HOLMES BEACH -- Holmes Beach city commissioners have approved a moratorium on construction in areas zoned for duplexes.
The moratorium ceases the city's acceptance of permit applications for new construction and demolition in the zone for up to six months. The approval, by a 4-1 vote, came on Jan. 8 during a city commission meeting.
The issue at hand was the growing number of large-scale single and two-family duplexes inside a specific area in the city. Residents have complained the larger duplexes are changing the character of Holmes Beach from residential neighborhoods with long-term renters to vacationers coming to the island for a single week.
The moratorium will affect only those permits filed
after Dec. 26 and seek to make changes that will cost more than 50 percent of the value of a structure. Residents and owners can still perform nonsubstantial remodeling.
The city can now consider amending its land development code.
"It gives us an opportunity to examine the direction that our city is going to move into," said Commissioner Marvin Grossman, who was elected in November. "Now we can discuss all kinds of problems that are related and go ahead and correct what has to be fixed."
Elevated structures built since 2008 in the zone have resulted in residences that are not compatible with existing homes in terms of mass and scale, the moratorium ordinance reads. It also has caused trash, parking and noise issues.
The city has retained LaRue Planning and Management Services to study its existing zoning ordinances to determine if revisions to the city land development code are needed.
The study will examine the historical pattern of properties and appraisal documents. LaRue will present the complete study to the commission no later than February. The commission is expected to act no later than May.
"We found there has been a change in homes and character of housing," said Bill Brisson, a senior planner at LaRue. "Single-family and two-family homes had more bedrooms. The study shows size and mass has increased over years."
Brisson said the report will include a recommendation to the city to implement a threshold for living spaces not to exceed 34 percent of the entire lot to maintain the city's character. Preliminary figures showed more than half of the homes in the zone exceeded that threshold.
"We can bring our city into compliance with our vision," Grossman said.
Nick Williams, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-748-0411 ext. 7049. Twitter:@_1NickWilliams