If the Planning and Zoning Board and the Longboat Key Town Commission agree with a subcommittee’s recommendation, then a boat owner’s days of parking a vessel in the front yard of a Longboat Key residence are numbered. At the second meeting of the planning board’s boat and trailer subcommittee Monday, July 1, members agreed that boats should not be allowed to park in Longboat Key front yards.
Currently, you 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; trailers and/or boats can legally sit in a front lawn. The code also doesn’t mandate how many boats or trailers can be parked on a resident’s property.
Planning, Zoning and Building Director Robin Meyer urged subcommittee members last month to focus on changes that affect the whole Key. And the subcommittee agreed disallowing boats in front yards could work island-wide.
The language will also state that those with corner lots can’t park their boats and trailers on side yards that border the street. Language will also differentiate between those lots that have waterfront access and those that do not.
The subcommittee also wants boats and trailers parked in side yards to be screened so they are not as visible from the road.
Subcommittee member and Longbeach Village Association President Michael Drake, though, warned that several Village property owners don’t have access to town-owned alleys, which haven’t been accessible by car for years. And the cost to remove landscaping on side yards to make ways for boat parking could be expensive for property owners.
“A lot of alleyways aren’t accessible, so is the town prepared to open the alleys as they should?” Drake asked. “It’s also going to cost neighbors a pretty good sum of money to remove landscaping on the side of a yard. It makes me question from that standpoint if we should be blanketing the entire Key, and I hate to be a part of any group that pushes someone to spend a lot of money to adhere to a new ordinance.”
Commissioner Jack Duncan, acting as a member of the public participating in the process, suggested the town could give property owners a period of two years, or whatever time is agreed upon, to give those affected time to comply.
“If we give owners a couple of years to transition, they can’t tell us they didn’t have enough time to adhere,” Duncan said.
The subcommittee agreed to move forward with the front yard change and suggested the town come up with a timeframe for owners to comply. A consideration for opening up closed alleys in the Village for property owners is also being suggested, although the commission would have to make that decision.
Although landscaping might be an issue for property owners who need to remove vegetation in their side yards to comply, Commissioner Pat Zunz suggested that shouldn’t be an issue.
“If people own boats, they own a sort of lifestyle, and for the benefit of how a community should look, you have to assume some of those expenses that come with being a boat owner,” Zunz said.
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