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Date of Issue: May 18, 2006

Commission wants more law enforcement action

Manatee County Sheriff’s Office deputies stationed in Anna Maria are apparently not doing enough law enforcement to satisfy the city commission.

At its May 11 meeting, commissioners agreed to send an informal memo to Mayor SueLynn "requesting" that deputies "strictly enforce" traffic regulations, particularly speed limits. The commission also asked that a sign be placed at the 25-mph speed-limit sign on Gulf Drive at the entrance to the city stating the speed limit is "strictly enforced."

The memo was backed by Commissioners Dale Woodland and Duke Miller, who both wanted to give SueLynn’s administration "direction" on law enforcement and speeding.

"It’s like we are afraid to write tickets because of all the people from up north who complain," said Miller.

Woodland wanted language in the MCSO contract with the city requiring "law enforcement" clauses.

"We can’t get involved now, but if it’s in the contract, we can," he said. "Right now, we can only approve and the mayor administers."

Commission Chairperson John Quam, however, thought such a measure might be going too far and suggested just a simple memo to the mayor on enforcement of the city’s speeding regulations would suffice.

SueLynn was in Fort Lauderdale attending a hurricane conference and was not at the commission meeting.

Reached for comment later, she said she would have to listen to the tape of the meeting and read the memo before giving a response.

Discussion of law enforcement was prompted by a letter from Baskerville-Donovan Inc., the city’s engineering firm, about safety at the Pine Avenue-North Shore Drive intersection.

BDI said the biggest problem at the intersection is that vehicles on North Shore Drive often fail to see the enlarged stop sign. It recommended "increased consideration be given to law enforcement," as "this requires an officer to ticket those drivers failing to stop."

BDI also recommended several other safety measures, including construction of "rumble strips" on North Shore Drive to alert drivers of the impending stop.

The company recommended against speed bumps, more crosswalks, and the addition of stop signs on Pine Avenue.

In other business, the commission directed City Attorney Jim Dye to prepare an ordinance that would allow owners of non-conforming lots of 50 feet by 100 feet to build a single-family home, even though the city’s current requirement is that a residential lot must be a minimum of 7,500 square feet.

Dye noted that about 75 percent of all lots in the city are non-conforming for size, including all of the Pine Avenue lots.

Along with the ordinance change, the commission asked Dye to remove the requirement for the owner of a non-conforming lot to get a variance to build, and there would be no requirement that the owner of two adjacent lots must combine the lots.

The commission consensus was that 50-by-100-foot lots are OK to build a single-family home on, provided that current setback requirements could be met.

The commission also discussed changes to the city’s sign ordinance and learned that a number of proposals in the revised ordinance were "content-based" and would not stand up in court.

Commissioners also proposed to eliminate any "exceptions" to the "one-sign, one-residence" rule. Signs at a house undergoing renovations advertising the contractor would be illegal if another sign were already on the property.

The commission said it would discuss enforcement of the proposed ordinance and fines for any violations at a future worksession.