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Date of Issue: July 26, 2007

Variance request again denied in Bradenton Beach

Bradenton Beach city commissioners have upheld a board of adjustment decision to deny a boat lift variance requested by Jerry and Connie McKee at their home at 2101 Bay Drive N. - or 1909 or 2102 Bay Drive N., depending on which records are referenced.

Jerry McKee said he bought the property in December 2005 and spoke to building officials regarding the placement of a boat lift on the canal beside his waterfront property. He said he was told there would be no problem with such an amenity.

In September 2006, he retained the services of a boat-lift contractor, who applied for and received permits for the lift construction on behalf of McKee. In March 2007, the work was completed, the contractor was paid, but a final review by the city’s building official at that time spurred a stop-work order.

At issue, according to current city building official Steve Gilbert, is a city code which states that boat lifts, docks and pilings should not project more than 5 feet from the property into the water. The McKee pilings for their boat lift are 13 feet from the seawall and the canal edge, according to the city.

Gilbert quoted the city’s land development code, which states in part that “no piling, boat dock or pier shall project more than 5 feet into the canal.”

There are but two canals in Bradenton Beach.

However, Gilbert said in a July 10 memo to the city commission that he believed the board of adjustment recommendation to deny the boat lift was wrong, and recommended overturning the board of adjustment’s decision.

“It was discovered that although the city of Bradenton Beach has been issuing permits, and has an application and fee schedule for boat lifts, there are no definitions nor clear regulations regarding boat lifts in our land development codes,” Gilbert wrote in his memo. “The only definitions and directives are for docks and seawalls.”

The city commission, however, upheld the board of adjustment decision and decided the lift should be removed.

“The permit was issued in error,” Mayor John Chappie said of the building department’s actions last year.