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Longboat Key Thursday, Jul. 23, 2020 2 weeks ago

Zoning Board approves variance for south fire station

The new building for Fire Station 92 at 2162 Gulf of Mexico Drive is scheduled to open in April 2021.
by: Mark Bergin Staff Writer

The Longboat Key Zoning Board of Adjustment unanimously approved a variance for the town’s south fire station.

The decision to allow a variance to Town Code Section 158.118 allows for the construction of a perimeter wall and an earthen side slope with a greater than 4:1 angle at Fire Station 92 at 2162 Gulf of Mexico Drive.

The town is in the process of building a new south fire station, which fronts the Longboat Key Club Harborside Golf Course. South-side firefighters are operating out of a temporary trailer until about April 2021, when the new station is scheduled to open.

Earlier this year, south-side firefighters began operating out of a temporary trailer.

There are a few reasons for the variance request. During the July 16 ZBA meeting, Longboat Key Town Planner Tate Taylor said one of them is to meet FEMA regulations that require the new fire station to be elevated to 11 feet. 

The new fire station will have a driveway that wraps around the south end of the building for the department’s fire trucks and ambulances to come and go. Taylor said the driveway will gradually incline as vehicles will park at an 11-foot elevation at the back of the building.

Taylor said the driveway is required to be at least 20 feet wide to allow the Longboat Key Fire Department’s fire trucks and ambulances enough space to navigate around the south part of Fire Station 92.

“It’s got to meet a turning radius that’s adequate for those larger vehicles,” Taylor said.

If board members hadn’t approved the variance, Taylor said it would have left only about 8.4 feet for the driveway.

“Of course, that’s just not possible for the type of apparatus that we have,” Taylor said.

A site plan view shows the specifications of why the town requested a variance to its code.

Planning, Zoning and Building staff recommended approval of the variance.

“I’ve reviewed the application, I’ve reviewed all the considerations and I personally believe that I am willing to accept the recommended findings and facts by staff,” ZBA chair Gaele Barthold said.

Vice Chair Neal Colton echoed Barthold’s sentiments.

“I also find the petition to be appropriate, well-presented and I unconditionally support it,” Colton said.

Fire Station 92 serves the southern half of Longboat Key, whereas the Fire Station 91 at 5490 Gulf of Mexico Drive serves the northern half.

Administration of oath and election of officers

Colton and Aaron Kleiner swore an administration of oath on July 16 over Zoom.

Town commissioners unanimously reappointed both Colton (District 3) and Kleiner (District 4) in June.

Christopher Carman (District 5) and Jack Wilson (District 4) also submitted applications for consideration for the two seats that had term expirations.

ZBA members re-elected Barthold to serve as chair, Colton as vice chair and Ann Roth as secretary.

This month marked the first ZBA meeting because of concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The town canceled the May 21 and June 18 meetings.

“The town does not typically livestream ZBA meetings, but we are doing so in order to afford the public as much viewing access as we can while the threat of COVID-19 still remains,” said Planning, Zoning and Building Director Allen Parsons.

Like with town commission meetings, the ZBA is using the teleconferencing service Zoom to meet virtually and allow members of the public to participate in their meetings.

Aug. 20 marks the ZBA’s next scheduled meeting.

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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