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Date of Issue: April 29, 2009

Lawyer questions subdivision plan in Anna Maria

Attorney Stephen Thompson, who represents Richard Friday of Park Avenue, Anna Maria, claims that an attempt to obtain a Florida Department of Environmental Protection permit to build seaward of the coastal construction control line is a disguise for creating a subdivision on the city’s Gulf coast.

As an adjacent landowner, Friday was asked by the DEP to comment on an application made by the Stephen A. Walker Land Trust for construction of a house on Park Avenue that would be seaward of the CCCL.

Thompson said he discovered a letter from the city indicating the property is zoned R-2 (two-family), but his research found the zoning to be E-1 (preservation), according to the city’s zoning and comprehensive plan maps.

“The maps clearly indicate that the property is zoned E-1 and designated conservation on the comprehensive plan,” Thompson wrote in a letter to Anna Maria Mayor Fran Barford.

Thompson said he also noted that the Walker Trust is proposing to develop two additional houses seaward of the CCCL and adjacent to the first house. Because his client’s property is not immediately adjacent to those two houses, he was not asked for comment on those permit applications.

“Clearly, Mr. Walker [sic] is attempting to construct a small subdivision within the city of Anna Maria on a very environmentally sensitive area,” Thompson said.

He suggested that the city be involved in the development review process along with the DEP.

“The city must determine the current zoning and comprehensive plan designation on these properties.”

 Based upon his observations, Thompson said the development “should not be permitted.”

Thompson also claimed that city planner Alan Garrett informed him that the R-2/E-1 is a “floating zone” determined on a case-by-case basis by the city.

Thompson disagreed. The burden to prove that the property can be developed in an E-1 zone is on Walker, not the city, he said.

The attorney also noted that, according to the zoning category, the owner of a two adjacent lots or parcels is required to combine the lots and the parcel is then considered as one building site.

“At a minimum, these lots should be combined for a maximum of one house that must also be reviewed for compliance with the criteria” in the comp plan and land development code, Thompson said.

He also claimed the city has to review the proposed project for compliance with the comp plan.

Thompson said he has made his objections known to the DEP.

Garrett, however, said the city has made no decision on whether to grant Walker a building permit pending a DEP decision.

“If the DEP grants a permit, then we look at the criteria to build on those lots,” he said.

The city recently adopted an ordinance eliminating the R-2 zoning district by combining it into the Residential-1 zone. However, noted Garrett, no application for a building permit has been submitted, only a site plan.

He said if Walker obtains the DEP permit, he has to apply for a building permit and the site plan would then be reviewed by the city.