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Longboat Key Wednesday, Jul. 17, 2013 4 years ago

Restrictions will rock the boat

by: Kurt Schultheis Senior Editor

“You can have my trailer parking space when you pry my cold dead hands from my engine tiller handle.”
Longbeach Village resident Paul Moore wrote those words as part of a letter to the editor submitted to the Longboat Observer this week (click here). Moore and other Longbeach Village residents are opposing a new ordinance, which a subcommittee recommended, that would force property owners Key-wide to keep boats and trailers out of their front yards.

The ordinance, which the subcommittee received in draft form Monday and will recommend to the Planning and Zoning Board in September, will also state that residents with corner lots can’t park their boats and trailers on side yards that also have access to the street. Language will also differentiate between those who have waterfront access and those who don’t.

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 closed-off town-owned alleys that haven’t been accessible by car for years. And, the cost to remove landscaping on side yards to make way for boat parking could be expensive for property owners. Property owners would have six months to comply if the ordinance is approved and enacted.

Two-thirds of the town-owned alleys, which are the only alleys on the Key, have been closed over time because residents didn’t want the access and chose more backyard privacy. Some of the alleys even have trees and shrubs planted in them now.

But Drake and others suggested the town should consider opening the alleys back up to help those boat owners who will need the access if the ordinance is approved later this year.

“This ordinance supports opening up the alleys,” Drake said. “It’s controversial, though, because some in the Village want the alleys opened and some don’t. But what I do know is that at one time, all of the alleys were open and property owners who bought lots here bought knowing they were on an alley.”

Subcommittee member and Commissioner Pat Zunz said she has asked Town Manager Dave Bullock to investigate what it would take to open up the alleys, which are closed off in certain sections south of Broadway, mainly between Longboat Drive South and Poinsetta Avenue.

Although the subcommittee agreed Monday to move the ordinance forward as is in September for the planning board’s review, members agreed that it will prompt serious debate.

Future discussions could also include exempting Longbeach Village from the ordinance and consideration of the costs to open up alleyways.

Drake explained Monday why an exemption for the Village should be considered.

“If this ordinance passes, most of the violations sit in the Village,” Drake said. “But complaints aren’t coming from the Village because no one has any problems with where boats are parked there, for the most part. You are going to get a boat-load of Villagers come before you on this issue if it includes them.”

Zunz and Drake, meanwhile, are supportive of opening up the alleys. Both north-end residents, though, also acknowledged the alleys will be a topic of debate.

“We have a public policy for things like alleys to be used,” Zunz said.

Currently, you can park a boat or a 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, and 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.

Residents of Country Club Shores and the Village disagree about the issue of boat-and-trailer parking enforcement. Country Club Shores residents, who let their deeds and covenant restrictions lapse years ago, want the town to ban trailers and boats from being parked in their driveways, while Village residents say a ban on boat-and-trailer parking in a historic boating community with many lots that don’t have water access is unfair.

Moore, meanwhile, and other Village residents are expected to come to Town Hall to oppose the ordinance this fall during public hearings if it moves forward.

“The proposed ordinance as I have seen so far would require me to either cut down two red cedar trees or remove a chain-link fence and half of my oak tree hammock,” Moore wrote. “Neither of which I’m willing to do.”

Contact Kurt Schultheis at [email protected].

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