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Date of Issue: March 17, 2005

Daylight plan law prompts pros, cons in Bradenton Beach

A rare meeting of members of all of Bradenton Beach's advisory boards drew one conclusion: There are a lot of opinions regarding a proposed daylight plane law to regulate the size and scale of buildings in the city.

Daylight plane laws are not new. In fact, similar laws have been enacted throughout the state and country. Basically, the it calls for greater building setbacks on upper floors of buildings, creating what some call a "wedding cake" design. The style provides a reduction in scale in construction.

Opponents of the design, though, say it takes away square footage and thereby reduces the value of property.

And those concerns and more were voiced last Thursday by city board members.

Planning and Zoning Board Chair Bob Dale facilitated the meeting, which also had representatives from the city's board of adjustment, code enforcement board, the ad hoc committee reviewing the city's comprehensive plan and even a few members of the city commission. Dale posed the issue that eventually echoed the theme of the discussion.

"It's very difficult to have any living space on a third floor of a house on a 50-foot lot with the daylight plane law in place," Dale said. "On larger lots, yes, you can do the setbacks, but not on a 50-by-100-foot lot."

Board of adjustment member John Burns concurred with Dale, with some additional caveats.

"The big shocker last year wasn't the four hurricanes," Burns said, "but the notice from the tax collector with our taxes. And the next shocker will come when we get our insurance notice. The question is, if you reduce the square footage, will you reduce the income from the property. Tiered levels will tie into property values."

Architects Mike McCaleb and Ernest Clay both said they like the "wedding cake" style of construction, but agreed it could be more challenging to the designers and could cost more to build than a more conventional home.

"But there are a lot of people who don't like the inset look," McCaleb admitted. "Some people say it looks like a house with a little hat on it."

The daylight scale-designed house "has air, ventilation, light character - there are a lot of things going for it," Clay said.

But not all favored the design. Dan Debaun, a structural engineer, said he "was not a fan of wedding cake design, and I'm not convinced it would be more quaint."

Even Building Official Ed Mc Adam voiced some doubts about the feasibility of the style in some areas of the city. He said that setting back upper floors in homes in most of the residentially zoned portions of the city would dramatically reduce the square footage, perhaps adversely so. In commercial zones, he said it "could work, provided you offer some incentives, like perhaps increasing the footprint of the building."

All agreed on one thing: More discussion would ensue.

In other matters, board members agreed to further discuss the city's vision plan. Mc Adam said that although the city had a visioning document, it had never been adopted by the city commission and, in his opinion, such adoption was needed. Board members agreed to review the document and discuss it at a later meeting.

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