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Date of Issue: September 30, 2009

Code revisions advance

An ordinance that serves up a buffet of changes to Holmes Beach’s building and land regulations advanced with a first reading Sept. 22.

Holmes Beach commissioners voted 5-0 for the measure, which is scheduled for a final reading Oct. 13 and deals with off-site supplemental parking, temporary storage pods, sport vehicle parking in residential districts, satellite dish antennas and off-street parking.

A separate ordinance, also approved 5-0 on a first reading and scheduled for a final reading Oct. 13, deals with changes to sign regulations to ease banner restrictions for nonprofit groups working on the Island and to better delineate between artwork and signs.

Off-site supplemental parking

The land-development code restricts off-street parking to adjoining parcels, but city commissioners, working with planning commission members, sought to relax the rule to allow off-site parking in certain circumstances.

“Allowing off-site parking will stimulate the local economy,” the ordinance states.

The ordinance requires that off-site supplemental parking be sited in commercial zones, parking meet landscaping and buffering rules, parking spaces meet existing size and construction rules, parking in a commercial zone of equal or greater intensity than that in which the principal use is located is subject to site plan review, parking in a commercial district of lesser intensity than the principal use needs a special exemption from the city commission.

Off-street parking

The ordinance allows for a business unable to meet off-street parking requirements on its property to seek a special exception to secure off-street parking at a nearby site — within 500 feet of the business and in a commercial area.

Temporary storage pods

The ordinance states that temporary portable storage units — pods — are allowed for construction purposes in front yards under a temporary use permit, but that the pods must be removed with completion of the project or the expiration of the building permit.

Pods can be used for a real estate sales office, equipment and material storage, temporary housing, model homes and radio transmitting equipment.

Commercial vehicles parked overnight

“The city finds that the non-temporary parking of commercial vehicles within residential zoning districts makes parking difficult for residential vehicles and degrades the aesthetic properties of residential neighborhoods,” the ordinance states.

The city already has limits on commercial vehicles parked in residential areas, but commissioners decided to tighten the regulations after identifying some loopholes.

The ordinance states, “It is unlawful … to park or permit to be parked any commercial motor vehicle on any of the public streets, alleys or thoroughfares, or on any privately owned property (except within a completely enclosed garage or other structure), lying within any residential zoning district.”

Under the ordinance, full-size pickup trucks and multi-purpose vehicles and trucks that do not exceed 20 feet in length, from bumper to bumper, are not considered commercial vehicles.

Trucks exceeding 20 feet in length with racks in use for business are considered commercial vehicles, as are Class 2-8 vehicles, such as step vans, box trucks and walk-in vans, buses, refuse trucks and heavy equipment.

To assist with identifying commercial vehicles, the ordinance contains graphics of the types of vehicles prohibited from parking overnight in residential neighborhoods.

Recreational vehicles parked at residences

Regulations regarding the parking of boats, trailers and personal watercraft are revised in the ordinance, which states:

• Boats, personal watercraft and trailers may be parked in garages, carports and the side and rear yards.

• Boats and personal watercraft — but not utility trailers — can be parked in the front yard on the driveway or to the side, with no more than 6 feet of the vehicle extending into the front yard.

The vehicle in the front yard also must be on a stabilized base and screened with landscaping so that a passerby on the street can see no more than 20 percent of the vehicle.

Satellite dish antennas

The ordinance contains an adoption to the code regarding satellite dish antennas to comply with federal Over the Air Reception Device regulations and differentiate between large and small antennas. The larger antennas need a building permit.

Banners and artwork

The second ordinance set for a final reading Oct. 13 addresses banners, which are generally prohibited except when used to promote temporary events.

The ordinance identifies “feather flags” and “flutter flags” as banners rather than flags and states that:

• Banners associated with a temporary event are allowed in public/semi-public and recreational districts, but they cannot go up more than 30 days prior to the event and must come down one day after the event.

• Banners associated with a temporary event in commercial zones can be displayed no more than 14 days before the event and must be removed the day after the event.

The provision also states, “Banners may not be displayed by the same business or entity more than four times per calendar year and each display period must be separated by a period of at least 30 days.”

The ordinance also clarifies that “freestanding artwork such as sculptures or other decorated physical items without logos, text, numbers or other symbols related to a business, service or product are not considered a sign.”

Furthermore, “artwork, such as a painting, that is mounted on a building shall be treated as a mural.” Sign regulations already state that the portion of a mural containing business-related information — logos, text, and numbers — counts toward the maximum allowable area for signage.

Commissioner David Zaccagnino inquired about the definition of art, saying, “I think that’s going to be abused.”

Commission Chair Sandy Haas-Martens said, “I think it’s exactly what we wanted.”

The question of whether art outside businesses could be interpreted as signage was raised during a prior discussion on the Cultural Connection’s upcoming The Doors exhibit. Participating artists are creating art on doors for display Islandwide, an effort similar to Geckofest in Bradenton.

City officials said they wanted to encourage such projects.

In other business, commissioners:

• Adopted a resolution supporting the elimination of a cap on the state and local housing trust fund and supporting the full appropriation of the money for housing programs.

State law established the trust fund in 1992 as a dedicated revenue source to assist local governments in providing affordable housing.

Beginning with fiscal 2007-08, the Legislature enacted a cap of about $243 million.

The state has since been raiding the fund, according to Mayor Rich Bohnenberger, who said the Florida League of Cities has endorsed passage of the resolution.

The measure states, “The unmet needs of low-income Floridians is substantial and the downturn in the real estate market creates opportunities for acquiring, constructing, rehabilitating and preserving housing to meet these needs, and these opportunities are lost without housing trust fund monies.”

“It’s kind of like the lottery,” Zaccagnino said, referring to the use of Florida lottery money for purposes other than education.

• Heard from a businessman who wants the city to change its code prohibiting boat covers on boats berthed at a dock or pier on a public waterway or portion of a waterway bordering a residential district.

• Discussed annexing into the city the area west of the Anna Maria Island Bridge to the Holmes Beach boundary line.