… as Holmes Beach grapples with franchise controls

There’s no putting the genie back in the bottle.

Franchise businesses are here to stay in Holmes Beach, according to planner Bill Brisson.

What’s left to do is work to preserve island ambiance and character, according to Brisson, who is advising commissioners on how to better define the tipping point where commercial chains adversely affect the “beachy” island business character.

“Treat downtown very specifically,” Brisson said. “That’s the real character of Holmes Beach. Downtown is what you are trying to preserve.”

The Holmes Beach City Commission discussed at its Aug. 22 meeting how formula businesses, or franchises, should be allowed, regulated or prohibited. And how to do it without barring a business offering desirable services — even if it is a chain.

“I think we all agree you want to retain the character of the island. Then I think of the Dollar Store. It’s so much easier to go there,” said Commissioner Marvin Grossman.

“Sometimes there’s a reason why you want to change your ordinance.”

Brisson said it’s not the role of the city to protect local businesses from competition. Brisson suggested capping the number of formula businesses where they are now, making his recommendation in a 15-page report plus a 44-page appendix of photos and descriptions of Holmes Beach franchise businesses.

Brisson based much of his recommendations on a franchise ordinance enacted in Sanibel.

“Most businesses here are mom and pop or locally owned,” Brisson said. “The nature of Holmes Beach businesses sets you apart because they are not all the same.”

Brisson discouraged a suggestion to regulate business facades and signage citing legal complications.

“I suggest you not get into architectural controls,” he said.

“The more restriction you put on, the more likely you are to be challenged,” said city attorney Patricia Petruff.

The formula business discussion required no commission vote. A suggested ordinance will be prepared by Brisson and presented for a first reading in September.

A temporary moratorium on new formula businesses expires Oct. 10.

“I think we need to consider an extension of the moratorium, at least until the end of the year, if not beyond,” Mayor Bob Johnson said. “This thing is not going to come to fruition and be complete by Oct. 10.”

The moratorium has already been extended once. Petruff was directed to draft a second moratorium extension to sunset in March 2018.

In other action, commissioners unanimously adopted three ordinances.

Ordinance 17-11 limits housing in the mixed-use district to 10 dwelling units per acre. It also requires one parking space per three seats for restaurants, bars and nightclubs.

Ordinance 17-09 provides for public participation in the comprehensive plan process.

Ordinance 17-13 establishes a special magistrate to hear parking citation cases.

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