HOLMES BEACH – Planning commissioners discussed establishing a mixed use area, requiring all homes to hook up to the county sewer system and providing affordable housing during a review of the comp plan last week.
Planning consultant Bill Brisson told the board that the city should restrict its mixed-use area because the Florida Department of Community Affairs (DCA), which reviews the comp plan, would consider it as increasing density.
He suggested a mixed use overlay in the area of the shopping centers at Gulf and Marina drives and continuing that north on the west side of Marina Drive to 61st Street. Chair Sue Normand said planners had hoped to include the Anna Maria Island Centre area on East Bay Drive.
"I suggest you not do that," Brisson cautioned. "DCA won’t approve. It doesn’t lend itself to mixed use as much as the area near ‘downtown.’ Let’s get this done and see how it works and then we may be able to do the other area later."
Planners discussed a provision urging all property owners to hook up to the county’s sanitary sewer system, and some were surprised that there are some properties in the city that still have septic tanks.
Normand said there are some on Avenue C and possibly Avenue B. She recommended getting the exact number from the public works department.
"Why can’t the city require properties in the city to be connected to the sanitary sewer system?" Gary Hickerson asked.
Brisson said he didn’t know if it could require that, and planners also questioned the cost of doing so. Michael Snyder said it would be much more costly if the line has not been run down the street.
"If the line is available and the cost is reasonable, it’s good public policy to have everybody on the sewer," Hickerson said.
The DCA’s requirement that all cities provide for affordable housing is particularly difficult for all the barrier island cities, Brisson pointed out. The cost of housing and the cost of living are higher and there are fewer services available.
"The state wants everybody to do their share with low income housing," he said.
According to the Shimberg Center for Affordable Housing, housing costs should not exceed 30 percent of a household’s income in order to be considered affordable.
Brisson said in 2005, the average single-family home in the city was valued at $549,201 or 2 1/2 times that of the state as a whole. The average sales price for a single-family home was $746,482. The lowest priced single-family unit to be built in the city as $250,000, but figuring land costs, that figure jumps to $350,000.
"Using the lowest priced home of about $350,000 and assuming a 30-year, 90 percent loan at 6 percent, the principal and interest alone would amount to $1,890 per month, thereby requiring an annual income of $75,600," he explained.
"By the time taxes, mortgage insurance, property and flood insurance and utilities are added, the required monthly cost could approach $2,400, indicating the need for an annual income in excess of $95,000."
Brisson said he added policies that he hopes would satisfy DCA including encouraging private sector participation, working with the county to identify and pursue revenue sources for use by eligible families and exploring the possibility of charging residential and commercial development an affordable housing fee to be deposited in a trust fund.
In another policy, the city would consider allowing one accessory dwelling unit on oversized lots in the low density residential land use category for occupancy by lower income relatives of the property owner or for lower income households with a member employed by a business in the city.
Normand said the city has a problem with enforcing its rental codes and this could create a problem by opening the door to unqualified people to rent the units.
"There’s some potential that some of these things might not work, but you’re showing an effort," Brisson pointed out.
Planners will continue their discussion on the comp plan at 7 p.m. on March 27.