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Longboat Key Tuesday, Sep. 18, 2018 1 year ago

Longboat P&Z makes long-awaited recommendations

The board tackles the tricky subject of what to do with nonconforming properties with proposed ordinances.
by: Suzanne Elliott Staff Writer

After wrestling with proposed changes to its zoning code for three years, the Longboat Key Planning and Zoning Board passed two recommended ordinances Tuesday that will clear the way for building owners and homeowners to know what they may do with their aging properties.

Now it will be up to the Town Commission to act on the board’s recommendations at its Oct. 15 meeting.

Much of Longboat’s homes and condominium building inventory was constructed in the late 1970s and early 1980s. As a result, the island has more than 100 properties that don’t meet zoning requirements when the town changed its zoning in 1984. The largest effect from that change was a reduction in density.

“Many properties were made nonconforming,” said Allen Parsons, Longboat’s Planning, Zoning and Building director. “That caused stigma for some property owners.”

As recommended and passed by the board, legally nonconforming structures and uses may be rebuilt and repurposed if damaged.

No new density will be allowed without referendum approval. In addition, a developer who is redeveloping a legally nonconforming structure must try to meet existing zoning requirements. 

And finally, a property’s use and structures have to meet existing zoning standards.

Owners will be able to rebuild their nonconforming buildings to the same building cubic content, or size. The structure must also have the same number of units. 

As long as the size of the building remains the same, the size of individual units can be increased, at the expense of the number of units and square footage of common space.

“Sometimes I think the nonconforming use should just go away,” said former town employee Steve Schield, who attended the Sept. 18 meeting.

“I understand, but we don’t want Anna Maria-type structures,” replied board member Phil Younger, a former commissioner, in reference to allowing higher density.

Owners of existing hotels that are legally nonconforming because tourism units exceed allowed density can seek an amendment to the proposed Conformance Overlay Redevelopment District. 

This proposed CORD gives nonconforming properties the opportunity to come into compliance and encourages “imaginative, functional, high-quality land planning developments compatible with adjacent and nearby lands and activities.”

The ordinances mark progress on the topic of nonconforming properties after the board paused to allow the redevelopment of the Colony Beach & Tennis Resort to take place first.

“It has been an important priority for Planning and Zoning and the commission,” said board Chairwoman B.J. Bishop. “Hopefully we’re moving forward with a solution everybody will be on board with.”

Other proposed changes to Longboat’s zoning include:

  • Properties that were built closer to the water than currently permitted will be grandfathered in and will not need board approval. The board, however, said buildings on the gulf or pass will never be less than 50 feet from the high-water or erosion control line unless the previous encroachment was less than 50 feet.
  • If rebuilt, the height of a building will be measured from the minimum habitable floor, in accordance with the flood control ordinance. Open space will also not be less than 20% of the lot area.
  • Parking requirements will remain unchanged for a reconfigured property whose density or use may have increased. Shelters for parking spaces that were previously not covered will not be permitted unless the shelters meet site setback and land requirements. Off-street parking modifications allowed could include the number of spaces, minimum dimensions of stalls and aisle widths.  

This story has been updated to correct the number of ordinances approved. Steve Schield is a retired town employee.

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