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Date of Issue: March 17, 2005

Holmes Beach planners consider church rezone

The Holmes Beach Planning Commission chose not to recommend a proposed small-scale development amendment to change the land-use designation in the city's comprehensive plan for three properties.

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 (currently under development) and four lots in the Jones Subdivision along Second Avenue and 45th Streets near the Episcopal Church of the Annunciation.

These properties are all currently zoned R-2 but 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.

Planning commissioners are not recommending the proposed amendment because they unanimously agreed that the Island Baptist Church should retain its current PSP land-use designation.

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

Brisson reported that the R-2 (medium density) 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 neighborhoods.

Brisson told commissioners that since the amendment was drafted, he further researched the Island Baptist Church property and agreed that it may be more beneficial for the church to retain its PSP land-use designation. Brisson said the church property is 2.5 acres and spans 1.6 acres into the City of Anna Maria, where it has both a PSP land use and zoning. To remain consistent with the adjoining city, Brisson recommended the church maintain PSP land use in Holmes Beach.

Island Baptist Church Rev. Dale Lawson told the commission that the church is in the planning stages now to utilize one of its buildings for ministry schools, beginning with a preschool, therefore the church community is interested in retaining the ability to use the education wing as a school.

Island Baptist Deacon John Adams added that had the PSP designation been changed, it would prohibit the church from renting the building, as it did to the Island Middle School, and more recently to house the Anna Maria City staff. Adams said the church has benefited from having space to rent and serving the community helps boost the church income. "Changing the zoning would hurt those who need temporary space and those who have it," he said.

Planning commissioners are forwarding a recommendation to the city commission to remove the Island Baptist Church property from the proposed amendment. Brisson will further recommend the Baptist Church be rezoned from R-2 to PSP-1 to match its future land-use designation.

Planning commissioners did agree a zone change for the Jones Subdivision lots and the former First Church of Christ property would be acceptable.

The site of the former First Church of Christ is approximately 1.3 acres and is currently being redeveloped with residential units, in spite of the land-use designation, an apparent oversight during the site-plan review process by the city.

Brisson said the four lots in the Jones Subdivision appear to have been mistaken as the 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.