By Dan Moffett
Recent advances in technology could enable Ocean Ridge to move forward with a plan to install license plate recognition cameras along State Road A1A without the blessing of the Florida Department of Transportation.
Ocean Ridge Police Chief Hal Hutchins says newer versions of the LPR cameras are capable of scanning tags from greater distances, which means the town could install the devices on private property off the roadway and still get satisfactory results.
In 2014, DOT officials prohibited putting the cameras on state rights of way. But the cameras are used on local roads in many communities across Florida. The state also has allowed communities that installed cameras before the ban — among them Manalapan and Palm Beach — to continue using them.
Hutchins told town commissioners during their June 6 meeting that he has received assurances from camera vendors that the devices can operate with 92 percent accuracy from a distance of 130 feet, making installation on private property feasible.
License plate recognition camera systems are not used for surveillance but work by scanning tags of passing cars and comparing that information with tag numbers in databases set up by law enforcement agencies.
Hutchins said the town would need to place the cameras at the northern and southern boundaries on A1A and at the two bridge sites at East Ocean Avenue and Woolbright Road.
He said installing the system would cost between $199,000 and $225,000, and annual operating expenses would run between $9,000 and $11,000.
Putting camera poles on private property creates other complications and legal expenses, however. The town would have to get easements from property owners.
By Dan Moffett