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Anna Maria puts hold on older home teardowns

By Rick Catlin, Islander Reporter

Developers thinking of turning a quick buck by tearing down one of Anna Maria’s older, ground-level homes to build a lucrative vacation rental might want to reconsider.

Anna Maria commissioners at their July 12 meeting agreed to have building official Bob Welch halt administrative approval of permits to tear down homes built before 1968 while city attorney Jim Dye prepares a moratorium ordinance.

Commission Chair Chuck Webb said he raised the issue of the administrative moratorium to avoid problems for the city until a moratorium is approved. The first reading of the moratorium is planned for the commission’s July 26 meeting.

Webb said that when developers learn of the planned moratorium, they will “hit the city running with applications” for teardowns.

It will be up to Welch to either approve or deny the applications until a moratorium is in place.

The city is in the process of establishing criteria for homes to be designated as historically significant. Such a designation would allow a property owner some leeway in complying with Federal Emergency Management Agency regulations for ground-floor homes.

Sissy Quinn is head of a committee preparing recommended requirements for historical designation.

“We’ll work on getting something to you as quickly as possible,” Quinn told the commission.

“You guys need to hurry,” Webb said. “We don’t want outside investors flooding the city. Those are the very people we are worried about.”

Commissioners voted 3-0 to declare the late Warren Spahn’s house at 203 Spruce St. to be of historic significance, with Webb abstaining because he represents the Spahn family.

But he urged Quinn to get the committee moving on definitions of what is of historic value in the city.

In other matters:

• A request by Waterfront Restaurant owner Jason Suzor for the commission to discuss amending the alcoholic beverage ordinance to allow service of all alcoholic beverages at establishments where now only beer and wine are sold ended in a 2-2 vote, with Commissioner Jo Ann Mattick absent, and was deemed rejected by Webb.

The proposed change would affect six restaurants in the city, Suzor said, including the Waterfront.

• Commissioners agreed to join a class-action lawsuit against BP Oil for the April 20, 2010, Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the northern Gulf of Mexico.

Dye said he reviewed the agreement with the Bradenton law firm of Heintz & Becker, P.A., and found no irregularities. He said he had language clarified to note that the maximum recovery fee of attorneys and experts is 20 percent, while the plaintiffs would split the 80 percent settlement on a pro-rated basis.

BP already agreed to liability and the attorneys in the Florida case against BP, which is headed by a Pensacola firm, agreed that if they lose no city would be charged any fee.

• Commissioners passed the final reading of the dock and residential parking ordinance after making various changes the past several months at public hearings.

The ordinance does not state a requirement for sidewalks to be of concrete or any other substance, but they must be of permeable material.

The riparian line for canals and docks is defined as the shortest line from the shoreline to the center of the navigable channel.

Additionally, a dock owner can rent space to only one other boat owner, and docks are permitted just one boatlift.

Other modifications include that sidewalks will be 4 feet wide on Gulf Drive and 5 feet wide on Pine Avenue.

• Commissioners passed the first reading of a new cell tower ordinance to replace the one approved in 2003.

The new ordinance allows either the planning and zoning board or commission to attach conditions, including locations where towers are allowed.

Dye recommended the first choice for a tower location be on public property or existing publicly used facilities that do not need a height increase, but an antenna can be added for extra length.

Adding antennas to already existing poles is less objectionable to people than building a new tower, Dye said.

The most unlikely location for a tower is in a residential neighborhood, according to the ordinance.

Additionally, the ordinance would provide for four carriers and economics for the tower location cannot be part of the commission’s decision on location.

Also, any cell phone carrier must demonstrate it cannot use the Holmes Beach cell tower to provide service in Anna Maria.

3 Responses to Anna Maria puts hold on older home teardowns

  1. Ben Hardin says:

    The moratorium sounds like inverse condemnation to me. The city commission is bent on over-regulation and destruction of private property rights. Someone is going to have to file suit to stop them. Next they will be telling citizens what color to paint their homes.

    • Duke miller says:

      At the top of most elected officials’ agendas in Anna Maria is preserving the uniqueness of our village. It is incredibly fragile, and we’re fortunate to live in close proximity to communities that are prime examples of what can happen in the absence of pro-active land management. Maintaining Anna Maria’s old Florida feel requires foresight and creativity on the part of our elected officials. Measures like that are obviously not going to set well with some people. Fortunately, those who are riled by efforts to protect our legacy need only relocate less than a mile to find a less restrictive environment…and the hassles therein.

  2. MRC says:

    Anyone else find it absolutely laughable that only now is Chuck Webb rushing to stop investors deface Anna Maria. This guy was part of the dream team who passed everything PAR put in front of him, never mind whether they were legal or not. In fact many were found subsequently to be illegal in the Nally court case and the City quietly forced to make amendments to the Comprehensive Plan in an attempt to cover up their mistakes. Why wasn’t he worried about the demolition and over commercialization of Pine Avenue? It is those developers who are pushing the publicity of the Island from one coast to another. Get him off the Commission!

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