At its Thursday, Nov. 11 Zoning Board of Adjustment regular meeting, the board unanimously told an applicant it wouldn’t approve a request to grant a variance for a single-family home on a Gulf waterfront yard.
The variance would have allowed Francis Trulaske, owner of a home at 3037 Gulf of Mexico Drive, to build a second-story addition to an existing home, while reducing the required Gulf waterfront yard setback from 150 feet to 62.5 feet from the Erosion Control Line. The Erosion Control Line acts as a unit owner’s property line near the Gulf of Mexico.
Trulaske wants to build a 2,204-square-foot, second-story addition over the existing 3,269-square-foot one-story home that was built in 1952.
Although town planner Steve Schield told the board that some sort of variance is warranted for the property (many other properties in the neighborhood have already received variances), he said town staff could not recommend what was being asked for: an 87.5-foot variance.
Schield said staff recommends a revised variance that would allow the construction of the second-story addition, while reducing the Gulf-front setback request.
Planning, Zoning and Building Director Monica Simpson told the board it is difficult to figure out what is considered a reasonable use of a lot.
“If you have a house and it’s livable, there is already reasonable use there,” Simpson said.
Board Secretary Chuck Fuller recommended the board deny the application and adopt the recommendations proposed by town staff, but Fuller’s motion was denied by a 4-3 vote.
But board member T. Andrew Aitken said “an outright denial” of the application “is pretty stiff.”
Board member Edward Zunz made a motion approved by a 7-0 vote that allows the applicant to come back in January with a more reasonable variance request for the board to consider.
In at least seven requests that the zoning board has received since 2008, properties would not have been built if relief were not granted for the 150-foot Gulf waterfront setback guidelines.
Most of the lots that need variance relief are located between 2725 and 4101 Gulf of Mexico Drive (where Trulaske’s property is located) and along Gulfside Road.
The issues that Gulf-front property owners currently face are the size of their homes, the proximity of their homes to neighboring homes and keeping a beach view intact.
Contact Kurt Schultheis at [email protected].