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Longboat Key building heights: Going up?

Former Commissioner Randy Clair is challenging a home elevator under construction in Country Club Shores.

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  • | 6:30 a.m. December 7, 2016
This graphic illustrates the height restrictions on Longboat Key.
This graphic illustrates the height restrictions on Longboat Key.
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When former Longboat Key Town Commissioner Lynn Larson scans the skyline in front of her home in Country Club Shores, she sees something tall and troubling: an elevator shaft.

Height limits on homes on the barrier island are set at 30 feet, but homes with elevators are notable exceptions, something fellow former Town Commissioner Randy Clair and Larson are challenging.

Clair has highlighted a home at 585 Halyard Lane in Country Club Shores as a particularly egregious case.

The 21-year Longboat Key resident claims the elevator shaft is 10 feet too tall and allegedly illegal under town codes. Clair contends the code violation means the Planning, Zoning and Building Department should revoke the contractor’s permit.

“It’s been built at a level exceeding the 30-foot limit,” Clair said. “They are relying on an exception provision. The exemptions clearly spell out what’s included. They aren’t mentioned in specified exemptions.”

Hunt Brothers Realty bought the previously vacant lot for $705,000 late last year, and Coachman Homes is building the home on the property. Coachman Homes did not immediately return calls for comment.

P&Z Director Alaina Ray said the home is within compliance and its permit is sound. She cited the town’s building code, which states an enclosed mechanical stairwell could rise 10 feet above the 30-foot limitation.

Town Manager David Bullock cites town building codes as the reason at least 15 Longboat Key homeowners have been allowed to build elevator shafts exceeding 30 feet.

His staff compiled a response to Clair’s challenge running 118 pages, which indicates Florida building code requires all residential elevators to exit into an enclosed, weatherproof vestibule, which is considered an integral part of a residential elevator.

State building code also requires a landing at the top of all stairwells and does not allow the top step to end at a door. The landing must be at least 3 feet deep and at least the width of the stairwell and door before reaching the door. 

These requirements provide the basis for an exception to the 30-foot limit, according to the lengthy report.

But Larsen isn’t sold on that.

“It’s a screw-up,” she said. “And now they are trying to cover their (behinds).”

The issue will surface again at 1 p.m. Monday at the Longboat Key Town Commission workshop. Clair and Larson indicated they will challenge permits allowing homeowners to skirt the 30-foot height restriction.


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