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Date of Issue: March 17, 2005

Holmes Beach commission passes rezone amendment

The Holmes Beach City Commission unanimously approved a proposed small-scale development amendment to change the land-use designation in the city's comprehensive plan for two properties, despite objections from environmental watchdogs ManaSota-88 and Save Anna Maria.

The properties involved are the former location of the First Church of Christ, Scientist, between 64th and 63rd streets (currently under development) and four lots in the Jones Subdivision along Second Avenue and 45th Street near the Episcopal Church of the Annunciation.

These properties were zoned R-2 but designated as public/semi-public on the Holmes Beach Future Land Use Map and the amendment changes that designation to medium-density residential.

City planner Bill Brisson reported that the R-2 (medium-density) zoning allows single-family and duplex residential uses, as well as houses of worship as a special exception, and that the amendment provides more flexibility for these properties to be suitable for development consistent with the surrounding neighborhoods.

The site of the former Christian Science church is approximately 1.3 acres and is currently being developed with residential units in spite of the improper land-use designation, an apparent oversight during the site-plan review process by the city.

Brisson said the four lots in the Jones Subdivision appear to have been mistaken as the Church of the Annunciation property, which is actually farther south, when the future land-use map was last updated because a single-family structure and two duplexes existed there at that time.

Both ManaSota-88 and Save Anna Maria objected to the amendment on the grounds that it increases density in a coastal high-hazard area.

"Since our Island is totally within a coastal high-hazard zone, adding population density is not consistent with the goals, objectives and policies of the city's comprehensive plan," noted representative Ann Shaw of Save Anna Maria, who noted that president Katie Pierola could not be present at the meeting.

Both groups also raised concerns that the city has not conducted appropriate studies to determine if this change will adversely impact existing infrastructure, including roads, water, sewer, solid waste and stormwater runoff.

ManaSota-88 representative Joan Perry, a Holmes Beach resident, argued that "this change impacts the main hurricane evacuation route, increases water and sewer usage and has an unknown effect on stormwater drainage. No evidence is on the record to the contrary."

In response, Brisson argued that the city evaluates churches by intensity and homes by density and city staff believes the change is consistent with the comp plan.

Brisson indicated that following the commission's approval, he would have the appropriate paperwork filed with the state to move forward with the amendment by the end of the week.

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