Multi-family zoning question to be on Nov. 4 ballot
It's official. Voters in Bradenton Beach will have the opportunity to voice their thoughts on development come the fall election in the form of a simple question:
"Are you in favor of eliminating R-3 zoning in the City of Bradenton Beach, in perpetuity?"
The question is non-binding, meaning it lacks the weight of any legal authority. However, it does appear to offer city commissioners a reading of citizen concern regarding recent development interests within the city.
The R-3 designation is the highest level of residential zoning use in the city. According to city codes, R-3 is a multi-family tourist use which allows up to 28 hotel-motel units per acre, or 22 efficiency, one- or two-bedroom uses per acre, excepting three-bedroom units, which are capped at 16 units per acre.
There will be another question on the Nov. 4 ballot for electors to ponder, a question that has plagued other Island cities but has yet to come to the forefront in Bradenton Beach:
"Do you want to eliminate any variance to height restriction in the Bradenton Beach code?"
Anna Maria City and Holmes Beach have been wrestling with variances to height restrictions in the past few months. Bradenton Beach, with a different wording in its land-development laws, has had no such applications come forward.
Both non-binding questions were agreed upon by city commissioners last Thursday by a 3-1 vote, with Vice Mayor Bill Arnold casting no votes to both and Commissioner Anna O'Brien absent.
"I see no purpose of a non-binding question," Arnold said of the R-3 issue. "I wanted to have a meeting on this and discuss it. "What can we gain by this? What is the purpose?
As to the height question, Arnold said "I see no problem with the building official dealing with this. It doesn't need to go further."
Jeff Wilson, developer of the Sand Castle condominium on the Gulf of Mexico at Bridge Street and Gulf Drive, spoke on the land-use change question on the fall ballot.
"In light of [an appeal's court decision] in which the court ruled that property owners can sue the city if they believe that officials have placed such burdensome restriction on their land that they have been stripped of their development value, why are you even considering the issue of doing away with the R-3 zoning?"
Developer-contractor Reed Mapes said in part that "R-3 zoning is the life blood of the city. Our businesses rely on it. If you truly believe that R-3 zoning is the root of all evil on the Island, fix what is wrong with R-3 zoning. Don't kill the goose."
He added that "I have chosen to live in multi-family housing in Bradenton Beach to enjoy what this community has to offer. I do not want to take care of a single-family home. I want to play when I'm not working. This, commissioners, is what R-3 zoning and this city is all about."
There was no public comment regarding the height question on the upcoming ballot.