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Date of Issue: January 19, 2006

Holmes Beach land-use changes: Yes and yes

Holmes Beach city commissioners at their Jan. 10 meeting agreed that a discrepancy between the city’s 1989 future land use map and the zoning between the Anna Maria Elementary School and the former Moreland Marine should be corrected to favor the type of structures that exist there.

City planner Bill Brisson noted that of the 32 dwellings in the affected area between AME and the former marina, 25 are duplexes, yet the FLUM calls for low-density residential while the zoning code allows duplexes.

"There is a conflict" between the city codes and the 1989 FLUM, Brisson pointed out, a conflict that recently surfaced when a number of duplex owners in the area wanted to rebuild their units, but were prevented by the comprehensive plan.

In Brisson’s view, the "intent" of the 1989 comprehensive plan was to allow duplexes in this area, but somehow an error was made. He told the commission they could either change the zoning to R-1 or institute an amendment to the comprehensive plan to change the FLUM for this area to medium-density residential to make the existing duplexes legal and conforming.

Presently, duplex owners in the affected area are prevented from rebuilding their duplexes by the comprehensive plan.

Amending the comprehensive plan would allow the older duplexes to be rebuilt, resulting in nicer units, said Brisson, but the downside could be more expensive rentals and a reduction in affordable housing in the city. The city, however, must correct the error, he said.

Commissioners agreed that because the vast majority of structures are already duplexes, it would be a "hardship" to deny those owners the right to rebuild.

Commissioner Roger Lutz, however, was concerned that a major developer was behind the initiative.

"Is there a secret guy out there with a plan?" he asked.

Brisson said he was not aware of any single individual, but several owners had asked the building department for a permit to rebuild their duplex, but had been denied because of the comprehensive plan.

While he was still suspicious of a major developer attempting to corner the condo market, Lutz said that it would "not be equitable" to keep the area low density residential.

The commission agreed to proceed with a public hearing on the proposed FLUM amendment.

Commissioners were also inclined to favor a request by Brisson to change the zoning of an area known as Sportsman’s Harbor from medium-density residential to low-density residential to make that area "consistent" with the current land-use designation.

Brisson told the commission that of the 58 units in Sportsman’s Harbor, 19 are duplexes and the remainder are single-family residences. Of the 19 duplexes, however, only seven are on lots large enough to be considered "conforming" under the current city code.

Attorney Scott Rudacille, representing the seven duplex owners whose lots meet the code, requested that the commission consider the fate of the seven duplexes that are conforming. While those seven properties are now conforming, should the commission change the zoning, it would make those lots nonconforming and restrict the owners from rebuilding their structures.

The commission did discuss the possibility of "exceptions" to low-density zoning for the existing duplexes in Sportsman’s Harbor, but ultimately agreed to pursue a zoning change with no exceptions. Commission Chairperson Rich Bohnenberger said the commission would discuss the issue further at its Jan. 24 workshop session before scheduling a public hearing on the change.