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Date of Issue: March 17, 2005

Bradenton Beach comp plan committee vows to move faster, deal with transportation

Let's pick up the pace.

That was the consensus of the Citizen Advisory Committee for Review and Updating of the Comprehensive Plan and Land Development Code for Bradenton Beach, the group charged with reviewing the long-range growth pattern of the city.

Several board members appeared frustrated at the once-a-month meeting schedule and 18- 24-month time period planning consultant Tony Arrant placed on the evaluation, appraisal and review of the city's comprehensive plan.

"We need to redefine what we're doing here," committee member Mike Norman said. "We need to go through this line by line, and agree or not. I signed onto a two-year voyage, but I think we can get there quicker. I think we can get there in six or eight months. In two years, the horse is long out of that barn," he said, referring to growth and development trends in the city.

Committee member Timothy Lyons appeared to agree.

"I believe the [comprehensive plan] is poorly organized, and I believe 90 percent of what's in there will not change," he said. "I believe we can rewrite that 90 percent and make it easier to understand. I believe there are strong opinions about what needs to be changed, and I don't know why we can't do that up front."

Arrant said the committee apparently was "talking about two different things. The reason why I decided to start slow is to see the level of commitment of the committee. I'm hearing your frustration and I interpret it to mean that you want to pick the issues that concern you now, not the total statutory process. If you want to do it my way, fine, we can go quicker, if you want to do more work.

"But there's a right way to do this, and a half-assed way to do it," he continued. "If Bradenton Beach wants to amend my contract [and meet more than once a month] fine, but it will cost more money. I'm hearing a lot about changing the R-3 zoning in the city, and a moratorium, and that's fine, but that's a totally separate issue. If you want to change those things, you may not be on the right committee.

"The process is to look at and evaluate what you have and determine if it is working, and if not, to collect the data and address the changes," Arrant continued. "You're not editing a book. There are consultants that will do that. I want to do this legally and deliberately, and you've got to fix as many changes as you can in the comp plan, then there's no legal challenge."

Arrant led the committee on an exercise dealing with residential zoning which allows up to 18 units per acre in the comprehensive plan. Committee members said the correct use should be up to eight units and thought that change should be made and sent off to state officials for ratification after planning and zoning board and city commission approval.

"But what if somebody bought eight units and decided to put in one big house?" Arrant asked. "Is that what you want?"

Well, no, committee members said.

OK, said Arrant, then you don't want development up to eight units, you want eight units only, no more, no less.

Oh, committee members muttered. Right.

Fine, Arrant said, explaining that the state review of any comp-plan amendment would take up to nine months, as would the land-use changes. Local approval could take up to three months.

And that's just for that one amendment, Arrant added, and you can only do two of them a year. Why not wait until the various elements in the comp plan have been reviewed, then get them all approved at the same time rather than piecemeal.

The "quick fix" proposals were not discussed again.

Committee members did agree to begin review on one of the "smaller" elements - chapters - in the comp plan and discuss the changes in the transportation section at their next meeting April 26. Arrant predicted the transportation element could be dealt with during the two-hour meeting.

With the process firmly in hand by then, committee members may begin to tackle the thorniest of the elements, future land use.

Comp plans do a number of things for an area. They may be used to extend or redistribute growth. They may manage the timing of new growth. They may protect natural resources, and provide financial security.

Plans may also serve as a guide to new or existing development, and provide planning tools for infrastructure development or intergovernmental coordination, Arrant has said.

All comp plans must have a certain set of elements: capital improvements, future land use, traffic circulation, infrastructure, conservation, recreation and open space, housing, coastal management, and intergovernmental coordination.

The comp plan powers the future development in a city, aided by a future land-use map. Implementation of the comp plan is done through land-development codes, which the committee will also address once the comp-plan process has been completed.

The April 26 meeting will begin at 4 p.m. and will be held at the Tingley Memorial Library, 111 Second St.

In other matters, former Mayor Katie Pierola resigned from the comp-plan committee, citing scheduling conflicts and health issues.