Anna Maria chair suggests planning for city manager

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Anna Maria Commission Chair Doug Copeland, left, tells Anna Maria Mayor Dan Murphy, right, the city should consider a city manager in its 10-year plan. Commissioners Dale Woodland and Nancy Yetter are seated between Copeland and Murphy. Islander Photo: Bianca Benedí

At the Anna Maria City Commission meeting Feb. 9, Chair Doug Copeland suggested the city consider adding the hiring of a city manager to its 10-year plan.

“I don’t know how much this commission or our residents appreciate how much is involved in your job,” Copeland told Mayor Dan Murphy.

Copeland said a city manager could bring Anna Maria a level of continuity that mayors with two-year terms could not. At some point in the next 10 years, “we’re going to need a city manager,” he said.

Murphy said he expected to bring a cost breakdown of 10-year plan projects to the commission in March.

Murphy began in January to collect suggestions from commissioners about what should be included in a 10-year plan, which he says the city needs to fulfill its comprehensive plan.

Along with discussing the possibility of a city manager, commissioners also heard the first reading of an ordinance extending the city’s formula business moratorium another six months, while decisions are made on regulating formula establishments — chain stores — in order to preserve the city’s old Florida ambience.

There was no discussion on the ordinance, which continues an emergency moratorium that has been in place since July 2016.

The final hearing and vote for the ordinance will be heard at the Feb. 23 commission meeting.

The city also turned down a requested amendment from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development regarding an interlocal agreement it has with Manatee County.

The amendment would have obligated the city to “affirmatively further fair housing,” something city attorney Becky Vose said would take control out of the hands of the city and would require any amendments to the agreement to first be reviewed by HUD.

Instead, the interlocal agreement that was signed in July 2016, without the recommended changes, will remain in place.

In other business, Murphy announced he interviewed five candidates for the position of city planner following the Jan. 23 resignation of Bruce McLaughlin.

The candidates include Misty Servia, whose resume was submitted by M.T. Causley, the planning firm that subcontracts the planner position; Bill Brisson, who serves as a consulting planner for Holmes Beach; Robin Meyer, whose experience includes working for Longboat Key and Manatee County; Craig Hullinger, a partner at the Sarasota firm of Ruyle Hullinger and Associates; and Anna Maria resident Bill Hatch, who is a real estate portfolio manager for Verizon.

Murphy said he expects to bring a final recommendation to the commission at its meeting at 6 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 23, at city hall, 10005 Gulf Drive.

In the meantime, Bradenton Beach planner and former Anna Maria planner Alan Garrett is loaning his services to the city, four days a week, addressing the city’s needs.

“We are fortunate that we had someone who knew our codes who could step in,” Copeland said.

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