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Date of Issue: June 07, 2007

Variance requests denied in Bradenton Beach

A spa that nudged into the setback zone at a resort in Bradenton Beach was recommended to be moved by city officials last week. Final decision on the matter will be made by the city commission at a later date.

Members of the city’s board of adjustment recommended denial of a variance to RAPS Development LLC for its property, Sunset Beach Motel, 2201 Gulf Drive N., for the spa to be 7 feet from the rear property line where 10 feet of setback is required.

Steve Gilbert, the city’s building official, said the plans for the resort renovation indicated a single pool, which he found to be properly located on the site. On inspection, he noticed the spa encroached on the setback area, and he requested the developer come before the board of adjustment for a variance.

He issued a stop-work order for the spa.

RAPS Development’s Richard Spanski said that a spa is “very important to motel users.” He added that the spa had been dug and steel and concrete was already installed, contributing to the hardship by the owners and contributing to the request for the variance.

Board of adjustment members disagreed.

“It is a desire, but not a necessity, to put in the spa,” BOA Chair John Burns said. “The applicant has the opportunity to locate the spa elsewhere on site.”

Board member Dan DeBaun concurred.

“The code is clear,” he said. “There were changes made which did not meet the setbacks. There are hardships, but it’s not clear enough for me [to vote for the variance].

The denial was unanimous.

In other board action, members also vetoed a boat lift variance requested by Jerry and Connie McKee at their home at 2101 Bay Drive N. — or 1909 or 2102 Bay Drive N., depending on which records are referenced.

Jerry McKee said he bought the property in December 2005 and spoke to building officials regarding the creation of a boat lift on the canal side of the waterfront property. He said he was told there would be no problem with such an amenity.

In September 2006, he retained the services of a boat lift contractor, who applied for and received permits for the lift construction. In March 2007, the work was completed and the contractor was paid, but a final review by the city spurred a stop-work order.

At issue, according to Gilbert, is a city code which states that boat lifts, docks or pilings should not project more than 5 feet into the water. The McKee pilings are 13 feet from the seawall and the canal edge.

Gilbert quoted the city’s land development code, which states in part that “no piling, boat dock or pier shall project more than 5 feet into the canal.”

There are two canals in Bradenton Beach.

Neighbor Michael Southwick said he is opposed to the lift and objected to the variance.

“Most lifts are on the bay,” he said of the McKee project. “I believe it will impede ingress and egress to the canal.”

Southwick said that the extensive mangrove fringe on the south side of the canal also contributed to navigational issues in the narrow waterway.

Neighbor Jaroslav Urbanek concurred.

“It’s the only canal in Bradenton Beach with mangroves,” he said. “It’s unique, and it’s only deep on one side.”

Chair Burns said the plans appeared to have been issued in violation of city codes. Adjustment board member DeBaun agreed, and made the motion that the issuance of the building permit was in error and should be revoked, which was unanimously approved.