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Date of Issue: February 17, 2010

Safety committee agrees to disband

The Anna Maria Parking Safety Committee met in the city chambers Feb. 11 to debate parking solutions and ended with approval to disband the committee.

But before the committee’s final meeting to discuss and recommend possible parking solutions to the joint meeting of the commission and planning and zoning board later the same day, a motion was made.

All three sets of drawings provided by members to help ease the concern with cars pulling across sidewalks to park in the retail-office-residential zone would be sent to the planning and zoning board and the city commission.

Former Commissioner Tom Aposporos read the approved motion: “Be it resolved that in addition to the ROR concept drawings submitted by Mr. Aubry, proposing the concept of placing sidewalks in front of cars, the concept drawings proposed by Mr. Schaefer/Hunt, Mr. Garrett and Mr. Albert should be before the planning and zoning board and city commission. Be it further resolved that the planning and zoning board and city commission should consider practical and legal impacts of the imposition on all applicable codes and ordinances of the city of Anna Maria of any concept advanced for their consideration.”

Aposporos emphasized “practical and legal impacts,” regarding, in part, the drawings being practical enough to avoid cars pulling out over sidewalks, and legal in order to conform to the city’s comprehensive plan.

Member Mike Coleman gave his opinion that not only did the new diagram submitted Feb. 11 by Terry Schaefer show that cars could still back over sidewalks, the plan violates the city’s original 1989 comprehensive plan for mixed-use development in the ROR district.

In particular, the diagrams use roughly 10,000 square feet of property for mixed use.

In the comprehensive plan, policy 1.3.4 states “the (ROR)… category shall be used as a means of encouraging mixed-use development and/or redevelopment in keeping with the… residential character….”

Coleman did not think Schaefer’s drawing echoed that policy.

“If an applicant wants possession of 5,000 square feet and wants mixed use, but has to use another 5,000 for parking, it seems that’s not encouraging mixed use,” Coleman said.

Coleman went on to say businesses may be disinclined to invest property in the ROR district based on the plans proposed in the drawings.

“The objective seems to stop businesses from coming into Pine Avenue,” Coleman said. “I can’t imagine a person taking any investment into a business strategy in a box that looks like this.”

Building official Bob Welch said that the other two drawings were similar to lots from Main Street in Sarasota, with diagonal parking. “Most major metropolitan areas have that Midwest, downtown feel,” Welch said.

In those drawings, the sidewalks were brought up onto the property and a portion of the right of way was used for parking.

Since the committee formed in December 2009, there were disagreements about interpretations of the drawings. Such a disagreement eventually prompted Coleman to request an apology from Schaefer for, as Coleman said, “questioning my objectives and motivations.”

Schaefer replied, “I’m not apologizing for my comments.”

Coleman also said that the committee did not give a specific suggestion on what action to take, the committee was essentially not doing the job the city had requested.

Other members said the committee was not charged with choosing which drawing should be selected for future development.

Welch said the committee’s plans meet code requirements.

“I feel it is right to send all sets to the planning and zoning committee and let them, along with the commission, decide how exactly these drawings fit into the original vision for the city,” Welch said.

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