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Date of Issue: February 25, 2009

Anna Maria P&Z recommends zones combine

Anna Maria’s planning and zoning board at a Feb. 17 public hearing agreed in a 3-1 vote to recommend to the city commission that it adopt an ordinance that will merge the city’s Residential 2 (duplex) zone with the Residential 1 (single-family residence) zone.

Included in the ordinance is a provision that owners of non-conforming structures and lots in the new zone can build up, but between the height of 27 feet and 37 feet, can construct only an addition or living space that has a maximum of 50 percent coverage of the original footprint of the structure.

City planner Alan Garrett told the board and the few members of the public in attendance that elimination of the R-2 zone is needed to match the 2007 comprehensive plan and meet the Florida Department of Community Affairs April deadline for the city’s zoning ordinances to come into compliance with the comp plan.

He noted that the 50 percent limitation in the ordinance on upper-level construction between 27 feet and 37 feet should not be confused with Federal Emergency Management Agency regulations that allow rebuilding of a non-conforming structure to only 50 percent of the market value of the structure. 

 Within the next few months, an ordinance addressing non-conforming structures and uses will be presented to the board, he said. “Tonight, we are just trying to make the deadline,” Garrett said.

Garrett added that “for the time being,” the R-1 and R-2 designations “need to stay in the ordinance until such time as we rezone all the residential land.”

He told board member Jim Conoly that owners of non-conforming duplexes in the R-1 could still install a new roof and make normal repairs to their structure, as long as repairs remain within the footprint of the building.

“We just don’t want to see a lot of additions to the non-conforming use. It has to be within the footprint,” he said.

 However, board member Mike Yetter said he was against the ordinance because of the 50 percent limitation between 27 feet and 37 feet.

He said that while he found much he could agree with, “people have invested a lot of money in a 50 by 100 foot lot and now we are telling them that they can’t do something.” People will presume the lot has less value, he suggested.

Additionally, said Yetter, the clause was “draconian” and a “show-stopper.”

Former P&Z chairman Tom Turner agreed with Yetter. He said the ordinance is “ineffective,” because it says nothing about existing two-family structures and is “vague” about the footprint.

While an owner of a single-story, ground-level residence wishing to build another story in the district can only add 50 percent of the existing footprint between 27 feet high and 37 feet, another owner can tear down an older home and build a 37-foot-high residence without the 50 percent restriction, Turner noted.

As proposed, this is “too restrictive on older homes. Keep the village atmosphere,” he said.

However, the owner that builds a new 37-foot-high residence will not be allowed to use the ground-level of a three-story home for habitable space.

Garrett said that non-conforming uses, such as two-family structures in the R-1, will be addressed in the very near future by the board and commission.

Board member Frank Pytel responded that the board and city commission have been “wrestling with these lots for a long time without getting agreement.”

“We’ve tried to address it equitably, but every time there was always a reason why we couldn’t do it. This addresses over-building,” he said.

Board chairman Doug Copeland noted that the city changed its zoning in 1971 to eliminate multi-family in the Bean Point area. The change halted plans for a 200-room hotel on Bean Point, leaving “us with the city we love,” he said.

“This is something that is very important to do,” Copeland said.

The board did recommend that yard sales be an allowed use in the R-1, but the sale of “commodities” is still prohibited.

Yetter voted against the motion to recommend approval, while Copeland, Conoly and Pytel favored the measure.

Commission Chairman John Quam said the public hearings on the ordinance are scheduled for March 12 and March 26.