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Date of Issue: March 23, 2006

Planning commission reviews zoning conflicts

The Holmes Beach Planning Commission held a public hearing March 16 to discuss a small plan amendment proposal to redesignate the properties located east of Gulf Drive, between 52nd Street and Anna Maria Elementary School, from low density to medium density on the city's future land use map.

The amendment encompasses approximately 5.7 acres, including Haverkos Court and Peacock Lane. The area is currently designated as low density, but is zoned R-2, which is medium density. There are currently 32 residential structures in this area, of which 25 are duplexes.

Bill Brisson, of Brisson Planning Solutions, explained to the planning commission that duplexes have historically been, and continues to be, the predominant use in the are involved. The area to the north is occupied by newly built duplexes on the former Moreland Marine property. The area to the northwest is commercial, and west across Gulf Drive is a mix of single-family and duplex uses.

The amendment would bring the land-use category in compliance with the historic development of the area. Brisson said usually when there is a conflict of this nature, the course of action is to modify the zoning to be consistent with the designation on the FLUM. However, in this instance, the current low-density residential land use is considered inappropriate because the area does not meet the criteria for that land-use category, nor the city's intent to retain the current character of the area.

Brisson noted that of the single-family homes that exist in this area, none appear to be on lots large enough to accommodate a duplex - not even by combining lots - and he believes it's very unlikely density could be increased.

Holmes Beach Building Official Bill Saunders told the commission the amendment would essentially legalize the structures there, making it possible for the property owners to improve the quality of what they have without worrying about the underlying zoning. He emphasized that it did not allow them to extend their structures.

The planning commission voted to recommend the city commission move forward with the amendment based on the city staff's recommendation since it is consistent with the comprehensive plan. The vote passed unanimously, with architect Mike McCaleb recusing himself.

The planning commission also addressed three other similar conflicts between land use and zoning. The commission discussed the Driftwood Motel property, including the vacant lot to the west. The motel is zoned R-2 with a commercial land-use designation.

The property owner, Patricia Mahen, told the commission that she prefers to retain the residential zoning and that she plans to build a home on the vacant lot.

Brisson noted that changing the land use to medium density would be in keeping with the surrounding area.

Saunders said he didn't understand how a motel ended up in a commercial, or R-2, zone, saying, "It's nonconforming to both."

Brisson told the commission in this case there was no overriding factor suggesting whether the land use should be changed versus the zoning designation.

The commission agreed to go with the property owner's preference - recommending the land-use designation be changed to medium-density.

Next the commission discussed the Sportsman's Harbour area - properties along Harbor Lane and North and South Harbor Drives. These properties are designated low-density residential on the FLUM. This land use allows only single-family homes up to a maximum density of 5.8 unites per acre. However, the area has historically been zoned R-2, which allows duplexes and up to 10 units per acre.

The current R-2 zoning is in conflict with the land-use designation in the comprehensive plan. Brisson said it is a mixed duplex/single-family area and any changes, such as additional duplexes being built would be minimal. He said every lot big enough for a duplex already has one. The area is comprised of a mix of 50-50 duplex versus single-family structures.

The commission voted in favor of rezoning the area to R-1 to be consistent with the FLUM.

The planning commission's recommendations will be forwarded to the city commission.

The next planing commission meeting will be held at 7 p.m. April 6.