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Date of Issue: November 18, 2009

New commissioner questions Pine Avenue parking

Newly elected Anna Maria City Commissioner Harry Stoltzfus wasted little time fulfilling a campaign promise to investigate parking on Pine Avenue.

Anna Maria City Commissioner Harry Stoltzfus.

Moments after he was sworn in Nov. 12, Stoltzfus e-mailed a three-page memo to Mayor Fran Barford, other commissioners, planning and zoning board members, city attorney Jim Dye and others, indicating he was having difficulty reconciling the parking arrangements at 315 Pine Ave. and 317 Pine Ave. with the city’s comp plan and its land-development regulations.

The complex in question was developed by Pine Avenue Restoration LLC, a company whose principals include city residents Ed Chiles and Mike Coleman. Its site plans complied with all parking requirements. No variances were applied for and PAR maintains that lot coverage, square footage and elevation were reduced below the allowed amounts.

But Stoltzfus said in his letter that the comp plan appears “out of sync with the hazards created by 315-317 Pine Ave.” Additionally, he said, some comp plan wording appears to be “in direct conflict” with the project.

He cited eight goals, objectives and policies of the comp plan that appear to be at odds with parking at the complex, along with six LDR regulations.

 Stoltzfus said one major hazard is that a motorist has to back out across a sidewalk and into a “live lane” of traffic.

He asked if the parking arrangement was “in accordance with commonly accepted traffic engineering practices” and called upon the city to review its codes and answer whether the site plan complies with the city’s LDR and comp plan.

The new commissioner said the “issues at stake” are sufficient enough to get a written opinion from Dye, and he requested a discussion at the new commission’s first work session.

Coleman said he had no comment about the Stoltzfus memo.

The comp plan was passed in October 2007 by the commission, while the site plan for PAR’s Pine Avenue development was approved in July 2008.

The city commission’s next work session is not scheduled until January 2010. The commission’s Nov. 18 and Dec. 17 meetings are regular sessions.