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Date of Issue: March 17, 2005

Island Lumber site plan draws public ire

Most people who spoke at the Oct. 12 Holmes Beach commission meeting on the site plan submitted by Island Lumber at 213 54th St. for a new storage facility had little opposition to the plan. Instead, they brought up a litany of transgressions about parking and safety at the location that they claim have been on-going for years.

Delivery trucks often block 54th Street completely, said adjacent landowner Doris Bell, and 18-wheelers frequently park along the street at 4 a.m. with their diesel engines running, waiting for the yard to open.

She said when she calls police or the city's code enforcement officer, she is told there's nothing they can do. On occasions when law enforcement does arrive, the offending truck has already departed, Davis claimed.

Other residents in the area also complained of the safety issue around the lumber yard. One resident said the fork lift often starts operating at 6:30 a.m. in the dark and without lights, creating a safety hazard for walkers and school children walking to Anna Maria Elementary.

Hold on a second, said Commissioner Rich Bohnenberger. "The opposition seems to be dealing with existing problems, not the proposed construction. That has nothing to do with the site plan," he noted, but is a separate issue.

Agreed, added Commissioner Don Maloney. "I've sat up here for years and I've never heard these complaints until this evening."

Likewise, said Mayor Carol Whitmore, who supervises code enforcement. She has no record of any complaint of a code violation at the property. However, she promised to have police and code enforcement watch the location and warn or cite offending vehicles and drivers. She agreed trucks should not be allowed to park at the business at 4 a.m.

Parking at Island Lumber seemed to be the major issue, said resident Dale Crowell, and what's needed in this site plan is a parking area for delivery trucks and some signs along the right of way telling drivers they can't block the road. The city has to weigh public safety against commercial interests and the site plan does not address safety factors, he said.

The plan includes 12 parking spaces for customers, but a lot of customers just park perpendicular to the road to get their delivery, claimed Jack Burke of 54th Street. He objected to the traffic flow pattern. In addition, the parking spaces aren't large enough to accommodate the big trucks many customers have.

One resident said there has to be compromise on the site plan to make the area safe, but at the same time support local businesses.

The commission continued the public hearing on the site plan to its Nov. 9 meeting at the request of Island Lumber. Public comment will still be taken at that meeting, Commission Chairperson Sandy Haas-Martens said.

In other business, the commission unanimously approved the first reading of an ordinance that will ban multiple-room rentals in residential districts.

The "boarding house" ordinance is not intended to stop someone from renting one room of their residence to a relative or friend, said Bohnenberger, but "stop multiple rentals in the same house."

City Attorney Patricia Petruff had previously noted that if the ordinance is passed, no property owner will be "grandfathered" to continue renting rooms in a residence to multiple parties. "We will take the view that those operations are illegal," she has stated.