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Date of Issue: June 23, 2005

Holmes Beach rental owners oppose rental limit

Owners of rental units in Holmes Beach are up in arms about a proposal by the city's planning commission to revise the city's new comprehensive plan to limit rentals in the residential single-family and medium-density duplex zones to a minimum 30-day stay.

Response by affected property owners has been swift and critical, although according to Manatee County voter registration records, none of those homeowners who wrote Mayor Carol Whitmore about the planning committee's proposal are registered voters in Holmes Beach.

Condo owner Gene Taylor said that increasing the length of stay for rentals is "upsetting" and wondered if city planner Bill Brisson even lives on the Island.

Brisson is a professional planner who has been contracted to oversee the process of comprehensive plan revisions.

Holmes Beach is a "vacation area," Taylor contended, and there are always going to be "lots of people."

He challenged planning committee member Don Hickerson, who favors the 30-day minimum stay, to "move to Longboat Key, where they tell you when you can flush your toilet. Does he like other people telling him what to do with his property?"

Surprisingly, Taylor then added that "the Island is a friendly place. Let's keep it that way."

John Edwards, who manages a family trust with two beachfront homes in the city, claimed that he's been forced to rent the houses on a weekly basis during the year "to defray the increase in property taxes." Previously, he had only done seasonal rentals.

"If this 30-day minimum rental is passed, it will further limit the amount of money I can make," he said, and "cut down on the number of tourists who can come to the beach."

In his opinion, this is "just another way of forcing the single-family homeowners off the Island to make way for the developers."

If that happens, the city will be "just like every other beach town instead of the one that families have come to love."

Miriam Martin said she and her family also own two homes in the city that they rent on a short-term basis.

To require a minimum 30-day stay would "have a dramatic and negative impact on our income," she claimed. The proposal would also do a "disservice" to people who want to vacation on the Island, but can't afford a 30-day stay.

She called upon Mayor Carol Whitmore and the city commission to reject the proposal.

Likewise, Dawn Chan and her husband own a condominium that they rent for less than 30 days and they are opposed to the 30-day minimum rental.

"Please be careful when making new rules to ensure that the rules affect what is really needed versus the emotional discontent of a few," she wrote Whitmore.

Floyd Asbury of Bradenton told Whitmore that passage of a 30-day minimum stay would "send the one- to two-week customers to other parts of Florida, or even be a reason for them to consider vacationing outside our state."

Whitmore cautioned that at this point, the planning commission is only making recommendations to the city commission. The commission will hold a series of public meetings on the comprehensive plan revisions before adoption of any part of the plan.

She also noted that she does not vote on the commission, but would pass on the objections noted to the planning committee.

The planning committee meets at 7 p.m. every other Wednesday, and meetings are open to the public.