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Date of Issue: May 05, 2010

Quam parking plan goes forward

Just one week after staving off a moratorium proposal, Anna Maria Commission Chair John Quam struck again, this time with a parallel parking plan for Pine Avenue that might avoid a parking controversy in the retail-office-residential district.

Commissioners and planning and zoning board members at an April 29 joint work session viewed the draft plan by Anna Maria architect Gene Aubry and were pleased with the concept.

They voted 9-1 to pursue the plan. Commissioner Harry Stoltzfus, who has long advocated that all parking in the ROR be on site and that there be no back-out parking, voted against the proposal.

By a 6-3 margin, commissioners and board members voted to prohibit back-out parking at any new ROR development on Pine Avenue. That’s when Quam brought up his compromise proposal.

Quam said he got the idea of parallel parking from visiting a small town near West Palm Beach with his son, who lives in that area.

“When I saw the reduced conflict there, I thought of our city. There is no conflict with pedestrians” and parking, Quam said.

Aubry said the plan would put 197 parking spaces on Pine Avenue. Some parallel parking already is permitted on the street.

Each parking space would be 10 by 25 feet, while the current requirement is 10 by 20 feet. Loading zones could be established and crosswalks and lights could be placed at each intersection.

Parallel parking would satisfy most retail requirements, but new restaurants and coffee shops would be required to provide on-site parking, Aubry noted.

The plan provides more landscaping and 4-foot-wide sidewalks would be added. Current sidewalks would also be expanded in width. The plan would require the right of way to be moved 2 feet on both sides of Pine Avenue.

“It’s a concept of a successful walkable street,” Aubry said, but it’s not a one-year project, or even a few years, he said. The plan would be done in phases and “take years to complete, but it would work,” Aubry predicted.

Commissioner Dale Woodland, while expressing a desire for more details, said Quam’s proposal would solve the problem of parking if a small lot in the district were developed for ROR purposes.

“On-site parking won’t work for a 50-foot lot on the north side of Pine. This would eliminate that problem,” he said.

Stoltzfus, however, objected to the plan. The comprehensive plan says “on-site” parking and “I’m satisfied” with that, he said.

“This increases the likelihood of larger buildings,” Stoltzfus said and it will lead to Anna Maria becoming a tourist destination. “I’m opposed to that.”

Stoltzfus added that the city has been “wasting time since November” discussing a parking plan. The new concept is more “here we go again,” he said.

Quam responded that he had made a thorough review of the comp plan and only one section discusses commercial parking.

Section 1.3.7 states that all commercial uses shall provide “off-street” parking and separate pedestrian and vehicle traffic, he said.

City attorney Jim Dye said that parallel parking could be considered “off-street” if it were in the city’s land-development regulations.

Commissioner Chuck Webb favored the Quam plan as a compromise for Pine Avenue parking, particularly since the plan appears to add more landscaping.

“We’ve got problems and we need a compromise. This is the right direction,” he said.

P&Z board chairman Randall Stover called the Quam plan was a “nice compromise.”

Quam brought up the compromise because the commission appeared split over the on-site parking issue and its possible impact on development of small lots in the ROR.

City planner Alan Garret said that, after reviewing the plan, he would determine the number of parallel spaces the Quam-Aubry plan would provide and present that and other details at the next joint session. Garret said the commission still has to discuss Chapter 90, the city’s traffic-circulation ordinance.

“We have a lot of work to do on that,” Quam said.

Commissioners and board members who favored the plan also agreed that more details are needed and parking options have to be discussed further.

Not everyone favored Quam’s proposal.

Aside from Stoltzfus, former planning and zoning board chair Tom Turner spoke in opposition to the plan, as did resident Nicky Hunt.

Quam scheduled the next joint session for 6 p.m. Thursday, May 13.