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Date of Issue: February 02, 2006

Sandbar granted site-plan extension

After hearing arguments from Sandbar restaurant attorney Ricinda Perry that her client should be allowed an extension to submit a final site plan, the Anna Maria City Commission approved the request at its Jan. 24 meeting, but noted that the wording of the code needs to be changed.

The Sandbar's preliminary site plan was approved on June 29, 2005, and the code gives the restaurant six months to submit a final site plan or the city would consider the application "withdrawn," according to the ordinance.

But "withdrawn" does not mean that the site plan is "expired, null and void or terminated," argued Perry.

The Sandbar and city staff have been working the past six months to meet the conditions set down by the commission June 29.

She said the Sandbar has been waiting patiently for a response from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection for a necessary permit and the city's June 29 approval required that the Sandbar obtain "all necessary government permits" before returning with a final site plan. The Sandbar can't return to the commission with a final plan until it receives the DEP permit.

Even though the extension request was after the required six months, in Perry's opinion, the city can grant an extension any time, as long as it's satisfied the applicant is still working on meeting the conditions set forth in the preliminary approval.

City Attorney Jim Dye agreed, as did City Commissioner Duke Miller.

"It's clear the applicant has continued to work on the plan the past six months," said Miller.

However, he noted, the code needs to be revised to be more specific regarding when a preliminary site plan is considered "terminated," and Dye agreed the commission could make the language clearer in the ordinance.

After the commission granted the Sandbar a three-month extension, Commission Chairperson John Quam moved discussion of changing the code to the commission's February worksession.

City audit

City auditor Ed Leonard gave the city the highest rating possible after reviewing the city's accounts for 2004-05, but noted that the city's reserve fund had been declining the past two years because of capital improvement expenditures.

While not a threat to the financial health of the city at this point, Leonard suggested the city takes steps to reverse the trend.

Consolidation

Mayor SueLynn reported that she is attending meetings on Island consolidation between Holmes Beach Mayor Carol Whitmore and Bradenton Beach Mayor John Chappie, but only as an observer. She noted she has no commitment from the city commission to pursue any feasibility study of consolidating Island governments, but believes that attending the meetings will keep the commission up to date on the consolidation effort between Holmes Beach and Bradenton Beach.

In other business, the commission approved the line-of-credit ordinance that will allow the city to borrow up to $1.5 million for capital improvements.

The program is sponsored by the Florida Association of Counties through Wachovia Bank, which is also where the city banks.

Quam and City Commissioner Dale Woodland will draw up a policy on how the mayor will withdraw the funds. Any expenditure must still be approved by the commission.

SueLynn said she'd like the commission to approve the first withdrawal at its Feb. 23 meeting.

The commission also passed an ordinance amending the fence regulation, location of fences and height, and materials that can be used to build a fence.

Commissioners unanimously passed a motion to hire land-use attorney Nancy Stroud of Boca Raton to review the city's proposed coastal overlay district ordinance for potential legal challenges, specifically from a lawsuit under the Bert Harris Act.

The ordinance would control new development within the district boundaries, which include all property seaward of the coastal construction control line as established by the DEP.