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Date of Issue: June 03, 2009

Anna Maria approves plant list, landscaping fee

The Anna Maria City Commission last week adopted a list of native plants to be used under the city’s recently enacted landscaping ordinance.

During the meeting May 28 at city hall, 10005 Gulf Drive, the commission also amended its fee schedule to include a $200 permit fee to review landscaping plans and conduct site inspections.

The votes were 4-1, with Commissioners Chuck Webb, Jo Ann Mattick, Dale Woodland and John Quam voting yes, and Christine Tollette voting no, as she did against the landscaping ordinance the commission adopted April 23.

“The landscaping ordinance did allow for establishing a fee,” city building official Bob Welch said, explaining the proposal before the commission.

Welch said that the $200 rate was based on an initial review of a landscaping plan followed by two visits to the site to “verify that the plants were planted appropriately.”

He added, “I don’t think we are going to see a lot of landscape permits.”

Woodland questioned the amount, saying, “$200 rubs me the wrong way.… We’re telling people what they’ve got to plant, and then we’re charging them to do it.”

The new landscaping ordinance sets minimum standards for new developments or major renovations. The ordinance requires a minimum of three trees and nine shrubs be planted for new-construction or major renovation of residential properties. A quarter of the plants on a residential lot must be native species and 75 percent of the plants on commercial lots must be natives.

Welch, replying to Woodland’s concern at last week’s meeting, said, “It can be a complicated little issue.… I’m not for it myself, but I’m willing to do the work.”

Before voting, Mattick asked Welch to keep track of the actual cost of reviewing landscaping plans to determine if the city needs to raise or lower the fee.

“We don’t want to overcharge or undercharge,” she said.

“I appreciate that you are passing this this evening,” said Robin Wall of the city’s environmental enhancement and education committee. She added, “The $200 isn’t excessive in the big picture.”

The commissioners did not discuss the native plant list, which was previously reviewed and includes trees and shrubs deemed appropriate for the barrier island. The list also identifies invasive species prohibited in new plantings: paper mulberry, Australian pine, carrotwood, earpod tree, punktree, chinaberry, bowstring hemp and Brazilian pepper.

In other business, commissioners:

Heard from Longboat Key town manager Bruce St. Denis about concerns with the route of a proposed liquefied gas pipeline.

Approved an agreement with B.A. Garrett and Associates to draft a water supply element for the comprehensive plan, which is required by the state.

City planner Alan Garrett said the job would take about 50 hours at a rate of $100 per hour.

He also will work on a less-involved capital improvements element to the comp plan.

The commission vote was 4-1, with Woodland voting no. He said since the vote involved city expenditures, it should be postponed to allow for more public comment.

Reviewed a list of the city’s projects to be funded with federal economic stimulus funds, including repairs to the Crescent Avenue and Bay Boulevard bridges, resurfacing of Pine Avenue from Gulf Drive to Bay Boulevard, Resurfacing of Gulf Drive between Pine and Willow avenues and new or rebuilt sidewalks in several locations.

“It isn’t costing us one cent,” said Anna Maria Mayor Fran Barford.

Authorized, in a 4-1 vote, a letter from the mayor to the county and city of Holmes Beach and adopted a resolution relating to concerns about boundaries and the city’s legal description.

The resolution stated, “Issues have recently come to light indicating that the shared boundaries between the city and the other two local governments should be reviewed and adjusted.”

Specifically, Anna Maria officials want to pursue the expansion of city boundaries to take in portions of the Gulf, Tampa Bay and Bimini Bay, and also want to resolve overlapping boundaries with Holmes Beach.

“This overlap,” the resolution stated, “appears to be an oversight which may have been created when the city of Holmes Beach Charter was approved in the 1950s. This overlap may have existed for years and it simply needs to be addressed, probably as a scrivener’s error.”

Webb voted no on the motion. He questioned whether the city was following the right procedure to deal with the issues.

  • Set a tentative schedule for the city’s budget process, which will begin with a work session July 16 and conclude with public hearings and votes in September.

Barford said the budget would be “really, really lean.”

  • Approved the appointment of Sonny Hogue to the city’s EEEC.
  • Approved special event applications for the Anna Maria Island Privateers to hold a July 4 parade, the Sandbar Restaurant to hold a July 4 fireworks display and the Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce to hold a concert June 12.

Also during the meeting, Webb said he wanted the commission to address two issues at an upcoming work session — the construction of a public swimming pool and the drafting of a sexual predator ordinance.

The next commission meeting will be at 7 p.m. June 11 at city hall.