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Date of Issue: February 16, 2006

New sign ordinance will primarily affect real estate

A new sign ordinance under consideration by the Anna Maria City Commission could drastically reduce the size and number of real estate signs in the city.

At the commission's Feb. 9 meeting, Commissioner Duke Miller noted that on his inspection tour that morning, he counted 51 real estate signs within an .8 mile stretch of North Shore Drive. And 20 of those were "for rent" signs with out-of-state vehicles already in the driveway, he added.

In other words, real estate agents aren't taking down the "for rent" sign after leasing a property.

"It's out of hand. North Shore Drive looks like a carnival," said Miller.

The proposed ordinance would require real estate agents to remove "for rent" signs once a property is rented, and would limit the size of "for sale" signs.

Additionally, a "for sale" sign could not have "add-ons" such as a small sign attached to the main sign saying "pool," or "canalfront." The ordinance would also reduce the size of real estate signs

Miller also suggested that "for rent" signs could only be placed on the structure, not on the lawn, but City Planner Alan Garrett pointed out that could be a safety issue for automobile drivers, along with possibly a violation of "free speech."

But Mayor SueLynn dropped the bombshell when she suggested the commission just eliminate all real estate signs in the city's residential districts.

"It may not be legal, but there are just too many 'for rent' and 'for sale' signs in this city," she said.

Garrett said he would do research to find other cities that have a "no sign" ordinance, but cautioned that the city's retail-office-residential district might pose a problem as it is zoned for mixed uses.

Garrett will bring his findings to the commission's March 9 workshop for further discussion on the sign ordinance.


Site-plan ordinance fine-tuning

The commission spent more than an hour discussing revisions to the site-plan ordinance that would limit preliminary approval of a site plan to six months, unless the commission grants an extension before the six-month expiration date.

The commission was primarily concerned, however, with an ordinance provision that would allow the city administration to give final site-plan approval, once all conditions were met.

Miller said he had "reservations" about that change because the site-plan process is still new to the city.

"We're still feeling our way," he noted, lobbying that the commission should continue to grant final approval until it was "comfortable" with the process.

Agreed, said Commissioner Dale Woodland. "I want it [final approval] to come before the commission, even if it's just for consent," he said, citing the final approval of the Anna Maria Island Community Center, which took less than three minutes of the commission's time.

Commission Chairperson John Quam and Commissioner Linda Cramer also agreed and the commission will continue to be the final arbiter for a site- plan.

Final approval of a site-plan by the commission brings "closure" to the entire process, Quam said.

In other business, the commission heard a plea from resident Max Powers of American Beauty Pools to reconsider the ordinance passed in January 2004 requiring that all pool equipment and air-conditioning units be placed in the back yard of a new home.

Powers said the commission needs to consider the inconvenience to home owners who utilize a back yard or pool.

The commission agreed and Cramer said she would review the ordinance with Buiding Official Kevin Donohue and Garrett and compile some information for the commission to discuss at a future meeting.

The commission also spent nearly 45 minutes discussing procedures to withdraw funds under the just-passed ordinance establishing a line of credit for the city to fund capital improvement projects.

However, no consensus on the procedures was reached and the issue will be discussed at the next work session.