HOLMES BEACH -- The City of Holmes Beach took another step toward lifting its residential building moratorium when they heard the first reading of the proposal during a regularly scheduled meeting Tuesday.
Commissioners actually voted against the repeal 4-1 because of two issues; language in the new building codes regarding underground connection of duplexes and a policy on docks.
"Tonight was expediency," Chairwoman Jean Peelen said after the meeting. "This gets the first reading out of the way. We are still on track to lift the moratorium three months early, most likely in the beginning of April."
Since Dec. 26, when the moratorium began, new building has not been allowed in the R-2 residential district, which has the most homes in the city.
Commissioners set the moratorium to eliminate so-called "monster houses," which, they said, were duplexes of up to three stories with 12 bedrooms, six bathroom and underground connections, of which the city has 16 to 20, Peelen said.
Among the seven objectives to be accomplished to lift the moratorium, five, including the size of all future houses, the numbers of swimming pools per lot, a policy on corner lots and elevator shafts and a procedure for determining market value, have already been achieved, leaving just un
derground connections and docks, Peelen said.
Commissioners, meeting in the Geyer Commission Chambers, also heard the first reading of an ordinance allowing chickens to be kept by residents, passing it on a 4-1 vote.
Commissioners Judy Titsworth, Marvin Grossman, David Zaccagnino and Peelen voted for it, with Pat Morton voting against.
"I have no problem with fresh eggs, but I feel why create problems for code enforcement," Morton said. "I have seen what chickens can do. We are not farmland. What's next? Pigs, horses, cows?"
Mayor Carmel Monti said, "If Sarasota can do it ... I think it's a progressive step."
"If I had young children I can only imagine what fun it would be for them to collect eggs," said Commissioner Marvin Grossman. "The school will love it."
If the ordinance passes after coming up again, probably in two weeks for a final vote, new Holmes Beach chicken farmers can have no more than four chickens.
Roosters are prohibited, the code states.
No one can slaughter any chickens in Holmes Beach.
The chickens must have a movable, covered enclosure, like a henhouse coop, and must be kept in the coop or a fenced enclosure at all time.
"No free-range chickens," Morton groused.
The code says that emus, rheas and ostriches are not allowed.
Chickens, pea fowl, ducks and geese are OK.
Also, no dog or cat that kills a Holmes Beach chicken will be viewed as dangerous or aggressive, the code states.