Belleair Beach Motels Appear to Violate Law on Barring Businesses
by Leo Coughlin
BELLEAIR BEACH - It appears that the motels operating on Gulf Boulevard in Belleair Beach are in possible violation of city ordinances.
Specifically, Chapter 94 (Zoning), Article V (Supplemental District Regulations), Section 94-252 (Commercial Activities) of the Code says "Business offices, bars, manufacturing, professional services, restaurants, trades, warehouses or other business activities shall not be permitted in condominiums, dwellings, garages, collateral structures or anywhere on property within the city."
The three motels all describe themselves in state corporation records as "non-profit." Non-profit merely means, in a legal definition, that "no part of the entity's income is distributable to its members, director or officers."
The section cited in the Code was passed by the City Council in September, 1994, and it appears that the only one of the motels that might possibly be "grandfathered" in respect to the law is the The Nautical Watch Owners Association, Inc., at 3420 Gulf Boulevard the charter of which shows it was "amended" in 1986.
The others - Belleair Beach Club, LLC, at 3200 Gulf Boulevard, and Belleair Beach Resort Owners Association, Inc., at 2040 Gulf Boulevard, have charters that were reinstated in 2008 and 2000, respectively.
Chapter 94 of the Code sets forth all the land use categories in the city. Though it makes provision for condominiums, which are units within a single building, with individual ownership, there is no provision whatsoever for commercial enterprises.
The very idea of a corporation dealing with the public selling goods or services, which all three motels do, is the very definition of a business which is explicitly barred by Belleair Beach ordinance.
By any observable standard, the motels appear to be commercial businesses. They advertise on the Internet and on their own signboards in the manner of conventional motels.
They offer accommodation rates and advertise the amenities motels ordinarily offer. There is no hint that the motels are in a condominium or time-share category.
One observer opined that "Gee, I guess all the hotels and motels in Pinellas County would love to be non-profit companies."
Belleair Beach city officials show little or no interest in the status of three businesses that have operated in their city for years. Whether the city collects property taxes from the businesses is not known.
City officials have been working intensely on the budget for fiscal year 2010 and cutting expenditures. If property taxes were being collected from the motel businesses that would obviously ease the situation.
Non-profit corporations are clearly defined both in Florida law and by the federal Internal Revenue Service.
Under Florida law, according to Chapter 617.0301, non-profit corporations may be organized for purposes "not for pecuniary profit" and these purposes can include charitable, benevolent, educational, historical, civic, patriotic, political, religious, social, fraternal, literary, cultural, athletic, scientific, agricultural, horticultural, animal husbandry.
None of these seem to apply to three motels in Belleair Beach. There is nothing to distinguish the businesses from any of the other motels and hotels in the area.
The IRS lists 26 categories of non-profit entities. None seem to apply to the three motels in Belleair Beach, the closest being 501(c)(7), "Social and Recreational Clubs."
That would clearly seem not to apply to the businesses in Belleair Beach.
Return to Current Edition