argue First Amendment rights with officials. In the city of Sarasota, for example, the eventual ordinance regulating newspaper boxes took three years to write and generated a number of lawsuits.

"The whole idea is to eliminate the huge number of single boxes and all the bunches of boxes in the city," Mayor John Chappie has said.