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Date of Issue: June 04, 2008

Anna Maria passes controversial zero lot-line ordinance

After months of contentious debate, Anna Maria city commissioners at their May 29 meeting narrowly approved an ordinance that would allow for a zero lot line for construction of a single structure on adjacent lots in the city’s retail-office-residential land-use areas.

In effect, the ordinance allows for two ROR units under a single roof, as long as the units are on separate parcels.

The commission’s 3-2 vote came despite a recommendation from the city’s planning and zoning board against the measure.

But the commission vote did not come without controversy.

Commission Chairman John Quam originally questioned whether or not the ordinance was consistent with the city’s comprehensive plan.

Although both city attorney Jim Dye and city planner Alan Garrett agreed the ordinance complies, Commissioner Duke Miller said that, in his opinion, allowing two units under one roof is a duplex, which is not a permitted use in the recently approved comprehensive plan.

Attorney Jeremy Anderson, representing William and Barbara Nally of Spring Avenue, who have brought several lawsuits against the city and its approval of the Sandbar restaurant plan, argued that the opinions offered by Dye and Garrett were incorrect. In Anderson’s opinion, the ordinance is in violation of the comp-plan.

Resident Tom Turner agreed. In his view, the ordinance allows duplexes in the ROR and duplexes are not a permitted use.

Not so, said Garrett. A duplex is traditionally two units on one lot — a lot zoned for two residential units. Additionally, the ordinance does not increase density or intensity.

Two structures under one roof on separate lots “is still two separate structures,” he maintained.

Commissioner Jo Ann Mattick said that without the ordinance, the city is encouraging businesses or three-story houses in the ROR. If the city wants small-scale development, it needs to “compromise,” she said.

Mike Coleman of Pine Avenue Restoration LLC emphasized to commissioners that the idea behind the ordinance does not come from his company, an apparent misconception among some members of the public and mainland media.

“We never requested or desired a zero lot line. We don’t need this for our project,” said Coleman, who lives on Pine Avenue.

He also pointed out that his company did not receive a special exception for a zero lot line for its project at 315 and 317 Pine Ave. The current structure on the two lots is already astride a lot line.

Coleman did offer that the commission and planning and zoning board need to get a better understanding of what the ROR is supposed to accomplish for the city and its purpose in the long-range development of Pine Avenue. Otherwise, he predicted, “You can guarantee nothing but three-story mega-mansions on Pine Avenue.”

The ordinance passed by a 3-2 vote, with Quam agreeing with Garrett and Dye, as well as Mattick and Commissioner Chris Tollette. Miller and Commissioner Dale Woodland dissented.

All commissioners, however, agreed that another joint commission-P&Z board meeting to discuss all aspects of the ROR is needed. “I think it’s worth re-addressing,” said Commissioner Dale Woodland.