In the town’s current code, a church steeple on Longboat Key has no height limit.
“Right now, the only thing stopping these types of structure from rising as high as they want are flight patterns that might be disrupted,” said Town Planner Ric Hartman.
The comment was met with laughter from the Longboat Key Planning and Zoning Board, which was charged with setting a limit in its code at Tuesday’s regular meeting at Town Hall.
Planning staff discovered the structure height loophole while making changes to its code and its Comprehensive Plan.
Although there is an additional 10-foot height limit in the code for parapet walls and other rooftop structures, there is no height limit provided for church steeples, church spires and any other church-related structure sometimes built on top of the roof for aesthetic reasons.
The planning board was given a list of church steeple heights to review before making an informed decision.
Currently, the highest steeple on the Key is Longboat Island Chapel at 67 feet high, when calculated from ground level. All Angels by the Sea Episcopal Church has the smallest steeple at 40 feet from ground level.
“We need to know what, if any, height you would put on steeples,” Hartman said.
The planning board gave its staff direction Tuesday to establish height regulations for structures like church steeples to be no higher than 10 feet above the current zoning district height.
Applicants, though, can be granted additional height for structures such as steeples or church spires through a site plan approval process.
“This gives us flexibility — flexibility for the churches and flexibility during the review process,” said planning board member Laurin Goldner.
Staff will prepare an ordinance to change the code to establish church steeple heights for the board to review at its Oct. 16 regular meeting.
Also at its meeting, the planning board:
• Agreed to rezone the land use for a vacant parcel at 5810 Gulf of Mexico Drive from open space to open space conservation land. The property, which sits next to Emerald Harbor, consists mainly of heavily wooded wetlands.
• Approved a 10-year water supply plan for the town that’s required by Florida statutes.