With a sliding scale that will allow slightly more living space for future homes on small lots, a living-area-to-lot size ordinance limiting homes to .34 living area was passed into law for the Residential-2 zone in Holmes Beach.
Commissioners unanimously approved the ordinance Jan. 22 after a public hearing, including comments from city planner Bill Brisson, who advised them on two points about changes from the LAR ordinance presented a month ago.
First, he presented his sliding scale revision to address smaller lots that may not have sufficient living space after an application of .34 LAR.
Brisson said while studying the city’s housing stock, he found most of the out-of-scale homes on smaller non-conforming lots limited by size to single-family construction, leading him to propose a sliding scale of .34-.40 LARs for lots between 5,000 and 7,499 square feet and a .40 LAR for lots smaller than 5,000 square feet.
The required lot size for duplex construction is 8,712 square feet. Single-family homes require 7,512 square feet.
The second point Brisson made — also raised by city attorney Patricia Petruff, who is working on land development code amendments to eliminate the underground duplex footer in favor a party wall — is that LAR will work with those lots “grandfathered-in” under the new law.
Brisson said grandfathering will apply to recently purchased unimproved duplex lots, as well as properties where only one of two allowed units is built.
“We’re only doing the LAR on what’s left,” Commissioner Judy Titsworth said of the ordinance.
Brisson added, “You’re not dividing the land.”
Brisson said if the one duplex unit is built, the second one won’t require a common foundation, but will be regulated to .34 on the remaining lot area.
Unlike LAR, the coverage requirements for duplexes may vary depending on the first unit built, he said. Residences, either duplex or single-family homes, cannot exceed 30 percent lot coverage plus 10 percent for impervious pavers and outdoor accessories.
In a half-duplex situation, if one unit is built on more than half of the allowed 30-40 percent coverage, the second unit will be limited to the remainder.
The LAR ordinance seeks to rein in the size of three-story homes that dwarf ground-level residences in the rental district. It regulates the mass and scale of duplexes, a problem that was identified and studied by the city and residents in the past year.
A unanimous vote of the planning commission Jan. 9 found the LAR ordinance consistent with the city’s comprehensive plan.
At the Jan. 22 public hearing, Don Schroder of Holmes Beach, who at the planning commission hearing opposed the city’s moves toward LAR, said he was happy with the commission’s actions “as long as anybody who has bought property can do what they wanted to do when they purchased it.”
Resident Terry Parker also spoke at the city commission hearing. He said that while he favored LAR, he did not favor the .34 ratio. He said 60 percent of the city is at less than .34 LAR. With the new ratio, he predicted a growth rate that would be at least what the city experienced during the previous 10 years.
The city is set to discuss a proposed ordinance to eliminate the underground footer for duplexes in a work session at 7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 31, at city hall, 5801 Marina Drive.