Madeira Beach Zoning Debate Centers on Building Heights and Setbacks

The Madeira Beach Planning Commission recently convened to address significant zoning changes in John’s Pass Village, with particular focus on building height regulations and setback requirements. The meeting, which did not disclose the attendance of specific members, included discussions on how these changes could impact the community’s visual aesthetics, the legal status of existing buildings, and future development within the commercial core and pedestrian areas.

At the forefront of the discussions was the issue of building heights in John’s Pass Village. The commission examined proposed zoning changes which aimed to provide clarity on how building heights are measured from the design flood elevation. A key point of contention involved whether enclosed rooftop areas should be counted as additional floors or included within the roof space. The potential adjustments would also affect the floor area ratio calculations, as the top floor would be considered irrespective of it being open or enclosed.

The debate extended to the practical implications of these changes, with concerns raised about how they would affect existing structures and future developments. Some buildings in the area already exceed the current height limits, and the proposed changes sought to legalize and conform these structures to new guidelines. The commission discussed the necessity of additional setbacks or landscaping to mitigate the potential impact on nearby single-family homes and maintain the balance between allowing flexibility for developers and preserving the traditional village aesthetic.

Another topic was the need for clear, visual representations of building heights. Commission members highlighted the challenges of conveying height measurements to the public, proposing the creation of plans to display the height of existing structures above the designated flood elevation for reference. The use of FEMA maps and the county’s vulnerability study were considered for more accurate data, and the possibility of employing technology such as laser measurements or GIS tools was suggested to ensure precision in measuring building heights.


Setbacks and development guidelines for the Village District’s commercial core were also a major subject of debate. Issues were raised regarding the proposed zero setback in the front and 20-foot setback in the rear. The commission stressed the importance of these setbacks reflecting the character of existing structures and the need to consider storefront usage. The impact of ADA requirements and safety considerations were also addressed, as well as the potential for rooftop amenities as a special exception use.

The commission’s discussions took a pedestrian-centric turn when members emphasized the need for regulations and setbacks that promote walkability within John’s Pass Village. Landscape design was highlighted as a tool to deter speeding and enhance the area’s aesthetics. The debate also encompassed the proposed Coastal Construction Control Line setbacks, especially in the R3 district, and the difficulties faced by properties with limited frontage due to past expansions of Gulf Boulevard.

As the meeting progressed, various views emerged regarding the approach to setback requirements. Some members advocated for leniency to accommodate non-conforming structures, while others called for strict adherence to regulations that would support the character districts and encourage a pedestrian-friendly atmosphere. The potential ramifications of setbacks on fire department regulations were considered, with the commission acknowledging the need for departmental input.


Note: This meeting summary was generated by AI, which can occasionally misspell names, misattribute actions, and state inaccuracies. This summary is intended to be a starting point and you should review the meeting record linked above before acting on anything you read. If we got something wrong, let us know. We’re working every day to improve our process in pursuit of universal local government transparency.

James Rostek
Planning Board Officials:

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