Lawrence back before HISID board to consolidate lots
HOLIDAY ISLAND -- Following his appearance at the March 7 Holiday Island Planning Commission, at which he received their support for his request to consolidate several lots he owns in Unit 10, commercial property owner Joe Lawrence pled his case to the Holiday Island Board of Commissioners Monday. This was one of several attempts over the years to have his request approved.
Lawrence is asking that four lots he owns, #21-24 and a fifth, #25, that he has a purchase contract on, on Woodsdale Drive be consolidated, and his assessments reduced, to one lot under Resolution 184, passed in 2005 by the HISID board, to encourage new commercial development.
Lawrence is proposing to expand his storage business and said his purchase of Lot #25 is contingent upon the board granting his consolidation request.
Lawrence had been to the Holiday Island Planning Commission on March 7, and that board agreed with the concept but has no legal authority to replat lots.
At issue is whether the HISID board has such authority and whether it should amend Res. 184. Lawrence's request conforms with all the resolution criteria but one, frontage width requirements.
HISID commissioners held a lengthy discussion of the issue. Commissioner Greg Davis asked whether the district's wastewater treatment plant upgrade bond issue would be affected by reducing the lot inventory upon which the bond was based.
"We addressed this issue in 2012," said former Chairman Ken Ames. "The district doesn't have the authority to reduce the properties."
He read from a memo submitted to the board by former Commissioner Bruce Larson, who wrote, "The legal research by HISID's attorney in 2012 seemed very clear that HISID has no authority at all related to replatting. The owner of land and county officials are the only parties to creation of revision of plats."
Larson further wrote the 2011 Assessment of Benefits assessed each lot and each parcel of unplotted land in the district and that even if the legal owner has the right to replat land via existing county regulations and the protective covenants, for example, replatting five lots into one, that "should not have any effect on existing HISID assessments.... Therefore the assessed value of the new lot 1 would be the combined value of lots 1 through 5, at least until a new AOB is adopted."
Lawrence showed commissioners a map of the district, marking all the lots that had been consolidated and their assessments reduced in the past at their owners' request.
"I'm not trying to go into an area that hasn't been gone into before," he said. "If this goes to court, jurors are not going to care if you lose assessments. They're going to look at what's fair."
District Manager Dennis Kelly noted Lawrence's lots have more than 50 feet of frontage. If the commission revises Res. 184, they would have to allow up to 115 feet for Lot 21. He said doing this could "open Pandora's Box."
Commissioners varied in their responses, from being concerned with the legality (Ames, Graves and Davis) to supporting more commerce (Ken Brown and David Makidon).
Commissioners voted to table the matter until the April meeting and in the meantime to seek legal opinion, although it was pointed out that such opinion already exists, both from the district's counsel and from the Attorney General.