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New zoning changes seen likely to ban multiple tenants in private homes

STORY BY EILEEN KELLEY, (Week of April 25, 2013)

Planned changes to Vero Beach zoning codes could make renting a home to multiple tenants in a beachside area zoned for single-family housing against the law.

The trigger for the changes is a showdown between a Banyan Road homeowner who rents out four rooms, and her neighbors who have cried foul, saying she is running a boarding house that at times resembles a used car lot in a Central Beach neighborhood of single-family homes.

Neighbor Frank Catania, a part-time resident and New Jersey lawyer, hired an attorney and is prepared to sue the city if that’s what it takes to shut down Irene “Renee” Snyder’s rental operations.

Snyder also has another home on Shore Drive on the island where she lives and rents out rooms to her boyfriend and other men. 

The matter is expected to be addressed in the coming weeks when the city planning and zoning board holds a workshop to sort out what the city legally can do, and how far it can go without unduly damaging the property rights of other residents.

Planning Director Tim McGarry told the planning and zoning board last week that he promised the upset neighbors the matter of Snyder's homes would be put on the front burner. 

In the likelihood that the changes that McGarry and city attorney Wayne Coment are considering pass muster with the planning and zoning board as well as the city council, Snyder – who collects Social Security and also has a $10-an-hour part time job answering phones at a car dealership – will have to find another way to supplement her modest income.

 “It would be difficult for her to do what she is currently doing,” McGarry told Vero Beach 32963 recently of the tentative changes.

McGarry said the city’s current codes are so woefully outdated that some codes wouldn’t stand a legal challenge. He said his department needs to take a clear look at the books and make changes. 

The city’s own administrative building on 20th Street, he said, isn’t designated for the proper governmental public use. “I’ve even got gas stations that aren’t supposed to be along U.S. 1. Somebody has to clean this up and I think we can do it in a fair way.”