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Date of Issue: March 17, 2005

Public input given to Holmes Beach planners

A dozen residents attended the information gathering sessions held by the Holmes Beach Planning Commission and city planner Bill Brisson last week. The sessions provided residents with a forum to provide input on comprehensive plan and land development issues they believe the city needs to address.

The city commission hired Brisson to work in conjunction with the planning commission to review all Land Development Code provisions for consistency with the city's comprehensive plan and for internal consistency within the LDC.

Commission Chairperson Sue Normand stressed that this is the time for residents to have their voices heard and make a difference early in the process.

Nine residents who live north of Manatee Public Beach attended the first session Monday, Aug. 31, and brought several issues to the commission's attention.

Steve Lindall asked commissioners to review the city's noise ordinance. Lindall said it is disruptive when residents trim trees or continue construction projects on weekends. He suggested limiting noisy activities from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays and not at all on Sundays.

It was also suggested that the commissioners revisit the city's height ordinance and compare it to neighborhoods such as Bird Key in Sarasota.

Lindall also reminded the commission that it took almost nine years for the city to allow a piano teacher to have a home business license and perhaps the land development code should be updated to address home-based and Internet businesses.

There was also interest in creating a downtown center or art district that would attract visitors to events like art walks or shops.

Lindall asked commissioners to also consider provisions to accommodate outdoor dining and establishing an "art deco" area that could generate more business by facilitating evening gatherings.

He said that with a little forethought the city could have obtained the Tidemark property and created a city beach walk from the bay to the Gulf, incorporating the entire downtown area.

Three residents living south of the public beach attended the Sept. 1 meeting. They brought up drainage issues along Sixth Avenue and asked for better buffering between residential and commercial properties.

Karen Swartz questioned whether the commercial properties behind her home on Sixth Avenue had to anchor their air-conditioning units to their roofs. "I could see them becoming projectile during a hurricane," she said.

Planning Commissioner Gary Hickerson asked that the city also consider the runoff caused by newer homes elevated above the road on higher ground than neighboring homes.

Hickerson also suggested that the city require an independent engineer to audit building plans to ensure city codes are being met. "The city pays for a financial audit, which is routine in business. A lot of professions are routinely audited," he said. "I bring it up because we've seen a lot of controversy where the work is not done right."

Normand said she received a request from Sunbow Bay condominium residents for more sidewalks on the south end of the city. Residents in wheelchairs and with young families don't find it easy to walk to the beach and, Normand said, she was told many wait until they can get a ride.

Residents can review copies of the city's comprehensive plan and LDC at the Island Branch Library or city hall. The LDC is also available on the Internet at www.municode.com.

A questionnaire is available at city hall for those who missed the information sessions but still want to provide input.

The next planning commission meeting is at 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 16.