Commission declines to extend trolley route
Citing safety concerns for the Island trolley traveling on roads heavily used by pedestrians, cyclists and children, the Anna Maria City Commission declined to ask the Manatee County Area Transit authority to extend its trolley route along North Shore Drive and North Bay Boulevard.
Mayor Fran Barford told commissioners at their Feb. 7 work session that while MCAT has said adding the routes to the current system is "doable," she has "concerns" with the trolley crossing the humpback bridge on North Bay Boulevard 48 times each day.
In addition, noted Commissioner Duke Miller, the trolley service starts at 6 a.m. and ends at 10 p.m. Adding stops along North Shore Drive would put the trolley into a residential neighborhood at a very early hour.
There was also concern about the stress that the trolley would put on the humpback bridge. "The county agreed with me that the trolley would take a toll on the bridge," Barford added, although it did not do any structural analysis.
Commissioner Christine Tollette said she was concerned about the multitude of pedestrians, children and cyclists on North Shore Drive, particularly during the winter season.
"There's a major safety problem" if the trolley runs on North Shore, she said.
Some residents in the area had asked that the trolley add stops along North Shore Drive and North Bay Boulevard because they had difficulty getting to the trolley's closest stop at the city pier. When MCAT first began its Island trolley service in 2002, the route included a stop at the Rod & Reel Pier, but that was canceled for lack of passengers at that location.
"But there may be ways to transport some of the folks who need to get to the trolley," said Barford.
MCAT has two programs to move residents to desired locations such as a doctor's office or a trip to the supermarket.
MCAT has a "handy bus" service available from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. for disabled residents at a cost of $2 each way. MCAT also provides a free transportation service for those who qualify, but the trips are limited to 3 to 4 miles from the resident's location.
Barford handed out information on MCAT's available services to those attending the meeting, which was held at the Holmes Beach City Hall. MCAT ride guides are available at city hall, which is presently operating on the second floor of the Island Baptist Church annex.
The MCAT telephone number is 749-7116.
The commission spent considerable time discussing the proposed lot split ordinance and eventually agreed that the city should "grandfather" in existing lots that have a private access.
A number of other issues arose during the discussion, such as what would happen if the city were wiped out by a hurricane, but city attorney Jim Dye suggested that if those issues were to be incorporated in the proposed ordinance, it would essentially create a new ordinance. The city would have to re-advertise and begin the public hearing process again, he said.
The commission opted to just add in a "grandfather" clause and the final reading of the ordinance will be at the Feb. 22 commission meeting.
Commissioners agreed that other "issues" created by the lot-split ordinance would be dealt with in a future ordinance.
The commission agreed to have the first reading of an ordinance to extend the current moratorium on construction within the coastal-overlay district on Feb. 22 and the final reading at a special meeting on Feb. 28. The meeting Feb. 28 is scheduled for 4 p.m. at the Island Baptist Church.
Waste Management agreement
Commissioners had the first reading of a new agreement with Waste Management Inc. for trash-hauling and recycling services.
WMI's Dave Smith noted that the company had previously not charged for collection of trash receptacles at beach-access locations, but that was an oversight. The company currently has 50 such receptacles around the city.
"We just haven't been charging. It's an oversight," he said.
The central issue with the new contract, however, is the fact that WMI charges a duplex owner for collection of two units, whether or not the other unit is rented, and where some many duplexes in the city are combined single-family units.
Smith said if the company gets documentation from the owner that the unit is no longer a duplex under the county tax rolls, it will be charged as a single-family residence.
WMI will give the city 10 exemptions from being charged at the duplex rate, but it's up to the city to choose which 10 units get the exceptions. WMI, he said, is not in the business of choosing exceptions.
Barford said there are presently 110 duplex units in the city and there's a lot of difficulty in determining who gets an exception.
But WMI's Rose Quin-Barr, a former Anna Maria police officer, saved the day by saying that WMI would be "more than happy" to look at anyone who can document the fact that their duplex is now a single-family dwelling. If it's a legitimate claim, the company will charge the duplex at the single-family rate.
"It's been a big misunderstanding," she said.
If the contract is approved, WMI will eventually institute automated collection service in Anna Maria as it already has done in Holmes Beach. That service involves the use of trash receptacles that come in 32 and 65-gallon sizes.
The final reading of the WMI ordinance was scheduled for Feb. 22.
The commission also received a memo on a Jan. 29 meeting among the city pier manager, Barford, Tollette and public works director George McKay regarding the pier complying with the Americans with Disabilities Act. An Aug. 20, 2003, memo from Dye indicated it was the tenant's responsibility to comply with the provisions of the ADA at its own cost, not the city's.
Pier management was given a list of concerns and recommendations. The group will meet again Feb. 19 to determine if the lease holder has complied with any of the recommendations.