Setting the record straight... Let us know what rumors you've heard.
Tax Exemption for Residents over 70
What we’ve heard: I heard that residents aged 70 and older are exempt from the school portion of their property tax. Is this true?
Reality: There is currently no exemption from school taxes for seniors. The Board did recently approve an ordinance for an additional $50,000 exemption to seniors 65 and over with limited incomes. This goes into effect for the 2014 tax roll.
What we’ve heard: Has the state of Florida or Charlotte County passed a sound ordinance law?
Reality: The County Code currently prohibits excessive, unnecessary or loud noises (County Code Section 2-5-131 et seq. from 1994). The County is currently reviewing these provisions with the Sheriff’s Office to determine whether there is a need to update or revise the noise ordinance and if so, the best way to do that. County staff will also be meeting with the State Attorney’s Office seeking their input before the matter is brought back to the BCC for discussion.
DeSoto Ditch and Harbour Heights
What we’ve heard: The "DeSoto Ditch" in Harbour Heights is to be dredged and the native scrub land on it's eastern "shore" sold as "waterfront" homesites for McMansions for power boat owners (like those on the Peace River side, each with a "Florida-friendly" island in the middle of its irrigated lawn). Phase 1, removal of the gopher tortoise population, was completed in February under the auspices of the "Desoto Ditch Vegetation Clearing" project approved by the BCC at the behest of the MSBU and paid for by taxpayers.
Reality: The "Desoto Ditch Clearing Project" consisted of the clearing of exotics along the DeSoto Canal. This project is within the territory of and was funded through the Mid Charlotte Stormwater Utility MSBU. The project is complete. The clearing of the exotics revealed severe erosion along the banks of the DeSoto Canal, which Engineering is planning to hire a consultant to evaluate.
The "Dredging of Harbour Heights Waterway Project" was funded through the Harbor Heights Waterway MSBU and took place in 2009.
For more detailed information on either project (including the gopher tortoise relocation), please contact Joanne Vernon, the Assistant County Engineer, 941-575-3661.
Spearfishing in County Waters
What we have heard: Hello I was told today that Charlotte County was going to allow spearfishing in county waters? Is this true and if so when and where will it be allowed?
Reality: The local rules prohibiting spearfishing and the use of underwater lights while fishing in County waters are in the process of being repealed. Once repealed, state laws will govern spearfishing here in Charlotte County.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission presentation can be found at this link: http://www.myfwc.com/media/1496165/9D_CharlotteSpecialActs_Presentation.pdf. The Commission voted on this amendment at their meeting in Naples on September 8. The notice or proposed rule-making will be published soon at www.flrules.org. Barring no issues the rules will be repealed on January 1, 2012.
The statewide rules regarding spearing can be found at this link: https://www.flrules.org/gateway/ChapterHome.asp?Chapter=68B-20. Once the local rules are repealed, the statewide rules will apply in Charlotte County. There are no statewide rules regarding underwater lights.
Burnt Store Road Property
What we have heard: I have heard that Charlotte County is eager to acquire property along Burnt Store Road by "eminent domain." Is this true and, if so, for what purpose?
Reality: The County has obtained all of the necessary right of way for Burnt Store Road Phase I (US 41 to Notre Dame Blvd.) either on a voluntary basis or through eminent domain. Eminent domain is used when property owners are not willing to sell right-of-way related parcels on a voluntary basis.
The County does not have funding in place for Phase II of Burnt Store Road and Phase III is scheduled for future years. Unless new funding can be found, the County will focus on the construction of Burnt Store Road Phase I for the immediate future.
At this point in time, no eminent domain activities are planned beyond those that were undertaken and completed for Burnt Store Road Phase I. Any right of way activities for future phases would start with voluntary acquisitions before any eminent domain actions would be undertaken.
Sewer Line on Midway Boulevard
What we have heard: Is a sewer line being put in down Midway Blvd. west of US41? If so, when is this expected to happen?
