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Date of Issue: March 22, 2007

Holmes Beach land code gets first OK

Holmes Beach city commissioners on March 13 sent to a second reading an ordinance amending the city's land development code.

The code spells out how land is to be used within the city limits. The new ordinance, which will get a final reading and likely be approved at a commission meeting March 27, spells out changes, specifically to the zoning map.

The draft ordinance was taken up by the commission in a public hearing Feb. 27 that was continued to March 13 because of questions about proposed preservation boundaries. The questions were resolved in the two-week gap between meetings.

At issue was the proposed zoning change from R-4 to preservation for properties along Avenue F on the beachfront at the city's southern boundary, where much of the land is submerged and cannot be developed.

The ordinance would also change the zoning at 8605 Gulf Drive from Residential-2 (duplex) to Public/Semi-Public (PSP) and the zoning for properties at 417-419 Clark Drive from PSP to R-2.

The Gulf Drive property is the site of Crosspointe Fellowship, formerly known as Island Baptist Church. A portion of the church property in the city of Anna Maria is zoned for public/semi-public use and the Holmes Beach portion of the property is designated PSP on the future land-use map, but not the zoning map. Thus, the change in zoning is needed.

The Clark Drive zoning change involves two lots near the Gloria Dei Lutheran Church that contain single-family homes. The lots are designated medium-density residential on the land-use map, but public/semi-public on the zoning map.

Bill Brisson, the city's planning consultant, said the proposed zoning changes are needed so the zoning map in the land development code matches the future land-use map in the comprehensive plan.

The city commission faced no questions about the Clark Drive and Gulf Drive properties. However, the owner of property in the Avenue F area, Tran L. Huong, inquired about how the zoning change would impact her land.

A review of maps led the commission to revert back to an original proposal — to use the state-identified erosion control line as a zoning boundary for the preservation district rather than what commissioners characterized as a vague line in the sand.

The route was recommended by both Brisson and city attorney Patricia Petruff and was supported by the property owner.

"By using the erosion control line, it will move the line slightly seaward," Petruff said.

"I wholeheartedly agree," said Brisson, adding, "This was the original proposal. You are now back to it." He said the future land-use map also will show the erosion control line as the preservation-district boundary.

About 10 minutes into the meeting last week, Commissioners Sandy Haas-Martens, Pat Geyer, Pat Morton, John Monetti and David Zaccagnino voted unanimously to send the ordinance to a final reading.

"Thank you," said Chair Haas-Martens after the vote. "It's about time we got this going."

If, as is expected, the commission adopts the ordinance at the March 27 meeting, the measure will go to the state for review, which could take about two months.

In other business, the commission approved a first reading of an ordinance that would authorize spending money on programs to reward employees and honor volunteers.

The commission also adopted rules of procedure and signed on to an interlocal agreement related to the Island Transportation Planning Organization, which was to meet March 19.

During a work session, commissioners filled their spring calendar with projects — work on resolving issues with dead-end canals, action on a draft evaluation and appraisal report (EAR) to be submitted to the state and preparing an ordinance regulating signs.

Signs came up last week when Haas-Martens mentioned a complaint she received from a real estate agent who was concerned after signs had been removed from a right of way.

"I said, 'We've always done that,'" Haas-Martens recalled of her conversation with the agent.

The commissioners then discussed with Petruff and Brisson tackling the sign ordinance — not a new issue but one that was set aside to first deal with other matters, such as the land development code.

Petruff reminded commissioners that they want a "content neutral" ordinance.

Brisson then suggested a simple ordinance specifying rules for the size, number and location of signs. "If you make that real clear, then you don't worry about what's on them," he said.

Petruff added, "You have some pretty interesting decisions to make because it will have an impact on some businesses here."

Haas-Martens, suggesting the commission discuss signs at an April 10 workshop meeting, said, "We need to start doing something with this.... If you get too many signs they all just blend into one another."

Commissioners also hope to discuss canals and the evaluation and appraisal report during that meeting.