Tag Archives: 01-30-2013
Anna Maria commissioners meeting in a special session Jan. 29, voted 3-1 to rescind a motion the commission passed Jan. 24 that halted all vacation rentals of less than 30 days in the Residential 1 zone.
R-1 encompasses all residential properties with the exception of the residential-office-retail land use. After hearing of the imminent complications of enforcement, commissioners voted to rescind the motion. Commissioner Chuck Webb, who introduced the Jan. 24 motion, voted against the measure.
Commissioner Dale Woodland voted against the Jan. 24 motion, saying then they should first get legal analysis and hold more discussion. Commission Chair John Quam and Gene Aubry agreed with Woodland at the Jan. 29 meeting. Commissioner Nancy Yetter was absent.
Woodland introduced a motion to rescind the Jan. 24 vote that was seconded by Aubry, who amended the motion to add urgency to solving the city’s rental problems.
Although Webb opposed rescinding his Jan. 24 motion, he suggested commissioners meet at 6 p.m. every Thursday until they find solutions to the nuisances caused by an abundance of vacation rentals in the city.
Webb claimed in his Jan. 24 motion that the city already prohibited vacation rentals of less than 30 days in the R-1 zone. Commissioners will hold a work session to begin seeking solutions on rentals at 6 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 31.
A male loggerhead sea turtle was cold-stunned in the Atlantic Ocean in New England waters and rehabbed at the Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota. Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch and Shorebird Monitoring executive director Suzi Fox took “Stu” to Dunedin Jan. 23 to be released back into the Gulf of Mexico. Islander Photo: Mark Young
Two sea turtles injured during this past nesting season were returned to the water Jan. 23 with helping hands from Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch and Shorebird Monitoring executive director Suzi Fox and volunteer Skip Coyne.
“Marsha,” a juvenile female Kemp’s ridley turtle and a young adult loggerhead male named “Stu” were released into the Gulf of Mexico at Honeymoon Island State Park in Dunedin.
The Kemp’s ridley is considered an endangered species and its home range mostly spans across the Gulf of Mexico. Marsha was struck by a boat in Collier County and suffered a severe head injury.
She was brought to Mote Marine Laboratory Sea Turtle Rehabilitation Hospital in Sarasota for rehabilitation. According to Fox, she has recovered well from her injuries.
The young adult loggerhead had a much longer journey to recovery. Stu was found cold stunned in New England waters of the Atlantic Ocean.
Stu was flown to Mote for rehabilitation and also experienced a full recovery.
Fox said Mote is rehabilitating several more turtles, but a number were ready to be released back into open water.
“Whenever they need help transporting or releasing turtles, we are always happy to lend a hand,” said Fox.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission chose Honeymoon Island for the release point. Fox said water temperatures in the Northeast are too cold to release Stu back into his home waters, “but sea turtles travel for thousands of miles and Stu will find his way home.”
Fox said the release of rehabilitated turtles must be in waters with temperatures above 65 degrees. FWC determined water temperatures were ideal at Honeymoon Island State Park.
“Also, we couldn’t release Marsha back into the Gulf in Collier County because of the red tide situation there,” said Fox. “So Honeymoon Island was chosen for both water temperature and to keep them as far away from the red tide areas as possible.”
The turtles were tagged with tracking devices to monitor their travels. Both turtles made their way into the Gulf and began their second chance on life.
Commissioner Chuck Webb presents his 13-page memo Jan. 24 detailing rental prohibitions in the comprehensive plan and land use codes. Islander Photo: Rick Catlin
At the Anna Maria city commission’s Jan. 24 meeting, the vote was 4-1 on a motion by Commissioner Chuck Webb to prohibit rentals of less than 30 days in the city’s residential district. Webb claimed the city’s comprehensive plan prohibits rentals of less than 30 days in the Residential-1 district.
