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Date of Issue: October 15, 2008

Anna Maria considers

The Anna Maria City Commission is considering a request to amend its ordinance against motorized vehicles on the beach to allow a slow-moving mobility scooter.

The request for the ordinance change came from Jeanne Ferguson of Acute Care Team Home Medical in Anna Maria. She who wants the city regulation against motorized vehicles on the beach relaxed to allow people with mobility issues to use her store’s Beach Scoot.

The battery-powered, all-terrain scooter can carry two people at a top speed of 6 mph.

“We would never do anything to hurt the character of our beautiful Island,” Ferguson said. “We are requesting this ordinance change for those less able to have a meaningful lifestyle.”

Ferguson, addressing a city commission worksession Oct. 9, spoke of visitors who might be going to the waters edge for a final good-bye.

“I’m just hoping you find a way to do this,” she said.

Commissioners John Quam, Christine Tollette and Dale Woodland and Mayor Fran Barford attended the meeting. Commissioners Jo Ann Mattick and Duke Miller were absent.

Quam asked Ferguson to also make her proposal in Bradenton Beach and Holmes Beach, but the commissioners generally seemed amenable to the idea.

“To me it’s simple,” said Woodland. “It’s a no-brainer.”

He said exceptions already have been made for motorized vehicles, pointing out that the sheriff’s office and Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch use four-wheelers and that a larger vehicle is used to clean the beach.

“What is the downside?” Woodland asked. “I can’t think of one.”

City attorney Jim Dye added that the federal Americans with Disabilities Act requires “the city to make reasonable accommodations … for somebody who needs a vehicle to get around.”

In other business, the commission:

  • Discussed repairs needed to the humpback bridge on North Bay Boulevard. (See separate story.)
  • Set an ordinance dealing with a request to vacate a platted portion of Palm Avenue intersecting with South Bay Boulevard for a final reading and public hearing on Oct. 23.
  • Encouraged property owners and residents to mow and otherwise maintain city rights of way, but to notify city hall if they chose to do so.

“What we want to get away from is people maintaining the right of way if it’s not safe to do so,” Barford said.

She encouraged people who plan to mow rights of way near their property to contact the city first.

“Just give us a call,” the mayor said, adding that her primary concern is the swales in some areas.

“We just don’t want anybody to get hurt,” Barford said.

  • Briefly reviewed a proposed sign-ordinance amendment to clarify policy on election signs, making the rules for campaign signs the same as for commercial, retail-office-residential properties and residential properties.

The measure likely will be revisited during a commission meeting Oct. 23.

  • Agreed to add a provision on the “lot, yard, bulk and parking regulations” to a list of measures to eventually review after hearing concerns from attorney Ricinda Perry about the measure.

Perry, a private attorney as well as Bradenton Beach’s city attorney, said she represents a Gulffront property owner having trouble selling the land because of the ordinance restrictions, specifically the requirement that a lot zoned single-family residential has “at least 50 feet of frontage on a single public street.”

“A $2.5 million transaction went south two weeks ago,” Perry said, adding that her client is dealing with another interested party but the ordinance restrictions remain a stumbling block.

“What is happening is you have two pieces of property,” Perry said. One property, which fronts North Shore Drive, contains a single-family home. The other piece of property consists of 1.5 acres behind the home and on the Gulf.

“That piece is being sold,” she said. “And this ordinance is prohibiting it.”

The commission consensus was to put the ordinance on the review list, but there was no enthusiasm for changing the policy.

“I do recall the many, many hours we spent on that ordinance,” Quam said.

He added, “We will put this on our list to review, but there is no timetable at this point.”