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Date of Issue: January 14, 2009

P&Z considers Anna Maria ROR changes

Anna Maria’s planning and zoning board at a Jan. 6 public hearing agreed to a number of amendments to the city’s retail-office-residential ordinance, including a recommendation that ROR structures no longer have to be owner occupied.

The public hearing was held to amend the ROR land development regulations to coincide with the recently enacted comprehensive plan and recommend to the city commission that it adopt a number of changes approved at an August 2008 joint work session of the commission and the board.

The board gave consensus to let stand the recommendation from the joint session that ROR units do not have to be owner occupied. The current ordinance requires that such units be occupied by the owner or renter of the building.

Several residents, however, contend that the ordinance amendments are only being pushed by developer Mike Coleman of Pine Avenue Restoration LLC to allow rentals for wedding parties that will use the Sandbar Restaurant, which is owned by PAR partner Ed Chiles.

Former City Commissioner Carol Ann Magill said she believes the requirement for owner-occupied units was not intended to be eliminated in the ROR.

“Mike Coleman knew the law when he submitted his proposal [at 315-317 Pine Ave.], and now he wants to change the law for his investors,” she said. “Why should we change now to accommodate the needs of an outside investor? I feel deceived and manipulated.”

Magill said the board and commission should spend more time studying the impact of the proposed changes.

That’s when P&Z chairman Doug Copeland stepped in to clarify how and why the ordinance was prepared.

“For the record,” said Copeland, “this is an ordinance developed by the city commission and the planning and zoning board” in August. It was put together by city planner Alan Garrett from the notes of the work session and written by city attorney Jim Dye. The ordinance is not about anyone or any particular project, he said.

Some residents, however, were concerned that tenants could rent an accommodation in the ROR for one or two nights, turning the district into a party scene similar to other Florida barrier islands.

Coleman, however, said that Pine Avenue Restoration LLC has only acted upon the recommendations from the joint work session and the city’s comp-plan. He and the company have no intention of turning Anna Maria into a Florida nightlife resort.

“The idea that, suddenly, the Fort Lauderdale party scene and wet T-shirt contests will be on our property is ridiculous. Anna Maria does not attract that type of visitor. Families come here. The fears being raised are unfounded,” he said.

Coleman noted the change to remove the owner-occupied stipulation in the ROR ordinance was first suggested several years ago during discussions on the comprehensive plan and approved as a recommendation by commissioners and board members last August.

Board member Frank Pytel said the ROR is different than residential areas in the city and always has been, but board member Sandy Mattick, owner of the Pine Avenue General Store, said she would like the same rights as property owners in other districts.

Board member Randall Stover said he didn’t want to see Pine Avenue turned into a hotel district and suggested a one-week minimum rental in the ROR.

Pytel agreed, saying the city needs to prohibit daily and weekend-only rentals.

After considerable discussion, the majority of board members agreed to recommend the limitation. The majority also were inclined to agree with the joint session recommendation that would eliminate the requirement that ROR units be owner occupied.

Coleman said he had no objection to a one-week minimum stay in the ROR, but said discussion of that issue might best be undertaken in another ordinance.

“I have no problem putting a one-week stipulation into any rental agreement, but that might be for a separate ordinance,” he said.

Copeland observed that the board has several months to complete its recommendations and did not have to agree on rental limitations that night.

A majority of the seven-person P&Z board also agreed with the work session recommendation to allow a swimming pool at each ROR residence. The current ordinance prohibits pools in the ROR unless they are at a single-family residence.

Pytel argued that if an ROR owner had a pool, they could “party through the night,” but board member Margaret Jenkins countered that the board was spending “too much time on what may or may not happen. We are wasting time.”

The board consensus was to allow a pool for each ROR residence.

After considerable discussion, board members agreed to retain the joint session recommendation that the maximum building coverage in the ROR for a single-family unit be 35 percent and the maximum impervious-surface coverage be 40 percent. For an ROR building in the district, the maximum building coverage would be 40 percent and the maximum impervious-surface coverage would be 60 percent.

As the proposal for a minimum one-week rental in the ROR was not among the original recommendations from the joint session, board members agreed to continue the public hearing to 6:30 p.m., Jan. 20, when they will obtain counsel from Dye.

The planning and zoning board makes recommendations to the city commission. The commission must still pass the ROR ordinance and will hold a public hearing after the P&Z forwards its recommendations to the commission.

The commission held the first reading of the proposed ordinance amendments at its Jan. 8 work session (see separate story).