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Date of Issue: July 03, 2009

Anna Maria approves amending non-conformities

Owners of non-conforming structures in Anna Maria will now be allowed to enlarge their homes or re-roof the house.

After months of discussion and work sessions on the issue by both the city commission and planning and zoning board, the commission at its June 25 meeting approved an amendment that allows non-conformities to be enlarged and re-roofed.

The problem began when the city inadvertently created a number of non-conforming properties when it lowered the density per acre to six units in the 2007 comprehensive plan.

According to city planner Alan Garrett, that made a number of dwellings non-conforming because they are situated within an acre of land containing more than six units. The further problem was how to decide which properties within that acre were conforming and which were non-conforming.

The city’s ordinance on non-conforming structures prohibits expansion or re-roofing.

But by removing the words “intensity and density” from the ordinance, owners of those properties can now legally remodel, expand or re-roof their homes.

Commissioners noted the concern of the P&Z board with how fair market value is determined in the event of a disaster that damages or destroys a percentage of a non-conforming structure.

But determining fair market value is the province of the Federal Emergency Management Authority and its flood plain regulations, not the city, said building official Bob Welch.

 FEMA determines fair market value through an independent, licensed appraiser, he said. The only other way to determine FMV is through the tax rolls, Welch added.

Garrett did note that a non-conforming structure that contains a non-conforming use still cannot be re-roofed or expanded under the amendment.

The commission voted 4-1 to approve the amendment, with Commissioner Dale Woodland in opposition.

In other business, commissioners unanimously approved a change in sending notices to members of the public about planning and zoning hearings.

Instead of requiring a return receipt, the city will give the U.S. Post Office a mailing list and the post office will certify to the city that each person on the list received the city’s first class letter.

The problem, observed Garrett, is that many people have declined to come to the post office counter to sign for the registered letter.

He showed commissioners a stack of letters that had been returned by the post office because the addressee declined to pick up the city mail.

Although Garrett said there will always be a small percentage of people who will claim they never received a letter, city attorney Jim Dye said there are many other ways in which a public meeting is noticed.

In other business, commissioners heard a presentation by Dye on a local agency program with Manatee County that will allow the city to use county resources for design and construction of projects funded by a $385,000 transportation enhancement grant due the city in 2010.

Commission Chairman John Quam was concerned that there would be oversight by the city with county agencies and staff working on the designs.

“We have to know if we have to come up with advance money and when we have to give it to the county,” he said. “We also don’t want the county making a change order without city approval.”

He also wants to ensure there is not a cost overrun by the county that will be billed to the city. Quam suggested the city have someone oversee the county work and liaison with the commission.

Dye said it’s best to do the oversight informally, rather than establishing a number of legal “milestones and guideposts.”

Dye said he hoped to have all the LAP documents ready in time for the August commission meeting. The Manatee County Commission also has to approve the LAP.

Commissioner Jo Ann Mattick, who wrote the grant for the city, said the grant is not being issued until fiscal year 2010-11.

The money will come from a federal grant, but will be administered by the Florida Department of Transportation.

DOT officials had recommended an LAP with Manatee County as a cost-saving measure, saying DOT costs would be significantly higher because the DOT has to follow federal guidelines, which are more expensive than those for the county.

Mattick, who is chairperson of the city’s transportation grant enhancement committee, said the committee has proposed construction of a boardwalk at the city pier along with landscaping a number of areas on Pine Avenue.

The grant can only be used for enhancements of the city’s retail-office-residential district and only for new projects, according to the DOT.

Commissioners also approved a resolution to have Mayor Fran Barford sign a joint statement by the Island Transportation and Planning Organization that Manatee County be responsible for funding the Island trolley.