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HB commissioners flip-flop on pool rule

By Kathy Prucnell, Islander Reporter

Prompted by threatening calls about its decision to impose a one-pool-per-platted-lot limit —  including one from a pool contractor who said he’d be bringing in 30 permit applications before the proposed June 1 start date — the Holmes Beach city commission reversed its one-pool rule at the city work session May 22.

Commission Chair David Zaccagnino said he didn’t want to see the city become the “pool police.”

Contractors were looking for ways to get around the proposed restriction, suggesting to him the use of an underground connector for pools, he said. In addition, if applications began to flood the city, Zaccagnino said he feared the one-pool rule would place undue pressure on the city’s building department.

The pool rule was agreed to during a May 8 work session where commissioners began sorting through numerous focus group recommendations, looking for ways to alleviate problems related to the city’s influx of multi-level, multi-unit rental properties.

Zaccagnino appointed commissioners to lead focus groups earlier this year after more than 100 residents turned out in December with complaints relating to duplex construction and short-term rentals.

Zaccagnino said some of the callers also offered suggestions to address the “noisy pool” problem without limiting the number of pools on duplex lots.

Their suggestions included requiring fences with special sound-inhibiting insulation, fencing pool equipment and 6-foot-tall hedges to buffer pools. Commissioners also discussed prohibiting pool accessories, such as water slides and diving boards.

Zaccagnino led off the work session, following comments from Kathy Morgan Johnson of 57th Street. Johnson said she believed she should have the right to develop her property with two pools.

But Commissioner Sandy Haas-Martens said she understood the one-pool limit wasn’t part of any focus group recommendation.

Commissioner Jean Peelen agreed, saying it was discussed by her group, and she liked it as a possible method to address the neighborhood-busting houses, but it was not one of the group’s recommendations to the commission.

Zaccagnino said he had summarized all focus group recommendations for city attorney Patricia Petruff, but the one-pool rule was “not one of them.” He said he was “blaming Patty for this one.”

Peelen said, “I think this is one of Ms. Petruff’s unintended consequences, adding, “it’s my recommendation that we just bump it.”

The commissioners agreed they should address the underlying noise problems more directly. Commissioner Pat Morton asked the city attorney whether the commission could “say no” to slides and diving boards.

Petruff replied that commissioners had the ability to change regulations based on the commission’s vision, but they should have reasonable justification and address all residential zoning districts with their proposed changes to avoid legal challenges.

“If you have one lot, it is reasonable to have one pool,” she said, “or one pool per unit is OK.”

Rules against water slides, “akin to Wet ’n Wild,” could also be regulated, Petruff said. She also said the city could include pools in its lot-coverage restrictions.

With respect to the one-pool rule, Zaccagnino said he didn’t want to see “one big pool with twice as many people making twice as much noise.”

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