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Date of Issue: May 04, 2006

Lutz, planner, mayor spar over comp-plan amendments

Two proposed small-scale amendments to the Holmes Beach comprehensive plan were questioned by City Commissioner Roger Lutz at the commission's April 27 meeting as he wondered what the "driving" force was behind the amendments.

The first proposal presented by city planner Bill Brisson applied to the area on the east side of Gulf Drive between the Anna Maria Elementary School and Peacock Lane. The area is about 5.7 acres and comprises 32 residential units, of which 25 are duplexes.

The problem, said Brisson, is that the area is zoned to allow duplexes, but the 1989 comprehensive plan and future land use map show the area as low-density residential.

The proposal is to change the FLUM to make it consistent with the current predominant land use, he said.

"That's why we're here," Brisson added.

"But what's driving this?" responded Lutz. "Is anyone complaining? Why are you spending time and money?" he asked. Lutz has expressed concerned that developers were behind the effort to change the FLUM.

"Because the commission directed me," said Brisson, explaining that when he was hired, the commission directed him to find inconsistencies between the comprehensive plan and the land development codes. This is one area that's inconsistent, he said.

But if the commission has a problem with changing the FLUM, it can simply change the zoning instead, he added.

Brisson also said that duplex owners in the area have undersized lots and can't tear down and rebuild if the FLUM were changed because they would need 8,712 square feet of lot space to build a new duplex. Owners can, however, expand or renovate an existing duplex.

Lutz was concerned about increasing density, but Brisson pointed out that the owner of a single-family home in the affected area would still need the 8,712 square feet to build a duplex, and few, if any, lots in the area are that size.

Brisson also noted that the city is bound by Florida statutes to make its land development codes and comprehensive plan consistent.

While Lutz was concerned about spending money needlessly, he said if the neighbors don't object, he would not stand in the way. The final reading of the amendment will be at the May 23 commission meeting.

But Brisson wasn't done.

During the worksession following the regular meeting, Brisson brought up "options" on the Sportsman's Harbor area of the city, located primarily on the east side of Gulf Drive and south of AME to St. Bernard Catholic Church.

Brisson said this area is also an inconsistent as to the FLUM and zoning. The comprehensive plan shows the area is low-density residential, while the LDC has the area zoned R-2, which allows duplexes. Several duplexes have been built in this area in the past few years, he observed.

Brisson's suggestion is for the commission to change the comprehensive plan to medium-density residential, but again Lutz questioned what was driving this proposal.

He wondered if Brisson was acting on orders from the mayor, but Brisson and other commissioners pointed out that he was given a directive when hired by the commission to find inconsistencies.

And, Brisson enjoined, the state law requires the city to have the comprehensive plan and LDC consistent.

The commission consensus was to bring the issue to a regular meeting as a small-scale comprehensive-plan amendment for formal discussion and vote.

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