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Date of Issue: February 04, 2009

HB commission closes alley discussion

The Holmes Beach City Commission unanimously voted to deny a request that the city vacate an unimproved alley on property fronting the Gulf of Mexico.

The commission vote came Jan. 27 after an hour-long public hearing on the request from property owners Susan and Fred Bartizal. They want to build a pool on a 10 foot by 50 foot section of the alley on the Gulfside of their duplex in the 2800 block of Avenue E.

Several people spoke in favor of the Bartizals’ application — two Holmes Beach property owners and attorney Derin Parks.

Parks said the Bartizals’ project would not impact beach access, and it would not result in the destruction of plants, including sea oats.

He presented the commission with a number of documents showing where other property owners already have improved the alley, apparently without seeking a vacation from the city.

Parks identified a home “built across this entire particular alley.”

Because the city allowed improvements to the alley in the past, it should vacate the section the Barizals’ seek, he argued.

“In light of the fact that those property owners have constructed permanent improvements, we see no reason our client should be denied,” Parks said.

City Commissioner David Zaccagnino argued otherwise.

“This is one of the oldest parts of the Island,” he said. “Some of these houses are 80, 90 years old.”

Zaccagnino said improvements in the city-owned alley probably took place years ago. “These things were done 50 years ago,” he said. “It’s not like you can enjoy things done 50 years ago.”

Zaccagnino said he was opposed to the vacation, and not eager to vacate any public property.

Commission Chair Sandy Haas-Martens and Commissioners Pat Morton and John Monetti also expressed their opposition. Pat Geyer was absent.

“Just because something was built doesn’t mean it was right,” Haas-Martens said, referring to previous improvements to the alley.

The commission voted unanimously to deny the vacation request after hearing from a number of residents also opposed.

Resident Steve Legore compared Parks’ argument to someone saying that because Bonnie and Clyde robbed a bank, “I’m allowed to rob a bank too.”