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Date of Issue: July 15, 2009

Anna Maria studies limited duplex expansion

Faced with mounting opposition to a proposed Anna Maria ordinance to allow duplexes the right to fully expand, city commissioners at their July 9 meeting reached consensus to study expansion on a limited basis.

City planner Alan Garrett said only about 65 duplexes exist in the city’s Residential-1 zoning district.

Commissioners rejected a proposal to allow the duplexes the right to fully expand, but agreed that some expansion on a “one-time, limited basis” be considered.

Commissioner Chuck Webb argued that duplex owners should have the right to “maintain what they have.”

Commission Chairman John Quam countered that allowing full expansion of duplexes would “increase density and intensity” of such structures in the city.

Better to leave duplexes as a permitted use in the R-1 district, allow re-roofing and the right to rebuild to the original footprint in the event of a natural disaster, he said.

Commissioner Jo Ann Mattick said that with only 65 duplexes it’s “not a big deal” for the city to allow some expansion.

Commissioner Christine Tollette pointed out that when commissioners at their March 26 meeting combined the Residential-2 zone with the Residential-1 zone, this made duplexes a permitted use and allows expansion.

According to building official Bob Welch, however, no duplex owners have applied for a permit to expand the structure.

Commissioners favored allowing duplexes some expansion on a one-time basis.

Quam suggested expansion be no more than 10 or 15 percent.

Garrett said he would study all possibilities for limited expansion and bring back a range of proposals to the August commission work session.


Box construction

After several years of discussion by the city commission and planning and zoning board members about limiting what is viewed as a proliferation in the past few years of new box homes and “mega-mansions,” commissioners finally agreed they were unable to reach agreement on a solution.

The P&Z board had suggested limiting the second floor of new construction to 50-70 percent of the first-floor footprint.

While Quam agreed in principle with the suggestion, Woodland said he did not favor any restriction.

“We are doing this because we don’t like the look of box homes. Who the hell are we to tell people not to build a box?” he said.

Mattick agreed. “It’s a matter of taste and I’m not in favor of any changes.”

Webb disagreed, saying the city needs to address the issue now or it will only get worse in the future. Many Florida cities have faced this same problem, he said. As an example, Winter Park has dealt successfully with limiting construction.

But Tollette argued that the city can’t tell someone paying more than $50,000 in property taxes “Sorry, you can’t build what you want.”

She suggested the city needs an architectural review committee and a historical district as the “only way to keep Anna Maria the way it is.”

Mayor Fran Barford said the commission has been discussing this issue for years and it’s taken up staff time, studying various proposals and presenting draft papers and ordinances. The issue has been back and forth between the commission and P&Z a number of times, although there’s been no resolution.

“That’s the democratic process,” she said “but how long do we continue to try to convince each other. I’m not seeing any position change. It’s time we get a consensus and go forward or drop the subject.”

Quam agreed that it was not worthwhile to continue talking about the issue. The commission voted 3-2 to halt further discussion on the matter until someone can present a feasible solution.


City boundary

In other business, commissioners gave approval to have city attorney Jim Dye continue discussions with Manatee County about expanding the city’s boundary to include the waters near the city pier, the Rod & Reel Pier and Galati Marine. Other areas of water around the city would remain under county control.

The expansion would involve law enforcement in the selected waters, in addition to issuing permits for dock construction.


Reseal roads

Commissioners approved an $11,000 contract to reseal surfaces of a number of city roads after Dye reviews the contract with Florida Highway Products Inc.

The commission also approved a $4,200 contract for a structural inspection of the city pier.

Webb said he will present a draft ordinance dealing with sexual predators at the August work session.