‘Boats’ of contention: Commissioners argue over code violations

BRADENTON -- County commissioners found yet another subject about which to disagree Tuesday: boats in the front yard.

County Commissioner Robin DiSabatino complained that she frequently gets calls and e-mails about code enforcement issues, particularly unsightly boats parked in a neighbors’ front yard, she said during a workshop meeting at County Center.

Commissioner Carol Whitmore observed that Manatee County residents are blessed to live near the beach, and that a gripe about boats “always bugs me when I hear it.”

“Sometimes you can’t get a boat in the sideyard,” she added.

The Citizens Code Enforcement Guide posted at the county’s website says a motor home, camper, trailer, boat, etc. must be stored in a side or rear yard, or entirely within a carport or garage.

Commissioner Joe McClash said code enforcement officers are wasting their time enforcing such codes, which should be changed.

“We’re a boating community,” he said, adding that if people living in Community Development Districts want to restrict boats stored in the yard, they could, “But for the average person in Florida, let’s just allow boats to be boats in the front yard, as long as they’re not in a state of disrepair.”

DiSabatino shot back that it’s not just boats in the front yard -- it’s trailers, RVs, trash, and, yes, even Barcaloungers.

“I believe I like the codes we have now,” she said. “I don’t want to see us go backwards.”

Commissioner Donna Hayes found it to be “a total turnoff to see cars and boats” in front yards.

If officials lose control of such things, “there goes the property values,” Hayes predicted.

No action was taken, as commissioners were at a work session, not a formal meeting where they could vote.

Sara Kennedy, Herald reporter, can be reached at (941) 745-7031.