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BB variance in limbo zone

By Rick Catlin, Islander Reporter

Marie Petersen, left, representing the Sandpiper Resort Co-op Inc., and variance applicant Douglas LeFevre appear before a special magistrate in Bradenton Beach Jan. 22 for a hearing on the height of LeFevre’s proposed home. Islander Photo: Rick Catlin

It might soon be a case of a diner asking for dessert before delving into the entree.

A Bradenton Beach homeowner is seeking a height variance that may soon be allowed in the city’s two mobile home park zoning districts.

And two-story manufactured homes may become the new norm.

Bradenton Beach special magistrate William Robinson Jr. heard a variance request Jan. 22 by the Sandpiper Resort Co-op Inc., 2601 Gulf Drive N., and resident-owner Doug LeFevre, to elevate a new manufactured home above the 15-foot height limit for homes in the mobile home-zoned park.

LeFevre wants to remove an existing home and elevate the foundation before bringing in a new manufactured home that would top out at 25 feet. He said his reasons are for safety in the event of a flood and to meet the city’s flood elevation requirements.

City planner Alan Garrett, however, said the city commission plans to study the current 15-foot height limit for homes in the mobile home park and would likely increase it.

Building official Steve Gilbert said none of the homes in the Sandpiper Resort can be elevated without a variance because of the height restriction.

Robinson, however, said any future code change is “outside the boundaries” of his duty. He said he is only ruling on the validity of the variance request.

He said he found it interesting that the commission is going to consider changing the height restriction for mobile homes.

Garrett wrote in the staff analysis for the variance request that the additional height requested “will not be higher” than the 31 feet allowed homes in other zoning districts in the city.

With a foundation more than 3 feet above the crown of the road and 2 feet of free board, LeFevre’s home would reach a height of 25 feet, Garrett said. The applicant plans to have one-level of living space, he added.

The staff analysis did not oppose the variance request, stating it would meet the base flood elevation, “thereby increasing public safety in the event of a storm or hurricane.”

Marie Petersen, representing Sandpiper, said LeFevre’s request has been approved by the co-op board of directors. She said the applicant’s current home is on 26th Street, on the perimeter of homes in Sandpiper.

Any new home coming into the park, or any request to increase elevation of a home, must be approved by the park’s board of directors, she said.

While LeFevre had a number of supporters at the hearing, some people objected to the request.

Peg Miller of 2519 Ave. B, Bradenton Beach, is a homeowner across the street from the applicant.

She said the height would be adverse to the ambiance of the park and the surroundings.

Former Bradenton Beach planning and zoning board member Tom Burns also objected.

Garrett did not address the issue of other mobile home park owners seeking to elevate their homes.

He said elevating a home more than the required 3 feet is a “financial issue” for the owners.

Much will depend on the elevation shown on the new FEMA maps that are due in March, he said, although Garrett does not anticipate any change to the elevation for the Sandpiper. In addition, the city commission is expected in the near future to discuss an amendment for height restrictions in the mobile home zone, he said.

Garrett said the majority of homes in the Sandpiper meet the minimum flood elevation requirement of 3 feet above the crown of the road.

Robinson said he would render his decision to the city clerk within 15 days of the hearing.

Any appeal of his decision would be made to the Manatee County Circuit Court, he said.

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