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Date of Issue: January 19, 2006

Sandbar site plan may be in jeopardy

Ed Chiles and the Sandbar restaurant could be in danger of starting from scratch with a new site plan to remodel the existing facility after Chiles failed to meet the city's six-month deadline to return to the city commission with a final site plan.

Chiles' preliminary plan was approved June 29, but the city code required Chiles to come back to the commission within six months - Dec. 29, 2005, in this case - with a final plan or request an extension.

Attorney Ricinda Perry, representing Chiles, wrote the city a letter in early January asking that the commission consider an extension at its Jan. 26 regular meeting.

But at the commission's Jan. 12 workshop, Commissioner Duke Miller suggested that the Sandbar's failure to meet the Dec. 29 deadline meant that the plan was "finished" and Chiles had to start over.

Not exactly, said Building Official Kevin Donohue.

According to the code, the application is "deemed withdrawn unless the city commission grants an extension." The code makes no mention of whether or not the commission can grant the extension before or after the six-month deadline.

City Attorney Jim Dye agreed that the site plan is "withdrawn" unless the commission grants an extension, but the commission can grant the extension at any time. He suggested the commission hear the extension application at its Jan. 26 meeting.

But at the same Jan. 12 workshop, the commission granted an extension to the six-month period to the Anna Maria Island Community Center's final site plan submission. Miller wondered why the commission didn't discuss the Sandbar's request for an extension at the same time.

Because Perry asked to be on the Jan. 26 agenda, replied Donohue.

 

Coastal overlay district

Commissioners agreed to hire attorney Nancy Stroud of Boca Raton for a second opinion on the legality and possible future legal challenges of the city's proposed coastal overlay district ordinance.

The ordinance would limit development of residences on currently unplatted lots in the district to one unit per acre  and to a height of just 27 feet, among other restrictions and conditions for development.

City planner Alan Garrett said there are 250 parcels in the district, but he did not yet know how many were "unplatted," or how many acres the combined parcels would make.

The commission heard from Harry Lockwood, who owns a 1.27 acre unplatted parcel in the proposed district.

Lockwood asked the commission to consider the affected property owners, noting that he and his family "don't want to get involved in a lawsuit, but we just want fairness."

The commission will discuss the proposed district again at its Jan. 26 meeting when it expects to have Stroud's opinion on the legality of the ordinance.

 

Signage

Garrett presented a revised ordinance on signage in the city based upon the results of his two meetings with business owners and the public.

Most of the changes in the ordinance were directed at real estate signs advertising "for sale" or "for rent," and the ordinance would reduce the maximum size of a real estate "open house" sign from 5 square feet to 3 square feet, among other changes.

Discussion also centered around some removable real estate signs that are attached to posts in the ground.

Building Official Kevin Donohue suggested that the posts, as permanent structures, might require a building permit and engineering.

Commissioners also considered eliminating window signs advertising "for rent" or "for sale."

Further discussion was continued to the commission's Jan. 26 meeting for the second reading of the ordinance.

 

Line of credit

The commission held the first reading of the ordinance establishing the city's $1.5 million line of credit with Wachovia Bank under a program funded by the Florida Association of Counties.

While Mayor SueLynn argued that language in the ordinance should include utilizing the money for various capital improvement projects, the commission consensus was to restrict use of the funds to just road and drainage projects.

The second reading will be Jan. 26.

 

Fences

Commissioners also considered an amendment to the fence ordinance that would prohibit masonry, stone, brick or concrete fences and restrict any fence to a height of 4 feet or 6 feet, depending upon where the fence is located on a property.

The height of the fence will continue to be measured from the "existing" ground grade.

 

Consolidation

Newly elected Commissioner Christine Tollette asked the commission for a resolution to discuss the consolidation issue with the other two Island cities and Commission Chairperson John Quam agreed to bring the issue to the commission's Feb. 9 workshop.

SueLynn reported that she was contacted by Holmes Beach Mayor Carol Whitmore to attend a meeting with her and Bradenton Beach Mayor John Chappie to discuss consolidation.

However, said SueLynn, because the meeting would be about consolidation of the three Island governments and not about consolidation of any services, she declined the invitation as she has no mandate from the commission to pursue consolidation

The commission rejected placing a non-binding referendum on consolidation on the November ballot after public opinion appeared to be against any talks about governmental consolidation, only consolidation of some services.

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