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Date of Issue: September 01, 2010

HB planners review parking changes

The Holmes Beach Planning Commission Aug. 26 decided that the city commission’s proposed land-development code changes were consistent with the city’s comprehensive plan.

But the planning commission expressed some concerns during the discussion meeting at Holmes Beach City Hall.

The changes the city commission discussed at its meeting included the possibility that an incoming business owner wanting to add parking spaces would not be required to submit a site plan to commissioners.

LaRue Planning and Management Services designed the proposal so that the applicant could bypass the city commission in the parking-lot development process.

A site plan submitted to the city commission would not be required if the amount of additional parking spaces exceeded 20 spaces and 35 percent of the existing capacity.

For example, if a business owner wanted to add to the maximum amount of parking spaces to a lot with a capacity of 100, the owner would not be exempt from submitting a site plan to commissioners for 35 additional spaces, because, although the lot would increase by the maximum of 35 percent, it would exceed the 20-space limit.

If a proposed change in lot spaces did meet the criteria of less than 35 percent and 20 spaces, the applicant would still submit a site plan to public works superintendent Joe Duennes, who would have the option of sending the site plan to city commissioners.

City commissioners agreed a fixed number of 20 allowable parking spaces would prevent a large business, such as a shopping center, from adding parking that might overflow into residential neighborhoods.

They also agreed putting a cap on the number of additional parking spaces would encourage shoppers and diners to travel by means other than their personal vehicles.

Applicants would have the option of submitting to Duennes a parking-lot study that documents their parking needs are justified.

The city commission also asked that the current parking-lot requirement for a restaurant, bar or cocktail lounge be changed from one parking space per three seats to one parking space per five seats. This, commissioners said, would encourage car-pooling.

This is where the planning commission had some concerns. It will recommend to the city commission that the comprehensive plan should allow up to four seats per parking space instead of five.

The planning commission also suggested that Duennes consult business owners adjacent to where parking lot changes are made prior to allowing changes.

“Where this will become more of an issue is where a number of adjoining retail stores or restaurants might all make parking changes within the same period of time make adjustments,” said planning commission member Michael Snyder. “I think it would be a magnification issue when the businesses are close together and things start changing.”

The planning commission — Ed Kerr, Sue Normand, Sylvia Harris, Gary Hickerson and Snyder — also was concerned that there seem to be no standards for the parking-lot studies.

The bottom line, said city planner Bill Brisson, is the city commission would simply need to be convinced the change is necessary.

Regarding lots without a house or other primary structure, the city commission agreed on a land-development code proposal that would allow a resident to construct a boat dock and 10-by-8-foot storage shed on a remote lot.

Duennes proposed the city commission allow a 20 to 25-square-foot garage. However, commissioners agreed such a garage could be used for partying rather than storage.

The commission had no concerns to submit to commissioners about adding structures to vacant lots.

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