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Anna Maria: Dial M for Moratorium

By Rick Catlin, Islander Reporter

“We’re ahead of the curve. We’re ahead of Holmes Beach,” said Anna Maria Commissioner Dale Woodland after city commissioners passed a building moratorium at their Feb. 24 meeting, halting construction and remodeling to add bedrooms.

Commissioner SueLynn and Mayor Mike Selby raised the moratorium issue after learning of a number of multi-bedroom homes recently built in Holmes Beach can be rented to multiple families at the same time.

Some Holmes Beach residents have raised concerns to the city that the residential character of their neighborhood is being harmed by such large accommodations.

Anna Maria commissioners were determined not to have the problem move northward.

In Anna Maria, SueLynn said she was concerned about the recent purchase of 60 N. Shore Drive, where an existing home on three lots was bulldozed.

Building official Bob Welch said the owners, MEK LLC, had obtained a permit to clear the property, but had not submitted plans for a building permit.

“We all have fears about what might be built,” Welch said.

Plans for a six-bedroom residence at 111 Maple Ave., Anna Maria, being built by Modus Operandi Construction LLC, resemble a property in Holmes Beach that Modus Operandi built, Welch said, as he distributed the floor plan to commissioners and the public.

Commission Chair Chuck Webb said his concern was there could be from five to seven bedrooms in just 2,000 square feet of living space.

“My concern is we are going to get three of those built at 60 N. Shore Drive,” Webb said. “That’s 18 bedrooms.”

“Unlike in Holmes Beach, we don’t want these popping up all over the place,” SueLynn said, as she proposed an immediate moratorium on new residential construction.

Webb said the city should really narrow the focus of the moratorium, and suggested several things the city should do to limit such construction.

Among those were ensuring a single-family home is not planned to be a vacation rental, avoiding licensing by the state and Manatee County. The city should also establish a licensing procedure and inspect all permit applications to determine if the construction is for a vacation rental or family residence.

Webb said the city codes and other measures should be employed to halt rental home construction, but SueLynn and Woodland argued for the moratorium first, while solutions could come later.

“Just focus on the moratorium,” at this time, she said.

The moratorium extends to all new single-family construction, or any construction or remodeling that could increase the number of bedrooms in a residence.

City attorney Jim Dye agreed the city had justification for an immediate moratorium, but cautioned the city to attack the problems quickly.

“There is an influx of homes in the city that are threatening the residential use of the city and the city is going to examine its codes to determine what can be done. I think you have justification,” he said.

“Just have the building official inform applicants that ‘zoning in progress’ is under way in the city, and justify what you are doing in the moratorium ordinance,” Dye said.

“But don’t stick it on the shelf. Come back with a specific date” to complete the solutions, he added.

Developer Mike Coleman, however, said he had just spoken with a Holmes Beach developer about the three lots on North Shore Drive.

“He said he had no plans for any multi-bedroom residence, that they were all for single-family residences,” Coleman said.

He said some developers and builders in Anna Maria already were building large residences.

Dye said he would have the moratorium ordinance ready for a first reading March 8.

7 Responses to Anna Maria: Dial M for Moratorium

  1. Ben Hardin says:

    Sounds like a bunch of communists are running the island.

    • Duke Miller says:

      No, Mr. Hardin (or could it be Wisconsin Senator Joe McCarthy incarnate?), a bunch of communists are not running the island.

      People who come to Anna Maria either get it or they don’t. Those that get it, stay. Those that don’t usually leave. Unless they came here for a different reason-to capitalize on the island’s uniqueness for personal gain, come hell or high water. And that’s what we’ve got here. Plain and simple. They just don’t care about anything but making a buck, often at others’ long term expense.

      We’re not communists. We’re a bunch of well-meaning citizens who happen to love this place for what it is, and it’s our right to protect our property when others try to destroy it without regard for what this place means to many of us. In 2007, one of “them” tried to build five homes on a narrow strip of beach leading to the gulf. We put in a moratorium, crafted a code to prevent it, and went on about our business. Protecting what we’ve got.

      There’s one other difference between our island and one run by communists. You can leave if you want to. Especially if you don’t get it.

      • Ben Hardin says:

        Seems a little extreme to tell people they can’t add a bedroom. A fine example of our government over-regulating. I for one am sick of being told what I can and can not do on my property. And for the record, I am a long time owner on the island and have never rented my home or any other home on the island.

        • Richard Groff says:

          then you would not mind if i started running a red light house down the road from you, right?

          • Ben Hardin says:

            Brilliant Richard. I think there are already laws about that. Hardly the same as adding a bedroom to one’s home.

  2. Sandra D'Amato says:

    Thank you Mr. Miller for writing that short letter- it was beautifully written, short and sweet and to the point! I am so grateful for the people who live here and fight for the island!

  3. Ah says:

    ‘we’re ahead of the curve, we are ahead of Holmes Beach’ – ridiculous and false statement. Firstly Anna Maria are only just recognizing they have a problem. Holmes Beach recognized this years ago and already are well underway to stopping weekly rentals and only allowing monthly rentals in certain areas and certain zoning. Anna Maria still allows nightly rentals in all the residential districts – that’s how behind the curve the are. Finally they have turned Pine Avenue into a total tourist area along with all the publicity that goes with it encouraging developers to build large houses to ‘feed’ the commercialized Pine Avenue. Watch Anna Maria spend years discussing this problem and achieve nothing while the development goes on unabated.

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