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Date of Issue: August 09, 2007

Commercial in residential not permitted in Anna Maria

Residential property owners in Anna Maria take heed. It is against city codes to have a commercial use at a residential property, as Frances Tunkel and Vickie Paul, owners of 300 and 302 N. Shore Drive, have discovered.

Code enforcement officer Gerry Rathvon sent a letter to the owners July 16 noting that they are renting commercial storage space in one of their units in violation of the city code. Rathvon also noted that there are three units at 302 N. Shore Drive instead of the two allowed by code.

As if those weren’t enough problems, Rathvon also advised Tunkel and Paul that some ongoing work at the subject properties is being done by an unlicensed contractor and without a city building permit. The work is also in violation of the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s criteria for work performed below the base flood elevation.

Rathvon gave Tunkel and Paul until Aug. 15 to have a licensed contractor obtain the required permit and told them to “cease and desist renting out the garages for commercial storage” and remove all items from the garages.

“This is residential property and may in no way be used for commercial,” she said.

Rathvon said she has “no problem” with granting the owners an extension if they get the work started by the deadline. If no progress is made toward compliance by that date, however, she’ll send the case to the next code enforcement board meeting.

If found guilty of a code violation, Tunkel and Paul could receive a fine of up to $250 per day for a first violation. The maximum fine for a repeat offense is $500 per day.

It’s not the first time Anna Maria residential property owners have been accused of using their property for commercial purposes.

“There have been a few cases like this the past few years,” Rathvon noted. “It’s usually for renting storage space at a residence, which is against city codes,” she noted.

Rathvon’s actions drew a letter of praise from resident Ron Knight, who told Mayor Fran Barford that it was with “pleasure and gratitude that I am sending this letter about one of Anna Maria’s government employees.”

Knight said he has had safety concerns about the unit he occupies for some time and was pleased that Rathvon had addressed those issues.

He thanked Rathvon, Barford and City Commissioners John Quam, Christine Tollette, Duke Miller and Dale Woodland for the “extra effort you put into these code violations that may help not only our families, but future families that may reside here.”