Commission consensus for stormwater fee
Anna Maria city commissioners at their April 24 meeting gave verbal approval for a $45 stormwater utility fee, but held off implementing the fee until after July 1.
City attorney Jim Dye said the city needs to hold off formal adoption of the fee until after the Manatee County Property Appraiser’s Office has released its property appraisal roll.
Commissioners also learned that the Southwest Florida Water Management District has delayed issuing a permit for the next portion of the city’s stormwater drainage plan.
City engineer Tom Wilcox noted that if the permit were issued now, the project - expected to take about five months to complete - would run straight into the rainy season. He suggested delaying any startup until fall and commissioners agreed.
Commissioners unanimously approved a new building department fee schedule prepared by new building official Bob Welch that increases substantially the fees for city services and permits.
The increase is long overdue, said Barford, because the city was not covering its costs with quite its charges for services.
Some members of the public suggested some of the new fees might be excessive, but commissioners rejected any further changes to the proposed increases. The commission did, however, impose an implementation date of June 2 to allow contractors to submit projects currently planned in the city.
Commissioners approved the first reading of an ordinance defining the term “lot/structure” for the retail-office-residential district that was added to the newly adopted comprehensive plan and sent the ordinance to the planning and zoning board, which will hold a public meeting on the ordinance May 6.
The ordinance creates a “zero lot line” in the ROR, allowing structures to combine by “forgiving” building setbacks. The required setbacks, however, would not be eliminated, but would be applied to another side of the structure.
City commissioners plan to hold their public hearing on the ordinance on May 29.
The commission unanimously passed an ordinance amending the zoning district regulations for the public recreation area to define a community center and permit a number of uses at the Anna Maria Island Community Center.
The Center has been holding these “uses” for a number of years, but they had never been officially placed into the proper ordinance.
With approval of the ordinance, the Center is now required to give the city a one-week notice when it plans to hold events at which more than 200 people are expected, and to notify the city when alcoholic beverages will be served at a Center function.
In other business, the commission approved an ordinance authorizing the city to borrow up to $1 million for stormwater projects.
Commissioners also approved a motion to draft an ordinance to create a ballot question asking city voters to “approve or reject a change to the city charter mandating a super majority vote of the commission for any changes to the future land-use element of the city’s comprehensive plan.”
Public questions drainage project engineering
Several residents at the city commission’s April 24 meeting criticized the stormwater-drainage system installed in the Pine Avenue and Magnolia Drive area last year, saying they found the drainage filters are already rusted.
Resident Tom Turner said he and other concerned citizens, such as Jim Conoly and Rick DeFrank, had personally inspected the filters and found them defective. Turner said he and the others wondered why the water wasn’t draining effectively in that area after the project - known as Phase A of the city’s stormwater drainage plan - was completed.
Conoly noted everyone wanted to blame the contractor for failing to inspect the filters, but the city should not have left that up to the contractor.
“We’re paying an engineer,” he said, and he apparently doesn’t want to learn about inferior products that are out of warranty.
“I believe the design of the system was faulty,” Conoly said.
“We need to look at the engineering and inspection aspects of these projects,” Turner said.