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Date of Issue: October 15, 2008

Pine Avenue restoration project delayed

The third project by Anna Maria developer Mike Coleman of Pine Avenue Restoration LLC to develop properties that retain the city’s historic ambiance hit a slight stumbling block at the Oct. 7 planning and zoning board hearing. Several P&Z members expressed concern for Coleman’s request for multiple variances for the project.

The proposed project, named “Cozy Corner,” calls for a retail-office-residential complex at 513 Pine Ave. that would retain the historic dwelling, built around 1920, and add three ROR structures designed in keeping with the old Florida style of architecture.

Each building was planned with retail components on the ground level, while the second floor would be residential, Coleman said.

Coleman said he needed the variances to meet parking and setback codes. The site-plan calls for 23 parking spaces, but Coleman said he needs a variance to allow some of those to be off-site. He also asked for a variance to use tandem parking for the residential units, and a 12-foot, 2-inch variance for a side-yard setback.

P&Z board chairman Doug Copeland said he believed Coleman was creating the need for a variance with the parking plan proposed in the site plan. As the plan stands, the parking configuration is “not allowed without a variance,” Copeland noted.

Agreed, said Coleman. “I have struggled with the options. I can’t solve the parking problem completely, but I could find a way with a variance,” he said.

But Copeland, along with board member Randall Stover, suggested Coleman could comply with city parking codes by constructing smaller buildings and rearranging the structures. Coleman could eliminate the need for a side-yard setback variance, and provide the required parking spaces.

“Without the side-yard setback [and with smaller buildings], you could provide parking on one side,” Copeland said. “These are not unique circumstances” that prevent a developer from building on a piece of property, he observed.

If Coleman would alter the design, that would reduce the number of required parking spaces and he could likely build without obtaining a variance, Copeland indicated.

Coleman said he wanted to be in compliance with city codes. “How can I make it work? I only became aware of the side-yard setback problem two days ago. It’s my fault,” he said.

“Compliance is my No. 1 objective,” Coleman said, adding that he would re-examine the plans and meet with city planner Alan Garrett to modify the site plan.

Board members agreed to continue the hearing to 6:30 p.m. Nov. 5, allowing Coleman time to come up with a plan that doesn’t require a variance.

But by Friday, Oct. 10, Coleman said he had modified his plan to meet all objections noted by the board. The new plan will be presented Nov. 5, he said.

The board gave unanimous approval for Pine Avenue Restoration’s modified site-plan for mixed use at 315, 317 Pine Ave., and will forward that recommendation to the city commission.

The P&Z board will meet at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 21, at city hall, to discuss possible changes to the city’s land development regulations.