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Date of Issue: October 12, 2006

Commission agrees: less ROR on Gulf Drive in future

It may have taken Anna Maria just under four years to prepare its new comprehensive plan, but it's now ready for public scrutiny - and an official vote.

City commissioners at a special meeting Oct. 2 approved the revised plan and accompanying future land-use map and scheduled the public hearing on the plan and FLUM for Tuesday, Nov. 21, at 7 p.m.

The commission did, however, make some changes to the proposed FLUM presented by the planning and zoning board.

Thanks to a concerted effort by Robin Wall and other Palmetto Avenue homeowners, the commission agreed to keep two lots owned by Commissioner Linda Cramer on the northwest corner of Palmetto Avenue and Gulf Drive as residential on the proposed FLUM, not retail-office-residential as suggested on an earlier map.

Wall and several Palmetto Avenue property owners had lobbied at numerous commission and P&Z meetings against adding more ROR areas near their properties.

Cramer said her two lots were supposed to be zoned commercial according to a 1991 city commission meeting. She had argued for inclusion in the new ROR area, which includes the lots north of her property on Gulf Drive to Spring Lane.

Although Cramer's property was listed as ROR on a March 2006 FLUM proposed by the city's comprehensive plan advisory committee, the commission changed the land use on those two lots to residential at a previous worksession.

A motion by Commissioner Christine Tollette that the commission change those lots back to ROR on the map died for lack of a second. Cramer excused herself from voting or seconding the motion.

After the motion failed, Cramer asked professional planner Tony Arrant if her property was zoned commercial, does it stay commercial.

Actually, said Arrant, those lots aren't commercial. According to the official zoning map as adopted at the time of the previous comprehensive plan, the property is zoned medium-density residential, he said. As proposed, the lots will become residential. The proposed comprehensive plan will eliminate the medium-density residential land use category.

Arrant noted that the commission can't change zoning if it conflicts with the current future land-use map. If the commission wants to change zoning, it has to pass a small-plan amendment to its comprehensive plan and have that approved by the Florida Department of Community Affairs in Tallahassee.

Apparently, that's what happened to Cramer's property. She produced documents showing the city commission voted to change the zoning to commercial in 1991, but no accompanying amendment was ever filed with the DCA, according to Arrant's research.

He added, however, that from Cramer's documents, it "appears that the city intended to change the property back to commercial on the future land-use map," but never filed the appropriate comp-plan amendment.

Following the meeting, Cramer said she had "no comment" on the commission's failure to second Tollette's motion.

The commission also agreed to make the lots on the east side of Gulf Drive between Magnolia Avenue and Palmetto Avenue commercial on the FLUM, not retail-office-residential as proposed by the P&Z board.

Some members of the public were confused over land use and zoning. Arrant noted that there are several properties in the city where the land use doesn't match the zoning. Zoning must match the FLUM as approved by the DCA, he noted.

Other changes to the FLUM followed.

In a 3-2 vote, the commission agreed to change the future land use on the four lots on the west end of Pine Avenue on the north side from residential-retail-office to residential. However, commissioners declined to change the land use of five lots on the north side of the east end of Pine Avenue to ROR and voted that those properties should remain commercial on the FLUM.

Commissioners also approved several other changes to the proposed plan and added language that "all developers," including those constructing a commercial property, must address recreation and open-space impacts.

The comprehensive plan and FLUM can still be changed at the public hearing, Arrant noted to the commission and the attending public. A copy of the draft FLUM as approved by the commission Oct. 3 will be available at city hall within a few weeks, Arrant said.

The commission first met with Arrant on Jan. 18, 2003, to discuss land use and the need to revise the city's comprehensive plan. The original deadline for submission of the revised plan to the DCA was March 2006, but there is no penalty for missing that date. Arrant indicated at the Oct. 2 meeting that the public hearing on the plan will likely take several sessions.