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Date of Issue: March 30, 2005

Spring Avenue residents clarify wishes to ad hoc committee

The Anna Maria Ad Hoc Committee met once more prior to its March 15 joint meeting with the planning and zoning board to clarify changes in land-use zoning they plan to recommend for the city's Future Land Use Map.

Residents owning property surrounding the Sandbar restaurant on Spring Avenue attended the meeting to voice their wishes after learning the committee was recommending to designate some of the commercial properties as residential.

Ed Chiles, owner of the Sandbar restaurant, told the committee he has "no wish to have any of my properties rezoned to residential. I'm also concerned with the integrity of the commercial area and, if I have any say, I don't want to see the other properties rezoned either."

Facilitator Tony Arrant stated that the only issue the ad hoc committee's recommendations would address is the land-use designation of the property, not technically its zoning, although once the FLUM is filed with the state, the property should be zoned consistent with the land-use map.

If the properties in question maintain commercial land-use designations on the FLUM, that would prohibit a property owner with a residence there from rebuilding anything other than a commercial use should anything (such as destruction by a hurricane or fire) occur to deem the pre-existing residence unlivable.

On the other hand, any property within the commercial zone that is currently residential can remain so until such time the owner chooses to forfeit that use, or it is destroyed.

John Caprice, one of the property owners, stated that his interest was not in having his lot changed to residential, rather he wants his property to be designated residential-office-retail.

Arrant said that was not an option since, at this time, the ROR district is restricted to Pine Avenue and the committee is not making any recommendation to extend that area.

Given that, Caprice stated he would opt to keep his land-use designation as commercial.

Anthony Manali Sr. also voiced his family's interest in maintaining the commercial land-use designation for the properties they own.

Joe White, another neighboring property owner, stated that he wants his land-use designation changed to residential.

Chiles told The Islander that he has concerns with maintaining the integrity of the city's primary commercial district. He sees the ad hoc committee overwhelmingly directing its objectives toward greater protection of the city's "residential character" and limiting the FLUM's protection of currently commercial-zoned areas of the city.

"I support Joe White's and Fred Nally's right to maintain their residences in the commercial zone. I would support their right to rebuild their homes in the event of a fire or storm. I do not support them rezoning their commercial lots to residential and then maintaining that they live on a residential street and complaining about the traffic and intensity of uses in the commercial district.

"I wholeheartedly agree with the policy in the current land-use element of the city's comprehensive plan that states, 'Existing residential areas shall be protected from the encroachment of incompatible residential activities; likewise, other land-use areas shall be protected from encroachment of incompatible residential activities by restricting non-residential development to the commercial and mixed use land categories.'" Chiles sited. "I think the ad hoc committee has seriously erred in removing that language from the proposed Future Land Use Element."

The new FLUM will be presented to the P&Z March 15.