Holmes Beach planner reports on residential living areas

When Holmes Beach planner Bill Brisson came forward to speak on an Aug. 28 city commission agenda item about short-term rentals, he steered commissioners to take a different focus on anticipated changes — and spoke mostly about possible living-area to lot-size ratio limits on new construction.

        “Let’s not talk about short-term rentals,” he said.

        Though acknowledging they are part of the problem, he recommended a decade-by-decade study on the problems that have been arising and the character of R-2 single-family and duplex homes.

        At a city meeting earlier this month, the city planner was asked to begin a comprehensive study to support new measures brought forward by focus groups on building codes, rentals, zoning, permitting and code enforcement.

        The commission formed focus groups after residents packed city hall chambers in November and December with their problems about garbage, noise and parking and also relating to construction and short-term rental practices.

        Based on his preliminary research and analysis, Brisson said there had been “a dramatic change” in living-area ratios.

        Setting a floor-area to lot-size ratio to limit large duplex units was a primary recommendation of the building code focus group.

        In June, commissioners voted in favor of a .30 FAR.

        Brisson reconciled “living-area ratios” with “floor-area ratios,” explaining he regarded FAR as a measurement of the total space “under roof,” and the LAR as a measurement of the space generally thought of as air-conditioned.

        He added the focus group FAR recommendations to the city appeared to use the same “living area” calculations.    Commissioner Jean Peelen, who headed the building code focus group, confirmed that the FAR report used under-air calculations.

        In his preliminary LAR findings for the R-2 district, Brisson used data from the Manatee Property County Appraiser’s Office and Geographic Information System maps of the city.

        He said “the changes were most dramatic from 2009 on” in what is the city’s R-2 district, consisting of about 463 single-family homes and 601 duplex units.

        As for single-family homes constructed from the 1920s through 2005, Brisson identified two-thirds that range between .22-.27 LARs. Of those constructed between 2006-2008, two-thirds were built at a .34 LAR, and for new homes built between 2009 and 2011, he calculated a .39.

        He also noted an average of three bedrooms in single-family homes before 2009, but after 2009 the average jumped to 4.6 per home.

        In 2009-2011, he said there were 15 single-family homes constructed, seven of which had five or more bedrooms.

        With respect to duplex units, he said before 2006, two-thirds were built with a LAR of .33 or less. For units built between 2006-2008, he calculated a .46 LAR, and for those built between 2009-2011, a .51 LAR.

        Of 27 duplexes constructed between 2009-2011, he had told commissioners there were five homes with six bedrooms, but later revised that number to four.

        He pointed out four duplex homes with four bedrooms built during this period.

        The other 19 were constructed with three bedrooms or less.

        Brisson said, “The most significant changes are between 2009 and 2011, but changes began in 2006.”

        He also emphasized more research results to come, but his initial findings were given to assist commissioners in understanding his studies and the process.

        Brisson has been contracted as the city planner since about 2003.

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