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Longboat Key Sunday, Jan. 13, 2019 5 months ago

Longboat gives initial OK to new set of building rules

Final vote on package dealing with nonconforming structures is set for early February.
by: Suzanne Elliott Staff Writer

Owners of buildings erected before town leaders in 1984 made sweeping changes to residential density rules could see a path forward by early February on what redevelopment proposals might look like.

Town commissioners earlier this week gave their initial OK to a package of regulations governing land use, height, interior cubic footage and proximity to the Gulf of Mexico for those kinds of redevelopment plans. 

The idea is to give property owners a means to remodel, or rebuild, as close to the town’s modern standards as possible while holding open the possibility that total compliance might not always be possible.

“Every site on the Key is different and has to be judged on its merits,” said Commissioner Jim Brown, who voted to approve the new rules along with commissioners Jack Daly, Irwin Pastor and Ken Schneier. Mayor George Spoll, Vice Mayor Ed Zunz, and Commissioner Randy Clair voted against the new rules.would i

Key provisions approved Monday that will be revisited for a final vote on Feb. 4 include:

• Land uses cannot change. A parcel zoned for a condominium must remain zoned for a condominium and cannot be remade into a commercial property.

•Building height will vary depending on the option. The first option allows properties to be rebuilt to existing heights. The second option allows building heights consistent with applicable zoning. The third option has several variables that affect the height

•Buildings on the gulfside will never be less than 50 feet from the high-water, or erosion-control line unless the previous encroachment was less than 50 feet.

Town staffers and consultants have been rewriting development standards for years because dozens of properties don’t conform to current regulations. 

To limit growth, in 1984, the Town Commission down-zoned the island to six units per acre or less, leaving properties with higher density out of sync with contemporary rules. Some properties are just two or three units per acre over the modern limits. Others are far beyond the six-units rule.

Without a way to redevelop, property owners were stymied in planning updates to their buildings to include modern-day amenities such as higher ceilings, in-unit laundry rooms and others. At issue, beyond higher population in a given area and the strain it puts on such things as roads and other infrastructure, is a long-running reluctance on the part of residents and leaders to allow a “canyon-effect’’ of tall buildings to take hold along such thoroughfares as Gulf of Mexico Drive.

Years-long consideration of redevelopment plans for the Colony Beach & Tennis Club put the overall rework of zoning and building regulations on hold to avoid tangling the two issues.

Acknowledging that builders on an existing piece of land might not be able to conform to all of the newly designated rules, commissioners approved methods by which each project can be encouraged to work with the town on gaining approval.

“We want them to comply as best they can,” Daly said during the meeting that lasted more than three hours.



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