New Anna Maria mayor rolls up sleeves

Newly elected Anna Maria Mayor Dan Murphy wasted no time after the Nov. 4 election. He rolled up his sleeves and lived up to his campaign promises to have programs in place immediately and get the city moving toward solutions.

Following his oath of office at the commission’s Nov. 20 meeting, Murphy asked commissioners to approve Bob and Kathy Patten to head a committee to prepare an improvement plan for the Anna Maria City Pier Park at the south end of Pine Avenue.

In nominating the husband and wife team to head the committee, “We’re getting two for the price of one,” Murphy said.

Commissioners welcomed the idea and city attorney Jim Dye said he would bring a resolution to form the committee to the commission’s Dec. 4 meeting.

Murphy also proposed Wayne Patterson as the city’s contact person on the Urban Land Institute committee.

Commissioners unanimously approved the selection.

Murphy next asked that he and staff be allowed to review Bob Barron’s proposal for cleanup of Gulffront Park to “cherry-pick” solutions they thought were appropriate to perform in the park.

“We’re not going to come back with everything in the plan, but we’ll have something ready in 90 days,” Murphy told commissioners.

Murphy also proposed hiring a part-time logistician to prepare a cost-benefit analysis of the city’s parking ordinance, before proceeding with a paid parking plan.

The logistician would examine the benefit of more enforcement officers to issue parking tickets.

“Let’s put the parking ordinance on the back burner and try this to see how it works,” Murphy said.

“The problem with parking is enforcement. Let’s see if the logistician can solve a lot of our problems.”
Murphy said he would have something for commissioners to examine on parking after getting the logistician’s report and consulting with Sgt. Paul Davis, head of the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office Anna Maria substation.

“I can’t give you a date when we’ll have something ready, but it will be as soon as possible,” Murphy added.

Commissioners agreed to Murphy’s Gulffront Park and parking ideas.

“It’s time we got moving on these issues,” Commissioner Nancy Yetter said.

In other business, commissioners re-elected Commissioner Chuck Webb as their chair for another year.

Webb said attorney David Levin of Sarasota would have a report by Nov. 24 on whether the city’s residential zoning ordinance would stand up in court as a prohibition to vacation rentals.

Webb emphasized the city is only looking to determine if the zoning ordinance allows the city to regulate rentals, particularly short-term rentals.

Commissioners also unanimously approved a variance for Jim Lamley, 12106 Gulf Drive, to move the base for two air-conditioning units 4 feet into the setback.

Both units had burned out during the summer, and one unit caught on fire. An air-conditioning expert said the units did not have enough air circulating to operate effectively as the unit foundations were built into the wall of the house.

In Sunshine Law business, Dye said the state of Florida mandates all elected officials to have four days of training on Florida’s Government-in-the-Sunshine Laws. The training can be done electronically through the Florida League of Cities, he said.

However, Dye noted, as a result of a Sunshine Law violation in a case brought by The Islander more than a decade ago, Anna Maria officials were ordered by the court to have a class on Florida’s sunshine and open records laws. Dye said he would contact the newspaper to ask if the FLC training would be sufficient to meet The Islander’s requirement.

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