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Date of Issue: April 28, 2005

Center site plan hearing delayed - again

Opponents and proponents of the renovations to the Anna Maria Island Community Center will have to wait until June 6 to get their day in court.

The second scheduled site plan hearing by the Anna Maria planning and zoning board April 25 was again continued after board members learned - again - that proper notification had not been made. It was the second time in the hearing has been delayed a month for notice, this time because five nearby property owners had not received letters.

Board chairman Chris Collins did his best to try and get the hearing started, asking one of those people who did not receive a notice, Mark Badger of 306 Hardin Ave., if he would waive his right to a proper notice.

Badger, however, said he would be "remiss" if he waived his right when he knew of at least four other people who did not receive an official notice of the public hearing.

"Well, we're trying not to wait another 30 days," replied Collins.

True, said Badger, "but the others need to be notified."

Attorney Scott Rudacille, representing the Center, agreed. He said the error occurred at the Manatee County Property Appraiser's Office. "They've admitted that five people were left off the notification list. It's not the fault of the Center, but we don't want to move forward and leave ourselves open to challenge."

City Attorney Jim Dye said it was better for the board to err on the side of caution.

"You have to have the notice right, because the courts would say nothing happened" if an improperly noticed meeting were challenged, he said. "Any decision you reach could be sent back."

Board members reluctantly agreed to continue the hearing to 7 p.m. June 6.

In other business, the board discussed a Feb. 18 letter from Dye to Building Official Kevin Donohue in which Dye opined that under the current city code, single-family homes could be built on platted but non-conforming lots such as those at the site of the former Island Marine on Pine Avenue (The Islander, April 6). The code grants an exception to those lots, Dye said, but those homes must still conform to the R-1 standards for setbacks and lot coverage, he said.

Board member Frank Pytel asked if this was in conflict with construction requirements in the retail-office-residential district along Pine Avenue.

"This is the exception," Dye replied.

"This could open up Pandora's Box," said Pytel, but Dye said the box is already open.

If the board doesn't like what the code says, Dye noted, it can make a recommendation to the city commission on changing the code.

Board member Doug Copeland said the board should look at changing this "loophole," because it allows construction on non-conforming lots in the ROR district, even though the ROR requirements state a single-family home must have 7,500 square feet of lot space.

According to the city code, however, Dye said a legally platted lot can not be denied at a minimum a single-family home as long as it meets setback requirements for the residential zone, which includes the ROR zone.

The board agreed to place the issue on its May 23 agenda as the first item of discussion.

The board also discussed its recommendation to the city commission for approval of the Sandbar restaurant site plan and alley swap. The board asked City Planner Alan Garrett to include in its recommendation to the commission all the conditions and pledges that Sandbar owner Ed Chiles agreed to at the March 21 P&Z board hearing on the site plan.