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Date of Issue: December 17, 2008

Commission seeks consensus on Agnelli office

Attendees at a Dec. 9 Holmes Beach City Commission meeting swear to tell the truth before addressing a number of issues. Islander Photos: Lisa Neff
Bill Brisson, planning consultant for the city of Holmes Beach, discusses his concerns with a special exception request for Agnelli Group Professional Park on Marina Drive.

Holmes Beach commissioners seek to build a compromise to allow for a contractor’s office to exist at a former funeral home.

The matter, the subject of a third continuation of a public hearing Dec. 9, took up more than an hour of the commission’s regular meeting.

The commission is facing a special exception request for a contractor’s office at Agnelli Group Professional Park, 6000 Marina Drive, in a commercial zoning district.

There are multiple offices in the building, but the commission’s concern is with John Agnelli’s contractor office, and whether related equipment and materials can be parked and stored at the site.

A crowd gathered in the city hall chamber for the hearing, but only attorneys, city planning consultant Bill Brisson and city public works superintendent Joe Duennes addressed commissioners.

Brisson, in a memo and during the hearing, recommended denying the application.

“It is our recommendation that there comes a point where the limitations of a site must be recognized, particularly in light of the impacts of the use of the property on its neighbors, and that this special exception should be denied,” he said.

Brisson said the property already is non-conforming as to impervious-surface coverage “so there is no opportunity to add additional paved parking” and “the ability to provide the appropriate number of parking spaces is questionable.”

Also, outside storage would have to be screened and a buffer created to protect neighbors, but “it does not appear that this can be accommodated on site.”

Agnelli’s attorney, Ricinda Perry, said, “This is so simple and it’s really not that big of a deal.”

Agnelli doesn’t want to use the location as a staging site for construction work, she said. “My client has pulled back the use of that property in comparison to the funeral home.”

Agnelli simply wants a contractor’s office and the ability to park a couple of trucks, Perry said.

She added that Agnelli would accept stipulations regarding the size and number of construction vehicles and the location of outdoor storage for materials.

Agnelli himself told commissioners, “My place is not a construction site.…That is an office building, and I have a few vehicles in back. I don’t want a construction yard.”

Attorney Bob Hendrickson, representing neighboring property owners, said that his clients’ concern was with what would happen if Agnelli sold the building.

“My clients don’t doubt that Mr. Agnelli is a great guy,” he said. “What we have to look at here is this application is not filed on behalf of Mr. Agnelli. The special exception follows this property forever.… Whoever buys that property will have the right to take advantage of what this commission decides.”

Duennes kept his comments short, telling the commission that what he had hoped to gain from the review was a definition of “construction equipment.”

During discussion on the dais, Commissioner David Zaccagnino said he had hoped to hear the attorneys had reached a compromise by last week.

“I think a lot of these things can be addressed,” he said.

“We really have to be careful of what we do with the business on the Island. It’s a luxury to have mom-and-pop businesses out here that have an interest in the community.… And local businesses already are having a tough time.”

“I would like to see us work out a compromise,” Commission Chair Sandy Haas-Martens said, suggesting limiting the number of construction-related vehicles to four, setting hours of their operation from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., prohibiting outdoor storage and requiring Agnelli to erect an additional buffer between his property and neighboring residential properties.

Commissioners John Monetti and Pat Morton questioned whether common ground could be reached.

“I think,” Monetti said, referring to Brisson’s comments, “the limit of the site needs to be recognized.”

At the conclusion of the discussion, the commission asked for attorneys, along with Duennes, to present a recommendation at a Jan. 13 meeting, which will take place at 7 p.m. at city hall, 5701 Marina Drive.