Planning commissioners consider commercial rezone

holmes beach planning thank you
At the start of the Nov. 7 planning commission meeting, outgoing Mayor Bob Johnson takes a moment to thank the members for their service to the community. - Kristin Swain | Sun

HOLMES BEACH – What started out as a potentially simple commercial rezoning request for an office building currently owned and occupied by Mike Norman Realty was a hard sell for some planning commissioners.

Tasked with determining whether or not a request to change the commercial zoning of the property is consistent with the city’s comprehensive plan, planning commissioners found themselves divided on the issue. Currently, the 1,200 square-foot building is zoned C-1, which allows only for offices in the space.

The owners at Mike Norman Realty requested a rezone to C-2, which would allow a retail establishment or small café to open up shop in the space. City planner Bill Brisson said the size of the business and any increases in size to the existing structure would be severely hampered by lot coverage requirements and the small amount of on-site parking available. Some planning commissioners worried about allowing an increase in intensity of use in the space because it’s bordered partly by conservation lands included in Grassy Point Preserve.

Planning Commissioner Jayne Christenson said she feels the property is more consistent with being claimed as conservation land and a part of the preserve, not as a continuation of the commercial space on two sides of the property.

Planning Commissioner Scott Boyd, a former city planner, argued that from a pure planning perspective, the real estate office property appears to be a case of spot zoning and should be allowed to expand its commercial business options for future use.

“There’s no need to change it until they tell us why they want to do it,” Christenson said.

Planner Darenda Marvin, speaking on behalf of the property owners, said that the request for a rezone is to allow for different future uses of the property if it was determined at some point that the realty company didn’t need to maintain a physical office or future generations of the family want to use the property for another purpose. She said currently there is no plan to close the realty office.

“I think this is a terrible idea,” Planning Commissioner Barbara Hines said. “If it was consistent, we wouldn’t feel uncomfortable. If this motion passes I feel it would be a shameful day for Holmes Beach and this commission.”

“We all worry about what may happen in the future,” Chair Charles Stealey said. “Everyone has rights.”

The matter moves back before city commissioners for a final public hearing and vote Nov. 13.