The vote was the commission’s first salvo in what is likely to become a legal battle over vacation rentals, the comprehensive plan and a 2011 statute that allows homeowners to rent their home for any length of time. The statute prohibits cities from imposing different regulations for rental homes and owner-occupied homes in the same zone.
Commissioner Dale Woodland voted no, saying he had just gotten Webb’s 13-page memo and wanted the commission to study the motion until its February meeting.
Webb, an attorney, said he spent hours reading over the city’s comprehensive plan and legal precedents before composing the memo, which was distributed to commissioners late Jan. 23 and earlier on Jan. 24.
Webb said the city already has an ordinance restricting short-term rentals in its zone, and the comprehensive plan states the city is “primarily a single-family residential community.”
But, he said, that character has changed since the comp plan was adopted in 2007 because of a proliferation of short-term “transient” rentals.
He claimed that 65 percent of all homes in the city now are vacation rentals. The majority of the city is no longer “primarily” for single-family residences and that violates the comp plan, he said.
The statute allows any homeowner in an incorporated municipality to rent his/her house without restriction on the length of stay. The bill grandfathered existing rental restrictions.
Webb maintains the city prohibited rentals of less than 30 days before the rental statute passed in 2011.
The packed commission chambers erupted in applause when Webb said short-term vacation rentals are ruining the quality of life for residents.
“This is nothing new,” Webb said. “The law has been on the books for years. The bottom line is if short-term rentals are not specifically allowed in the Residential-1 zone, then they are not permitted.”
In addition to the ROR and commercial zones distributed along Gulf Drive and Pine Avenue, there are recreational and public use zones, and R-1, the city’s only residential zone. Any existing duplexes were grandfathered and any remaining vacant duplex lots were eliminated in the 2007 comp plan.
Woodland liked portions of the motion, but asked commissioners to wait and allow time to study the ramifications and legality of the measure.
Chair John Quam asked city attorney Jim Dye for his opinion, but Dye said he just received the memo and needed time to review the statute and applicable case law. He also noted he and his siblings own a vacation rental in the city and he may need to excuse himself.
However, Dye said, at first glance, Webb’s memo is “a good starting point for the city.”
“You are not changing an ordinance, but as you know there is a statute that the city can’t treat short-term rental owners differently than other owners in the (R-1) zone,” Dye said.
Dye said if the motion is challenged in court, there could be an issue as to whether the city enforced the 30-day restriction before the statute existed.
“I’m still working my way through this, but if we proceed down this path and get sued, you can bring in the legality of House Bill 883 being constitutional,” he said.
Dye said he would prepare his opinion for the Feb. 14 commission meeting.
He noted there is a growing movement among other cities to ask their state legislators to look into problems with HB 883 during the upcoming 2013 legislative session. Legislative change is the best way to eliminate or amend HB 883, he said.
There was immediate opposition from the gallery to Webb’s motion.
Larry Chatt, broker and co-owner of Island Real Estate, which manages a large number of vacation rentals in the city, said, “I own a vacation rental in Anna Maria and I intend to litigate the issue. And I’m advising the owners of the properties we manage to do the same.”
He said enforcement of Webb’s motion may result in property owners becoming unable to pay mortgages and, if forced to sell, a glut of homes will come on the market, lowering values and curtailing Anna Maria’s tourism-based businesses.
Chatt told commissioners the economic repercussions would be “astronomical.”
Attorney Scott Rudacille of the law firm of Blalock Walters, P.A., told commissioners that he represents clients who own rental property in the city, and that the city has allowed these short-term rentals for decades.
He claimed the city can’t suddenly change its policy based upon an interpretation. The city should hold public hearings on the matter, he said.
Rudacille said there will be economic issues for property owners if their homes cannot be rented for less than 30 days, and his clients have told him “they intend to use all powers available to enforce their property rights.”
He declined to say if that meant bringing a lawsuit against the city.
