Monroe County BOCC Approves Steps To More Aggressively Enforce Vacation Rental Ordinance, A Management Plan For Gulf Seafood Property and Termination Of Energy 3 Yard Waste Contract

KEY WEST, FL – The Monroe County Board of County Commissioners held its monthly meeting Wednesday at the Harvey Government Center in Key West. Here are some highlights:

Commission takes several steps to more aggressively enforce the County’s vacation rental ordinance.

The Commission directed County staff to begin filing complaints with the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation against real estate agents who are illegally renting homes as vacation rentals or illegally advertising homes as short-term rentals.

These complaints could be filed after the Special Magistrate has found a violation of the County Code. They also could be filed when there is evidence that the owner had a licensed real estate agent or broker representing them in the vacation rental of a property that is not eligible for that activity or not correctly permitted. Complaints also could be filed against owners of vacation rentals who do not hold the appropriate state licenses.

The Commission also approved a $97,000 contract with Host Compliance, an investigative services company, for a software system. It will provide data and evidence needed for prosecution of code compliance cases for illegal vacation rentals being advertised by Internet companies. To operate this software, the Commission also voted to hire two full-time vacation rental coordinators.

The associated fines collected from the prosecuted code violations are expected to more than pay for the software and employees.

Commission approves “Management Plan” in quest to purchase working waterfront for commercial fishing industry

As part of the $2 million State of Florida Stan Mayfield Working Waterfront Grant to purchase a commercial fishing property on Stock Island, the Commission approved a “Management Plan.” This is another step in a long process for the County to buy the property formerly known as “Gulf Seafood” for $7 million.

The County wants to purchase this 8-acre property to preserve working waterfront access for the commercial fishing industry. Over the years, working waterfront on Stock Island and throughout the Keys has been gobbled up for development.

The commercial fishing industry is important to Monroe County’s economy. In 2015, 17.3 million pounds of lobster, stone crab and finfish valued at $71.2 million was landed in Monroe County. For landing’s values, Monroe County is the 10th most valuable port in the United States, the 2nd most valuable in the Gulf of Mexico and the most valuable in Florida.

Commission votes to terminate Energy 3 contract and issue a request for proposals for its yard waste processing

The Commission unanimously voted to terminate the County’s contract with Energy 3, LLC, after Energy 3 defaulted on the contract by failing to achieve construction financing for a gasification facility by the milestone deadline – and by changing the technology specified in the contract.

The Commission had entered into a no-risk agreement with Energy 3, which would design, permit and build a gasification plant that would turn the County’s organic waste into energy. As part of the contract, during the 30-month period to build the gasification facility, Energy 3 would provide the County with cheaper and greener yard waste processing than it was receiving in its contract with Waste Management.

The County has saved $422,208 for its yard waste disposal during the two-years Energy 3 has had the contract. The yard waste was composted, instead of going to a landfill. This provided the County with 100 percent recycling credits.

On Wednesday, the Commission directed County staff to issue a request for proposals for its yard waste processing with the requirement that “tested technology” be used and that the County receive 100 percent recycling credits. The County disposes of 23,000 to 27,000 tons of yard waste annually.