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A Times Editorial

City's common sense has business impact

© St. Petersburg Times
published November 24, 2002

They yanked the tarp, but the city of Brooksville is not going to bring down the curtain on produce stand vendor Lonzie Goodson and a handful of other business owners who were violating city code.

Goodson, who sells his vegetables at the East Side Farmer Market on E Jefferson Street, and some other businesses ran afoul of the city because they were using tarpaulins to shelter their operations. Under the threat of being fined $500, the city forced them to remove the tarps, saying they posed a safety risk and did not meet the state's new, stricter building code.

Replacing the tarps and canopies with permanent overhangs that meet the building code will be expensive -- thousands of dollars in some instances. But City Manager Richard Anderson has found a way to ease the financial burden.

Anderson said Friday he has recommended, and the council has concurred, waiving the impact fee that the Hernando County Building Department wanted to levy on the new overhangs. He told the Times recently, "If they're replacing a structure and not doing anything different, technically there's no impact."

He's absolutely correct. Impact fees should be collected only when new construction increases the impact on roads, emergency services, or other elements of the community's infrastructure. Because these were existing businesses, it does not increase traffic or the demand on government services or resources.

Anderson had no control over the requirement that the canopies meet the new building code. But, by persuading the City Council to waive the impact fees, he did what he could to hold down the costs that would be incurred by those it affected.

That's an example of common sense that other government employees should emulate.

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