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Boat trailers can remain in Longboat Key front yards

This Longbeach Village residence pays homage to two community traditions: peacocks and boats in front yards.

STEVE REID
Editor & Publisher
sreid@lbknews.com

The Longboat Key Town Commission sided with boat trailers being allowed to remain parked in front yards to the satisfaction of Village residents.

The Commission reached consensus at Wednesday’s Workshop meeting to move forward a new parking ordinance that will forbid the permanent parking of storage and utility trailers and RVs in front yards on Longboat Key, but only after removing boat trailers from the new regulation.

The proposed ordinance by staff included a ban on trailers in the front yard with the recommendation that they must be stored in side yards or back yards and be screened from view. Staff also recommended allowing boat trailers in front yards or driveways for a maximum of five days per 30-day period.

Vice Mayor Dave Brenner started the discussion asking if every neighborhood must be treated in the same way when it came to restricting boat trailers.

There was some discussion of enacting a rule that would apply only if there was a complaint, but he Town Attorney said there would be an issue of equal protection under the law.

Commissioner Terry Gans asked if a rule prohibiting boat trailers in front yards was really needed at all.

“What is the scope of the problem? I have heard anecdotally that the Village never has made a complaint. Is this overkill?” asked Gans.

Village resident Paul Moore said he was happy the Commission “…was seeing that there is not a problem.”

Mayor Jim Brown responded, “Do not think that because people are not complaining that they are happy.” He noted that without a rule they would only be told there is nothing the Town could do about the issue.

Another Village resident rose and said, “We should be boat-friendly; we are an island and this is a fishing village.”

Resident Craig Walters said he saw the ordinance as “a way of sanitizing our Town.”

The argument against banning boat trailers from front yards continued and centered on characterizing the Village as an historical fishing community with a tradition and legacy of boating. It was pointed out that the Village has the only Town boat ramp, which was recently renovated and that the complaints about boats in front yards came from Country Club Shores and that they should legislate that themselves instead of creating a universal new rule that was unwanted in the Village.

The countervailing argument was that trailers in yards continuing to be unregulated means any amount of trailers can be allowed and the practice runs counter to trying to create a community core value of increasing property values. Staff also said that Bradenton, Manatee County, the City of Sarasota, the fishing village of Cortez, Naples and Marco island all prohibit boat trailers in front yards and that Longboat Key has the loosest regulations around.

The Commission tried to go down another path, that of creating independent overlay districts where one community could petition the town to forbid boat trailers in front yards and another could do the opposite, but the complicated task of creating and enforcing a panoply of neighborhoods an commensurate rules became an obstacle and that idea waned.

Town Manager Dave Bullock said, “My internal bias is against having too many regulations.”

After hearing the residents and the lack of support of banning trailers at the meeting, the Commission removed the boat provision from the new law. The Commission decision leaves intact Longboat property owners right to park as many boats and trailers in their front yards unless private Homeowner covenants or deed restrictions preclude such a use as is the case in Bay Isles and other highly regulated neighborhoods.

The ordinance now only applies to RVs, storage trailers and utility trailers and they must be stored in side or rear yards and screened from view. A five-day allowance allowing the temporarily parking will apply to the storage PODs, utility trailers and RVs, which the town has determined allows reasonable time for residents and property owners to move contents and unload contents. Also, construction trailers and roll-offs are allowed when an active permit is granted.

The new law will go for a first reading at the Town Commission’s December regular meeting. It takes two meetings to become enacted.

 

 

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