Manatee Tourist Development Council calls oversized structures 'unwise'

skennedy@bradenton.comFebruary 12, 2013 

MANATEE -- Members of the Tourist Development Council Monday OK'd a motion stating that it is "unwise" for cities, such as those on Anna Maria Island, to allow what are essentially small hotels to be built in residential neighborhoods.

"It is not right," said council member Ed Chiles, owner of two restaurants on the island, who complained about large duplexes with many bedrooms that have been called "oversized rentals" in Holmes Beach and Anna Maria.

"We want you to come, but we want you to come if you share our values," he said. "We're not going to try to be anything other than what we are. We don't want the glitz, we don't want all of that. That's what makes us so special."

Chiles hoped to "take a strong stand against people who build hotels in neighborhoods," because that is in effect what is going on out along the area's beaches, he said.

The council's statement and philosophy would be to maintain the character of a small family destination, said council Chairwoman Carol Whitmore, a former mayor of Holmes Beach and currently a county commissioner.

Other council members agreed, and the motion passed unanimously during the council's meeting at County Administrative Center.The issue at hand was the growing number of large-scale single- and two-family duplexes inside a specific area in the cities.

Residents have complained the larger duplexes are changing the character of the communities from residential neighborhoods with long-term renters to vacationers coming to the island for a single week.In Holmes Beach last fall, voters ousted the mayor and several other city officials in a hard-fought election battle in which the "oversized rentals" issue was a key theme.

The cities of Holmes Beach and Anna Maria have recently taken steps to more tightly regulate the construction of new rental housing.

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