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Date of Issue: November 22, 2007

Anna Maria still waiting for DCA reply to comp plan

One has to admire Anna Maria city commissioners for their patience.

They’ve been waiting for a reply from the Florida Department of Community Affairs to the city’s proposed comprehensive plan amendments for nearly two months.

At the commission’s Nov. 15 meeting, they learned from professional planner Tony Arrant, the man who has guided the city through the plan revision process the past five years, that they’re going to have to wait a little longer to approve the comp plan.

That’s because Arrant has still not heard from the DCA planners he needs to meet with to resolve what he believes is the lone remaining issue to the proposed plan. The DCA expressed concerns about affordable housing in its review of the plan.

The commission had hoped to finally adopt the amended comprehensive plan that will take the plan from “proposed” to “adopted,” but because of the lack of DCA response, believed it prudent to continue the public hearing to 6 p.m. Dec. 11.

Arrant said he is confident that all other issues raised by the DCA in prior responses have been successfully addressed. He noted that the DCA has not told the commission it has to “change” anything in the proposed plan, just “suggested.” Even those “suggestions” have been successfully addressed, he said.

A majority of commissioners continue to believe that the proposed future land-use element and map that are part of the plan are adequate, although Commissioners Jo Ann Mattick and Christine Tollette argued that the six lots on the northwest corner of the Pine Avenue-North Bay Boulevard intersection should be changed from commercial to retail-office-residential on the FLUM.

Commissioners Duke Miller, Dale Woodland and John Quam are opposed to any change at this time.

The commission is also opposed to changing the land-use designation of the two lots on the northwest corner of the Palmetto Avenue-Gulf Drive intersection - commonly called the “Cramer” lots for current owner and former City Commissioner Linda Cramer - from residential to retail-office-residential.

In other business, the commission approved two variance requests, including one that the planning and zoning board had recommended be denied in part.

The commission unanimously approved the variance request of Michael Coleman of 418 Pine Ave. for the home he built into the 20-foot setback.

Coleman had originally submitted plans to build according to the city’s 29-foot setback in the ROR, but then building official Kevin Donohue had erroneously rejected those plans and suggested Coleman could and should build into the 20-foot setback as the other three houses on the former Island Marina property had been built. Donovan apparently overlooked a change in the setback in the ROR district from 20 feet to 29 feet after the original three houses were constructed.

The commission agreed Coleman had suffered an “undue” hardship.

Commissioners also agreed to four variance requests from the Olesen family of 504 S. Bay Blvd. that were part of the mediated settlement between the Olesens and the city over a disputed 5-foot easement on the north side of the Olesen property. The Olesens had taken the city to court after Donovan issued a stop-work order on the property in April 2006, contending that the Olesens did not own the easement and the city had never dedicated it to the family.

The P&Z board had recommended approval of three of the variances in the settlement, but recommended denial of the variance allowing the Olesens to place an air-conditioning compressor unit into the setback.

Laura Gee, an architect who lives at 502 S. Bay Blvd, opposed that variance, but commissioners approved the measure by a 4-1 vote.

The commission also scheduled a special meeting for 5 p.m. Dec. 20 to award the contract for the next phase of the city’s planned drainage project.

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