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Date of Issue: March 17, 2005

Anna Maria to make 'no parking' officially legal

If you got a parking ticket in Anna Maria recently, you might be surprised - not to mention upset - to know that the city's no parking zones have never been specifically designated in the parking ordinance. Put another way, it means your parking ticket is based on a non-enforceable law.

The Anna Maria City Commission moved to change that legal loophole at its Dec. 9 workshop by approving parking limits on a vast number of areas on public streets. Those locations will now be sent to City Attorney Jim Dye to draft an ordinance, in effect legalizing what everyone already thought was legal. The city also has to adopt all its stop sign locations by ordinance.

Commission Chairperson John Quam, who wrote the draft no parking document for the ordinance, added no parking on the east side of South Bay Boulevard across from Galati Marine to the proposed ordinance.

Mayor SueLynn agreed. "That area has been a concern for South Bay residents because people park on both sides of the street, while others are trying to get a boat into the marina or go to the restaurant."

Quam also suggested no parking along North Shore Drive from Pine Avenue to Alamanda, but met with opposition from Commissioner Carol Ann Magill. She believes some residents have created a parking space in front of their homes for parking in addition to the driveway. "I don't want to take away parking for those residents," she said, and suggested SueLynn notify affected residents of the impending ordinance.

The proposed ordinance also outlaws parking across from Bayfront Park, and reduces parking on the north side of Fern Street by 20 feet because of a safety issue.

But Commissioner Dale Woodland was concerned that other residents would think the commission is giving "preferential treatment" to some people and not others. "We are going to get people asking for no parking on their streets, too," he predicted.

Commissioners also agreed to make the Cypress-Tuna-Spruce streets connection one way after residents of those streets agreed to the proposal.

But not everyone agreed with the commission.

Resident Wanda Casle of Gladiolus Street claimed the commission was taking away beach access and suggested that only city residents be allowed free access to beach parking locations. Non-residents should have to pay.

No to minimum rental stay
Commissioners agreed not to pursue an ordinance requiring a minimum stay in a rental unit in residential zones after determining such a law was unneeded.

"We're just over-reacting," said Commissioner Dale Woodland. "It's a 'feel good' law that can't be enforced."

Public works change
The commission did like a suggestion from Public Works Director George McKay and SueLynn that instead of hiring a replacement for the current vacancy in public works for lawn cutting and tree trimming, the city look into contracting for maintenance services along its rights of way. A similar system is used in Holmes Beach.

The mayor said the current position costs the city more than $32,000 annually, while a contracted firm would be about $25,000. Commissioners asked for a scope of work from the mayor to discuss at the January worksession. If approved, the measure could simply be a line item in the budget and the low-bid company would receive an annual contract.

Special event permit for all
Following the annual boat parade and fireworks, which did not require a special event permit, Magill said the traffic and security impact of the event was such that a special event permit should have been required, although the parade and fireworks were on water.

"I thought this event needed a special permit, but the city said no," she said.

Miller concurred, saying everyone except the Anna Maria Island Community Center should get a special event permit for a gathering that affects city property.

The commission agreed and directed SueLynn to require a special event permit from all organizations and private businesses that hold events affecting the city. That includes beach weddings, the commission said.

The mayor said she still wasn't sure what events would require a special permit or be exempt, and would consult with Dye on the issue.

Belle Haven
SueLynn told the commission that in order to score more points on the Federal Emergency Management Agency's Community Rating System for low-cost flood insurance, the city has to get rid of Belle Haven Cottage.

The structure is currently owned by the city, but not insured, and the mayor said the city's insurance agency said insuring Belle Haven would not be cost effective.

The mayor proposed a change in the Belle Haven lease with the Anna Maria Island Historical Society in which the city would transfer ownership of the cottage to the society. In addition, she said, the city needs to designate Belle Haven as an historical site, in order to receive further points under the CRS system.

An amended lease prepared by Dye along with a resolution proclaiming the cottage an historical site will be presented at a regular January meeting, she said.

Outdoor dining
Commissioner Linda Cramer volunteered to write a draft for a new outdoor dining ordinance that would address parking, entertainment, outdoor seating and other issues associated with the activity. The commission believes the current ordinance actually makes outdoor dining illegal in Anna Maria.