Although Longboat Key is a boating community, a subcommittee formed to investigate boat-and-trailer parking on the Key believes it’s also a premier community that shouldn’t allow residents to park their boats in front yards.
At the first meeting of the Planning and Zoning Board’s boat and trailer subcommittee Thursday, June 20, members debated how to make changes to the town code without singling out certain communities that don’t have waterfront access or a place to store boats.
Currently, residents can park a boat or trailer in an open space outside a Key home as long as it’s in a designated parking space. But what constitutes a parking space isn’t clarified in the code, and trailers and/or boats can sit in a front lawn. The code also doesn’t mandate how many boats or trailers can be parked on a resident’s property.
Under the town code, boats can legally sit in driveways, yards or side yards.
Residents of Country Club Shores and Longbeach Village recently debated the issue of boat trailer parking enforcement. Country Club Shores residents, who let their deeds and covenant restrictions lapse years ago, want the town to ban trailers and boats from being parked in driveways, while Longbeach Village residents say a ban on boat and trailer parking in a historic boating community with many lots that don’t have water access would be ludicrous.
The debate led the planning board to allow both Country Club Shores and Village residents be a part of the discussion.
Planning, Zoning and Building Director Robin Meyer urged subcommittee members to focus on changes that affect the whole Key.
“We don’t want to single certain neighborhoods out,” Meyer said. “And I don’t want my code-enforcement officer walking around with a map trying to figure out who is in compliance and who is not.”
There was much back-and-forth debate, after Commissioner Phill Younger produced data showing where the boats are visible. The data revealed that boats and trailers are heavily located in the Village, Sleepy Lagoon and the St. Judes Drive and surrounding-streets area.
Once the subcommittee determined that, for the most part, there are not a lot of complaints about boat-and-trailer parking, the subcommittee came up with something with which they could all agree.
“We have isolated issues on this Key but not a huge problem,” said Longbeach Village Association President and subcommittee member Michael Drake. “But I think we can all agree we don’t want to see boats and trailers in front yards.”
The subcommittee directed town staff to return next month with language it can review that would state that boat-and-trailer parking is not allowed from the front facade of a residence all the way to the street. The language will also state that those with corner lots can’t park their boats and trailers on side yards that also have access to the street. Language will also differentiate between those who have waterfront access.
The subcommittee also wants boats and trailers parked in side yards to be screened so they are not as visible from the road.
Staff is also suggesting that storage pods be allowed to remain parked in front of a residence for no more than five days.
Contact Kurt Schultheis at [email protected].