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Date of Issue: June 24, 2009

Non-conforming 'football' kicked back in Anna Maria

Anna Maria’s planning and zoning board at its June 16 meeting was deadlocked on approving a recommendation to the city commission on an ordinance allowing owners of non-conforming residences the right to expand or re-roof.

With chairman Doug Copeland absent, the board split 3-3 on the recommendation, which city planner Alan Garrett said usually means denial of a recommendation. The recommendation was to remove the words “intensity and density” from the ordinance.

But the ordinance also covers repairs following a natural disaster.

Board members opposed were concerned about how fair market value is determined in the event of such a catastrophe to the non-conforming structure. The city ordinance calls for an independent appraiser to determine the value.

Board member Randall Stover took exception, noting that any “good attorney” could challenge that value.

Building official Bob Welch, however, said the city is bound by National Flood Program regulations of the Federal Emergency Management Authority, which require a certified independent appraisal.

“We don’t like it, but there’s nothing we can do about it,” Welch said.

Under Florida law, fair market value can only be determined by either an independent, licensed appraiser or the county tax rolls, he added.

“It’s not a perfect system, but I don’t know what you would replace it with,” Welch said.

The board agreed to disagree, but kicked the ball, the non-recommendation, back to the city commission, noting concerns about fair market value.

In other business, the board recommended approval of an ordinance that would eliminate the need for “return receipt requested” when the city mails required notices of public hearings to property owners.

Garrett noted that many people were declining to take the green receipt to the post office counter to accept the certified letter.

Instead, the board recommended the city use the certificate of mailing process offered by the U.S. Postal Service. The post office guarantees that everyone on the list provided by the city and sent a first-class letter will receive that letter in his or her mailbox, rather than at the post office counter.

Garrett said this will ensure more people read about a public hearing and will save the applicant considerable money. Applicants appearing before the board are required to pay the cost of mailing a public notice of a hearing.