Story Tools

Date of Issue: April 28, 2010

ROR moratorium dead in Anna Maria

Anna Maria Commission Chair John Quam may have kept the city out of trouble — and helped avoid a lawsuit and an unnecessary moratorium.

When discussion of a proposed moratorium on building permits and site plans in the retail-office-residential district came up at the commission’s April 22 meeting, Quam acted quickly to introduce a counter-proposal.

The issue has been about “backing out across a sidewalk,” which is illegal in Manatee County, he observed.

Instead of a moratorium, just amend the city’s parking ordinance — Chapter 90 — with specific language to eliminate back-out parking across the sidewalk onto the road in the ROR, he suggested. The commission would then proceed with the planning board to get a “workable parking plan” in the ROR, Quam added.

The idea caught on with his colleagues, including Commissioner Harry Stoltzfus, who had long argued for a moratorium.

“It’s no secret I’ve been trying to get Chapter 90 changed. If we can achieve that without a moratorium, I’m for it,” Stoltzfus said.

Stoltzfus said the amendment should apply immediately.

City attorney Jim Dye said it could if the commission adopts a specific effective date. The amendment could be backdated to when the commission began discussing parking safety on Pine Avenue.

Projects that were submitted after the effective date could be considered “in flux,” he said.

Quam’s suggestion was good enough for the other commissioners.

Because the ROR moratorium was an agenda item and not a proposed ordinance, it died quietly when the commission voted 5-0 to amend Chapter 90 and begin preparing a new parking plan for Pine Avenue.

Quam’s plan was appealing to Mike Coleman of Pine Avenue Restoration LLC. The company’s Pine Avenue projects have been the subject of many commission debates and some current city legal issues.

 “We are interested in the best long-term outcome for Pine Avenue and our city,” Coleman said.

If the commission can produce a rational parking plan that is “consistent with the comp plan objectives to encourage mixed-use, that does not diminish property rights, we will endorse that plan, both for our existing and future developments,” he said.

“Chairman Quam took an encouraging first step in leading the city toward unity on this issue.”

City hall closing

In other business, Mayor Fran Barford said the staff is “overwhelmed” with more 32 public records requests since March 10. As a result, some city business has fallen behind.

“We need to get our business done,” she said.

To catch up on all the records requests and other city business, the mayor said city hall will close to the public on Friday, April 30, as well as May 7 and May 14.

City staff will be working and the building department will be open to the public for its normal hours, she said.

Barford also noted the rising cost and increase in the number of meetings the past three months for which consultants were required to attend.

City treasurer Diane Percycoe said the city is already over its budget for consultant fees for the 2009-10 fiscal year.

Galati, Old Salt fishing tournament

Commissioners approved a special event permit for the Galati Marina/Old Salt fishing tournament May 27-30, but not before ensuring there would be adequate security, parking arrangements and that people living on South Bay Boulevard would be able to get in and out of their houses without an issue.

Off-duty deputies from the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office Anna Maria substation will provide security, along with Galati staff and Old Salt volunteers.

Moratorium for Walker estate

A moratorium in Anna Maria is not a completely dead issue.

Commissioners agreed to a suggestion from Dye to begin a moratorium process to halt construction in the conservation land-use category — beachfront from the southern city limit northward to Bean Point — in the comprehensive plan while the city examines the language and decides on the intent. The comp plan prohibits development in that land-use category, he said.

The issue came up when Richard Friday sued the city to stop construction of the Banyan Tree Estate project on the Walker property on Park Street, Dye said. The Walker property is in the conservation land-use area and the city has approved a site-plan for Banyan Tree Estates.

Dye said the moratorium gives the city a “time-out” while it sorts out the issues. He also said that the situation already has resulted in one lawsuit, but if the city acts to resolve the conflicting land use, the other party is likely to sue the city for its development rights.

New permit fees

The commission adopted new permit fees, including a building permit fee that will be based on valuation and not a flat rate, building official Bob Welch said.

Stoltzfus noted that the $900 fee plus $20 for every $1,000 of valuation for a building permit works out to 2 percent.

In other business, the commission agreed to further discussions about moving the start date for qualifying for a city office from Sept. 15 to June 9 to save between $4,000 and $5,000 during state primary election years.

Manatee County wants the June date to put Anna Maria candidates on its ballot, which is printed the day after the primary election. The city can opt out of the June deadline if it pays for its own ballot, Percycoe said, but that cost is $4,000-$5,000.