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Date of Issue: October 15, 2008

Anna Maria code complaint not found at city hall

An anonymous tipster reported last week that a code enforcement complaint had been filed in Anna Maria against four houses at the site of the former Island Marine on Pine Avenue, alleging that these houses were constructed in violation of the city’s comprehensive plan and land development regulations.

The only problem is that no such complaint exists at the Anna Maria City Hall, according to Mayor Fran Barford and staff members involved in the code enforcement process.

“I haven’t seen any complaint. Maybe they just brought it in,” said the mayor last Friday.

The mayor reviews all code complaints brought to code enforcement officer Gerry Rathvon, who was off duty on Friday.

But building department assistant Diane Sacca, who also reviews complaints and assists Rathvon with the process, said she has no record of any complaint against the houses at 408, 410, 412 and 418 Pine Ave.

The anonymous tipster alleged that the lots were not in compliance with city codes because they were constructed on lots that were never non-conforming lots that had been platted and accepted by the city.

But the tipster may have overlooked the April 6, 2005, edition of The Islander, where a story said that city attorney Jim Dye had reversed an earlier opinion about construction of residences on those lots and opined that a single-family residence could be built eache of the lots.

The story said, in part, that Dye had reviewed the city codes following a request by attorney Scott Rudacille, who was representing a potential buyer of all five lots.

The story said:

“Rudacille cited a section of the city code which has a subsection stating that ‘building lots platted and accepted by the city, which lots may be somewhat smaller than specifications established by this chapter, are approved for R-1 construction providing other regulations of the R-1 areas are complied with.’”

The subsection mentioned only ruled out some lots in the Shore Acres subdivision. The [lots in question] are in the Anna Maria Beach subdivision.

Dye responded then that if the city had “accepted” the lots, even though they are non-conforming, then “my view is that the platted lots within the R-1 and R-2 district can be built upon even if they are non-conforming because of size, so long as they are built in accordance with the R-1 regulations.”

Following Dye’s opinion, the lots were sold and four of the five were developed as three-story residences, creating what some critics called a “canyon effect” on Pine Avenue.

Barford said she would speak with Rathvon this week to determine if any complaint against the four houses was received at city hall.

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