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Date of Issue: March 18, 2009

City to eliminate future duplexes

Anna Maria city commissioners at their March 12 meeting approved the first reading of an ordinance that would combine the Residential-2 zone with the Residential-1 zone, but agreed to modify the measure to allow all existing two-family residences to remain conforming uses.

 Without that change to the ordinance, existing duplexes would become non-conforming uses in the new zone and subject to a variety of restrictions on additions or improvements, city planner Alan Garrett said.

City attorney Jim Dye said that the city could completely eliminate the R-2 zone, but it’s a “drastic step.” Cities generally don’t want to create a “new class of non-conformity,” he said.

The city needs to identify the public purpose before it eliminates an entire zone, he said.

In Dye’s opinion, the ordinance didn’t allow items such as a porch to be added to non-conforming structures.

Commissioner Jo Ann Mattick, however, said she thought the comprehensive plan had removed the R-2 zone, and the city had to comply with the comp plan with supporting ordinances.

That’s not exactly the case, indicated Garrett. The comp plan only eliminated the medium-density residential district, not the R-2 specifically.

Getting rid of the R-2, but allowing existing duplexes to remain is not against the comp plan, he said.

Commission Chairman John Quam suggested the ordinance allow all existing duplexes and eliminate new ones in the residential district. A majority of the commission went with Quam, and Garrett will rewrite that provision for the second hearing March 26.

Commissioners also got an earful on the proposed ordinance provision limiting any new second level of construction between 27 feet and 37 feet to a maximum of 50 percent of the footprint.

Former planning and zoning board chairman Tom Turner said the proposal is too restrictive and unfair to people who own one-story homes.

“I hate to see restrictions like this,” Turner said. “This city is a village and we like it that way.”

The commission consensus was to eliminate the 50 percent rule, but commissioners got bogged down with what should take its place.

Commissioner Dale Woodland suggested instead that a 75 percent maximum of the footprint be allowed for a second level of construction. “It gives more flexibility.”

But Commissioner Christine Tollette suggested that an architectural review committee be established to review plans.

That idea didn’t sit too well with Woodland, who said he could not imagine Anna Maria having a board to decide architectural styles of new construction.

“That’s like oil and water,” he said.

Commissioners eventually agreed to have Garrett rewrite that section of the ordinance to base a second level of new construction on its design element.

Quam said later that the commission might take that section out of the ordinance and have a workshop on the issue.

The commission also approved the first reading of a landscaping ordinance that would set minimum standards of landscaping for new construction. However, the commission asked Garrett for visual information on how the minimum landscaping might look after it’s installed and a cost estimate.

City clerk Alice Baird proposed a new policy on e-mails from or to city officials, including elected officials, staff and members of city boards.

Baird’s proposal would establish an individual city e-mail account for all officials and staff and would store all incoming and outgoing e-mails for future reference.

The proposal came from a recent conference Baird attended, where she learned that Venice faces a monumental lawsuit because some matters of city business were conducted on personal e-mail accounts and computers.

“They are facing between $600,000 and $1 million in legal fees,” Baird said.

Commissioners agreed to the proposal and directed Mayor Fran Barford to provide information on the technology and costs at the March 26 commission meeting.

In other business, the commission asked Barford to send a letter to Manatee County Sheriff Brad Steube on behalf of Sgt. John Kenney to let Steube know how much Kenney’s efforts are appreciated and that the city hopes he can stay at the Anna Maria substation beyond his planned June 30 retirement date.

Kenney agreed five years ago to accept retirement in 2009, but has since had a change of heart. Only Steube can allow Kenney to keep working for the MCSO beyond June 30.