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City reviews agreement, Mainsail Lodge loses wind, again

By Merab-Michal Favorite, Islander Reporter

Holmes Beach city commissioners agreed to postpone a vote on a settlement agreement for the Mainsail Lodge project at their Jan. 28 meeting.

The commissioners wanted to wait until the West Manatee Fire Rescue District could review the plans to develop the commercial land near the intersection of Gulf and Marina drives. They hoped the postponement would ensure the district could review the proposals for compliance with emergency access standards.

Despite a plea from Mainsail Lodge developer Joe Collier to approve the agreement, the commissioners postponed the matter to 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 11, the next commission meeting.

Collier said he wanted to get the vote over with so he could begin the design process.

“This is very much a draft and will have to come before you several more times before we can begin construction,” Collier said. “But this settlement agreement has been beaten to death. We have architects and engineers ready to go and waiting for it to be passed.”

Collier argued that waiting until season ended could mean a missed opportunity for potential clients and investors to visit the property.

The city planning staff must still review the project and a site plan before construction can commence. However, a lawsuit pending from the developer and another one threatened by some adjacent property owners has some commissioners concerned.

“Yes, we have beaten this thing to death,” admitted Commissioner Judy Titsworth, who resides adjacent to the property on Sunrise Lane. “But we had to do our due diligence when dealing with the lawsuit.”

One of the biggest points of contingency is emergency access for the development on Sunrise Lane, a private road that provides access to the bayfront homes east of the Mainsail property. Mainsail has not reached an agreement with residents along the road who have objected to the developer using the road for access.

Collier said if the Mainsail driveway was wide enough for a fire truck to turn around, he wouldn’t have to use Sunrise Lane, however, he may be required to use Sunrise land to comply with the fire code.

“The problem is that the plan hasn’t been vetted by the fire chief,” explained Tom O’Brien, superintendent of public works. “We can’t just walk away from that when it’s up to other agencies to decide.”

The project would include three buildings of multi-bedroom guest apartments, a 50-slip marina and a restaurant. The resort also would feature space for meetings, gift shop, a business center and a workout facility.

The developer has revised his plans since a city workshop in December and addressed some of the city’s key issues, including parking, setbacks and a waterfront view from Marina Drive.

The omission of two buildings and an addition of first-floor parking under one of the structures provided additional parking, so people can access the marina and restaurant without needing to use spaces reserved for guests of the lodge.

The reduction also allows for 25-foot setbacks from the front of the property for all buildings and 14-foot setbacks from the seawalls. Only one building will be less than 10 feet from the seawall, but it will be designed in a “stair-step pattern to increase setbacks and alter visual impact,” according to the agenda.

“The marina is a lifeline of this project,” said Titsworth. “This is what we like about it; we love our fisherman and if you make your resort fisherman-friendly, that is all we ask.”

The proposed agreement also calls for a “minimum effort” by the builder to realign one of the buildings so that people on Marina Drive can view the canal and bay waters.

If the settlement agreement becomes official, Mainsail will have 90 days to make a site-plan application, according to the report.

“The next meeting will be the compete document with enough words and legal descriptions to make sure everyone is satisfied,” said city attorney Patricia Petruff. “It’s time to deal with the settlement agreement so we can move to the next step.”

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