The Colony Beach & Tennis Resort unit owners may have an issue renovating what’s currently on the property because of a town flood-control ordinance that has ties to Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) guidelines.
Planning, Zoning and Building Director Monica Simpson told the Longboat Key Planning and Zoning Board April 19 that the town’s flood-control ordinance states that a property owner whose property is not up to current FEMA building regulations is only allowed to make improvements and renovations to an existing property up to 50% of the appraised value.
If the town were to allow the unit owners to rebuild more than 50% of the appraised value, it could jeopardize the town’s flood insurance.
The comments worried planning board member John Wild and others.
“The appraised value of those units keeps going down, so they (the units owners) wouldn’t have much money to play with,” Wild said.
Simpson, however, told the board that it’s difficult to discuss hypothetical situations until the Colony Beach & Tennis Resort Association comes to planning staff with specific proposals for review.
Simpson said Colony unit owners and any other property owner is allowed to use either the Sarasota County Property Appraiser Office’s appraisal of the property and add 10% or hire a private appraiser to come up with the appraisal number.
Town attorney David Persson says the flood-control ordinance stems from federal flood requirements and is also based upon the state’s flood ordinance.
“Improvements to a FEMA nonconforming structure are limited to 50% of the value of the structure as determined prior to construction,” Persson said. “The Colony structures are FEMA nonconforming.”
Persson, however, told the Longboat Observer that the Colony units’ drop in assessed value are not the issue. The main issue is the continued deterioration of the Colony buildings.
“The drop in valuations isn’t as much of a problem because it’s the value of the structure that makes the determination,” Persson said. “The valuation of the units, for example, takes into account many more things, such as what’s happening in the real-estate market. However, the valuation of the structure will decline as the structure continues to deteriorate.”
Both Persson and Simpson said that although the flood-control ordinance will be looked at with any Colony redevelopment proposal, there are a myriad of other issues that will have to be monitored closely with any plan that proposes leaving the existing buildings on site.
“Although the flood regulations get great notoriety, there are state building-code requirements as well, such as wind loads on windows, that will need to be addressed,” Persson said.
Colony Beach & Tennis Resort Association President Jay Yablon declined to comment on the issues that face the Colony if it chooses to redevelop rather than teardown and rebuild. Yablon said it’s up to the nine development proposals left on the table to work with and hold meetings with the town to go over the issues any project might face.
“Our position is to wait and see what gets proposed,” Yablon said.
Persson noted that there are ways around the flood-control-ordinance issue that include breaking down a larger project into phases.
“It’s common now for an owner to get a permit to improve a nonconforming FEMA structure, finish that project, then seek another permit (for another phase of the project),” Persson said. “The FEMA shift over the years has gone from making it very difficult to improve a nonconforming structure to making it relatively easy. The theory has shifted from promoting knockdowns to encouraging compliance with current building codes.”
But Persson said that state building codes have been strengthened over the years because of recent hurricanes, which could make it difficult for the Colony to make renovations to the existing buildings due to more stringent building codes.
In an April 15 e-mail to Colony unit owners, Yablon included a list of requirements for the nine proposals that include the mandate: “Provide a summary of how you will plan to address any legal and regulatory requirements associated with a renovation or new development, such as, but not limited to FEMA.”
The nine developers will also be required to meet with town staff to discuss their proposals and how town, state and federal mandates could affect them.
Contact Kurt Schultheis at firstname.lastname@example.org
Colony Beach & Tennis Resort Sales in 2011
The following Colony Beach & Tennis Resort sales have been recorded year to date.*
2011 Sale Previous
Unit Price Price
113N $50,000 $45,000
117N $27,000 $79,000
105S $65,000 $75,000
145S $60,000 $120,000
145N $60,000 $67,000
118S $45,000 $122,000
104N $50,000 $136,500
144S $50,000 $84,000
*All of the above units are 705 square feet.