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Date of Issue: June 09, 2005

Planners eye eliminating short-term rentals in residential zones

The Holmes Beach Planning Commission wants to revise the city's new comprehensive plan to limit rentals in the residential single-family and medium density zones to a minimum 30-day stay. Such a move would eliminate the "non-conforming" shorter-term rentals that presently occur in those zones, said commission member John Monetti at the commission's June 1 meeting.

Commission chairperson Sue Normand agreed. "We are trying to keep residential neighborhoods residential," she said.

Investors are continuing to buy homes in these residential zones and rent them out for a few days, Normand observed.

But city planning consultant Bill Brisson, who is assisting the commission with revising the city's comprehensive plan and land development codes, sounded a note of caution.

"You have the right to recommend no grandfathering [of non-conforming uses] to the city commission, but I guarantee lawsuits will follow." Short-term rentals of less than seven days are "legally" allowable in the R-1 and R-2 districts at present, he said.

"Then there has to be a legal way of protecting the city," responded Normand. "Allowing short-term rentals [in the R-1 and R-2 zones] is against the comprehensive plan."

Brisson said he would discuss the legal aspects of such a proposal with City Attorney Patricia Petruff and report those findings to the commission at its next meeting.

Normand suggested recommending to the city commission a "moratorium" on short-term rentals until a new comprehensive plan is adopted, but Brisson said a better idea might be "zoning in progress."

This measure allows the non-conforming use to continue until the comprehensive plan revisions and accompanying ordinance are adopted. "It's not a moratorium," he said, but more like a "short-term permit."

The commission also learned that there are presently six residential homes in the city owned by corporations that are used by the company's guests and clients on a short-term basis. The short-term use of these houses might be eliminated by a new minimum-stay requirement.

Commission members also discussed non-conforming lots in residential areas, including some used for commercial purposes. If the present structures were ever torn down or destroyed, the commission questioned what could be rebuilt on those lots.

Four properties in the city's residential district are used for commercial purposes, said Susan Longo of the building department, including Skinny's, West Coast Surf Shop, Island Real Estate and at 2810 Gulf Drive.

Longo told the commission that the city has a number of non-conforming lots. A number of 64-feet by 80-feet lots are on 78th Street and 79th Street.