A look at government events from around the Gulf Coast.
Iorio wants plan extensions
TAMPA — Due to the state of the economy and the impact it is having on builders to complete construction projects, Mayor Pam Iorio is proposing an amendment to the city building code to allow an extension of construction plan approval from six months to one year and allow an additional six-month construction permit extension beyond the current term.
For construction projects that have received plan approval, but have not been issued permits, the proposal would extend the term of any plan approval to one year and allow an extension period up to one year, for a total of two years, before a permit must be obtained.
For construction projects where permits have been issued, the permit holder could request one additional six-month extension on top of the current six-month extension already allowed by the code.
Impact fees dropping
MANATEE COUNTY — To stimulate the economy, the Manatee County Commission has voted 6-0 to initiate a process to lower road impact fees 50% for two years. A resolution will be brought back to the board for final approval. The county school board recently voted to suspend school impact fees, but that action is subject to approval by the county commission.
The City of Bradenton has also recently approved a suspension of impact fees. A proposed bill in the Legislature would suspend all impact fees for three years.
Angela Rouson steps down
PINELLAS COUNTY — Angela Rouson, chair of the Pinellas County Housing Authority's board of commissioners, and wife of State Rep. Darryl Rouson, D-St. Petersburg, has resigned as chair. Rouson, who plans to run for the St. Pete City Council District 5 seat, will remain on the board.
The authority has been the subject of a St. Petersburg Times investigation and allegations against agency staff related to sexual harassment, open government law violations and the mishandling of federal government contracts.
Solar water idea evaporates
SARASOTA COUNTY — In another sign of the times, a county known for building a relatively large bureaucracy as taxable values grew, has resisted the temptation this time. Sarasota County recently turned down a citizens' advisory committee recommendation to initiate a public solar hot water utility. Had it moved ahead with the idea, the county would have installed, maintained and owned residential solar hot water heaters. Homeowners would have paid a monthly fee for the service. The county's sustainability department will now look into other alternatives such as incentives or public-private partnerships.
City elects commissioners
SARASOTA — The city's two at-large commissioners, Terry Turner and Suzanne Atwell, were sworn into office April 17 following the April 14 runoff election. Following the ceremony, District 2 Commissioner Richard Clapp was elected by the commission to serve as mayor for the next year. District 3 Commissioner Kelly Kirschner was chosen as vice mayor.
Offshore oil bill in pipeline
TALLAHASSEE — Drilling for oil off Florida's shores is back on the table.
The House Policy Council voted to direct the Department of Environmental Protection to develop a plan to implement offshore oil and natural gas drilling. But the proposal, which provides protections for the environment while opening up the Gulf's energy reserves, may be stalled. The companion bill in the Senate, SB 2294, was referred to three committees in March, but has not yet been heard by any of them with less than two weeks left in the session.
The House version, sponsored by Speaker-designate Dean Cannon, R-Winter Park, calls for speeding up permitting for all offshore and onshore activities associated with the production and distribution of oil and natural gas. The bill calls for the plan to be submitted to the Legislature no later than Dec. 31, 2009.
Investigation takes off
FLORIDA — The Florida Commission on Ethics has notified Republican Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp that a complaint filed against him by a Pinellas County Democrat concerning Kottkamp's use of state airplanes has been found legally sufficient.
Kottkamp has retained former Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice Major Harding and former Florida Attorney General Richard Doran for his defense team. Harding and Doran are with the Tallahassee law firm Ausley & McMullen.
A preliminary investigation is the next step. Kottkamp has denied any wrongdoing and has reimbursed the state $10,400 for travel by his wife and son.
The Transportation Task Force will meet April 27 at 1:30 p.m. in the Conference Room on the 26th Floor of County Center, 601 E. Kennedy Blvd., in downtown Tampa. The Task Force was created by the Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners to provide recommendations on ways to improve transportation in Hillsborough County. Commissioner Ken Hagan is chair of the task force. For additional information, contact Lucia Garsys at (813) 272-6214 or go to www.hillsboroughcounty.org/transtaskforce.
The Lee County Commission is holding a special meeting April 29 to discuss the site for the new Red Sox spring training stadium. The meeting will be held at 2120 Main St., Fort Myers.
The Charlotte County-Punta Gorda Metropolitan Planning Organization will be holding the first of two joint public workshops with the USF Center for Urban Transportation Research April 28 at the South County Regional Recreation Center, 670 Cooper St., Punta Gorda. The second workshop is to be held April 29 at Tringali Regional Recreation Center, 3460 N. Access Road, Englewood.