REDINGTON BEACH — The tide may have begun to change here, and we’re not talking about the sea level.
Residents here have been angered, frustrated and even apprehensive over the past few months as town leaders began working through a lengthy process to change the current impervious surface ratio from 40% to some higher, as yet to be determined, number. The change will require revision to the town comprehensive plan, a process that will take several months. Meanwhile, residents have raised a number of complaints. Some told commissioners the current ISR doesn’t allow for any additions to their property, such as driveways, sidewalks, or pool decks. Others have expressed concern they won’t be able to get variances for needed or desired work that might violate the code. A few maintain the 40% ratio, the lowest of all the beach communities, will hurt home sales.
Those fears seemed to diminish following a presentation June 19 by Commissioner Dave Will.
Speaking to an audience of about a dozen people, Will put up two poster-size drawings representing a 60-by-100-foot building lot, which he called a “fairly common” size. One illustration depicted an interior lot with setbacks of 7½ feet on the sides, 20 feet in the front and 15 feet in the rear. The remaining space represented a hypothetical building space of 45 by 65 feet, or 2,925 square feet. Will calculated the impervious surface ratio of 48.75 percent.
The other diagram illustrated an Intracoastal lot also of 60 by 100 feet. That lot has a front setback of 20 feet and a rear setback of 25 feet, and with the side setbacks, allowed a building area of 45 by 55 feet, or 2,475 square feet. That lot would have an ISR of 41.45 percent.
The purpose of the illustrations, Will said, was not to show that lots are already over the 40% value, but “what you can do with your lot, how setbacks determine the building envelope."
“The purpose of this is to show how setbacks affect the area you can build a house,” he added. “With that number, 40%, you can figure how much you would need for driveways and that will help us come up with a number.”
Will answered numerous questions from the audience during his half-hour talk.
Addressing questions about variances, Will added, “nobody is stuck right now” because variances can be sought in the interim. One such variance had already been approved, he said.
Will noted there was a lot of misinformation, so his drawings attempted to “simplify so we can be on the same page and understand where we are and where we might be going.”
The commissioner said he believed the illustrations supported the commission’s invalidated 2016 attempt to raise the ISR to 65%.
“I’m not trying to convince anybody of a number,” he said. “I’m just trying to put out some information how the building setbacks affect the building envelope.”
As Will spoke and addressed questions, attendees could be seen nodding in apparent understanding. There was even occasional laughter.
A woman in the audience said the drawings “help put things in perspective.”
A man said he appreciated what Will had done, saying it was “very beneficial.” He said he felt “we’re moving in the right direction.”
Mayor Nick Simons commented that “what Dave is trying to do is paint a picture so that we can all better understand impervious surface ratios and where we want to end up in the end result.”
The mayor said commissioners were still waiting on results of a land survey being conducted by the University of South Florida. After that, discussion on the ISR will start with the Planning Board, “but it would be nice if we could get a sense of direction of how this board, commission, would like to see, ultimately see the impervious surface ratio. And as we have said, I don’t think there’s anyone who sits up here who wants to see it at 40.”
He polled the commission for what each member wanted to see for an ISR. A majority expressed support for 65%, while Commissioner Fred Steiermann said he preferred 60 percent. Commissioner Tom Dorgan said he had not made up his mind. “I didn’t say 65, but I think that’s a good number,” he added.
Simons said, “I would be good with either 60 or 65.”
At the end of the meeting, Mayor Nick Simons thanked Will for his work on the issue and the audience applauded.
Turning to other issues that have occupied the commission for several months, Town Attorney Jay Daigneault presented drafts of proposed revisions of two sections of the town code. The first set of revisions outlines changes to regulate public nuisances, restrictions on the distribution of unsolicited printed and written materials, and changes to rules about the removal of trees and landscaping waste and the planting of “prohibited” trees such as Australian pines and Brazilian pepper. It also updates town codes dealing with noise disturbances. Daigneault said the issue of noise had not been addressed since 1980 and his suggested changes focus on noise frequency, length and volume.
The commission is expected to formally consider the potential code changes in first reading next month.
The second set of proposed revisions encompasses rules on garage sales, including their frequency and oversight; and signage and signing standards. Daigneault asked that discussion on this set of revisions be tabled so he could have additional discussions with the town planner.
In other business
• Town Clerk Missy Clarke said data from the county property appraiser indicates Redington Beach property values have increased 5.94%. If millage rates are unchanged, she projected revenue from ad valorem taxes would increase about $50,000 in the coming fiscal year. Clarke said current budget expenses and revenues were “on track.”
Commissioners are expected to get their first look at the 2020 budget in July.
• Commissioners re-appointed Ken Sulewski to the Board of Adjustment. His three-year term on the board had expired June 14.