Anna Maria checking ground-floor uses

Anna Maria Mayor SueLynn said the city’s three certified code enforcement officers will be looking closely at ground- floor garages at three-story homes the next few weeks.

She said the city has received several complaints that some property owners may have enclosed the ground-floor parking area without a permit, and may have added living space.

“We don’t know what’s true, but we are going to be checking downstairs walled garages over living space,” the mayor said.

The city follows the Federal Emergency Management Agency regulation that calls for all residential structures, or remodel work at a cost of more than 50 percent of the appraised value, to have elevated living space. The ground level can contain only storage, parking and entry, and may not be used as a livable area in Anna Maria.

“If you’re caught using your ground floor as living space when it should only be for parking and storage, you may be issued a citation and may have to appear in the special magistrate’s court,” the SueLynn said.

Some ground-floor living space might have been grandfathered for use since the city adopted the FEMA requirement in 1974, building official Bob Welch said.

The mayor emphasized that enclosing the garage floor to gain additional living space in violation of the regulation is “not going to work in Anna Maria. Sooner or later you will be caught.”

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