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Date of Issue: October 06, 2005

Inactivity would mean expiration of application

The Holmes Beach Planning Commission is considering a number of similar provisions to the land development code to speed up applications for a number of city approvals, particularly for a vacation of right of way.

Planner Bill Brisson told the committee at its Sept. 29 meeting that the problem is that if someone applies for a vacation, comprehensive plan amendment or other such action, they are not obligated to respond to city requests for more information. One current right of way application has been on file since 2000, he said.

The committee considered the proposal that if the city requests more information or further action from the applicant, the requesting party has 180 days to respond. If no action is taken, the application is voided and the party has to begin anew the application process.

Among the procedures the proposed ordinance would effect are applications for vacation, rezoning, comp-plan amendment, site-plan submission, application for level of service compliance, conditional uses, preliminary plat, expansion or extension of a nonconforming use or structure, a dimensional variance and a flood-plain management variance.

Brisson also presented the committee with a draft proposal to establish a procedure for obtaining an interpretation of the land development code from a city official and establishing a fee for such advice.

Committee members were in general agreement with the intent of the proposal, but wanted to ensure that the action is not directed against all applicants.

Brisson said the regulation is targeted at major projects, and a full definition of a major project and the procedures for obtaining an interpretation will come before the committee at a future meeting.

Brisson also suggested the committee study the current sign ordinance, particularly as it concerns rental property.

The city is now enforcing the ordinance that prohibits short-term rental signs on a property in a residential zone.

Some houses, said Brisson, are "acting as hotels" in residential areas with "for rent" signs openly displayed.

While code enforcement has sent a letter to offenders telling them to take down the signs, Brisson wanted to know if the committee wanted to allow the rental signs.

If the commission hasn't changed the ordinance, said Chairperson Sue Normand, then all areas of the city should be treated the same. The committee did think that such signs might be allowed in the R-4 residential areas.

Susan Long of the building department noted that many real estate agents have come to the department recently complaining that they are being told to take the signs down.

"It's not a new law," she said. "It's just being enforced."