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Date of Issue: April 16, 2008

City eyes zero lot line in ROR

The joint meeting of the Anna Maria City Commission and the city’s planning and zoning board April 10 was supposed to focus on the lone agenda item: a review of a draft ordinance that defines the terms “lot/structure” in policy 1.3.5 of the city’s already adopted comprehensive plan.

However, this is Anna Maria, where occasionally discussions stray to other matters.

Policy talk eventually led to a discussion about a possible project for 315 Pine Ave., which is currently a single-story duplex. Developer Mike Coleman has a plan to rebuild the structure into a two-story building on the two lots to include ground-level retail shops and two residential units on the second floor.

However, the city eliminated duplexes during adoption of the comprehensive plan and added language in the comprehensive plan that in the retail-office-residential area, only one “unit/structure” per lot would be allowed. That would appear to put Coleman’s plan in jeopardy.

Following the suggestion of city attorney Jim Dye, city planner Alan Garrett had prepared the draft ordinance that would define the terms “lot” and “structure” in policy 1.3.5. The joint meeting was to determine what that language defined.

However, both commissioners and board members turned the discussion toward Coleman’s project.

P&Z board member Frank Pytel argued against any change, noting that the “intent” in the comprehensive plan to maintain the city for single-family residences is “very clear.”

Allowing a zero lot line “changes the character of our city” and “opens Pandora’s Box,” he maintained.

Not so, replied P&Z member Sandy Mattick.
“I don’t think these are duplexes,” she said. And if the city doesn’t allow these two-story structures, Pine Avenue will be nothing but a “canyon” of three-story homes such as those presently on the site of the former Island Marina.

“This is much better,” she said.

Garrett noted that by simply amending the side-yard setback, the city would not have to revise the entire comp-plan.

That process that could take anywhere from six to 18 months, Dye suggested.

Commissioner Christine Tollette favored the zero lot line, but only in the ROR, and anyone taking this “exception” would be limited to building a structure with a maximum height of 27 feet.

Coleman and business partner Ed Chiles spoke in favor of the zero lot line for the ROR, noting this would make their project to preserve the “Old Florida” character of a number of Pine Avenue homes more financially viable. Both agreed to the 27-foot height limitation.

Board member Randall Stover agreed the city needs to find a “reasonable way” to allow this development as a duplex already exists at the site.

Mayor Fran Barford, however, noted the meeting was to define language in the comp plan.

“We’ve let something go to the Department of Community Affairs that wasn’t clear and now we are trying to interpret that. Let’s keep focused,” she suggested.

Stover added that the “confusion is confusing,” while Commissioner Dale Woodland wondered “Why are we doing this? What’s the point?”

The “point” was apparently for Garrett to draft another ordinance, this time allowing a zero lot line in the ROR to combine two structures into one, but only with a 27-foot height limitation and requiring the zero setback loss be accommodated elsewhere on the property.

The “consensus” vote among commissioners and board members was 10-3 in favor of such an ordinance. P&Z board members Pytel, Stover and Jim Conoly cast dissenting votes.

Commissioners and board members did not get around to defining “lot/structure” in the policy, but it would appear from the April 10 discussions that’s a moot point.