Ocean Ridge: Residents can buy into town’s deals to remove iguanas, biting insects

By Dan Moffett

Ocean Ridge town commissioners have approved two pest control contracts that will give homeowners the option of buying services for their private property through the public plans.

Clarke Environmental Inc. of Wellington, the town’s contractor for the last decade, signed a three-year agreement to spray public areas for mosquitoes and no-see-ums. The town will pay Clarke $47,067 annually.

Homeowners can buy into the spraying service for their properties for roughly $465 a year, plus an administrative fee. Payments are to go directly to Clarke. The town won’t be involved in billing or spraying arrangements for the nonpublic service.

Beyond bugs, Ocean Ridge is taking on iguanas. The town will join a small group of Florida communities battling the ornery reptiles. Commissioners approved a one-year, $19,500 contract with Iguana Control of Coral Springs to trap and remove the animals from public areas.

Town Manager Jamie Titcomb says town officials will regularly assess the “brand new pilot program” and can cancel with 30 days’ notice.

Homeowners can hire the contractor for about $950 a year. As with Clarke, the town won’t handle billing or customer relations.

Tom Portuallo started Iguana Control in Broward County about 12 years ago and has seen his business grow exponentially with the rapidly expanding iguana population.

The company now has four offices that serve five counties. Portuallo counts as clients a half-dozen municipalities — including Marco Island, Key Biscayne, Golden Beach and Davie — and dozens of businesses and homeowners associations.

Besides 3-foot cage traps, Portuallo intends to use “more aggressive methods” such as noosing, netting and pellet guns to reduce the iguana numbers.

“If you rely solely on trapping,” he told commissioners during their meeting on Jan. 7, “you never get ahead of the curve.”

Portuallo said that, with his crews servicing a property several times a week, it’s possible to reduce a homeowner’s iguana population by about 90 percent. State law prohibits relocating the animals. They must be humanely killed.

In other business:

• Mayor Steve Coz won commissioners’ support for exploring the possibility of getting a separate ZIP code for Ocean Ridge, one that would distinguish it from Boynton Beach.

Coz said a unique number would help insulate the town from Airbnb internet searches and give it a separate identity.

“The negative is that it’s going to be a two-year journey,” he said. “It’s not going to be something that’s pushed through. It’s going to be a slow-moving process.”

The change likely will require help from the congressional delegation in Washington. Titcomb said staff would research the process and report back to commissioners.

• Three candidates will run for two open seats in the March 12 municipal election. Coz is seeking another three-year term, and political newcomers Susan Hurlburt and John Lipscomb also have qualified for the race. The top vote-getter will win a seat until 2022, and the second-highest will serve out the year left on the term of former Mayor James Bonfiglio, who resigned last year and unsuccessfully ran for the state legislature. 

Candidates forum

Commission candidates for the March 12 municipal election will square off in a forum sponsored by the League of Women Voters at 6 p.m. Feb. 7 in Town Hall. The town has three candidates running for two open seats. Questions from the public are welcome at the forum.

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