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Date of Issue: January 21, 2009

Anna Maria ROR amendment: not a zoning change

Anna Maria city planner Alan Garrett emphasized this week that proposed amendments to the city’s retail-office-residential district that have stirred up controversy in the city are not zoning changes.

While the proposed amendment and accompanying regulation changes have created a bit of an outcry from some residents, Garrett said the city is required by the Florida Department of Community Affairs to pass an amendment to the ROR land-development regulations to bring it into compliance with the comprehensive plan, which was revised and adopted in 2008.

Zoning ordinances to match the comp plan will eventually be adopted by the city commission, just not yet.

Some of the newly proposed ordinance changes evolved from the August 2008 city commission-planning and zoning board joint work session, while others are already part of the comp plan.

One area of the comprehensive plan provides that the ROR will be a mixed-use district of single-family residences and ROR structures.

Garrett said the city must hold two public hearings on the proposed amendment because it involves ROR land uses. The next public hearing on the amendment will be Feb. 12.

The first public hearing was held Jan. 8, and some of the people making comments were against a guest house at the northwest corner of the Pine Avenue-Bay Boulevard intersection. The guest house was brought up at the hearing by Mike Coleman of Pine Avenue Restoration LLC. PAR presently has an option to purchase the land.

Garrett noted that PAR has made no application to the city for a guest house at that location.

 Coleman said his brief presentation Jan. 8 was made to get an informal opinion from the commission, but City Commission Chairman John Quam said it was inappropriate for the commission to comment on a project before receiving any formal application.

And one is not likely to be forthcoming in the near future, if ever, indicated Coleman.

“I’d like to put this entire issue behind us,” he said.

Coleman explained that he only presented the idea to the commission at the request of someone outside the company to “get the subject out there for discussion” — to see if there was any support.

“It was not my idea in the first place. We have no intention of fighting city hall or going forward without support,” said Coleman, who lives in Anna Maria.

“If a guesthouse is not an appropriate use for the ROR, we’ll look at other possibilities. We are not looking to fight with our neighbors,” he said.

PAR only controls the land and is not the owner, said Coleman.

As the property is in the ROR district, the owners may eventually consider such permitted uses as a retail complex, ROR structures, a restaurant, or six single-family residences, each two stories over parking.

The owners could also ask the city to consider purchasing the property for use as a parking area for the city pier or to enhance the recreation area, Coleman indicated.