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Date of Issue: August 30, 2007

Sandbar weddings need new approval system

Ed Chiles of the Sandbar Restaurant in Anna Maria was prepared to submit a site-plan amendment to the city commission to hold outdoor weddings aside from the  enclosed pavilion he has at the establishment. Previously, Chiles had been applying for a special event permit for the outdoor events.

But the commission and city attorney Jim Dye determined that a special event permit was not the proper legal method for Chiles to get approval for the weddings.

Now Chiles, the city and adjacent residents to the restaurant who have long complained about the outdoor weddings are in a quandary. A site-plan amendment won’t work either, said Mayor Fran Barford, who has been charged by the commission to come up with a means of regulating those events to the satisfaction of the commission.

Speaking to commissioners at their Aug. 23 meeting, Barford said she is preparing a “workable solution” with Chiles and the Sandbar that she will present to the commission at its September work session.

While Barford said she was not yet ready to present details of a possible solution, she said she and city planner Alan Garrett were working together to ensure it will meet city codes and ordinances.

“We want to make sure we give the commission the best recommendation,” the mayor said.

Until a “solution” is approved by the commission, however, the board has agreed to approve through its consent agenda all special event permits for outdoor weddings at the Sandbar. Legally, the city can’t deny the requests, Dye has told commissioners previously.

But a new “solution” apparently doesn’t satisfy some residents.

Robin Wall of Palmetto Avenue told Barford she should “draw a line with the Sandbar” and stop approving the events.

“They already have the pavilion as a venue for the weddings,” she said. “Try saying ‘no’ sometime.”

The commission approved 14 outdoor weddings at the Sandbar in September.


Comprehensive plan

Commissioners agreed to discuss an addition to the comprehensive plan at its first public hearing on the plan that would require any change to the future land-use element of the plan, including the future land-use map, to be approved by the city voters during a general election.

Barford said citizens can now inform the Florida Department of Community Affairs of any concerns they have with the proposed plan, which was received by the DCA on Aug. 19. The mayor said Linda Cramer, and LBK Realty, which owns six lots on the northwest corner of Pine Avenue and North Bay Boulevard, have already notified the DCA of their concerns.

The DCA is expected to respond to the plan by Sept. 19, after which the city will schedule the first of two public hearings. Dye said the commission can make changes to the plan during either hearing.

Commission Chairman John Quam tentatively set the first public hearing for Oct. 11.


Island trolley

Barford said that the Anna Maria business community is pledging to pay $4,000 of the $8,000 mandated by Manatee County from the city to keep the Island trolley as a free service for the 2007-08 fiscal year. The remaining $4,000 would come from a reduction in a fee the city pays the state every year.

“So, we didn’t have to take the money out of the budget,” noted Barford.

The commission had previously wanted to pay only a “proportionate share” of the $25,000 that the Manatee County Commission said it wanted from the three Island cities to keep the trolley free for at least another year.

The $8,000 payment to the county will be part of the city’s 2007-08 budget.

Manatee County Commissioner Carol Whitmore said she is already working on keeping the trolley free after this fiscal year and asked if the $8,000 for this year is “definite.”

“Nothing is definite in Anna Maria,” quipped Commissioner Dale Woodland.

“But it’s in the budget,” exclaimed Barford.

The first public hearing on the 2007-08 budget is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Sept. 6.

In other business, commissioners unanimously approved a $646,000 contract with the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office for law enforcement services from Oct. 1, 2007, through Sept. 30, 2008.

Commissioners also agreed to have Barford sign a contract with Superior Asphalt for $73,500 for paving of the streets around the Anna Maria Island Community Center. The contract includes inspection services by city engineer Tom Wilcox.

The commission also gave the go-ahead to city treasurer Diane Percycoe to proceed with getting bids for emergency debris removal services. The Federal Emergency Management Agency is no longer allowing governments to “piggy back” on another government’s contract for emergency debris removal. Every municipality and county government has to have its own contract, Percycoe said.


Mattick wants drainage project reviewed

Commissioner Jo Ann Mattick told commissioners that a number of residents on Hardin and Palmetto Avenues are opposed to the planned stormwater drainage project that would include their streets.

The project, funded by a $250,000 grant from the Southwest Florida Water Management District and a matching amount from the city, has not yet been approved by the commission.

Mattick said that in talking to the residents, they are saying, “Do we need this project?”

Engineers have indicated the Hardin-Palmetto Avenue portion of the project might not be necessary and Mattick suggested that the commission “take another look at this project because I don’t think we’ve had enough input.” She asked Quam to place the issue on the agenda for the commission’s September work session.

Swiftmud projects seem to have difficulty in Anna Maria. Ten years ago, a stormwater drainage project in the city approved by Swiftmud was halted by the commission after angry residents claimed their property was being damaged, not helped, by the construction.