Commissioners uphold site plan expiration

AMI plaza site plan amendment
AMI Plaza owner Mike Hynds plans to put four residential units atop the existing structure, but will have to reapply for site plan approval to make those plans a reality. - File Photo | Sun

HOLMES BEACH – If property owner and local businessman Mike Hynds wants to go through with his plan to place residential rental units on top of AMI Plaza, he’ll now have to work his way once again through the city’s site plan approval process.

When Hynds originally applied for a site plan amendment to place four residential apartment units above the existing AMI Plaza structure in 2017, it took months before the plan was approved by commissioners and a few more months before Hynds himself signed the resolution to amend the site plan in January 2018.

Now, 10 months later, he’s ready to apply for building permits, according to emails received by the city clerk’s office. The obstacle standing in his way is that the site plan approval expired 90 days after the site plan amendment resolution was signed and recorded on Jan. 22.

Though the resolution allowed for Building Official Jim McGuinness to grant a 90-day extension before the expiration of the approval, no request was made. Instead, McGuinness argues that Hynds read the resolution incorrectly and believes the site plan approval doesn’t expire for a period of three years.

Commissioners weren’t inclined to agree with the interpretation, voting 3-1 to allow the site plan approval to remain expired, with Commissioner Rick Hurst recusing himself as a tenant of Hynds’ and Commissioner Carol Soustek voting “no.”

“Hynds looks at everything thoroughly. He does his due diligence,” Commissioner Judy Titsworth said. “I say it’s expired. He let it go.”

City Attorney Patricia Petruff offered a different point of view, noting that she still believes the proposed site plan amendment that was previously approved would still be a viable project and earn commission approval if brought back before the dais.

“Do you want to be in litigation over this?” Petruff queried commissioners. “How important is it to be right for a project that if he brought it back next week you might would approve it?” She did agree that the city has a legally supportable stance on the site plan expiration.

Commissioner Pat Morton said he was hesitant to change the city’s policies for one person. “It’s expired,” he said of the site plan approval.

Titsworth said that if Hynds wants to move forward with the project, he can bring it before the newly-seated commission after the November election and see if they agree to approve the project. “We need to play by the rules,” she said.

Commissioner Jim Kihm agreed that allowing Hynds to move forward with the project on an expired site plan approval set a dangerous precedent for the city.

For her part, Soustek said while she recognizes that Hynds is in default for not moving on the site plan approval when it was given by commissioners, she also recognizes the time and city resources it took to move through what was a difficult approval process. “I don’t want to go through that again,” she said, voting in favor of allowing Hynds to request a site plan approval extension and move forward with the project.

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