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Date of Issue: March 08, 2007

Commission mulls zoning changes

Holmes Beach city commissioners considered several changes to the zoning map Feb. 27, but facing questions about preservation boundaries delayed action until March.

The commission held a hearing last week on an ordinance that would amend the land development code and change the zoning for property at 8605 Gulf Drive from Residential-2 (duplex) to Public/Semi-Public (PSP); the zoning for properties at 417-419 Clark Drive from PSP to R-2 and the zoning for properties along Avenue F on the beachfront at the city's southern boundary from R-4 to preservation.

"What we are doing now is changing the zoning designation" to match the future land-use designation, said city planning consultant Bill Brisson. "It was never changed.…What we're doing is making the zoning map consistent with the land-use map."

The Gulf Drive property is the site of the Island Baptist Church, which is pursuing a name change to Crosspointe Fellowship. Brisson said the portion of the property in 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. Thus, Brisson said, a zoning change is needed.

There were no questions raised last week pertaining to the changes at 8605 Gulf Drive and 417-419 Clark Drive. There were, however, concerns about the boundaries for the property to be rezoned for preservation.

"All of these lands are shown in the future land-use map as preservation," Brisson said. "You cannot develop them.… Legally, what [property owners] can and can't do remains the same."

Brisson said most of the property is submerged and that factors such as beach soils and other natural resources are used in identifying the preservation district.

"It isn't a set line in the sand," he said.

"I'm concerned about the vagueness of what we're doing," cautioned the city attorney, Patricia Petruff.

One member of the public, Tran L. Huong, spoke at the hearing. She wondered about the impact of the zoning change on her multi-family property at 103 29th St.

"I'm not into big development," she said. "I just want to make sure we are not impacted negatively."

Questions about the boundaries prompted Commissioner Sandy Haas-Martens, the board's chair, to propose continuing the hearing to March 13. In the meantime, the city attorney suggested the building department staff could compile additional details about the property.

"I think it warrants a little more investigation," Petruff said.

"I don't want to create a hardship for this property owner," she added.

During a work session that followed the regular meeting, commissioners briefly discussed compensation for elected officials and incentives and awards for city employees.

Currently, commissioners receive $400 per month and the mayor $800 per month. Elected officials in Anna Maria and Bradenton Beach receive the same compensation. In the town of Longboat Key, which employs a town manager, elected officials receive no compensation.

Haas-Martens said she and city treasurer Rick Ashley discussed increasing the compensation rates to $500 per month for commissioners and $1,000 per month for the mayor.

Bohnenberger said originally elected officials were compensated using expense accounts but the system was later changed to comply with Internal Revenue Service rules. The compensation is now paid as salary, with deductions.

Haas-Martens said the money is still "a reimbursement" and often doesn't cover costs associated with the work of a commissioner.

The increase, if approved with an ordinance, would not apply to the current elected body, but rather to officeholders elected this November and in November 2008. Three commissioners will be elected in November 2007 and two commissioners and a mayor will be elected in November 2008.

"It wouldn't apply to any of us," Haas-Martens said.

The last increase in compensation was approved about 10 years ago, Ashley said.

Commissioners agreed that the raise would be tabled if a proposed state plan to cap government spending and radically reduce property tax revenues becomes reality.

The commissioners also agreed to take up in March a draft ordinance that would authorize city officials to spend money honoring city employees, community groups and civic leaders.

The commission discussed such an ordinance about a year ago, said Haas-Martens.

The money, as outlined in the draft document, would help pay for non-alcoholic refreshments at city-sponsored functions, miscellaneous expenses in connection with special meetings or ceremonies, meals in recruitment proceedings, reimbursement for travel and moving expenses in some recruitment efforts, certificates and plaques acknowledging services to the city and "token" prizes.

"This is the way of doing business," Haas-Martens said.

"It's a mirror of what the county does," Bohnenberger added.

In other business Feb. 27, the commission:

  • Approved the appointment of Melissa Snyder as an alternate to the city's parks and beautification commission. The advisory board now consists of five regular members and one alternate.

Snyder, a retired insurance adjuster, is a master gardener who works with Anna Maria Elementary School on the school's butterfly and peace gardens.

  • Approved the transfer of contracts for city planning work from Brisson Planning Solutions to LaRue Planning and Management Services. The city's relationship with Bill Brisson will continue, with Brisson working as a senior planner with the LaRue team.
  • Discussed the need to amend the city's code dealing with live-aboard vessels to comply with a measure signed into law by former Gov. Jeb Bush in 2006.

The new statute limits municipal authority in regulating live-aboard vessels to restrictions in designated mooring fields. Presently a municipality cannot ban live-aboard vessels from anchoring in waters within the city's corporate limits.

"At this time," Bohnenberger said, "we have an ordinance we can't enforce."

The commission's next meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. March 13 at city hall. Another meeting is scheduled for March 27.

The commission's workload this spring includes adoption of both a revised land development code and evaluation and appraisal report, dealing with the city's dead-end canals and discussing expanding the number of streets permitting "golf cart" traffic.