PALMETTO, Fla.— Tammy and Kris Greene dreamed of living near the water, purchasing a home in this Palmetto neighborhood because of its relaxed building restrictions.

“I have three boats,” said Kris Greene. “I have to have somewhere to put them.”

He got approval from the county to build a 40-by-60 foot, two-story steel garage. But when the structure started going up, some of his neighbors weren’t too happy.

“It doesn’t fit in at all,” said Joe Giaramita, who lives several doors down. “It’s a big commercial building with all the houses in this neighborhood.”

But with approval from the county, the Greenes moved forward with construction, finishing the garage.

“Three months later, I get a notice (that) I’m in violation of a setback policy,” said Greene. “I said what’s going on here. The county approved everything.”

Turns out Manatee County’s building department incorrectly approved the plans allowing for a 20-foot setback when a 25-foot setback is required. The violation was pointed out by one of the angry neighbors.

“By the time the mistake was discovered, construction was too far along to stop it,” said John Barnott, director of building and development services for Manatee County.

So what now? The county is in the process of deciding whether to grant the Greenes a 5-foot variance.

The alternative would be to correct the mistake, which could be very costly for the county.

“I’d be devastated If I had to tear my building down … to rebuild,” said Greene.

“My staff is very upset a mistake was made because they strive every day for perfection,” said Barnott.

The Greenes point out the building meets all county codes except for that 5-foot setback. They’re hopeful the county sticks by their original approval so life can get back to normal.

“And then we can go about our lives and be happy with our neighbors,” said Greene.

If allowed to keep the garage, the Greenes plan to add stucco and brick along with palm trees and landscaping to help the garage better blend in.

A decision from Manatee County is expected in the next 10 days.

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