Woodland said he “hated to see what is happening” and again urged restraint, saying more than 90 percent of short-term vacation rentals are good people who come to enjoy the city, don’t cause trouble and obey and respect city laws.
“We’re not being smart and studying this carefully. We all know we’re going to end up in court over this. I want changes, but I’m just not sure this is the road to go down,” Woodland added.
Commissioner Gene Aubry, however, said the city should take action and lead the issue.
“If they want to sue us, bring it on,” he said to another round of applause.
Mayor SueLynn said the motion was effective immediately, but city building official Bob Welch and Dye said they need time to review how it can be enforced.
Many of the short-term vacation rentals in Anna Maria’s residential zone have already been reserved for the February-April season and beyond, according to an unofficial survey of rental property managers.
Commissioner Gene Aubry was approached by a “constituent” who requested anonymity and wanted to look at one of several plans drawn by Aubry for a park on the city’s six lots on Pine Avenue.
That constituent picked out one plan and, according to Aubry, who recounted his meeting at a Jan. 24 commission meeting, said, “This is the one.”
Aubry said the constituent then offered to pay for all plants, benches, sidewalks and lighting if the commission approved the plan.
The plan provides for parking around the perimeter of the area, and Commissioner Chuck Webb said he liked everything about the plan except the parking.
Chair John Quam said discussion of the item was not on the meeting agenda, and he preferred to defer it to the Feb. 14 meeting.
Webb said it would be nice if the anonymous donor would come forward with his reasons.
“OK,” said Aubry, “but we’re being offered a free park, and we’re going to need those parking spaces. The constituent said he was tired of the commission rejecting every plan for the six lots, so he said ‘let me pay for it.’”
The city would only have to provide maintenance, Aubry said, and even that might be covered by the donor.
In other business, commissioners then approved Mayor SueLynn’s nomination of Mike Coleman to the planning and zoning board, although there was some disagreement about the nomination because of Coleman’s business interests. He is a principal in the Pine Avenue development by Pine Avenue Restorations.
Commissioner Chuck Webb reminded commissioners the P&Z board is only a recommending body to the commission. “I’m fine with his expertise and they’re not passing laws, just recommendations,” Webb said.
He said Coleman should abstain from voting on any issue in which he would have a financial interest.
The nomination was approved 4-1, with Commissioner Dale Woodland dissenting.
Commissioners were expected to deal with a requested easement swap between the city and the Sandbar Restaurant at the meeting, but agreed to continue the hearing to Feb. 14 due to the absence of engineer Lynn Burnett, who represents the Sandbar.
The planning and zoning board has recommended the city deny the easement exchange.
Beachgoers flock to Manatee Public Beach in mid-January for sun and sea, as well as food and refreshments from the nearby Anna Maria Island Beach Cafe. Islander Photo: Rick Catlin
Visitors planning a winter vacation on Anna Maria Island who have not made a reservation may have face difficulties come February.
That’s because many owners, managers and agents in the tourist-rental market say they are full from mid-February to the end of March.
Mark Davis of Harrington House Bed & Breakfast, 5626 Gulf Drive, Holmes Beach, said he has a few units available in February and March, but the openings are limited by surrounding reservations. Many Harrington House guests are repeat customers who stay one or two weeks, even longer, he said.
“I would say anyone thinking of an island vacation should start calling or emailing now,” Davis said. “Our phones have been ringing off the hook. If you’re just looking for a one or two-day stay, that’s going to be difficult, but possible if the dates are flexible.”
The same is true at AMI Accommodations, 315 Pine Ave., Anna Maria.
Even with nearly 300 rentals managed by the company, “there are only a few places left and most of those are in early February,” said staff member Rebecca Barnett.”
“March is sold out and we’re getting emails and phone calls all day long from people looking for a family rental,” Barnett added.
One possibility for a room rental for a day or two is the Rod & Reel Motel, 877 N. Shore Drive, Anna Maria.
