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Date of Issue: January 16, 2008

Bradenton Beach comp plan ready for state review

Fractional planning for Bradenton Beach’s future could be finalized in a year or so.

The city, after about four years of discussion, has approved a document that will guide the growth within the city for the next 20 years.

The “fractions” of work represent different reviews and recommendations having been completed and fractions that remain for the future approval and adoption.

A citizen group first began discussion of the comp plan (one-fifth); then the group’s recommendation went to the planning and zoning board for its deliberations (two-fifths); then to the city commission for further discussion last week (three-fifths).

The plan now goes to the Florida Department of Community Affairs for review and then back to the city commission for final approval, probably later this year.

The city commission tweaked the plan a bit last week from what the planning and zoning board recommended, generally changing some areas proposed for less density to more intense land uses, based on citizen comments.

Attorney Ricinda Perry, representing Ed Chiles and the BeachHouse Restaurant, 200 Gulf Drive N., suggested that the change in zoning on property on the beach just south of the restaurant from the current recreation/open space to preservation would negate plans that have been in the works for months to create a parking lot and park there.

If changed, Perry said, it would “adversely impact the property and allow no parking.” She said that the principal objection would be that the change in density on the site would be taking away rights to use the property as it is currently being utilized.

Perry also represents the city on legal matters, but received a waiver from the commission last year to continue to represent Chiles before the commission as he was a client of hers prior to her firm being retained by the city.

Commissioners unanimously agreed not to change the land-use designation of the beachfront property south of the BeachHouse and allowing it to continue to be used for parking.

Architect Mike McCaleb also had concerns about beachfront property, this time on behalf of client Gulf Drive Cafe, 900 block Gulf Drive North.

McCaleb said he had been working with the planning and development department to come up with plans for the beachfront and another area of the property, formerly Trader Jack’s Restaurant, for some time. Those plans are expected to come before the city commission later this year.

However, the change in land use for the property from commercial to residential designation could stymie the project. He requested that the current commercial designation be maintained, a request city commissioners granted unanimously.

Rick Bisio offered a more esoteric suggestion to the city commission on land-use matters, one that was also approved.

The city’s comp plan allows planned-unit developments. The PUD is a hybrid creature that allows clustering of homes and some variances to setback requirements outside of the usual demands of zoning districts.

The proposed comp plan allows a PUD development in any land-use category in the city except single-family residential. Bisio argued successfully to extend the PUD ban into medium-density development.

Comp-plan facilitator Tony Arrant said he would go through and “wordsmith” the document, then have the city transmit it to the DCA.

The comprehensive plan for Bradenton Beach was adopted in 1989. Its most recent review began in February 2004 with the formation of a seven-member committee that spent about two years going through the voluminous document.

The committee’s recommended document then was sent to the planning and zoning board, which also spent countless hours devouring the text. Final say on the matter rests with DCA.

A comprehensive plan is one of the overall components of city or county government. Comp plans consist of the document itself, which sets forth density. As described by Arrant, density is the total number of units that can be built on an acre of property.

Also within the comp plan is the future land-use map of the city.

The enabling elements of the comp plan and the FLUM are the land-development codes. A review of the LDC is under way by the city planning and zoning board.

Other elements of the comp plan involve a host of issues: transportation; housing; infrastructure in the form of sewer, water and solid waste; recreation and open space; coastal and conservation; intergovernmental coordination;  and capital improvement aspects of the city.