PALMETTO, Fla. – The City of Palmetto is considering adopting a new ordinance, making it the first to require farm workers housing to meet certain safety standards.
The current ordinance that applies to conditional use permits has been in place since 1989, and Palmetto’s Mayor says after looking into it, the city has discovered that only two of the farm worker housing properties are currently operating legally. And if the new ordinance is adopted, she says it not only ensures resident’s safety, but it also allows the 13 other properties an opportunity to earn a legal status.
“They’re very much victimized by crime and criminals, so we’ve recognized that in some of our data, so that was one of the things we wanted to incorporate because every resident whether they’re temporary in the City of Palmetto or whatever deserves to be safe,” says mayor Shirley Groover-Bryant.
A previous ordinance only allows conditional use permits in certain areas, and right now, Assistant City Attorney Scott Rudacille says few farm worker housing properties meet those requirements. But if the new ordinance is approved, the process for getting approved would be simple. “In order to get the conditional use approval the property owner comes in and undergoes a review from the police department. That is crime prevention through environmental design. That is a free service through the city police department will review the site and provide recommendations as to what can be done to make it a safer facility.”
“The farm workers have been victimized by people in the community and we felt it was our role to be the voice of the farm workers,” says Adriana Cerrillo with UNIDOS Now, an organization that works with Hispanic communities. She says farm workers she’s spoken with are excited for the changes. “They have never been given the respect they deserve. They have never been considered before, so this is, for the first time ever in history, especially manatee county that somebody is looking out for them and somebody actually cares about their safety.”
On August 6th, Mayor Bryant says the commission will hear from the public for the second time, and she says they do plan on voting on the ordinance that evening.

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[Source: My Suncoast]
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