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Date of Issue: December 24, 2008

Developer resolves parking, variance withdrawn

Mike Coleman of Pine Avenue Restoration LLC withdrew his request for a variance for additional parking spaces at the company’s proposed retail-office-residential project at 503 Pine Ave,, telling the city commission Dec. 18 that he had rearranged the site plan and resolved the parking issue.

Coleman’s initial variance request had gone to the planning and zoning board, where several board members had indicated that he could find the necessary parking within the project. Coleman agreed and reconfigured the site plan.

In other business, commissioners learned that Phase I of the city’s master stormwater drainage plan is nearing completion.

Mayor Fran Barford said city engineer Tom Wilcox, public works director George McKay and Southwest Florida Water Management Agency officials did a walk-through of the project site Dec. 15 and received Swiftmud approval for the work.

However, the north parking lot at city hall is still not completed. Barford said she expects the lot to reopen soon, but the contractor has to allow the sealer on the lot to dry before final paving can begin.

Once the north lot is completed and open to the public, the south parking lot will be reconfigured to accommodate the project. That should begin in about seven to 10 days, the mayor said.

Commissioners also approved a special-use permit for beer and wine sales for William Staley at Feeling Swell, a new restaurant establishment set to open at 9903 Gulf Drive, site of the former Tropical Treats eatery.

Staley and his wife are the former owners of Beach Bum Billy’s on Pine Avenue and Tropical Treats was operated by the family of Commissioner Jo Ann Mattick.

Mattick recused herself from the voting as the Staley’s are purchasing the property from her family.

The special-use permit motion was approved 4-0.

Mark Tessner, an official with the postal workers union, made a plea for a commission resolution to oppose a plan by the U.S. Postal Service that, if adopted, would send all mail from Anna Maria to Tampa for processing rather than to the ManaSota postal facility where it is now processed.

The USPS ManaSota facility near the Sarasota-Bradenton Airport would be closed and staff transferred to other USPS operations, not necessarily in the ManaSota area, he said.

If all mail is forwarded to Tampa for processing, it would bear a Tampa postmark, Tessner said, but no Anna Maria jobs would be lost. He indicated the level of service could decline and it could take several days for a letter mailed in Anna Maria to reach Holmes Beach.

Commissioner Dale Woodland said a resolution to the USPS would have little effect. “They’ve already made a decision,” even though a public hearing will be held in the near future on the issue, Woodland indicated.

Our plea to keep the ManaSota facility needs to be sent to U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, Woodland said.

“The only choice is to get Buchanan to use his influence,” he said.

Commissioners agreed to have Barford send a letter to Buchanan and USPS officials indicating the commission supports retention of the ManaSota postal facility, and commissioners will follow with a formal resolution at a January meeting.

The commission also passed a motion directing the planning and zoning board to hear city planner Alan Garrett’s recommendation to change the ordinance requirements on how to notify land owners of developments proposed in their area.

Coleman noted that, under the current requirement, it cost his development company $700 for each mailing and took several hours for postal workers to complete the registered mail process.

Garrett’s proposal for first-class mail that is certified by postal workers would only cost about $40, he indicated.

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