New rule a lightning rod issue for island residents

Editor & Publisher

Longboat Key town staff will return on Sept. 14 and present the commission with a revised set of rules designed to control how high lightning rods can protrude from buildings.

The issue caused significant controversy last spring when property owner Boris Miksic installed a lightning protection system that loomed far above the maximum building height in his newly-constructed Country Club Shores home.

Residents objected and Miksic has been withheld a certificate of occupancy until the issue is resolved.

Miksic applied last spring to the town for a Zoning Text Amendment for lightning protection systems to be an allowed exception to height and daylight plan regulations in the town zoning code.

Part of the argument made by staff in support of his request is that television and dish antennas are exempt from the height rules.

Initially, Miksic wanted the lightning structures to be exempt and no limitation placed on their height, size or other dimensions.

Staff last spring agreed with the applicant that lightning protection systems support health, safety and welfare, but when the issue got to the Town Planning and Zoning Board last May, the Board recommended a maximum allowance of six feet above allowed home heights for lightning rods with the ability to request an additional 10 feet through a Special Exception approval. In essence, the Planning and Zoning Board and staff both then recommended to the Commission to allow a maximum of 16 feet above building height. But the Commission last June felt differently.

The Commission on June 30 under pressure from numerous residents, told staff to limit the height to no greater than 6 feet through Special Exception in residential districts.

The new ordinance will treat all existing and previously erected lightning protection systems as grandfathered if they were installed prior to the effective date of the ordinance. That would effectively give a pass to Miksic, whose home would not meet the proposed new rules.

The Commission is considering the new rules at its regular meeting on Sept. 14 and will hold a second reading and the regulations will become law if approved on that date.

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