Holmes Beach holds off moratorium repeal to achieve goals

A move to lift the Holmes Beach building moratorium before its scheduled June 25 expiration failed to gain the vote of the commissioner who placed it on the Feb. 26 agenda.

Commission Chair Jean Peelen explained it was on the agenda “only to get things rolling.

“I think it is so critical to get our business done and get the moratorium lifted,” she said.

A 4-1 vote failed to repeal the Residential-2 moratorium. Peelen and commissioners Pat Morton, Judy Titsworth and Marvin Grossman voted against the first reading, with Commissioner David Zaccagnino voting for it.

The commission imposed the moratorium Dec. 25, halting new construction, demolition and substantial rebuild permits in the city’s R-2 district for up to six months.

“I was kind of surprised when I saw this,” said Grossman.

He said he’d hoped the moratorium repeal would run concurrent with a proposed ordinance to eliminate underground footers, which is up for a March 6 planning commission review.

“It’s a very important part of what we planned — and what I ran on,” he added.

Titsworth agreed with Grossman.

Peelen said she’d proposed the first reading as an efficiency measure, but she agreed to hold off.

“We certainly wouldn’t lift the moratorium until everything was done that we said we needed to do,” she added.

Zaccagnino said the first reading would “gets things ready to go.

“There are people out there that are trying to feed their families, to get the moratorium lifted and go back to work,” he added.

Morton said, “This could lead — give mixed signals to people that we’re done. No, we’re not done. We still have some stuff to work out.”

“This is a pivotal issue we based everything else on,” Grossman added.


HB goals to go

    With a couple months of weekly work sessions behind them, Peelen reported on the city’s progress in meeting the objectives necessary to lift the building moratorium.

“I’m so proud of how far we’ve come in just two months,” she said of the moratorium on building at a Feb. 26 meeting.

In encouraging the passage of the first reading of the moratorium’s repeal, Zaccagnino said that while he didn’t agree with the moratorium, he agreed “seven things need to be accomplished before we lift it.”

Peelen listed seven objectives that need to be met before a repeal:

• Limit size of houses.

• Cease underground connection of duplexes.

• Limit pools per lot.

• Limit multiple docks.

• Develop policy on developing corner lots.

• Develop policy on residential elevator shafts.

• Set a procedure to derive market value of a home.

She reported the commission completed its consideration of home size issue, pools per lot, building department policies and market value procedures.

“The policy on docks almost got completed tonight, but not yet,” Peelen said.

Commissioners adopted a .34 ratio of living-area-to-lot-size ordinance Jan. 22 to control mass and size of new homes in the R-2 zone, with a sliding scale to allow lenience on smaller lots.

To eliminate future underground duplex connections, the commission sent a draft ordinance to the planning commission that will be reviewed March 6 at its meeting. Since 2007, the city has allowed separation for duplex construction to appear as two single-family homes with an underground connection, such as a footer.

The commission considered a one-pool-per-lot rule, but then rejected it Jan. 17.

Two building department policies were announced Feb. 7, clarifying rules relating to corner lots and third-floor setbacks:

• On lots fronting on two streets, one 10-foot setback will be allowed if there is another setback of 20 feet, and a 20-foot setback maintained on major thoroughfares.

• On the increased setback for elevator shafts/second-living levels, the building department will enforce 15-foot setbacks unless a variance is granted.

        At city meetings in February, commissioners considered changing code requirements for market value determinations used in FEMA remodels to one based on values established by the Manatee County Property Appraiser, but the commission then rejected the move, concluding the county’s low values could hinder remodels.

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