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Date of Issue: February 01, 2007

Commission OKs rezoning for conservation

Holmes Beach city commissioners Jan. 23 indicated their support for rezoning a set of properties west of the state erosion control line for conservation.

With the OK, commissioners dispensed with the one lingering question they had with a proposed update in the city's land development code.

The next step in adopting the revised code - a draft document that was two years in the making - is to hold public hearings.

The city commission met in its chambers at city hall. The meeting - a regular session and work session - lasted about 20 minutes, with commissioners quickly addressing routine business.

The most significant development during the meeting took place during the work session, when the one outstanding question commissioners had on the proposed LDC was answered.

The question pertained to the proposed rezoning of properties south of 31st Street and seaward of the state erosion control line from R-4 to conservation, which is the present designation for the area on the city's future land-use map.

Bill Brisson, of Brisson Planning Solutions, said he recommended the change for consistency's sake.

He added that the lots are not buildable and should be designated for conservation "as should all other properties occupied by beach soils and lying west of the ECL."

But Brisson, commissioners and the city attorney, Patricia Petruff, wanted to research the nature of a court case out of Walton County before incorporating the change in the draft LDC.

Petruff, in a memo that commissioners reviewed last week, gave the go-ahead for the change.

"I researched whether current case law prohibits the use of erosion control lines as boundaries for conservation zoning districts," Petruff wrote.

The attorney examined the Walton County case involving a dispute between property owners and state and county governments.

Petruff concluded that "the case pertains to a slightly different issue" in that property owners in Walton County "were losing their property boundaries based on where the state and county were going to place the erosion control line.

"The city is not attempting to take property from the current property owners by claiming rights to the property beyond the erosion control line," Petruff continued. "Rather … the city is merely using the erosion control line as a zoning-district border. Therefore, regardless of how the Walton County case comes out, if the city determines that the erosion control line is a legitimate line to demarcate the beginning of a conservation zoning district, then the Walton County case will not likely affect whether the rezoning is valid."

After reviewing Petruff's memo, Sandy Haas-Martens, commission chair, said, "I think we're OK on that."

City staff, commissioners and the planning board have been working with Brisson on revising the code since June 2004.

"The city wanted the code more easily understandable for the population in general and for the city staff," said Brisson, a planning consultant since 1971. "The primary purpose of what we've been doing is to make it clear."

"We're trying to catch up and clean up the LDC," Bill Saunders, assistant superintendent in the city's building department, said. "We're trying to make it more understandable, to have a consistent plan for the city."

For Saunders and the city building department staff, the LDC serves as a bible.

 "It covers everything we do in this department," Saunders said. "It covers your lot size, how you use your land, your heights of buildings and how zoning districts are defined and what you can do in each district. It covers land development."

The process is nearing completion, with the exception of the rules for signs.

"We're very close to finishing everything," said Brisson, who has worked with more than 50 municipalities over the last three decades. "In the sense that it is reformatted, more usable, simplified, updated, made more modern with definitions and procedures."

The first public hearing on the proposed LDC could take place as early Feb. 27, followed by a second hearing in March.

In other business, the commission:

  • Appointed Scott Rudacille, Peter Robertson and Allen V. Guy to the city's personnel board.

"We're reactivating the personnel board," Haas-Martens said.

Mayor Rich Bohnenberger said the board is made up of three permanent members and, if a dispute arises over an employee dismissal, two additional members would be added to consider the case.

Bohnenberger said that in all his years with the city the board met only once.

Rudacille's experience includes membership in the Florida Bar Association and the Florida Planning and Zoning Association and service on the Anna Maria Island Community Center board of trustees and the Manatee County Gator Club board.

Robertson is a past president of the Key Royale Resident Owner Association and currently the group's beautification chair. He's also involved in the Kiwanis Club.

Guy is a member of the Anna Maria Island Kiwanis Club, a past member of the city's board of adjustment and a board member of Westbay Point and Moorings condominium association.

  • Appointed former city commissioner Don Maloney as a second Holmes Beach citizen advisor to the Island Transportation Planning Organization.

"I just want you to know this is the first thing I've won in years," joked Maloney, who was defeated in a race for a seat on the city commission in November 2006.

  • Discussed how often public works employees clean the rest rooms for the recreational field in response to a complaint the mayor received. With the facilities near city hall "getting a lot of use," Bohnenberger said he "told public works to double their checks on the property."
  • Postponed discussion on several work session topics, including outdoor lodging and an expansion of the number of streets allowing golf carts.

Commissioners cancelled a meeting for Feb. 13, making their next scheduled meeting Feb. 27.