The Planning and Zoning Board believes future amendments to the Comprehensive Plan should include height modifications for Whitney Beach Plaza and the option for residential use in a new town-center-overlay district near Bay Isles Road.
Consensus was reached by planning board members at their Tuesday, March 15 regular meeting in making plan changes that would allow Whitney Beach Plaza to rise from its current one-to-five stories with 65 feet of height in total. The board also agreed that a developer coming forward with a project should be allowed to include plans for a residential component, as long as it doesn’t exceed 20% of the total project.
The planning board also wants the town to encourage the consolidation of adjoining properties for a more developed town-center feel for the north end of the island.
The board directed town special counsel attorney Nancy Stroud to come back with potential plan amendments that would allow for a residential aspect of a town-center overlay district, which would include Avenue of the Flowers and land east through parcels along Bay Isles Road, such as the Longboat Key Public Tennis Center and the religious institutions.
Stroud suggested a policy that would allow the town to provide fiscal incentives for proper revitalization to both areas when funds are available.
Although the planning board isn’t looking for a new residential component along Bay Isles Road, consensus was reached to see if developers might come back with a senior-living facilities component.
Proposed drafts of the plan submitted by Stroud include a policy that reads: “The town encourages the revitalization of a vibrant town center that includes Town Hall and the public tennis complex area, as well as commercial, office, institutional and tourism uses. Within a town-center overlay district, additional nonresidential lot coverage up to 10% and additional height up to one story may be allowed through the
Outline Development Plan process to achieve a compact, pedestrian-friendly, attractive design supportive of mixed uses.”
Policies related to Whitney Beach Plaza were also submitted. They included encouraging the revitalization of the plaza for a mix of land uses, as well as providing fiscal incentives for revitalization.
DCA Reversing Course?
Town attorney David Persson sent a March 9 e-mail to the Town Commission, explaining that the Department of Community Affairs has decided to postpone an administrative hearing process regarding changes to its town codes until further notice.
The hearing, which was expected to begin in May, will now be continued until the town has completed changes to its Comprehensive Plan for the department to review.
The changes may resolve issues the department has had previously with the town’s land-development regulations.
“This is the position the town initially requested, and we are very pleased that DCA has taken it upon itself to assist us in this endeavor,” Persson wrote in his e-mail.
The Islandside Property Owners Coalition, which filed a motion for the hearing, urged the Town Commission Tuesday not to submit changes to its Comprehensive Plan.
The commission, however, voted 7-0 to submit changes for the DCA’s review.
Contact Kurt Schultheis at [email protected]