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Date of Issue: March 17, 2005

Island Lumber gets facelift approval

Island Lumber on 54th Street in Holmes Beach may be a nonconforming eyesore where delivery trucks often block the street. It may create dust in its neighborhood and supplies often sit outdoors for days because there's no storage space. The forklift may occasionally operate on a city street without proper safety equipment and parking seems to be a problem when the store is busy.

But Islanders apparently love their lumber yard, and the business is a much-needed business on Anna Maria Island, particularly during hurricanes, Holmes Beach commissioners agreed at their Oct. 26 meeting. A lumber yard has been at or near this location since 1947 and it's the only lumber business on the Island.

Attorney Mark Barnebey, representing owner Thomas Kern, argued that a site plan and special exception application submitted by the Kerns will improve the look of the property, create more storage space, provide better stormwater drainage and give Island residents a better lumber yard.

Barnebey even agreed to several conditions, including restrictions on delivery times, storage, parking issues and safety.

Commissioners applauded the effort and decided not to include a condition that the special exception would be for only seven years. Besides, said Mayor Carol Whitmore, city staff have begun the process of creating an inspection of all special exceptions within two years after issuance to confirm they all conform to the intended use.

Barnebey and the commission agreed that no delivery trucks will wait at the site before 7 a.m., the forklift will have to meet safety requirements for operating in a public right of way, and outdoor storage of lumber will be limited to a maximum of two business days.

Kern at one point objected to the limitation on outdoor storage, saying that if the business can't store lumber outside for certain periods of time, "We'll just go along as we are."

But Commissioner Don Maloney cautioned Kern to "quit while you're ahead," and Kern agreed to the condition.

While many residents expressed support for the site plan and Island Lumber, one resident said the site plan does not meet concurrency with the city's comprehensive plan.

Joe Burke of 54th Street complained that his biggest problem is the traffic generated by the lumber yard and vehicles blocking traffic on the street while they load and unload. If Island Lumber can solve that problem, he'll be a happy camper.

The commission approved the resolution approving the site plan and special exception by a 3-1 vote, with Commissioner Pat Morton voting no. Commissioner Roger Lutz abstained from discussion and voting due to a stated potential conflict of interest. Commissioners Sandy Haas-Martens, Rich Bohnenberger and Maloney voted for the resolution.

Residential rentals
Commissioners unanimously approved the second reading of an ordinance that essentially prohibits boarding houses within the city's residential districts.

Resident Al Robinson suggested that the ordinance would hurt employees of small businesses because they could not share accommodations. Bohnenberger pointed out the ordinance did not prohibit renting a house by several people, just renting individual rooms in a residential unit to different parties.

City Attorney Patricia Petruff had pointed out previously that no one is "grandfathered" under the ordinance.

Small-scale amendment
The commission was scheduled to discuss a small-scale amendment to the comprehensive plan that would have corrected the land-use designation on several properties, including the site of the former First Church of Christ Scientist on Marina Drive.

However, because the address was wrong when the public meeting was advertised, the commission agreed to re-advertise the public hearings for Nov. 23 and Dec. 14.

The lands in question were designated as public, semi-public in the 1989 comprehensive plan, but are in the R-2 residential zone, said planner Bill Brisson, who developed the amendment. The land use has to be compatible with the comp plan, he said.

Stormwater appeal going to higher authority
Members of St. Bernard Catholic Church sought to appeal the stormwater assessment fee, but commissioners were unsure if the church met the original deadline for appeals. The fee has since been lowered to around $350 annually, but the church believes that because it has its own stormwater drainage system, the amount should be even lower.

Commissioners agreed to require the city engineering firm of Zollar, Najjar and Shroyer meet with church representatives to explain how the current assessment was determined.

In other commission business, the swearing in ceremony for newly elected commissioners was scheduled for 10 a.m. Monday, Nov. 15, at city hall, while the next commission meeting is 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 8.