After a little tweaking, the city now has an ordinance regulating burning related to land clearing.

The ordinance, which is intended to reduce smoke, passed unanimously even though some council members said it falls short of what they’d like to do.

Vice Mayor Rich Cautero said he’d ban burning “in a heartbeat” if he could. But he can’t, as City Attorney Kelly Fernandez has noted several times.

The state regulates such burning and only allows a local government to handle it after establishing a regulatory process essentially matching what the fire service does. The council has decided it doesn’t want to do that.

Representing Neal Communities, attorney Jeff Boone asked that the council clarify that by requiring the use of an “air curtain incinerator” in burning it wasn’t intending to exclude other devices that burn hotter, reducing smoke.

Fernandez said the term came from state statutes and wasn’t meant to limit land owners to one particular device.

Cautero said his concern was that “there’s not a lot of teeth in this ordinance.” Fernandez said that the city could shut down a burn if it’s in violation of the ordinance but that other complaints would need to be referred to the fire service, though they could be reported to the fire department.

Other business

Also on Tuesday the council:

• heard first reading of an ordinance regulating RV parking at private clubs. The ordinance will come back in amended form in two weeks to require an application for permission and a drawing to show how the designated parking area meets city standards.

The ordinance is intended to give clubs that allow RV parking time to amend their site and development plan to allow it, so it will expire after 18 months.

• adopted an ordinance requiring the owners of gas pumps to install anti-skimming devices to guard against credit card theft.

• adopted an ordinance making changes to the city’s procedures for quasi-judicial hearings.

• approved a budget amendment.

• approved a resolution creating a Solid Waste and Recycling Program Operations Stakeholder’s Work Group.

• approved a resolution regarding funding for drainage improvements at the Venice Municipal Airport.

• heard first reading of an ordinance that would require developers to deposit estimated professional fees and advertising fees associated with a project when an application is filed. The city currently fronts the fees and gets reimbursed.

• approved an agreement with Sarasota County for funds from the West Coast Inland Navigation District Waterway Development Program Project Agreement for the Police Marine Patrol.

• approved accepting funds from the West Coast Inland Navigation District to purchase and install a fire pump on Fireboat R51.

• heard a report from Council Member Chuck Newsom on the Economic Development Council’s state legislative priorities.

• reviewed the Environmental Advisory Board’s discussion of single-use plastic.

• naming a Council Member Mitzie Fiedler as the city’s representative to the Charlotte Harbor National Estuary Program.

• approved the selection of attorney Scott Steady to serve as special magistrate in the city’s dispute with Windham Development Inc. under the Florida Land Use and Environmental Dispute Resolution Act.

• reappointed Janis Fawn, Jerry Towery and Thomas Murphy to the Planning Commission and Nick Flerlage to the Environmental Advisory Board, and appointed Ernest Booker to the Code Enforcement Board, Greg Novack to the Code Enforcement Board and Richard Bergmann to the Architectural Review Board.

• presented a 25-year Service Award to Daniel Tucci, Public Works maintenance crew leader.

The video of the meeting is available at


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