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Date of Issue: August 09, 2007

Not enough people, too much to do in Bradenton Beach

Bradenton Beach advisory boards are faced with a quandary:

Nobody seems to want to serve.

There are two city-mandated bodies that make recommendations to the city commission, the planning and zoning board and the board of adjustment. There are also two other groups that offer advice to the city, the scenic highway committee and the Waterfronts: Accessible, Viable, Ecological and Sustainable group.

P&Z has been working overtime in the past few months dealing with the city’s comprehensive plan, a long-term vision of the city which will take the city through the next 20 years of its growth patterns. Members have generally been present for most of their intense efforts to provide a recommendation to the city commission, based in large part on the product of yet another group that was formed to dissect the 1989-vintage comp plan via guidance of professional planner Tony Arrant.

The board of adjustment has been held in abeyance for much of this year, meeting only a few times to deal with variance requests on issues, such as setbacks and other issues that deal with hardships to the property.

All boards, due to a shrinking population base and, perhaps, apathy, are finding it to be a tough time to achieve a quorum for meetings, presenting hardships on both the city and developers, property owners and members of related fields that show up to deal with the various matters, only to be denied a forum for lack of a quorum.

Should the P&Z and board of adjustment be united?

The answer last week was no.

A joint meeting of the two bodies unanimously decided to recommend to the city commission that the boards remain separate.

“It doesn’t fit well,” said BOA chair John Burns. “My major concern is having the same people come to us for different things.”

“What we do is fundamentally different between the two boards,” P&Z chair Rick Bisio said.

All members present were polled, and all agreed the merger would not be a good idea. The results of the poll will be sent to the city commission as a recommendation.

In other matters, planning and zoning board members agreed that they would like to have more input in matters of the city as presented by the scenic highway and WAVES committees.

“We need to start doing our job,” said P&Z member Ernest Clay. He said that the city charter and state mandates require the city’s planners to conduct “special studies on the location, condition and adequacy of specific facilities of the city, including housing and commercial facilities, recreation and open space facilities, schools, public buildings, public and private utilities, transportation and parking.”

“I propose we do what we are supposed to do,” Clay said. “We need to make planning recommendations to the city commission for city parking, city parks, trees, whatever.”

“I’m thrilled that the planning and zoning board wants to take a more active role in planning,” said Mayor John Chappie at the work session.

“It’s not what we want to do,” countered Clay, “it’s what we have to do.”

As P&Z member Bob Schubert put it, “Basically, we should be the clearinghouse of decisions and recommendations to the city commission.”

And in further business, planning and zoning board members discussed the concept of a design manual for the city’s new and future construction.

Clay, an architect, said that the proposed document included pictures that had some aesthetic features that perhaps did not meet current Federal Emergency Management Agency requirements regarding winds and other storm codes.

He specifically pointed to “gingerbread” designs and other amenities to some of the structures highlighted in the document.

Building official Steve Gilbert said that any design manuals in any city gave him “heatburn.”

P&Z members eventually decided that the matter would be again addressed at a regular meeting at 5 p.m. Aug. 16, where a vote on design issues would be decided and sent to the city commission, and a formal vote on funding could be reached to progress on the matter.