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Date of Issue: December 08, 2005

No loophole in Pine Avenue construction

High Pine
These single-family homes under construction on Pine Avenue in Anna Maria do not require site plan approval under current city codes, but any conversion of the ground floor to retail or office space would institute the process. Islander Photo: Rick Catlin

Reports that the three single-family homes currently under construction on the old Island Marine property on Pine Avenue in Anna Maria could easily be converted to retail-office-residential units and by-pass the city’s requirement for a site plan are not quite accurate, according to Building Official Kevin Donohue.

The units under construction by Agnelli Construction Co. of Holmes Beach are all two floors of residential living space over ground-floor parking. As single-family homes, a site plan review by the planning and zoning board and city commission is not required.

If the building application for any of the units had included a ground floor of retail-office space, that would have required site plan review, Donohue said.

But any future owner of one of the units can’t expect to buy a two-story single-family home, then simply add ground floor retail-office space to make a three-story building, said Donohue. That would require site plan approval and flood-proof construction on the ground level, he noted.

In other words, if the ground floor were to have retail or office space, it would have to be rebuilt to conform to different flood-control specifications. That conversion could prove costly, Donohue indicated.

Under current city codes, the Island Marine units could be built three stories tall with 50 percent occupied by a residence and 50 percent for retail-office, but such construction would require site plan review. Interpretation of that code was upheld by a recent court decision involving an ROR unit at 303 Pine Ave.

The planning and zoning board is currently considering changes to the comprehensive plan that would allow only one floor of retail-office and one floor of residence for new construction in the ROR zone.