Anna Maria ready for hurricane season
It may be a subject that a lot of Islanders would like to avoid, but hurricane preparedness has been uppermost in the minds of Anna Maria Mayor SueLynn and her staff the past few months, particularly after the numerous near-misses during last year’s hurricane season.
The mayor made her presentation on hurricane preparedness at the city commission’s May 25 meeting and she’s confident the city is ready for the worst.
After attending numerous hurricane preparedness conferences , the mayor said the one thing she’s gotten out of these seminars is "Be prepared."
In fact, she said, "We should all be prepared to be off the Island for four to seven days during a major hurricane." Everyone should be ready to provide food, water and shelter for themselves and their family for at least the same period, she added.
The mayor’s plan is to move city hall to the Shorewalk Villas on Cortez Road if a hurricane and the subsequent storm surge is expected to inundate the Island. That’s considered a "high-and-dry" area by the National Weather Service in the event of a major hurricane.
A Category 5 hurricane’s storm surge in the area would make Bradenton "an island," and restrict movement back to Anna Maria Island, even out of Manatee County.
Prior to that, however, staff will move needed files and equipment into already-purchased off-island storage containers and relocate to Shorewalk. SueLynn said she would expect at least a four or five day period when no one would be allowed back on the Island, but the city would have a central location to stay in operation.
The city has already purchased a generator to get city hall up and running again for use when city hall reopens and people are allowed back on the Island. She suggested that if the city wants the staff to work around the clock during a hurricane, it should consider a temporary increase in financial compensation.
The mayor would also like the commission to consider allowing portable housing on an emergency and temporary basis in the city in the event housing is destroyed by a hurricane.
She also urged all commissioners to take their own precautions for safety and noted that for the city to receive federal preparedness dollars in 2007, all commissioners must pass a hurricane preparedness test. City staff will assist commissioners with study materials for the test.
In addition, commissioners were designated to work at the Manatee County Emergency Operations Center during a hurricane and liaise with her and the staff at Shorewalk.
"The city is moving forward. The staff is ready and the plan is ready," SueLynn said.
The mayor also said a number of revisions to the city’s emergency ordinance are needed and Commission Chairman John Quam scheduled discussion of those items for the June worksession.
After a healthy debate, commissioners agreed in a 3-2 vote not to consider an amendment to the setback ordinance that would have changed the current 12-inch- high and 12-inch-wide rule to 36 inches by 36 inches.
The measure had been sought by the pool construction industry to allow pool equipment - along with air conditioning compressors - to be placed in the side yard.
Commissioners agreed not to change the ordinance, but noted that such equipment could still go on the side of a house as long as it meets the setback requirements.
Resident Larry Albert made an impassioned plea for the commission to consider the case of 32 property owners in the city - himself included - that can’t build a pool in their backyard because the commission changed the setback requirements in 2004. Those property owners have a rear yard adjacent to a street, he said. Prior to that change, those 32 owners could have easily installed a pool.
Albert noted that it was likely just an oversight, but now "I can park a car or boat in my back yard, but I can’t build a pool, unless it’s just 3 feet by 4 feet."
The commission agreed to have SueLynn ask the planning and zoning board to look at the issue and determine if any amendments to the ordinance are necessary.
Traffic ordinance changes
Commissioners voted unanimously to amend the traffic regulation ordinance to return Cedar Avenue to open parking on both sides with no parking at the west end; add odd and even parking on Jacaranda Road from North Bay Boulevard to Rose Street on the west side; remove one-way traffic on Spruce Avenue, Tuna and Rose streets; apply no-parking regulations on both sides of Spruce and Cypress, and add angular parking on Alamanda Road east of the North Shore Drive intersection.
There was no public opposition to the traffic and parking changes.
Sandbar restaurant site plan
The commission also granted an extension for the submission of the final site plan by the Sandbar restaurant to June 30 and scheduled the hearing on the final plan for June 29. The commission also changed the date for its regular June meeting from June 22 to June 29.