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Anna Maria rejects center’s cell tower plea

By Rick Catlin, Islander Reporter

Anna Maria commissioners rebuffed a request by the Anna Maria Island Community Center to sublet its lease with the city and allow a portion of the property to accommodate a cell tower.

At the Aug. 9 city meeting, Greg Ross, president of the center’s board of directors, said the center submitted the request to sublet because it thought the city wanted a cell tower on the center’s property because of the limited fall zone conditions at other sites within the city.

The board has selected a company to build a cell tower on the property but, according to city attorney Jim Dye, because the city leases the property to the community center, the board needs commission approval before planning to build a cell tower there.

Ross said the center is trying to become more financially self-sufficient and the monthly revenue from a cell tower would help. The center proposed to share some of the revenue with the city.

Commission Chair Chuck Webb, however, said the center is not a good place for a cell tower and everyone he’s talked to has been “100 percent opposed to revenue sharing.”

Other commissioners agreed, and when Webb asked if any commissioner wanted to make a motion to allow the center to sublet, there was silence.

“There is no motion so the issue dies,” Webb said.

He said any company can apply for a permit to build a cell tower. The lack of a motion to approve or reject subletting some of the property should not be a reflection on whether the city wants a cell tower, he indicated.

Commissioners also discussed the concept of floor- area ratio as a means to control the size of new houses.

City planner Alan Garrett said the idea arose in the 1970s to limit the size of large office buildings.

Under a FAR plan, the municipality determines what the ratio of floor space to lot size should be. Garrett used .3 for his example.

If the city adopts a FAR of .3, then the total living space of a house on a 5,000 square-foot lot would be a maximum of 1,500 square feet, or 30 percent of the lot size.

There was some confusion among board members between FAR limits and lot coverage and, Webb, along with Commissioner Dale Woodland, asked Garrett to prepare a diagram of the two concepts before the next work session.

In other business, the final public hearing of an ordinance to clear up language and ambiguity in a number of other ordinances was again continued because commissioners found more issues.

The ordinance is the result of nearly a year’s worth of meetings by an ordinance review committee composed of Garrett, building official Bob Welch, planning and zoning chair Tom Turner, former P&Z chair Doug Copeland and other city officials. The committee was charged with clarifying language, eliminating ambiguities and loopholes, and revising outdated language and methods in city ordinances, along with establishing lot, yard, bulk and parking requirements in all city districts.

The commission has continued the final public hearing of the ordinance since March.

Commissioners are attempting to ensure the ordinance contains incentives for owners of single-story homes to remodel rather than rebuild to an elevated structure.

Because the ordinance has been continued numerous times, a number of construction projects have been on hold for months, said Ross, who owns Ross Built construction.

He said he has a client who wants to tear down a one-story house and rebuild to two stories of living space over parking, but has been held up by various issues since September 2011.

The commission has an administrative moratorium on demolition of one-story homes while the city develops its historic preservation ordinance.

The public hearing was continued to 6 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 23, at Anna Maria City Hall, 10005 Gulf Drive.

2 Responses to Anna Maria rejects center’s cell tower plea

  1. Kent Armstrong says:

    Cell towers? Cell towers? Anna Maria don’t want no stinking cell towers!

  2. Island Lover says:

    Well done Anna Maria City Commmissioners! The right decision. Whilst there may be reception issues the Community Center is not the right location. Health issues on cell towers is a matter of debate and differences of opinion, but whilst they remain – please, no more cell towers on Anna Maria.

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