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Date of Issue: February 10, 2010

Anna Maria faces more comp plan challenges

Anna Maria is facing another potential legal challenge to its comprehensive plan.

Attorney Stephen Thompson, representing Richard Friday of 104 Park Ave., Anna Maria, sent Mayor Fran Barford a letter Feb. 1 claiming the city violated its comp plan by approving development in the Banyan Tree Estates subdivision adjacent to Friday’s property.

Thompson alleged that the lots used for the subdivision and an adjacent lot where a single-family residence was built are designated in the comp plan as conservation land, and such areas are “considered to have significant environmental resources which shall be preserved” with “no development allowed.”

Thompson said he was quoting directly from the 2007 comp plan.

He said he found “no other plan policy that would permit development within this comprehensive plan designation.”

Thompson said his letter was to “put the city on official notice” that the three lots cannot be developed and the city should “strongly urge the owners of these properties that no development can occur on city property designated as conservation.”

If the city declines to “take this action,” wrote Thompson, “it will force Dr. Friday to move forward with litigation to stop and prevent this violation of the city’s comprehensive plan.”

Thompson also claimed that there were some mistakes made on the platting of the two lots into a subdivision, and the Manatee County Property Appraiser’s Office has “not put this subdivision on their section maps.”

The three lots are owned by the Stephen Walker Trust. The trust has received a Florida Department of Environmental Protection permit for construction seaward of the coastal construction control line, despite protests from Friday.

The city last year issued a building permit for construction of a single-family house on one of the three lots and construction began last summer.

Developers of Banyan Tree were not required to go through the city’s site-plan review process because the lots are platted, building official Bob Welch has said.

City code requires that if more than two lots are sub-divided, the owners must submit to a site-plan review. And Walker sub-divided only one lot, he said.

The remaining six lots that comprise Banyan Tree are landward of the coastal construction control line and did not require a DEP review or permit for construction.

Banyan Tree officials said plans call for nine single-family homes.

Welch said no additional plans for the project have been submitted, other than the lone single-family residence.

Other comp plan woes

In addition to Thompson’s indication of legal action, the city is facing a threat by Sarasota attorney Dan Lobeck, representing Robert and Nicki Hunt of Anna Maria, to ask the Florida Department of Community Affairs for an administrative hearing about the city’s comp plan density.

Lobeck alleges that the city violated the comp plan by incorrectly computing density in the retail-office-residential district for a Pine Avenue Restoration LLC project and should take immediate action to change its code or face a DCA hearing.

Dye has opined that Lobeck’s calculations are incorrect and do not apply because the ROR lots were grandfathered for size and density should be computed on the entire district, not on a lot-by-lot basis, as Lobeck has asserted.

That issue already has sparked a city commission split, with Stoltzfus siding with Lobeck, and other commissioners yielding to Dye’s opinion.

Barford said she gave the latest Thompson letter to Dye for study and an opinion for commission review.