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Anna Maria P&Z rejects parking ordinance amendments

By Rick Catlin, Islander Reporter

Anna Maria building official Bob Welch on Aug. 6 discusses with planning and zoning board members Carl Pearman, right, and Mike Pescitelli, far right, a Pine Avenue parking and landscaping proposal drawn by Commissioner Gene Aubry. Islander Photo: Rick Catlin

A proposed amendment to Anna Maria’s parking ordinance was reviewed by the city’s planning and zoning board, but it failed to gain approval.

At its Aug. 6 meeting, a vote on the ordinance ended 3-3, with member Carol Carter absent. The tie vote means the board will not recommend the plan to the city commission for approval, city planner Alan Garrett said.

The proposal would allow the city public works director to approve a variety of permeable materials for sidewalks instead of the standard concrete now required by ordinance.

Building official Bob Welch said testing has proven that concrete does not filter rainwater, while other substances aid in filtering stormwater runoff.

Welch said the change would facilitate Commissioner Gene Aubry’s proposed master plan for Pine Avenue parking and green space. He told the board the commission was still considering the plan and public hearings have yet to be held.

But P&Z Chair Tom Turner said he wanted to see Aubry’s plan.

Welch and Garrett then rolled out the estimated 15-foot-long rendering, and Turner suggested the city needs the advice of a professional parking engineer.

Other board members, including Margaret Jenkins, objected to removing language that requires parking spaces to be located entirely within the lot or parcel. But Welch said the city already allows some parking spaces to be located outside the subject property.

Member Lou Ellen Wilson raised the question of whether boardmember Mike Coleman should vote on the amendment. Coleman is a principal in Pine Avenue Restoration, a company that owns retail-office-residential complexes on Pine Avenue.

An Aug. 6 letter to the board from attorney Jeremy Anderson, representing Spring Avenue property-owners William and Barbara Nally, objected to Coleman voting. Anderson alleged Coleman’s “ties to Pine Avenue development interests create a clear and definite conflict of interest.”

Anderson demanded in the letter that Coleman recuse himself.

In response, Coleman said he checked with an attorney and was told Florida statutes require that he recuse himself only if he has a direct financial interest — either a gain or loss — resulting from the amendment. If he has none, he said, he must vote.

Coleman said the amendment has no financial affect on PAR properties on Pine Avenue, and he will neither benefit nor lose financially from the proposed changes.

Coleman, along with board members Mike Pescitelli and Carl Pearman voted to recommend approval, while Jenkins, Wilson and Turner voted no.

With the tie vote, the proposed amendment will be presented at the commission’s Aug. 22 meeting without any P&Z recommendation, Garrett said.

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