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Date of Issue: September 01, 2010

Quamís parking plan out, citizenís initiative fails test

Robert Hunt addresses Anna Maria city commissioners at their Aug. 26 meeting about projects on Pine Avenue that he believes look like strip shopping centers. Islander Photo: Rick Catlin

Anna Maria Commission Chair John Quam pulled the plug on his own parking plan at an Aug. 26 meeting

The agenda had called for a discussion of a draft ordinance for parking that would incorporate some of Plan North, a proposal brought forward by Quam in May.

But Quam said he’s revised his opinion after studying vacant lots on Pine Avenue that would be subject to new parking regulations. He could only find 13 lots for development or redevelopment.

In the ROR district on Gulf Drive, he said he found only a few lots for development.

Plan North was for Pine Avenue only, so there’s no reason to have two parking plans for so few properties, the chair said.

“I recommend that a revised Chapter 90 (city parking ordinance) move forward, possibly with some language from Chapter 91,” Quam said.

Chapter 91 included an option to have parking on-site or on the street, with a new design that allowed increased street parking.

Speaking to a full chamber last week, Quam said he was sorry he had put the city and volunteers through so much trouble.

He especially thanked architect and resident Gene Aubry for volunteering many hours to draw the original plan, as well as revisions.

But Chapter 90 does not eliminate the safety issue — vehicles backing out of parking spaces across a sidewalk onto Pine Avenue — Commissioner Jo Ann Mattick said.

Eliminating the corridor plan still leaves the city with “cars backing out across a sidewalk on Pine Avenue. If we have an accident, the blood is on the hands of those who oppose (the corridor) plan,” she said.

Sidewalks are required by the city to abut the roadway, and the safety issue would remain at developed properties, even if a revised Chapter 90 is adopted.

Commissioner Dale Woodland favored a revision of Chapter 90 and eliminating Chapter 91 from consideration.

In his opinion, Chapter 91 would encourage development of commercial strip malls on Pine Avenue.

Woodland said the commission should proceed with an amendment to Chapter 90 that states all parking at properties on Pine Avenue and Gulf Drive should be included on the development site for new projects, and limit the number of driveways depending upon the width of the lot.

Commissioner Chuck Webb, however, disagreed: If proposed lot-coverage restrictions are changed in Chapter 90, the city will have “classic 7-11-type strip development.”

Instead of supporting more green space and a viable mixed-use business district, Chapter 90 is going to create more commercial/strip-mall shopping, he said.

Webb said he’s reviewed the original city ordinance that created the business district on Pine Avenue and “that allowed everything.” Through the years, however, Pine Avenue businesses disappeared, he said.

The Island Marina is gone, replaced by three-story houses. The gas/service station at the Pine Avenue-Gulf Drive intersection disappeared. Fast Eddie’s Restaurant at the eastern end of Pine Avenue is now a shopping plaza.

Webb said Chapter 90 encourages residences, not ROR complexes, in contrast to the vision in the comp plan.

Commissioner Harry Stoltzfus said, “I agree with Commissioner Woodland. I think Chapter 91 is dead in the water.”

He suggested language from a citizen’s initiative on parking be incorporated into Chapter 90 and that there should be “no deviation” from on-site parking requirements.

City attorney Jim Dye recently said the parking initiative is legally insufficient because it did not conform to either the Florida Statutes on initiatives or the city charter’s language on initiatives.

The initiative was the under-taking of Charlie Daniel, Anna DeAugustine, Larry Albert, Carl Pearman and Judith Chable.

One legal point against the initiative, Dye said, is the city charter states that the “full text” of the proposed ordinance should be provided to petition signers.

That would include the ordinance title, findings of fact, ordination language and other typical clauses found in an ordinance, along with the “substantive portion” of the ordinance.

“A voter could be misled or confused because of the omissions,” he wrote city clerk Alice Baird.

Other issues that caused Dye to declare the initiative insufficient are the affidavit required by the charter, and committee members are required to circulate the petition. Apparently the initiative petition was circulated by volunteers. According to the city charter, Dye wrote, the committee members are the people who should circulate the initiative for signatures.

But Stoltzfus, during the Aug. 26 meeting, said the city can’t ignore the 250 people who signed the initiative petition, who “do not want to see public parking,” and who would fight any attempt to add public parking to an ordinance.

Last week’s meeting on the issue was not the last. Quam scheduled a work session on Chapter 90 revisions for 6:15 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 8, immediately following a public hearing on the 2010-11 budget.