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Date of Issue: March 17, 2005

Holmes Beach considers rezoning churches

The Holmes Beach City Commission has requested that its planning commission review a proposed small-scale development amendment to change the land-use designation in the city's comprehensive plan for three properties.

The properties are currently designated as public/semi-public on the Holmes Beach Future Land Use Map and the proposal is to change that designation to medium-density residential.

The three properties in question are the Island Baptist Church at 85th Street, the former First Church of Christ, Scientist location between 64th and 63rd streets, and four lots in the Jones Subdivision along Second Avenue and 45th Streets near the Episcopal Church of the Annunciation.

City planner Bill Brisson told planning commissioners that the specific properties were selected because the city commission was unaware that residential uses were not listed as allowable uses within the PSP land-use category.

Brisson reported that the R-2 zoning allows single-family and duplex residential uses, as well as houses of worship, as a special exception and that the city commission apparently wishes to provide more flexibility to these properties to be suitable for development consistent with the surrounding neighborhood.

Planning commissioners agreed that a zone change for the Jones Subdivision lots and the former First Church of Christ, Scientist property would be acceptable, although they raised concerns with rezoning the portion of the Island Baptist Church that falls into the Holmes Beach city limits.

The site of the former First Church of Christ, Scientist is approximately 1.3 acres and is currently being redeveloped with residential units, in spite of the zoning designation.

Brisson said there are four lots in the Jones Subdivision which appear to have been mistaken as Church of the Annunciation property, which is actually farther south, when the future land-use map was last updated and have always been occupied by a single-family structure and two duplexes.

Planning commissioners raised concerns with the third location, which encompasses .9 acre of land owned by the Island Baptist Church within the city's border. Commissioners advised Brisson that the majority of the church property falls within the City of Anna Maria.

Planning Commissioner John Monetti also advised Brisson that the location that does fall within the Holmes Beach city limit is the church's education wing recently used as the Island Middle School facility.

Monetti said that although he is not seeking to start another charter school on the Island, he has heard a lot of chatter from other parents interested in reviving the charter school. Rezoning the church property will limit the facilities for such a school, he said. The PSP zone is the only category that allows for a public school.

The other planning commissioners agreed that there is very little PSP zoned property available on the Island and hesitated to limit what is available without receiving a direct request for the zoning change from the property owner.

Brisson admitted that the Island Baptist Church has not been notified of the proposed zone change and public notice would not be sent to neighboring property owners until the city commission holds a public hearing on the matter.

Brisson said if the Island Baptist Church did not want to be included, he hopes that the city would hear from officials there. He said that property was included because it fit the criteria of the proposed amendment: PSP property less than 10 acres.

The next step for the planning commission is to hold a public hearing. The hearing date of Oct. 21 will only be noticed in the newspaper.

The planning commission determines whether the proposed amendment is consistent with the comprehensive plan and passes its findings on to the city commission.