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Longboat Key Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2021 1 month ago

Longboat Key approves changes to mobile home height requirements

Decision preserves 20% townwide discount on flood insurance premiums.
by: Mark Bergin Staff Writer

Anyone wanting to set up a new mobile home or renovate one beyond 50% of its value in Longboat Key will soon be subject to new height requirements.

The Town Commission voted 7-0 Monday to eliminate a height exemption for mobile homes and make them follow similar elevation rules as site-built homes. The changes take effect in 2022, and would not affect existing units.

Gulfshore of Longboat Key President Iris White, Gulfshore Board of Director member Kim Fenwick and Gulfshore community association manager Fred Bez attended Monday’s Town Commission meeting. They were disappointed in the result of the commission’s vote.

“There are things that happen to a mobile home that is near salt water with the salt air that is a natural deterioration process,” Fenwick said. “And, sometimes those have to be replaced to the tune of as much money as it would cost to buy a new unit, so you buy a new unit.” 

Longboat Key has 263 residences at its two mobile home parks, Gulfshore and Twin Shores.

“We have to look at the property to look at the future for our park, so it’s just not tomorrow we’re looking at,” White said. “We’re looking for the residents 30 years from now.”

The move to eliminate the exemption for mobile homes preserves a townwide discount of about 20% for flood insurance premiums, based on the town's Class 6 designation from the National Flood Insurance Program. Had the town preserved the mobile home exemption, the town would have become a Class 9 community with a 5% discount. The average savings per customer is about $188. 

The new heights could reach eight or nine feet above existing heights, which range from about one to three feet, depending on location. 

At-Large Commissioner BJ Bishop mentioned how she has friends in Gulfshore and Twin Shores. However, if the Town Commission didn’t approve the changes, it would negatively impact insurance rates.

“This is only going to be painful if the people in your communities do not maintain their properties or if, God forbid, we have a bad storm,” Bishop said.

While the town has the authority to grant individual variances to owners,  Planning, Zoning and Building Director Allen Parsons cautioned against such case-by-case considerations. 

“There are potential implications to our CRS rating if the town were to be granting variances,” Parsons said. “So, there may be implications that the town or the Zoning Board of Adjustment may be able to grant those variances, but our evaluation by the Community Rating System may be impacted by the granting of those variances.”


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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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