By Dan Moffett
Briny Breezes council members asked their attorney, Keith Davis, to research election rules in the town charter, and he reported back with some intriguing news.
Briny doesn’t really have a charter.
“The town’s charter is basically the meeting minutes from when the town was incorporated,” Davis told the council during its meeting on Feb. 27.
For some 57 years, since March 1963, Briny has been running on an informal document, the rules and regulations outlined somewhat spontaneously during the incorporation meeting held during the Kennedy administration.
Council President Sue Thaler said officials have known about the deficiencies of the document and considered updating it for years.
“Clearly we’ve been talking about this for some time,” she said.
Davis said recent questions from the council about the possibility of appointing the town clerk position and changing how the mayor is elected suggest it could be the right time to review the entire charter.
“It might be an opportunity to look at the charter as a wholesale (project) and see if there are other things you’d like to do to clean it up or restate,” Davis said. “It’s an opportunity to rewrite it from scratch, so that it reads like an actual charter and not so much like meeting minutes.”
Council members liked the idea and voted 4-0 (with Bill Birch absent) to create a citizens charter review committee to explore changes.
The committee will be made up of seven members: one registered voter from each of the town’s four districts, one at-large spot for a resident who is not required to be a voter, and two at-large positions that are open to nonresidents who might offer specific expertise. Interested participants should contact Town Hall.
Charter changes are required to go through the ballot referendum process and go to the town’s voters for approval. The council hopes to have the committee’s work completed for the Nov. 3 presidential election, so the town avoids the cost of running a special election.
In other business:
• When Ocean Ridge took over Briny’s policing duties from Boynton Beach last year, the council told Chief Hal Hutchins that reining in illegal parking was a priority. He says his officers are making progress with that, and residents and visitors are getting the message.
“Looking at the statistics for the last three months,” Hutchins told the council, “it seems that we are trending down on parking violations.”
The chief said officers issued 13 parking tickets in January, a total that’s less than half that of months during tourist seasons in recent years.
• Results of a survey of Briny’s southern boundary are in, and they are predictably ambiguous.
Davis said Engenuity Group of West Palm Beach submitted a report that shows the town’s southern border doesn’t extend all the way across Briny Breezes Boulevard. The survey found the boundary line is not uniform and wanders east between the middle of the road and the southern edge.
Ownership of Briny Breezes Boulevard has become a significant issue because of the development of the Gulf Stream Views townhouse project in the County Pocket. A more definitive survey result might have enabled Briny to restrict parking and deal more effectively with potential drainage and street damage issues.