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Date of Issue: October 08, 2008

Proposed comp-plan changes to go to state

Hours of meetings over several years resulted last week in two concise votes on amendments to Bradenton Beach’s comprehensive plan.

But the votes only begin the amendment process, which could take another six months.

On Oct. 2, the Bradenton Beach City Commission held a public hearing — at which no public spoke — on proposed amendments to the city’s comprehensive plan.

Prior to the commission hearing, the planning and zoning board took up a review of the amendments, which are based on the evaluation and appraisal report that the state OK’d in August.

Before unanimously voting to recommend the city commission transmit the proposed amendments, the planning board held a public hearing that drew no speakers.

During the planning meeting, city consultant Tony Arrant of the Florida Institute of Government reviewed the process of creating the EAR — already done in Bradenton Beach — and then incorporating the amendments into the comp plan.

Florida law requires cities to adopt an EAR once every seven years that assesses progress in implementing the local government’s comprehensive plan.

The EAR evaluates how successful a community has been in addressing major community land-use planning issues. Based on the evaluation, the report suggests how the comp plan should be revised to better address community objectives, changing conditions and trends affecting the community, and changes in state requirements.

The Florida Department of Community Affairs reviews each EAR and then responds with recommended changes or accepts the document. If the document is accepted, a city then begins the process of adopting the EAR-based amendments into its comprehensive plan, which will carry the city to 2020.

That is the process the planning and zoning board and city commission began last week.

The proposed amendments deal with traffic circulation, future land use, coastal and conservation, housing, intergovernmental coordination, infrastructure, recreation and capital improvements.

With the unanimous commission vote, the proposed amendments will be transmitted to the DCA. The state could respond quickly if it finds the information incomplete or take several months to respond on the adequacy of the documents.

If the DCA signs off on the proposed amendments, the city again takes up the plan, voting on whether to adopt the amendments.

While the state reviews the proposed amendments, the planning board and city commission will conduct workshops to address some questions raised Oct. 2.

Both the commission and the planning board had questions about a proposed amendment in the commercial section of the future land-use element.

The proposed amendment states, “Allowable commercial uses include hotel/motel, restaurants, bars, retail, professional office, upholstery shops, video arcade and commercial recreation activities, small deli/meat market and produce sales or similar uses.

“Allowable commercial uses include marinas and those uses that are traditionally related to marina operations and activities.”

Board members did not question that part of the policy, but rather the “not allowed” paragraph that follows.

The document states, “The following uses are not allowed: Stand alone or multi-level parking structures/facilities, industrial uses, adult entertainment, automotive shops or gas stations, marine repair, motorized vehicle repair, motorized vehicle sales, pawn shops, wholesale or distribution or multi-unit business using a common brand name, i.e., franchise or chain-type stores.”

Planning board member Jo Ann Meilner questioned the language prohibiting “marine repair” since the city was allowing “marina operations and activities.”

City Commissioner John Shaughnessy, at the subsequent meeting, raised the same question.

Arrant responded that the intent was to prohibit stand-alone marine repair or manufacturing operations, but to allow marine-related work to take place at marinas.

Shaughnessy also asked about the prohibition against “multi-level parking structures/facilities.”

“We’ve got a parking problem in Bradenton Beach,” he said, adding, “You can have a parking garage and not even know it is a parking garage.”

Arrant said that during the development of the EAR it “was very clear from the beginning … you didn’t want a high-rise parking facility” on Bridge Street or in the retail-office-residential area.

But, Arrant emphasized, “The amendments … will come back to you.”

The boards also plan to take up a new proposal for the future land-use element related to the waterfront.

In other business last week, city commissioners:

  • Approved a special event permit for the Kids Free Fishing Contest from 10 a.m. to noon Nov. 1 at the Historic Bridge Street Pier.

The event, part of the campaign to promote Island activities during the Anna Maria Island Bridge closure, is co-sponsored by the city’s ScenicWAVES committee.

  • Approved the Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce’s request to hang a banner promoting Bayfest near the intersection of Cortez Road and Gulf Drive. The event will take place Oct. 18 on Pine Avenue in Anna Maria.
  • Approved a land-development code application for a special exception for a dock to exceed 65 feet near 112 Seventh St. S. The application was reviewed and previously approved by the planning and zoning board.
  •  Approved payment of a $4,289.98 invoice from attorney Ralf Brookes for legal services primarily related to building department matters.
  • Decided to have the board of adjustment review resident Ken Lohn’s challenge to the city’s issuance of an occupancy permit for a neighboring property. (See separate story.)
  • Heard citizens’ complaints about flooding at high tides in the 2000 block of Avenue A.

“I’m the house that always has the grand canal at high tide,” said resident Eleanor Barone.

Barone said the road in front of her home often floods with sometimes knee-high water.

Her complaint was echoed by neighbor Rick Bisio, also the chair of the city planning and zoning board.

Mayor Michael Pierce said city officials were aware of the problem and the public works department would take action.

“We are going to try to do what we can,” he said.

The next city commission will be 1 p.m. Oct. 16 at city hall, 107 Gulf Drive.