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Date of Issue: December 06, 2007

LaPensee site plan approved

The Holmes Beach City Commission last week approved a site plan for LaPensee Plumbing’s new Manatee Avenue operation, but not without a few stipulations.

The locally owned and operated plumbing company plans to move its operations from 5362 Gulf Drive to a building at 401 Manatee Ave., a former real estate office that has been vacant for some time.

Last month, the city commission approved a request to change the zoning at the Manatee Avenue site from Commercial-1 to Commercial-2 after a public hearing that drew property owners who either opposed or supported the project.

LaPensee sought the zoning change to allow for the operation of a showroom and administrative offices. C-1 zoning allows for offices and C-2 for more intense operations, such as retail, restaurants, laundries, dry cleaners and catering.

Some neighboring property owners raised concerns about increased traffic, overnight parking of service vehicles and whether landscaping would provide a buffer, especially between the commercial building and residences on the south side.

LaPensee attorney Chuck Webb has repeatedly told commissioners that LaPensee Plumbing would be the best of neighbors.

During the Nov. 27 city commission meeting, Webb invited questions about LaPensee’s site plan, which includes plantings on the south side that initially will be about 5 feet high and may grow to 8 feet high in two years.

“I don’t see anything wrong with the site plan,” said Commissioner Pat Morton.

Commissioners, with Pat Geyer absent from the meeting, voted 4-0 to approve the plan with several conditions for LaPensee to meet:

No more than four service vehicles may be parked at the site overnight.

No deliveries will take place at the business before 7 a.m.

Landscaping must be followed through on and conform to conceptual drawings that show a high buffer on the south side of the property.

Company owner Mike LaPensee promised, “We’re going to have a pretty darn good barrier.”

Commissioner David Zaccagnino encouraged LaPensee to consider using native Florida plants for the landscaping.

In other business, commissioners:

  • Applauded Michael Leonard, a Holmes Beach police officer, for his role in making an arrest after a robbery at the CVS drug store last Christmas. (See the related story.)
  • Approved the reappointment of the city attorney and an increase in rates from $170 per hour to $180 for basic city matters to $180 and from $175 per hour to $185 for litigation matters.
  • Unanimously approved the final reading of an ordinance amending the city’s purchasing and bid policy to allow department heads to make purchases up to $5,000 without the mayor’s prior approval and to increase the minimum amount to trigger a formal bid process to $25,000.
  • Unanimously approved the final reading of an ordinance to define “sexually oriented business” and prohibit such businesses in the city.
  • Unanimously approved the first reading of an ordinance revising the city’s employee handbook, bringing the document up to date with current laws, providing for a department head to terminate an employee and requiring employees who are arrested, charged or convicted of a crime to notify the mayor within five days of the incident.

City treasurer Rick Ashley worked with city attorney Patricia Petruff to revise the handbook, with input from Mayor Rich Bohnenberger.

The commission’s next meeting will be at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 11, at Holmes Beach City Hall, 5801 Marina Drive. The board does not plan to hold a second meeting this month.