A reservations manager said the motel is “fairly open” in early February, but only a few rooms remain available from then to the end of March.
If people are flexible about when they can come, and how long they stay, something can probably be arranged, R&R manager Janet Hoffman said.
David Teitelbaum, owner of the Tropic Isle, Tortuga, Seaside and Tradewinds motels in Bradenton Beach, was equally upbeat.
“Last season was our second best the past 10 years and we’re well ahead of that pace. This could be the best season ever for the island,” he said.
He noted that after Easter on March 31, availability gradually improves. After April 15, income tax filing day, the number of vacancies increases.
“But we’re going to have two great months of a season,” he said.
Similar expectations for full occupancy from mid-February through March were reported by Cedar Cove and White Sands motels, both in Holmes Beach.
Eric Cairns, owner of Cedar Cove, 2710 Gulf Drive, said he tries to accommodate all walk-in traffic or someone calling who needs a room right away. If he can’t find something at Cedar Cove, he’ll call other resorts or check with the Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce, which keeps a list of available rooms.
Rental agents and accommodation managers agree that cooperation among them is a key to good business.
“We all try to help each other,” said Jeff Geary of White Sands Resort, 6504 Gulf Drive, Holmes Beach.
“Visitors will get a place to stay on the island even if we have to pitch a tent and bring in cots,” Cairns said, tongue-in-cheek.
Bradenton Beach city attorney Ricinda Perry announced Jan. 17 that a contract between the city and the Center for Municipal Solutions was being negotiated to provide CMS co-founder Lawrence “Rusty” Monroe to continue serving the city in the review cell tower applications.
It was a signal that at least one aspect of an ongoing feud was coming to an end. There remains some public opposition to the city’s proposal to have a cell tower installed on city property near the public works building.
At the heart of the feud is Commissioner Ric Gatehouse’s claim that the ordinance prepared by Monroe was ambiguous in nature and financially advantageous to Monroe. He said the agreement was unfair and to the detriment of local businesses.
Gatehouse first called for the ordinance to be repealed, but settled on amending parts of the ordinance. His proposals received a consensus from his fellow commissioners and Gatehouse’s amendments are being addressed by city staff.
The amended ordinance, including Monroe’s CMS contract, could come up for vote as soon as the Feb. 7 commission meeting at Bradenton Beach City Hall.
Monroe initially took exception to Gatehouse’s issues with his ordinance and sent letters to the city objecting to the accusations. He said he no longer wished to work with the city.
Perry’s Jan. 17 announcement that a contract with Monroe and CMS was being negotiated came as a surprise, and very few details were discussed at the city meeting, but Gatehouse later wanted to make it clear the city was not backing away from the changes it wanted.
“We didn’t have a lot of discussion on it because we were still working on the details of the contract,” said Gatehouse.
The commissioner said it was never his intention to have Monroe pull out, but rather to have certain aspects of the ordinance changed to the benefit of the city and local businesses.
“His letter stating he no longer wished to work with the city was his choice,” said Gatehouse. “But he came back to us after the fact and said he was willing to agree to the changes.”
The key amendments Gatehouse sought in the ordinance were to have Monroe’s fee schedule removed and to implement the city’s fee rate.
“That was one of the biggest issues,” said Gatehouse. “When the new ordinance is adopted, anyone wishing to put up an antenna will be subject to the city’s fee schedule, per our building department. It’s not a one-size-fits all situation in Bradenton Beach.”
Gatehouse said another issue in the original ordinance was that an application for an antenna was treated the same no matter the height. The issue came to the forefront when AMI Radio submitted an application for an 8-foot-tall radio antenna.
Gatehouse said it would have cost AMI Radio thousands of dollars to have their application undergo the process in the current ordinance.
“Not every application should be considered the same,” said Gatehouse. “If it’s an 8-foot tower, such as the case for AMI Radio, it shouldn’t cost someone that kind of money when it can come through our own building and planning department. Now applications will be handled according to height, and if someone wants a 40-foot tower, then it falls under the ordinance requirements.”
