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Holmes Beach readies to resume Mainsail mediation

By Mark Young, Islander Reporter

Holmes Beach Mayor Carmel Monti announced that mediation efforts between the city and the Mainsail development team will continue at 9 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 4, at CrossPointe Fellowship, 8605 Gulf Drive, Holmes Beach.

The announcement comes after a contentious July 23 city meeting where commissioners ultimately agreed to continue with mediation, but disagreed on where to draw a line that could end the ongoing dispute.

Commissioners voted 3-2 in March to revoke the Mainsail site plan for the property near Gulf and Marina drives, which prompted Mainsail attorney Robert Lincoln in April to file a petition for relief from the city.

An encouraging first round of mediation ensued June 21, but it was apparent in July that contentions remain among the three commissioners opposing the site plan.

Commissioner Judy Titsworth — a resident of Sunrise Lane that borders the development site on the east — argued that the city is on more stable footing concerning negotiations with Mainsail and wants to see more concessions made by the developer.

Mainsail made several concessions in June, including eliminating one building and reducing the size of another, as well as agreeing to work with Sunrise Lane residents over a disputed right to use the road for emergency vehicle access to the property.

Titsworth said it’s not enough, but agreed to continue mediation. Commissioner Pat Morton stood his ground. He said the city did the right thing in revoking the site plan and he wants Mainsail to start from scratch and develop a plan that complies with current city codes.

Commission Chair Jean Peelen and Commissioner David Zaccagnino support working with Mainsail to improve the site plan.

Commissioner Marvin Grossman led the charge to revoke the site plan, but appeared to be open to compromise at the July city meeting. He then drew a line in the sand and made it clear that the city would not be bullied.

As the city moves forward with mediation, Titsworth circulated an email outlining her goals for the process.

“Being that two of the commissioners and the mayor don’t seem to want to offer recommendations, but would like to provide Mainsail with a list of items to shoot for, I have taken it upon myself to offer some suggestions that I feel are important in making this project conform more to our land development code,” Titsworth wrote.

Titsworth, Monti and city attorney Patricia Petruff are representing the city at the mediation meetings. Monti does not have a vote on the dais, but also supports moving forward with Mainsail.

Titsworth calls for all setback requirements to be met in regards to any building considered three stories, and for a portion of the building proposed on the spit of land next to the basin to be removed.

Mainsail already agreed to remove the building on the spit, but part of Building B remains there.

Titsworth said an exception to setbacks as a city concession would be Building C, if space for a landscape buffer can be included on the canal.

Mainsail wants to raise the height of the proposed lodge from two stories to three in order to recoup some of the units lost by eliminating Building A from the spit.

In order to do so, Mainsail would need a height variance, but Titsworth is opposed to the trade off.

“The code is to be followed and interpreted with regards to height restrictions as measured from the crown of the road,” she wrote.

Titsworth also is calling for an increase in setback between commercial and residential units along Sunrise Lane and that no balconies or entrances for buildings on Sunrise Lane would face the road.

While both sides have agreed to renew mediation, either party may conclude negotiations at any time and ask that Phase 2 of the magistrate process begin.

If that happens, negotiations conclude and a quasi-judicial hearing will take place. The special magistrate will take evidence and testimony and render an opinion.

If both parties agree to the special magistrate’s decision, the matter is resolved. If not, either party can file a lawsuit in circuit court to appeal the decision.

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