Reality: The project for Edgewater Drive (from Harbor Blvd. to Midway Blvd.) includes some sewer line installations on Midway, both north and south of Edgewater Drive. The sewer extensions are approximately 200 to 300 feet for each side. The plans for the Edgewater Drive project are in the final stages with construction anticipated to begin in 2012. No other sewer line extensions on Midway west of US 41 are underway at this time.
What we have heard: Please let me know the status of the Waterpark coming to Murdock Village, is it still in the works, if so what is the next step in the process of it coming here. The last article I saw in the news said we were attempting to get State help with a Tax abatement.
Reality: Meetings continue with Wilderness Resorts and Charlotte County stakeholders as the resort company advances through the process of due diligence.
Smoking in County Parks
What we have heard: I have heard that much-needed regulation for making Chadwick Park at Englewood Beach, the boardwalk & the Parks in Charlotte County NON-smoking areas has been tabled. Is this true that the commissioners have tabled this issue?
Reality: At the 6/14/11 BCC meeting, direction was given to staff to draft an ordinance to ban smoking at Community Services facilities (beaches/parks/environmental parks) except in designated smoking areas. There will be a public hearing.
Code Enforcement Lien Relief Program
What we have heard: Is it true that Charlotte County will reduce/negotiate liens on properties? If so how would I go about that?
Reality: Charlotte County now has a new program for property owners and new owners of property purchased through a foreclosure sale, clerk’s sale or other judicially imposed sale. The Charlotte County Code Enforcement Lien Relief Program started on September 1, 2010 and allows for reduction or release of Code Enforcement Liens that meet the requirements of the program. For complete details, visit the Code Lien Relief Program web page or call Building and Growth Management at 941.743.1201.
What we have heard: Vehicles with handicap privileges (tags or markers) can park free at Port Charlotte beaches. True or untrue?
Reality: It is true. For any questions concerning Charlotte County Parks, Natural Resources, Leisure Services, and programs call Charlotte County Community Services at 941.625.PLAY (7529).
Parking Recreational Vehicles
What we have heard: Even in NON DEED RESTRICTED outlying areas of Port Charlotte you are no longer allowed to have recreational vehicles, campers or RV's parked in your driveway. Is this true?
Reality: Motor homes are allowed to be parked in the drive but campers (pop-ups, pull behinds, 5th wheels) are required to be behind the front leading edge of the house. For fast answers to any code question, call the Building Code Department at 941.743.1201.
What we have heard: 26 employees have been laid off in the past two weeks, and two employees involved in an incident on county time/vehicle are now still working in new departments.
Reality: Fifteen positions were identified for elimination. The county is currently working through the reductions in accordance with the Collective Bargaining Agreement. The individuals involved in the incident mentioned have not been rehired by the County.
Sidewalk Construction on U.S. 41
What we have heard: Why are we constructing sidewalks on US 41 (Tamiami Trail)?
Reality: The US41 Mega Sidewalk is a FDOT and Charlotte Harbor Community Redevelopment Agency (CHCRA) funded project that, as originally envisioned, provided wide meandering sidewalks from the US41 Bridge to Murdock Circle.
In 2005 the County had 3 outstanding Local Agency Program (LAP) projects with FDOT when the LAP regulations were changed. Charlotte County worked with FDOT to develop an appropriate project for the sidewalk funds. It was decided to construct a 5 foot sidewalk on the west side of US 41. Charlotte County requested an 8 foot sidewalk which is consistent with the existing sidewalk already constructed in various areas within the project limits. FDOT agreed to the 8 foot sidewalk; however this would reduce the scope of work with the sidewalks terminating at Midway Boulevard. The CHCRA requested to have the sidewalk meander throughout the CHCRA (US 41 bridge to Gardner Street). This request resulted in an increase of approximately $94,000 which CHCRA agreed to the fund. On January 13, 2009, the Charlotte County Board of County Commissioners (BCC) approved Resolution #09-005 authorizing the Chair of the BCC to execute a Locally Funded Agreement between the County and FDOT. Total project cost is $1.1 million.
Construction began on May 14, 2009 with sidewalks being installed at both ends of the project and various critical locations in between. The project was completed in September 2009.