The future of the town’s Zoning Board of Adjustment is in limbo.
A property owner’s application has been on hold since May because of the board’s inability to hold a meeting, leaving town officials to wonder if the board should be dissolved.
Diane Goll owns a piece of property at 321 North Shore Road and needs a variance to build a new house on a small lot. The variance is needed because town code doesn’t allow Goll to build the home without exceeding the maximum lot coverage under the town’s code.
Town planner Alaina Ray said the application was received May 3 and was processed quickly to get it in front of the seven-person zoning board before its summer hiatus in July and August.
Town staff deemed the application complete May 16 and recommended the variance, but the meeting still hasn’t been held.
That’s because the zoning board didn’t have a quorum in June, before the two-month summer hiatus, and it still doesn’t have enough board members to meet this month to produce a vote for the variance request.
“We did everything we could to get the application turned around and complete in 13 days,” Ray said, “but we couldn’t get a quorum.”
There are two seats that need to be filled on the board, and, despite several attempts to fill the seats with advertisements from the Town Clerk’s office, they remain vacant.
“But that’s not why they haven’t held a meeting,” Town Clerk Trish Granger said. “They could still get a vote, but they don’t have four people around to schedule a meeting and hold a vote until October.”
Granger has suggested the town consider reducing the zoning board’s total number of seats from seven to five.
At the Longboat Key Town Commission’s Sept. 3 regular meeting, commissioners directed Town Manager Dave Bullock to come back to the commission with a strategy at a future workshop.
“There seems to be a history of Zoning Board of Adjustment members going on extended vacations, and there’s not a history of Planning and Zoning Board members doing that,” said Commissioner Pat Zunz Sept. 3. “We should look into that board incorporating the ZBA’s duties.”
Planning, Zoning and Building Director Robin Meyer told the Longboat Observer he will recommend the commission consider future board members who are year-round residents or dissolving the zoning board and allowing the planning board to take on its variance-and-zoning request duties.
Zoning Board of Adjustment
Seat 1 — Ben Feole
Seat 2 — Vacant
Seat 3 — Jean White
Seat 4 — Vacant
Seat 5 — Thomas Bijou
Seat 6 — Chuck Fuller
Seat 7 — Gaele Barthold