The days of parking a boat or a boat trailer on your front lawn on Longboat Key could end.
The Planning and Zoning Board directed staff at its regular meeting Tuesday, March 19 to bring back code language in April for review that would make it illegal to keep a boat in a front yard.
Currently, you can park a boat or a trailer in an open space outside your home as long as it’s in a designated parking space. In fact, you could park several of them out front if you have the space. The code doesn’t specify what constitutes a parking space, meaning that trailers and/or boats can sit in a front lawn.
Key residents urged planning board members to consider changes.
Country Club Shores resident Jerry Whitehead said his neighbors live in Miami most of the time and leave their trailer out front for most of the year.
“They are using their driveway as a storage facility, and I have to look at it all year round,” Whitehead said. “We have a lot of people who don’t want to see the trailers.”
Planning board member George Symanski Jr. sympathized with Whitehead.
“It could be worse ... you could be looking at the boat sitting on top of the trailer,” Symanski said.
In an email to the Longboat Key Town Commission sent Monday, March 18, Country Club Shores Unit IV Vice President Bob Gault explained even though Unit IV is the only unit out of five in the Country Club Shores community that still has deeds and covenants to restrict boats and trailers, it’s difficult to enforce.
“Boat trailers, camping trailers and motor homes diminish the aesthetics of our neighborhoods,” Gault wrote. “We need an ordinance restricting boats and boat trailers from yards and streets.”
Along with boat trailers, town code also doesn’t currently address storage trailers and pods.
The board debated whether changes are needed island-wide or only for Country Club Shores. Board members also debated whether to exclude bans on boats and trailers for those property owners who don’t have waterfront yards and whether placing a boat in a covered carport should be allowed.
“That would allow any Gulf of Mexico Drive property owner to place a boat in his driveway,” said planning board member Al Hixon.
Planning Board Chairwoman B.J. Webb and board member Walter Hackett urged the board to hold off on making any changes until the board reviews further modifications and allows ample public input; they noted several Key side streets have older homes with boats and trailers in their front yards.
“I think this is going to cause a quite stir,” Hackett said. “We have to be very careful and allow everyone an opportunity to weigh in.”