Revised Anna Maria comp plan heads to commission
It may have taken nearly two and a half years, but Anna Maria’s revised comprehensive plan is now ready for city commission review and public hearings.
The planning and zoning board held its own public hearing on the plan July 10 and, following a lengthy debate on the future land use map and element, agreed to forward the document to the city commission with no major changes.
A number of residents, particularly those on Palmetto Avenue, spoke against changing the designated use on the FLUM on Gulf Drive between Palmetto and Pine Avenue to retail-office-residential. The residents preferred the current residential use be maintained.
Of particular concern was the northwest corner of the Palmetto Avenue-Gulf Drive intersection — three properties. At one time, the board considered placing these lots in the proposed ROR district.
"Keep business uses out of residential areas," said Steven Stanley of Palmetto Avenue, a sentiment echoed by Robin Wall and a number of other Palmetto Avenue residents.
"Keep the residential character" of the area, exclaimed John Kimberly, and don’t expand the ROR district.
But at least two property owners in the area, Betsy Hill and City Commissioner Linda Cramer, said in letters to the city that they supported a change to ROR for those lots.
The board disagreed and kept those lots as residential on the FLUM, while approving ROR for the west side of Gulf Drive from midway between Palm and Palmetto Avenue to Pine Avenue and the east side of Gulf Drive from Pine to Palmetto Avenue.
While the majority of residents in the Palmetto Avenue area argued against ROR, property owners elsewhere in the city were trying to get their areas designated ROR instead of the current commercial designation.
Attorney David Meyer and professional planner Jan Norsohp, representing the Nally family on Spring Avenue, argued that an ROR designation for that road would "create compatability" with the residential use in the area of their home.
The board, however, was not impressed.
Board member Sandy Mattick said the Nallys were granted an exception by the city commission a number of years ago to build a residence in a commercial zone, but were told "don’t come back and complain" about the commercial character of the area. The Sandbar Restaurant is located at the end of Spring Avenue.
Likewise, the board was not swayed by a plea from attorney Diane Harrison of the Mackey Law Group, representing LBK Realty, owners of five lots on North Bay Boulevard immediately north of Pine Avenue. The real estate company requested that the designation of its lots be changed from commercial to ROR in the comp plan, but the board wasn’t interested.
A request by attorney Craig Colburn, representing the Olesen family at 504 S. Bay Blvd., to have the board update the comp plan to show the width of the beach access at his clients’ property was turned aside. City attorney Jim Dye said the issue of beach access is not something that’s part of the comprehensive plan.
"This is an issue between the property owner and the city and is outside the scope of the comprehensive plan," he said.
Board chairperson Fran Barford agreed. "This is not what we are here for. This is a dispute and we are not able to deal with this tonight."
The board also cleared up any misunderstanding that it is eliminating the medium-density residential category in the city and thereby making duplexes illegal. All the revised comprehensive plan does is lower the maximum density from eight units per acre to six units per acre.
"Duplexes are not an issue" for the land use section of the comprehensive plan, said Tony Arrant, the professional planner who has guided the city through the comprehensive plan revision process since 2004.
The current duplexes in the city, however, will be "grandfathered" and can be rebuilt or remodeled. In addition, new duplexes can still be built as long as the density requirements of the comprehensive plan are met, Arrant noted.
Board members also declined to include a request by the city’s environmental education and enhancement committee that its formation and activation be included in the comprehensive plan. Problems could arise if the committee failed to have enough members, suggested Dye.
The board did agree, however, to recommend to the city commission that the request be included in the plan when formally adopted by the commission.
The board did make one adjustment to the comprehensive plan, changing the maximum amount of annual debt service from 15 percent of annual revenues to 10 percent.
Once finalized and approved by the commission, the revised plan goes to the Florida Department of Community Affairs in Tallahassee for review and final approval, barring any changes requested by the DCA.
Barford thanked all the volunteer members of the ad-hoc committee that prepared and analyzed the data that went into creating the draft comprehensive plan and congratulated board members for their time and effort in reviewing the document.
The comprehensive plan revision process began in March 2004.
Anna Maria comp plan workshop July 24
Anna Maria City Commission Chairman John Quam has scheduled the first commission worksession on the proposed comprehensive plan revisions from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday, July 24.
Commissioners will get their first opportunity to discuss the comprehensive plan as recommended by the planning and zoning board.
Quam said he expects several worksessions will be needed before the commission is ready to schedule the public hearings.