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Longboat Key Tuesday, May 26, 2020 1 year ago

Grant's Gardens gets approval for new building on Longboat

The two-story building will be 2,254 square feet and will have 10 parking spaces.
by: Mark Bergin Staff Writer

The owners of Grant’s Gardens have town approval to move ahead with a redevelopment project that is designed to make the landscaping business a better neighbor on the northern end of Longboat Key.

During a virtual meeting on Tuesday morning, the Longboat Key Planning and Zoning Board unanimously approved two measures regarding the property at 524 Gulf Bay Road. The measures the board approved on Tuesday are not required to go before the Longboat Key Town Commission.

“Congratulations to the applicants and to the owners of Grant’s Gardens,” said Planning and Zoning Board chair David Green. “We look forward to seeing the next step in the redevelopment of that piece of property.”

Board members voted to approve a special exception application, which will allow landscaping and lawn service operation at the property, which was required before approval of a new 2,254-square-foot, two-story office building.

NeuMorris presented several renderings of the proposed 2,254-square-foot, two-story office building for Grant's Gardens.

The new building at the 0.45-acre site will have 10 parking spaces, including two handicapped spaces. The proposed plan places parking to the rear of the property, or about 70 feet from Gulf Bay Road. It provides for a 21-foot wide landscape buffer area along this roadway.

NeuMorris LLC’s manager Donald Neu and senior planner Bernadette Fisher presented during Tuesday’s meeting. NeuMorris serves as a land-use consultant to Grant’s Gardens.

Fisher said the existing building on the property, built in 1959, does not meet today’s policies or standards. The business evolved over the decades, eventually becoming an enterprise no longer permitted in the land-use designation of the neighborhood. The redevelopment plan not only addressed the building, but altered the land-use allowances to make it all possible.

“Approving this request, the special exception is being [in compliance] with the following criteria,” Fisher said. “It will give the ability to enhance the appearance as well as the function of this site, which ultimately will offer a more efficient and effective use.”

Gulf Bay Road — where Grant’s Gardens is located — is in a mixed-use environment where the initial 450 feet of the street is set aside for commercial uses and the remaining 740 feet is residential.

“We comply with all the applicable policies and comprehensive plan regulations in the zoning code,” Neu said. “We've done everything we've been asked to do and then some.”

Neu also noted that “all the clients” for Grant’s Gardens are “on the islands.” 

“This is an essential service that we believe is in the right place,” Neu said. “ We want to just bring it up to modern conditions, so there will be no more traffic over the bridges. We don't really need that.”

Green complimented Grant’s Gardens and NeuMorris.

“You guys really have done a good job of following through with the various steps that were required to correct a situation that I think was unanticipated,” Green said.

Earlier this month, Town Manager Tom Harmer set aside the Planning and Zoning Board's in-person meetings until further notice. The Planning and Zoning Board met virtually on Tuesday using the teleconferencing service Zoom.

Neu and Fisher showed renderings of the new building, which included an animated video.

The project has been a months-long process. In December 2019, the town commission approved a rezoning plan for Grant’s. The decision meant instead of being a retail-type operation, Grant’s is now zoned as a landscape maintenance business.

As a condition of approval, when building permit and construction plans are submitted, detailed stormwater management calculations to support the proposed stormwater system will be required for review and approval. Future plans are reviewed to assure adequate drainage, flood prevention and protection of water quality.

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Mark Bergin is the Longboat Key Town Hall reporter for the Observer. He has previously worked as a senior digital producer at WTSP, the CBS affiliate in St. Petersburg. Mark is a graduate of the University of Missouri and grew up in the Chicagoland area.

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