Holmes Beach to move forward with moratorium on chain businesses

The Holmes Beach Commission voted unanimously to pursue a moratorium on chain, or “formula,” businesses in the city, nearly a month after plans for Baskin Robbins-Dunkin Donuts caused great worry among some island business owners and officials.

Consider implementing a moratorium — pending consideration of the possible regulation of formula businesses,” read the agenda item for the meeting held at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Holmes Beach City Hall, 5801 Marina Dr.

The vote was 4-0. Holmes Beach Commissioner Marvin Grossman was absent.

Holmes Beach Mayor Bob Johnson, who submitted a two-page document on “formula retail” businesses to the agenda prior to Tuesday’s meeting, said the purpose of his request was to determine an “appropriate course of action” for the city.

“And to establish, essentially, a moratorium going forward today,” Johnson added. “That gives us the time to do that analysis and do whatever ordinance we need to do through those discussions.”

According to Johnson, the moratorium would be intended for any new applications from Tuesday forward and would last until early January or February 2017.

“We’ve heard lessons over the past year or so that moratoriums are effective in helping us get to good solutions, I think, and I’m asking that we take that approach again so that we can do that and work with deliberation as well as haste. … but both of those together, not just hastily,” he said.

Before commissioners voted, Holmes Beach Commission Vice Chairwoman Jean Peelen said pursuing a moratorium is an excellent plan.

“I hope we’re also pursuing the political end of it,” she said, “speaking with the county on how do we preserve the uniqueness of Anna Maria Island.”

Holmes Beach Commissioner Carol Soustek said this was not a knee-jerk reaction and chains are already in Holmes Beach operate on a smaller scale.

“They don’t impose a big-scale operation out here. I don’t get that feeling,” Soustek said. “So, I think there are ways that we can utilize legal wording to give control back, to keeping it an even scale for those smaller operations and not have the bigger operations — with their buying power — squash our smaller operations.”

Amaris Castillo: 941-745-7051, @AmarisCastillo