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HB scrutinizes buildable duplex lots

By Kathy Prucnell, Islander Reporter

Twenty lots left?

        It was a comment that reverberated at the Feb. 28 work session where a residential moratorium on building was regarded and rejected by the Holmes Beach City Commission.

        Commission Chair David Zaccagnino said “a couple of builders” told him only 20 duplex lots — 8,712 square foot lots, the minimum size to support a duplex — remain in the city, and what followed was a reaction of disbelief, and a directive to the mayor to check the accuracy of the claim.

        Holmes Beach resident Barbara Marcheck said, “I don’t believe it,” and she didn’t trust the source. A builder had told her and neighbors on 66th Street he would build three-bedroom homes — but eventually constructed two homes on one duplex lot with 12 bedrooms, eight baths and two swimming pools, she said.

        Patty Sabo of 68th Street also said at the February meeting she didn’t understand how only 20 lots could be left in the city.

        Commissioner Jean Peelen agreed the number provided by Zaccagnino didn’t seem right.

        Following the meeting, Mayor Rich Bohnenberger set the public works department onto the accounting task, and building inspector Bob Shaffer performed an informal survey of R-2 zoned duplex lots earlier this month.

        “It’s purely guesswork” what lots will actually build out, said public works superintendent Joe Duennes last week.

        The mayor said last week that 20 buildable lots could mean 40 vertical units.

        From Shaffer’s survey, Duennes estimated a remaining three to five vacant lots; 10-12 lots with an existing residence and lot space for a second unit; and roughly 40-50 existing duplexes that could be demolished and replaced with two land-condo units.

        According to city code, new construction is restricted to no more than 30 percent of the property land mass, and a maximum of two stories of livable space, Duennes said. A third story is permissible if the living space is elevated, leaving garage and storage on the ground level, with or without continuous walls.

        The Federal Emergency Management Agency restricts buildings to no higher than 36 feet above the 10-foot mean-high sea-level line, measured from the crown of the street to the roof.

        The majority of the new land condos are three-story buildings within the 36-foot height limit in compliance with FEMA.

        Duennes added the average property in Holmes Beach is only 6 feet above sea level, and another option for home designs other than building a first floor of storage is building up the property some 4 feet to meet FEMA elevation requirements.

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