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Date of Issue: March 25, 2009

Anna Maria plans elimination of duplexes

Anna Maria city commissioners at their March 26 meeting will hold the final reading of an ordinance that will combine the Residential-2 (duplex) zone with the Residential-1 (single-family) zone, creating a single residential zone.

At their March 12 meeting, commissioners approved the first reading of the ordinance, but agreed to modify the measure to allow all existing two-family residences to remain permitted conforming uses. Otherwise, argued former planning and zoning board chairman Tom Turner, existing duplexes would have become non-conforming and subject to a host of building and remodeling restrictions.

But commissioners struggled with a proposed provision that would limit any new second level of construction for a single-story home between 27 feet and 37 feet to a maximum of 50 percent of the home’s original footprint.

Commissioners agreed March 12 to eliminate exact percentages from the ordinance and directed city planner Alan Garrett to rewrite restrictions based upon the design elements of the new construction for a second level of habitation.

Commissioners also rejected a suggestion to have an architectural review committee study the style of a proposed home or project.

Landscaping ordinance

Commissioners also are scheduled to hold the final reading of a landscaping ordinance that will require new construction projects to meet minimum landscaping standards on the site. Among the requirements: A minimum of 10 percent of the parcel must be landscaped according to standards set in the ordinance.

The ordinance requires a project have a minimum number of plants from the city’s approved list in its landscaping plan, and prohibits the planting of non-native, invasive species such as Brazilian pepper trees and Australian pines.

The final reading, however, could be deferred to a future work session for more discussion. Commissioners have asked city planner Alan Garrett to provide an estimate of the cost to landscape a project using the ordinance requirements and to provide a conceptual drawing of such a project.

Surprisingly, the man who wrote the authoritative book on native plants and vegetation used as the city’s guideline for the ordinance is opposed to the measure.

Mike Miller said the ordinance would simply satisfy a “dictated aesthetic whether those standards coincide with the owner’s preferences or not.”

He said enforcement would be a major issue and there is already too much ignorance in the proposal. “Private landscapes should never be subject to a permit,” he said.

The environmental education and enhancement committee prepared the ordinance with Garrett.

The meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m., Thursday, March 26, at the Anna Maria City Hall, 10005 Gulf Drive.