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Date of Issue: May 03, 2007

Record Anna Maria commission meeting

In a city that used to thrive on meetings that often dragged on to the wee hours of the morning, the Anna Maria City Commission meeting April 25 may have been one of the shortest-ever commission meetings in the city.

Just 40 minutes elapsed between Commission Chairman John Quam opening the meeting at 7 p.m. and the conclusion of business. Even Quam seemed a bit stunned when public comment on issues was limited to three people who spoke about preserving the city's Australian pines and one who addressed the Sandbar Restaurant.

When the last person was finished, Quam looked around the commission chamber, asked again for either commission or public comment, then took a motion to adjourn at 7:40 p.m.

Even Commissioners Duke Miller and Jo Ann Mattick declined to discuss their recent spat (The Islander, April 25).

In fact, the meeting was so civil that Quam even reviewed the "Pledge of Conduct" for commissioners and the public, reminding everyone that "inappropriate and personal attacks" from the public or among commissioners during a meeting "will not be tolerated."

The commission also agreed on a new procedure that will require that anyone providing commissioners with a handout or photographs must first have the item(s) reviewed by the chairman for approval. That decision comes in the wake of Martin Hiller's distribution at the April 11 meeting of some explicit photographs taken on the beach along North Shore Drive of a couple engaged in sex.

Mattick said the distribution of the photographs was "inappropriate."

She suggested that the use of obscenity, inflammatory attacks or straying from discussion of an agenda item not be tolerated and the offender be gaveled out of order. A repeat offender should lose the right to speak before the commission, she added.

Mattick also said it's time for the public to stop bringing up issues with the media during public discussion. "The press should not be part of our discussions," she said.

The commission also approved without discussion six special event permits foroutdoor weddings at the Sandbar Restaurant.

Mayor Fran Barford said she and the city staff, along with city attorney Jim Dye and city planner Alan Garrett, are working on revisions to the city's special event ordinance.

Dye also updated the commission on the most recent lawsuit against the city by William and Barbara Nally of Spring Avenue. The suit alleges "procedural irregularities" by the city in approving special event permits for the Sandbar. Dye said the city would move this week to have the lawsuit dismissed.

The Nallys have also sued the city over its approval of the Sandbar's final site plan. While oral arguments in that case concluded in March, the court has not yet issued a ruling.

In addition, the Nallys have sued the Sandbar over its commercial parking plan.

Commissioners also approved the first reading of a new franchise agreement with Florida Power & Light, with the final reading scheduled for May 24.

Robert Hunt of 303 Pine Ave. was granted a six- month extension to his preliminary site plan approval. Hunt indicated the final plan has already been submitted to building official Kevin Donohue and commissioners agreed it should move forward to the commission for a public hearing.