Paradise lost is found
Jimmy Buffett can eat his cheeseburger in paradise - and keep playing his music.
Faced with the possibility that Island-style music could be banned in this slice of island paradise, Anna Maria city commissioners at their March 24 meeting ironed out a compromise to the outdoor dining ordinance that allows "amplified" music until 10 p.m.
The compromise, however, allows such music only at the two current locations that have outdoor "amplified" music: The Sandbar restaurant and the City Pier Restaurant. Other restaurants or new establishments will have to be content with "acoustic" music outside, or keep the musicians indoors.
Commissioners were originally divided on what options they wanted in that section of the outdoor dining ordinance pertaining to music.
Commissioner Dale Woodland wanted to "leave it the way it is" and allow all outdoor amplified music as he considered the options "restrictive."
Commissioner Duke Miller had originally favored no outdoor amplified music.
"My position hasn't changed," he said, but he was willing to compromise on the option that would "grandfather" the Sandbar and City Pier as long as those establishments met the city's noise ordinance requirements and amplified music ended at 10 p.m. nightly. The commission had originally suggested a 9 p.m. end to amplified music during the week and a 10 p.m. finish on weekends and holidays.
Commissioners Linda Cramer and Carol Ann Magill agreed to those conditions, as did Commission Chairperson John Quam.
After hearing from members of the public and Sandbar restaurant owner Ed Chiles, who supported a 10 p.m. deadline, commissioners agreed to alter the time period in the ordinance.
To halt music at the Sandbar at 9 p.m. "would make a big change" in the restaurant operation, Chiles said. During the summer, it's still daylight at 9 p.m. and people enjoy the Jimmy Buffett-style music. He also pledged to rearrange the entertainment to direct the sound toward the Gulf of Mexico and away from residential areas near the restaurant.
Chiles also noted that while it was nice that the Sandbar would be grandfathered under the outdoor entertainment option, "It's not fair that we get in and not new restaurants."
Resident Judy Adams, who lives near the Sandbar, agreed there are a lot of different sides to the issue, and asked commissioners to be ultimately responsible for the noise levels.
Under the city's noise ordinance, the city can file an injunction against repeat offenders. Violators can also be fined by Manatee County Sheriff's Office deputies, or be cited by the code enforcement officer and required to appear before the code enforcement board.
"Is the commission going to be responsible," to see that these procedures are followed? she asked. The commission agreed.
Property owner John Cagnina, whose father was once mayor of Anna Maria, said the commission was "restricting free expression."
Magill pointed out, however, that prior to this ordinance, city codes had not permitted outdoor dining or outdoor entertainment and Holmes Beach doesn't allow any outside entertainment.
"So, this is a compromise and we have worked very hard for this," she concluded.
Commissioners agreed and passed the ordinance and accompanying section on outdoor "amplified" entertainment by a 4-1 vote.
In other business, the commission directed planner Alan Garrett to develop the city's flood management plan, which will help reduce flood insurance premiums for property owners.
Mayor SueLynn reported that the Southwest Florida Water Management District will begin surveying the alley between North Bay Boulevard and Gladiolus in the near future in preparation for public hearings on the city's proposed drainage plan for swales on that alley. Other alleys will also be surveyed and affected property owners will be informed when the surveys begin.
"I just don't want people alarmed when they see strangers walking through the alley," she said.
Woodland reminded the commission that the Swiftmud project is a matching grant of $270,000 with $135,000 coming from the city. The city's portion could be returned to the treasury through the proposed stormwater assessment fee, he said.
SueLynn also provided an update on repairs to the city pier, which will done at the expense of pier operator Mario Schoenfelder.