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Date of Issue: May 26, 2010

DCA talks density with Anna Maria, petitioners

Officials with the Florida Department of Community Affairs were scheduled to hold a telephone conference at 10 a.m. Tuesday, May 25, with Anna Maria city attorney Jim Dye and attorneys representing Robert and Nicky Hunt, who filed a complaint against the city Feb. 11.

 The Hunt complaint alleges the city incorrectly calculated density in the retail-office-residential district and these resulting calculations violate the comprehensive plan and land-development regulations. The Hunts asked the DCA to require the city to amend its comprehensive plan.

Dye has responded to a list of questions from the DCA regarding the issue, particularly how and why the city computes density on a gross-acreage basis in the ROR, rather than on a per-acre basis.

In that response, Dye argued that there are many small-size lots of 52 feet by 104 feet in the ROR and throughout the city. Computing density on a per-acre basis would make the lots unbuildable and would potentially be a “taking” from the owners. It was not the city’s intention to make those lots unbuildable when it established density at six units per acre.

Hunt attorney Jeremy Anderson has argued that the comp-plan language is clear in requiring six units per acre, but Dye maintains that the smaller lots were grandfathered.

The complaint was filed prior to the submittal of several ROR-district site plans from Pine Avenue Restoration LLC, which are in various stages of review by the city. The city has since reviewed PAR’s plans using the gross-acreage method and found they were compatible with the comprehensive plan.

DCA official Marlene Stern said she did not expect the agency to make an immediate decision following the May 25 teleconference. Stern also noted that a DCA ruling can be appealed to an administrative law judge.

Stoltzfus’ density claims

In December 2009, four of the five city commissioners agreed with Dye on density, and declined to accept an Anderson letter demanding the city change its comp plan. But Commissioner Harry Stoltzfus did not find Dye’s opinion persuasive.

Stoltzfus publicly agreed with the Hunts’ position and provided support to the Florida Department of Community Affairs for the Hunts in a March 10 e-mail entitled “Foundation for lawsuit.doc.” His e-mail outlined his reasons and made a claim that the city was “flouting” its comp plan and land-development regulations.

Stoltzfus wrote Stern that he was not writing as a commissioner, but as a private citizen.

Stoltzfus’ e-mail to Stern asked her to address several “issues” that he believed were important to the complaint against the city.

The Stoltzfus e-mail states:

“Subject: FW: other issues in Anna Maria.

“Attachments: Foundation for the lawsuit.doc

“To: Marlene.Stern@dca.state.fl.us

“My apologies. Here’s the attachment.

“I read with interest your list of questions to our City Attorney regarding density calculations here in the City of Anna. I have some other questions regarding our City‚s apparent flouting of its own Comprehensive Plan and Land

Development Regulations.

 “Because I am a City Commissioner, and am now required to vote on site plan approvals, I don’t want to place myself in the position of having to recuse myself in the event site plans in question come before the Commission on appeal.

 “I’ve attached a list of concerns which I’d like addressed. Please ignore the attachment if you feel I have other steps to complete before you can review these concerns.

 “I can scan and send one of the site plans in question, if needed.

 “Kindly advise.

 “Harry Stoltzfus, acting as a resident of Anna Maria, and not a Commissioner.”

Stoltzfus e-mailed his supporters and Stern after reading her March 9 letter to Dye requesting answers to questions.

Stoltzfus wrote in this e-mail:

 “This has major implications. Question 12 is interesting, because it may allow addressing issues beyond the topic of density. That potential is being addressed by the Petitioners attorney; the attorney should issue an opinion within a few days.

All this relates to 216 Pine and the Administration Staff opining it satisfies the density restrictions and is therefore compliant with our Comprehensive Plan. P&Z passed 216 based on that opinion.

“Stay posted.

The Stoltzfus e-mail implies he discussed the potential for addressing other issues with the Hunts’ attorney, Jeremy Anderson.

Stern said Stoltzfus has sent her other e-mails prior to the March 10 e-mail.