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Anna Maria in 2013: peace, balance, harmony

By Rick Catlin, Islander Reporter

For 2013, Anna Maria commissioners and the mayor want to continue the past two years of workable, compromising commission in good spirit.

Mayor SueLynn, who also served as mayor 2002-06, remembers past days of name-calling and hurtful allegations from commissioners and the public.

“Thankfully, we have put that behind us,” she said.

“What I’m looking for this year is continuing to work for a balance in the community. We need a balance among residents, business owners and visitors.”

The balance requires mutual respect for people.

She believes the city has made strides in code enforcement, especially loud residential disturbances after 10 p.m. and commercial construction on weekends and holidays.

That’s not to say all the city problems are solved, SueLynn said.

“We’ve made a start, a beginning, with a great staff, commissioners who discuss issues in a proper manner and are willing to compromise, and people who are searching for answers to achieve that balance.”

Finding and maintaining that balance is not easy, she said. Anna Maria is primarily a residential community with a small business district along Pine Avenue and a portion of Gulf Drive.

However, the Anna Maria City Pier is Manatee County’s No. 1 attraction for visitors and thousands come every year, the mayor said.

Additionally, the city’s beaches, Bean Point and Bayfront Park attract many people, particularly on weekends and holidays. This puts a strain on residents and the city’s infrastructure, SueLynn observed.

“We are always going to have visitors,” she said. “We just need solutions to deal with them and protect our residents.”

One of her resolutions for 2013 is to ask the Manatee County Tourist Development Council or the county commission for financial assistance, she said.

“One of my main goals for the year is to get the county to recognize the attraction of Anna Maria and the city pier and provide some funding for pier improvements. It’s what brings people to our city, and I’m going to each TDC meeting and plead our case,” she said.

The island cities provide millions of dollars in resort taxes to the county each year, yet it’s mainly only beach renourishment that brings a portion of the resort tax directly back to Anna Maria and the island, she added.

Another 2013 wish from the mayor is to study why people are moving out of Anna Maria and what the city might do to encourage residents to stay.

“It’s going to be a great year in Anna Maria,” she said.

 

Commissioner Gene Aubry

Aubry agrees there will be peace and tranquility on the commission for 2013, and there will be accomplishments.

“Just look at our last commission meeting. We had a relaxed atmosphere of thoughtful discussion. Not everybody agreed with each other, but there was a lot of respect among commissioners up there on the dais. That’s what I’m looking to continue in 2013. We’ll get a lot accomplished,” Aubry said.

He has no personal agenda for the coming year, just for the commission to continue to work to make Anna Maria a better city for everyone.

 

Commission Chair John Quam

“My hopes are that further regulations will be adopted to control building coverage based on lot size and limit residential parking based on the number of bedrooms, for new construction.

“I also wish to re-zone the six lots at the corner of Pine and North Bay and move forward with a plan to make it a recreation/open space area for the public’s use.

“Finally, I wish that TDC would allocate some of the tourist tax collected from Anna Maria property owners to the city for maintenance/repair of our infrastructure or for repair of the city pier,” Quam said.

 

Commissioner Dale Woodland

“My wish is that our residents, visitors and community would appreciate how blessed we are and each do what we can to preserve and protect it for future generations,” Woodland said.

 

Commissioner Nancy Yetter

Yetter sees a bright future ahead for the city and commission.

“I see a tremendous amount of energy among commissioners, and a lot of thoughtful discussion. My resolution for 2013 is to work as hard as I can for the city and find peaceful solutions for our issues. I know there will always be issues, but we will keep working to solve them, and do so respecting everyone’s opinion,” she said.

Yetter said the commission has come a long way the past three years in solving issues and addressing problems.

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