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Date of Issue: November 03, 2005

Development moratorium coming in Anna Maria

Expect lawyers and big developers to be out in force at the Nov. 15 Anna Maria City Commission meeting.

That's because commissioners at their Oct. 27 meeting approved the first reading of a one-year moratorium ordinance banning new subdivisions seaward of the coastal construction control line. The second reading will be Nov. 15.

Mayor SueLynn pointed out the moratorium applies only to subdividing property, not to a currently platted lot where an owner may build or rebuild.

The measure comes at a time when the city is faced with increasing pressure from developers who want to assemble enough parcels to create an acre or more of land that would allow them to build six or more Gulffront homes.

Commissioner Dale Woodland said that in light of the devastation to Gulf coast cities caused by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the moratorium is partially for the safety of the city. He also noted the city has a requirement to regulate its buffer zone and the comprehensive plan states the city will encourage development away from the coast.

City Attorney Jim Dye noted the moratorium is fairly broad-based as the definition of subdividing includes lot splits.

The commission is adopting the moratorium now as city planner Alan Garrett and Dye prepare an ordinance creating an overlay district for development seaward of the CCCL.

Commissioner Duke Miller advised Dye and the mayor to get a second opinion on the overlay district ordinance. "We've already had attorneys advise us to be careful," he said. "I don't want the city to become the next Bert Harris," he added, referring to the Florida property law that allows property owners to sue city governments if certain governmental actions harm the future value of a property.

"We are going to be hit with an onslaught of lawyers," claimed Miller. "I just want to be comfortable." A second opinion is "money well spent."

The commission agreed and Dye will have another land-use attorney present Nov. 15 to give his opinion of the draft overlay district ordinance.

SueLynn said she would like the overlay district to be in place within 60 days.

In other business, the commission approved by a 4-1 vote the property debris mitigation ordinance that requires property to be secured during emergencies such as a hurricane. The ordinance primarily affects buildings under construction during an emergency.

The commission also agreed to have Tom Wilcox of Baskerville-Donovan Inc. apply for a multi-phase, multi-year grant of $1 million from the Southwest Florida Water Management District.

Donovan, who attended a recent Swiftmud seminar on grants along with Miller and Woodland, said he had identified three drainage projects Swiftmud was likely to approve for a matching grant. While the city is not likely to get funding in one budget year for all three projects, Swiftmud would "probably" approve a phased project, with funds coming in three consecutive years for the three projects. The city already has one Swiftmud grant for the Gladiolus basin project.

The three projects in order of priority in the grant request are the North Shore Drive/Jacaranda basin; the Crescent Drive/Gulf Drive basin; and the South Bay Drive basin.

City resident Margaret Jenkins, however, asked about Chilson Avenue, which she said has a serious drainage problem. The project has been on the capital improvements priority list for a number of years, but never gets done, she said. Now, she indicated, two neighbors have died and she's 82 years old. "I'd like to see it get done before I die," she said.

Commissioners pledged to look at having the $25,000 project at their next worksession.

Line of credit

After more than three years of wrangling and several "no" votes, the commission voted unanimously to establish a line of credit for capital improvement projects.

The city needs to show Swiftmud where its matching funds will come from. In addition, the city can now proceed with all its road resurfacing projects at current prices, rather than waiting several years when prices would likely have increased significantly.

The mayor, who first proposed the idea of an LOC several years ago, said she would have all the necessary paperwork for the commission at its Nov. 15 meeting.

That meeting will be held on Tuesday, Nov. 15, as neither the mayor nor Dye would be able to attend on Nov. 17.

Commission Chairperson John Quam also announced that the organizational meeting for the new commission following the Nov. 8 election will be at 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 10