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Date of Issue: September 15, 2005

Parking plan coming for a vote

Is it possible that Anna Maria may finally solve the parkings woes that have plagued the city since the first Model-T Ford full of visitors drove across the old wooden Anna Maria Island Bridge in 1925 and made a right turn to Anna Maria?

It could be happening.

The Anna Maria City Commission appears heading toward a decision on parking, something that has eluded the city for at least the past 25 years, perhaps even longer.

Commissioners at their Sept. 8 workshop agreed to place Parking Plan C on the Sept. 22 agenda for a vote.

Plan C calls for alternate-side of the street parking on streets in the beach access zone only, with the parking side to alternate annually. The commission suggested the plan begin Dec. 1.

Some residents have opted out of the plan by requesting that their street remain open parking and those streets will not be part of the plan.

Commission Chairperson John Quam said residents of any street that want open parking should present their petition to him prior to the Sept. 22 meeting.

There are a number of no-parking areas on streets within the BAZ.

Streets currently in Plan C that will have at least some open parking are Gladiolus Street, Fern Street, Newton Lane, Cypress Street, Spruce Avenue, Fir Avenue, Coconut Avenue, Sycamore Avenue, Elm Avenue, Magnolia Avenue, Palm Avenue, Palmetto Avenue, Cedar Avenue, Maple Avenue, Beach Avenue and Peppertree Lane

The proposed ordinance also lists a number of areas on BAZ streets where no parking will be allowed.

Plan C is viewed as a compromise by the commission after it has previously rejected a parking plan presented by the city engineering firm of Baskerville-Donovan Inc., a plan presented by Commissioner Duke Miller, Plan X proposed by Quam, and an alternate-street parking plan proposed by Mayor SueLynn.

Miller presented Plan C to the commission May 12 after attempts to get a majority to approve the various other plans failed. Although Miller is a proponent of resident-only permit parking, he has said he could "live" with Plan C as a compromise.

The commission has agreed that if Plan C passes, it will be reviewed on an annual basis to see if it's working for the residents and visiting public.

Residents of a number of BAZ streets, including Palmetto Avenue and Palm Avenue, have presented petitions to the commission opposing Plan C.

According to records available at city hall, the first parking committee formed by the city commission to study parking problems and come up with solutions was in 1977.

Occupational license tax

In other business, the commission discussed the occupational license tax ordinance and agreed to have the second reading just prior to the Oct. 13 worksession.

The city had an OLT up until September 2003, but that measure was disallowed by the Florida Legislature because the commission that adopted the measure many years ago had done so after the required deadline.

The ordinance would require anyone operating a business or profession, including a home occupation, to obtain an annual license from the city. The fees are nominal and similar to the prior ordinance.

When business owner Sandi Oldham pointed out that her business at 307 Pine Ave. might have to pay for multiple licenses because of the variety of items it sells, the commission agreed to discuss lowering the tax or setting a maximum that a business would have to pay. There was discussion that the maximum could be $100, but no consensus. The commission said it would discuss the fee structure at the Oct. 13 meeting.

City Attorney Jim Dye said the city could lower the proposed fees. Currently, the proposed ordinance calls for the fees - which were established in 1995 - to double. He also noted the tax will only give the city information and revenue, it won't regulate what's taking place or enforce any city code.

Quam said he has reservations because the ordinance has no regulatory power, but Mayor SueLynn pointed out that people and business owners voluntarily complied with the previous OLT without any problems.

And it's not designed to regulate, she said, just to keep the city informed of "who is doing what. I just want to know what's here," she said.

The OLT will also apply to a home business.

E-1 zone

Commissioners agreed with Mayor SueLynn that the city needs to look at establishing an environmental zone to prevent construction on land seaward of the coastal construction control line in the Bean Point area.

Because there are some unplatted lots in this area, a developer could buy these lots, several platted beachfront lots, and suddenly have enough land to build a sub-division or, at the least, several large beachfront homes.

"It's being done now in Siesta Key," said the mayor, and the city has already had several telephone calls inquiring about developing unplatted lots.

Platted lots that are adjacent to each other could also be "refigured," she said, giving a developer or investor enough land to build several single-family homes.

Dye said that, in his opinion, an E-1 zone would be legal.

The commission will discuss the issue at its Oct. 13 workshop.