Gatehouse said several other changes to the ordinance language also are being addressed.
“My intentions were to make these changes and the commission approved those changes,” he said. “Mr. Monroe initially didn’t agree, but he sent us some new proposals to make a compromise.”
Gatehouse said he was never standing in the way of CMS work with the city and is glad things are moving forward in a cooperative effort.
“I think we have reached a compromise that will allow us to move forward in a way that is beneficial to all concerned, but especially to the small businesses of Bradenton Beach.”
An October crash causes gridlock on the Cortez Bridge and surrounding roadways. The Florida Department of Transportation will have an informational booth promoting the bridge at the Feb. 16-17 Cortez Commercial Fishing Festival. Islander Photo: Mark Young
The Florida Department of Transportation made initial inquiries in September to Cortez residents expressing its desire to begin discussions about the future of the Cortez Bridge.
The DOT sent letters to some members of the Florida Institute for Saltwater Heritage about the possibility of scheduling public meetings in the historic fishing village, but there’s been no followup.
DOT communications specialist JoAnn May said public input into a future project will be important.
“We are going to want input from the communities involved,” May said Jan. 24. “Public meetings are planned, but not yet scheduled. When they are scheduled, we will make sure everyone in the community and the media are aware of the meetings.”
Apparently, word that DOT was seeking to begin discussions in September spawned telephone calls to Cortez residents from excited contractors wanting to attend the meetings.
While no meetings are scheduled, the DOT is planning to hand out information about the Cortez Bridge at the Feb. 16-17 Cortez Commercial Fishing Festival.
May said she was unclear of the nature of the materials to be handed out, because there are two separate projects.
“What will be done this year are electrical and mechanical repairs,” said May. “Whether the bridge will be rehabbed or replaced has not yet been determined.”
According to FISH festival committee chair Linda Molto, DOT has requested a booth at the festival.
“They contacted us to set up a booth at the festival and we gave them a space,” said Molto. “I think it will be a good way for DOT to interact with the community.”
The bridge was built in 1956, and underwent a comprehensive rehabilitation project in 1996. The bridge was supposed to be closed for 30 days, but the project dragged on beyond the timeline, causing major traffic issues. Cortez businesses near the bridge entrance reported financial losses during the project.
May said a project development and environmental study on the bridge will begin this year.
“A PDE study is planned to start soon, which will determine if rehabilitation is possible or if a replacement bridge needs to be built,” said May, who noted an engineering firm for the study has been hired.
This isn’t the first time that a focus on the Cortez Bridge has surfaced.
A study was completed in the early 1990s that called for a larger, higher fixed-span bridge, but public outcry helped bring the mega-bridge proposal to a halt. What officially ended the proposal for a large bridge, according to Molto, was the designation of the village of Cortez as an historic district.
Molto said in September that a “federal project cannot impact another federal project, and we are a national registered historic district.”
The 1990s study to build a larger bridge would have a bridge entrance as far back as 123rd Street West and would dead end every street in between, Molto said, adding that it would certainly be a significant impact to the historic village.
The plan to acquire numerous properties in Cortez, as well as Bradenton Beach, by eminent domain was halted and DOT moved forward on a 1996 rehab.
The recent announcement of a new bridge study drew concern from Manatee County Commissioners John Chappie and Carol Whitmore, former mayors of Bradenton Beach and Holmes Beach respectively.
Both said any project resembling the one previously proposed would destroy the communities of Cortez and Bradenton Beach.
Bradenton Beach commissioners have been bracing for the DOT’s project proposal. Commissioner Jan Vosburgh and Vice Mayor Ed Straight listed the bridge project among their biggest future concerns during the 2012 election cycle.
As of press time, May was unable to confirm the nature of materials to be handed out at the festival.
