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Date of Issue: September 02, 2009

Anna Maria surprise: commissioners canít agree

Like the political football it is, an ordinance allowing duplexes in Anna Maria to be allowed some expansion just can’t seem to pass muster when presented to the city commission.

The issue has been passed back and forth between the commission and the planning and zoning board more times than Brett Favre’s pass completions last week.

The commission wanted suggestions, the board gave suggestions, the commission wanted more suggestions and the board responded in kind.

At the commission’s Aug. 27 meeting, commissioners again could not agree on all the latest P&Z board suggestions, which include allowing expansion of duplexes from 35 percent of lot coverage to 40 percent, allowing expansion of kitchens, living rooms and bathrooms, but not allowing any additional bedrooms.
Any expansion would be on a one-time basis, according to the proposed ordinance prepared by city planner Alan Garrett.

If approved, the additional footage would be 250 square feet for a 5,000 square-foot lot and 325 square feet for a 7,500 square-foot lot.

Commissioner Chuck Webb, however, suggested the commission simply allow vertical expansion. Because of Federal Emergency Management Agency restrictions on upward expansion of existing single-family structures, building upward is limited, Webb indicated.

But Commissioner Jo Ann Mattick was concerned about not allowing an additional bedroom. She said permanent residents in duplexes should be allowed to add another bedroom. Any single-family home in the Residential-1 zone is allowed to add additional bedrooms, as long as the expansion meets city code, she said.

“I don’t favor the 40 percent rule, but I would favor vertical expansion because of the limitations,” she said.

Commissioner Dale Woodland also was opposed to horizontal expansion. He said that an expanded living room or television room could easily become a bedroom.

Commission Chairman John Quam said allowing any duplex expansion might be “opening a can of worms.”
“How can you enforce the rules?” he asked.

City planner Alan Garrett responded that the city would have a difficult time with enforcement.

“But remember, these are just starting points in the ordinance,” he said.

Commissioner Christine Tollette favored keeping the duplexes “on the ground,” but said she also wants to “keep our city the way it is and keep our one-story cottages.”
The problem with that, said developer Mike Coleman, is that speculators will wait until the value of a one-story duplex falls so low that he or she can buy it cheap, scrape it off the foundation and build a house that is three stories high — two livable floors over parking.

When Quam suggested the ordinance be forwarded for a second public hearing, Woodland said that’s “not a good idea when we can’t make up our minds on anything in the ordinance.”
Indeed. If no horizontal expansion is allowed, there’s no need for an ordinance as “we are right back to where we started,” said Woodland.

Under the land development regulations for the R-1 district, one-story homes, including duplexes, are allowed to expand upward.

Garrett pointed out that the 2007 comprehensive plan encouraged single-family homes, but eliminated the zoning for duplexes. The city eventually combined the Residential-2 zone with the R-1.

The 65 duplexes currently developed in the city are “grandfathered,” but considered non-conforming by the comp plan and the new R-1 zone, he said. Prior to passage of the comp plan, those duplexes were conforming structures.

“We have a comp-plan policy issue,” Garrett said.

The public seemed divided on the issue.

City resident Ray Sackett, who lives in a duplex unit with his wife and five children, favored allowing duplexes to expand upward, but Robin Wall of Palmetto Avenue said she was opposed to any expansion.

Commissioners eventually agreed to have the ordinance brought to its September workshop for more discussion.

Boat slips
The commission passed the first reading of an ordinance allowing boat slips that are accompanied by platted lots to be allowed water and electricity hookups.

Six such lots near the Anna Maria Island Community Center were platted in the 1950s as boat slip lots, but not accompanied by a single-family residence.

The city ordinance passed in the 1980s requires a boat slip to be accompanied by a single-family home.

Attorney Scott Rudacille, representing a client who owns four unplatted lots near Galati Marine on South Bay Boulevard, asked that the commission include those four lots in the ordinance, but Woodland said he wanted to “just stick with platted lots” for the present.

“I don’t want to go there. We’ll deal with that at a later time,” he said.

In other business, commissioners approved the first reading of an ordinance revising the city’s flood-plain restrictions. Building official Bob Welch said the revisions are needed for the city to maintain its current level of discounts for flood insurance. The city at present has a Level 5 rating, which gives homeowners a 25 percent discount on flood insurance premiums.

The Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce requested a special event permit for Bayfest, a two-day event.

The chamber asked for the permit for the event dates of Oct. 16-17.

Chamber president Mary Ann Brockman said the application was late to the city because she and the organizing committee had to pre-arrange qualified volunteers to sell alcohol and have the required alcoholic beverage permits.

The commission approved the request.

City pier
Mayor Fran Barford said engineers last week completed a structural inspection of the city pier and she’ll present the report as soon as it is available.

In addition, Barford said she will meet with the city pier operators in October to discuss renegotiation of the contract, which expires in the near future.

City boundary
Barford said she expects to have a new boundary agreement between Anna Maria and Manatee County just as soon as a boundary survey is completed.

The county commission has agreed to change the boundary to allow some of the waters adjacent to Anna Maria to be within the city limits.

Those include the waters around the city pier, Rod & Reel Pier, Bean Point and Bimini Bay, among others.