HOLMES BEACH – Commissioners approved on first reading a moratorium on issuing demolition permits and building permits for any work that exceeds the threshold for substantial improvement for all residential dwelling units in the R-2 district.
The moratorium, with an effective date of Dec. 25, will be in place for no more that six months, while commissioners consider code changes.
City Attorney Patricia Petruff explained that because Dec. 25 is a holiday, the ordinance would not go into effect until the end of the business day on Dec. 26.
One property owner spoke against the moratorium and one praised it.
Joe Kennedy, a former 20-year resident of the city, said he owns a waterfront lot in the R-2 district. He explained that the 1989 comprehensive plan increased the minimum lot size for a duplex, making making his lot too small for a duplex structure, and he could only build a single-family home.
“A moratorium that would include these particular R-2 properties (improved or vacant) is unwarranted and unjustified, since they can only have a single-family home built upon them or remain on them,” he said.
He pointed out that the problem duplexes that are connected were built legally within the code and said because some have maximized a loophole in the code does not justify a moratorium.
Minds made up
“We think your minds are already made up regardless of the negative impact your decision will have on those of us who are not part of the problem,” he said.
“You weren’t voted into office to hurt those property owners that have been placed in this position just because the city has not been able to keep those select few in check that seem to be the target of your actions.”
He asked them to exclude properties in the R-2 district that do not have sufficient land to build a duplex.
Resident Dave McKeever took the opposite view and stressed, “The November election was a referendum. The silent majority in Holmes Beach said enough is enough, that construction in the R-2 district is out of control and incompatible with the city’s vision.
“A handful of people have benefitted from building monstrosities that were deemed to be legal … They did so at the expense of their neighbors, who now deal with issues such as incessant noise, too many vehicle and trash pick-up problems.”
He said he sympathizes with those who may be hurt by the moratorium, but has “no sympathy for speculative carpetbaggers who hope to make a quick buck by building a rental McMansion …
“A moratorium of up to six months is more than reasonable in light of the potential damage this city faces from a very limited number of builders.”
The second reading will be Jan. 8.
Commissioners agreed on the following objectives to be accomplished before the moratorium can be lifted:
• Size of houses;
• Underground connection of duplexes;
• Number of pools per lot;
• Building department policy on docks;
• Building department policy on corner lots clarified in writing;
• Building department policy on elevator shafts clarified in writing;
• Independent appraisals.