However, according to festival committee minutes, the DOT booth will be a “Cortez Bridge rehabilitation exhibit.”
According to the DOT website, the Cortez Bridge has a 75.65 health rating. DOT guidelines state a health rating below 85 indicates repairs are needed.
Girl Scouts from Troop 316, sixth-graders at Manatee School for the Arts, ask Holmes Beach Mayor Carmel Monti at a Jan. 22 meeting to bring back Concerts in the Park, a once-a-month outdoor party, which was canceled Jan. 8 by promoter Island Festivals Inc. Islander Photo: Kathy Prucnell
Girl Scout Troup 316 engaged in the political process in Holmes Beach Jan. 22, as scouts shared their concerns about the cancelation of Concerts in the Park.
They gave the city petitions signed by more than 100 people seeking to bring back the outdoor festivals at the city field.
“We all disagree with the mayor of Holmes Beach,” the petition reads. “For just one night a month, we would like to get together and have fun.”
The promoter is Island Festivals Inc., owned by Bradenton resident Cindy Thompson, who canceled the concerts earlier this month, apparently on learning Mayor Carmel Monti had reinstated the $250 field fee.
The city also charges a $50 application fee.
Former Mayor Rich Bohnenberger waived the fees in May for all field users.
Newly elected, Monti reinstituted the fee Jan. 8.
According to Monti, the city loses money on the concerts, which require field cleanup and maintenance and, he said at a Jan. 8 meeting, he would study solutions to help nonprofits and benefit the community.
At the Jan. 22 commission meeting, the girls told the mayor and commissioners they favor bringing back the festival, helping the nonprofits, because it brought the community together with music and food.
“We didn’t cancel anything. We just raised the fee to what it used to be in the previous year,” said Monti. He said Thompson, was “invited to come in to speak with me and she did not.”
Monti told the scouts there would be an alternative to the Concerts in the Park.
Commissioner Pat Morton said he expected another concert event by the end of February.
After the meeting, the 11- and 12-year-old scouts said they were not satisfied with the mayor’s response.
They said it was not just an issue of money, and that the mayor’s response, which questioned the promoter’s integrity, was disrespectful.
“We all felt, although he didn’t cancel the concerts, his actions led to it,” said Emily Turner-Leathem, 12.
The scouts said they would meet with others in the troop to decide how to proceed.
Savannah Higgins, 12, said, “We’ll probably be thinking about how to help relocate the fest.”
Hannah McCracken, 11, added, “Just because we’re kids doesn’t mean we can’t change the world.”
A two-day festival is planned at the field in March in cooperation with the city by the Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce. Island Cityfest, sponsored by The Islander, will be held March 1-2 at city field, featuring Friday night and Saturday entertainment, and art, crafts, food and drink vendors, as well as a Saturday car show. Proceeds benefit the chamber and its college scholarship fund.
Holmes Beach Mayor Carmel Monti and building inspector David Greene met with the Sarasota/Manatee Metropolitan Planning Organization and others Jan. 22 to sort out a $510,302 Florida Department of Transportation project.
The meeting took place at city hall, 5801 Marina Drive, Holmes Beach.
DOT communications director Debbie Tower said the details of the project are still being ironed out, but confirmed sidewalks, a bicycle/pedestrian trail and trolley shelters on State Route 789 were proposed.
The project was awarded last year under the DOT five-year work program. FDOT awards funding to public improvement projects statewide, which starts with proposals to the MPO five years prior to funding.
Former public works superintendent Joe Duennes submitted the project in June 2008, estimating $184,000 in design and construction costs.
Tower said the project underwent a new updated cost analysis, and the $184,000 estimate was adjusted to $510,302.
Emails in November to Duennes from FDOT project manager Aaron Kaster indicated the design part of the project needed attention.
Kaster said he’d been trying to get in touch with Duennes for several months regarding this year’s program.
