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Date of Issue: March 17, 2005

Media prompts emergency parking ordinance in Anna Maria

Blame it on the media, said Anna Maria Mayor SueLynn at the Dec. 16 city commission meeting when she presented an emergency traffic regulation ordinance that would officially make the current parking restrictions in the city legal.

After the Dec. 15 story in The Islander - along with other local media stories - about the fact that the city's no parking areas had never been designated by ordinance, the mayor said she "became concerned about the message sent to drivers" who get a no-parking ticket that "they might choose to take advantage of this fact," and challenge the issue in court. "Therefore an emergency ordinance is necessary," the mayor concluded.

City Attorney Jim Dye said the city can adopt an emergency ordinance for 60 days without advance notice or the usual public hearings. The emergency ordinance would ensure the legality of parking tickets, while giving the commission time to complete the entire traffic-regulation ordinance that would add four new areas of no parking - including the south end of South Bay Boulevard, areas of Fern Street and North Shore Drive, and across from Bayfront Park.

Commissioner Linda Cramer thought South Bay Boulevard should be included in the emergency ordinance, but Commission Chairperson John Quam said he expects the final reading of the ordinance at the Jan. 27 commission meeting. The emergency ordinance only designates what is now considered no parking, not any new areas.

The commission passed the emergency bill in a 5-0 vote.

Commissioners also unanimously agreed to a resolution informing Manatee County that the city intends to adopt a stormwater assessment fee in early 2005 that would be implemented Oct. 1 for the 2005-06 fiscal year.

The county needed the resolution by Jan. 1, 2005, said Quam, with the details to be worked out later by the commission. He also noted that the commission could decide at any time not to implement the fee, but the county needed the resolution by Jan. 1 to get its staff in motion to be ready to collect and disburse the fee by October.

The commission also agreed to the first reading of an amendment to the Belle Haven Cottage lease with the Anna Maria Historical Society that will transfer ownership - including liability and the responsibility for insurance coverage - of the cottage to the society. The city will retain ownership of the historical park where the cottage is located. The mayor said she would have information for commissioners by their January meeting on whether or not all the buildings at the historical park at 402 Pine Ave. should be transferred to the society.

Commissioners also agreed to a resolution designating Belle Haven as an historic building in the city. The resolution was needed by the building department to issue a building permit, the mayor said.

Resident Diane Canniff called the commission's actions regarding the Belle Haven lease and historical designation "insane."