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Wednesday September 10, 2003
"The Best News on Anna Maria Island Since 1992"


Holmes to appeal Key Royale height-variance denial

Contractor Hugh Holmes Jr. has appealed to the Holmes Beach City Commission to reverse a decision made by the board of adjustment Aug. 26 to deny an after-the-fact height variance for one of his clients.

The variance request was for a second-story addition built by Holmes Construction at 693 Key Royale Drive, which was determined to be 3 feet 6 inches above the allowed height under the city codes.

The second-story addition at the home owned by Vicki and Robert Taylor, which was purchased in 2001 for $820,000 according to property tax records, was nearly completed when the matter came to the city's attention.

Holmes is the chairman of the board of adjustment, but had excused himself from the variance vote.

In his appeal letter, Holmes said it was "apparent that emotions were a major factor in the manner the hearing was conducted," probably because "the height issue for other projects is as the forefront of news stories."

Holmes also said an on-going legal battle in the city over a project by Frank Davis Jr. is "making everyone gun shy."

He claimed the board did not act objectively and did not consider the prerequisites for "obtainment of the variance."

In addition, claimed Holmes, a "conflict of interest" was not declared by board member Jeff Hostetler, who performed the survey for the Taylor's and their architect.

Even though Holmes had recused himself from the board's vote, he thought some board members were reluctant to approve the variance for "fear they might receive bad press due to the fact that someone from the audience accused favoritism between board members."

In the original variance request, Holmes claimed the problem was due to misinformation from the city's building department and he stated that he actually questioned the height restrictions himself once the roof frame and trusses were in place.

The board of adjustment had previously approved the only two height variances it had received this year, however, both were for construction seaward of the state's coastal construction control line.

The matter has tentatively been assigned to the commission's Sept. 23 work session, although, according to building department clerk Susan Corsi, Holmes told the city he is awaiting information from an attorney and the city has asked for a letter detailing the request from Holmes.




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