“I need clarification on what exactly the city of Holmes Beach would like to do with the project,” he wrote. “The project has lost five months already in the design schedule.”
Asked about the design deadlines, Kaster told The Islander the bid-letting date for the construction portion is July 31, and it was a “big no, no” to pass that deadline.
After taking office in November, Monti learned of the project funding through emails, saying he had not been briefed by the outgoing city administration.
He told city commissioners that the Jan. 22 meeting with the MPO and others was productive, and he’d be announcing project details soon.
Tower said it wasn’t unusual for projects to get so close to a deadline and not have design plans.
The project was initially proposed as landscaping improvements on East Bay Drive, north from 31st Street to Manatee Avenue and Manatee Avenue, west to the Manatee Public Beach.
It included four trolley shelters and a 5-foot-wide sidewalk on the north side of Manatee Avenue between the beach and East Bay Drive.
The sidewalk installation has been completed by DOT, and Tower said that it was completed with other funding that became available last year.
Stopping large homes such as these on 49th Street is the purpose behind the living-area ratio ordinance adopted Jan. 22 by the city of Holmes Beach. Islander Photo: Kathy Prucnell
With a sliding scale that will allow slightly more living space for future homes on small lots, a living-area-to-lot size ordinance limiting homes to .34 living area was passed into law for the Residential-2 zone in Holmes Beach.
Commissioners unanimously approved the ordinance Jan. 22 after a public hearing, including comments from city planner Bill Brisson, who advised them on two points about changes from the LAR ordinance presented a month ago.
First, he presented his sliding scale revision to address smaller lots that may not have sufficient living space after an application of .34 LAR.
Brisson said while studying the city’s housing stock, he found most of the out-of-scale homes on smaller non-conforming lots limited by size to single-family construction, leading him to propose a sliding scale of .34-.40 LARs for lots between 5,000 and 7,499 square feet and a .40 LAR for lots smaller than 5,000 square feet.
The required lot size for duplex construction is 8,712 square feet. Single-family homes require 7,512 square feet.
The second point Brisson made — also raised by city attorney Patricia Petruff, who is working on land development code amendments to eliminate the underground duplex footer in favor a party wall — is that LAR will work with those lots “grandfathered-in” under the new law.
Brisson said grandfathering will apply to recently purchased unimproved duplex lots, as well as properties where only one of two allowed units is built.
“We’re only doing the LAR on what’s left,” Commissioner Judy Titsworth said of the ordinance.
Brisson added, “You’re not dividing the land.”
Brisson said if the one duplex unit is built, the second one won’t require a common foundation, but will be regulated to .34 on the remaining lot area.
Unlike LAR, the coverage requirements for duplexes may vary depending on the first unit built, he said. Residences, either duplex or single-family homes, cannot exceed 30 percent lot coverage plus 10 percent for impervious pavers and outdoor accessories.
In a half-duplex situation, if one unit is built on more than half of the allowed 30-40 percent coverage, the second unit will be limited to the remainder.
The LAR ordinance seeks to rein in the size of three-story homes that dwarf ground-level residences in the rental district. It regulates the mass and scale of duplexes, a problem that was identified and studied by the city and residents in the past year.
A unanimous vote of the planning commission Jan. 9 found the LAR ordinance consistent with the city’s comprehensive plan.
At the Jan. 22 public hearing, Don Schroder of Holmes Beach, who at the planning commission hearing opposed the city’s moves toward LAR, said he was happy with the commission’s actions “as long as anybody who has bought property can do what they wanted to do when they purchased it.”
Resident Terry Parker also spoke at the city commission hearing. He said that while he favored LAR, he did not favor the .34 ratio. He said 60 percent of the city is at less than .34 LAR. With the new ratio, he predicted a growth rate that would be at least what the city experienced during the previous 10 years.
The city is set to discuss a proposed ordinance to eliminate the underground footer for duplexes in a work session at 7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 31, at city hall, 5801 Marina Drive.