Monday, October 26, 2009

For discussion: Nuisances

How many noise complaints are required to be filed against a business or a residence before they're deemed a nuisance?

Sunday, October 25, 2009

I Do Not Support Minimum Rentals!

I do not support minimum rentals for residential properties. Period.

Since my wife and I arrived in Anna Maria in 1999, we have shared Anna Maria with family and friends. Like us, all were immediately smitten and several have since bought properties. My brother John and his wife Carol, 519 Spring Avenue; my niece Deb, her husband Tom and their young sons Aiden and Logan, 521 Magnolia and 4002 6th Avenue, Holmes Beach ; our sister-in-law Lena, 308 Spring; our friends Dave and Debbie Hollinger, 200 Spring and 214 Coconut; Colin and June Atkinson, their daughters Holly and Elyse, 802 Gladiolus, and friends Joe and Bev Hospital, 522 Pine Avenue. Anna Maria is a destination for all of them: a place where they wish to retire. With the exception of Joe and Bev, all rent their properties to help defray the costs of owning a piece of paradise. All those properties are available for weekly rentals. Most of their properties are managed by Mike and Susan Brinson with Island Accomodations at 315 Pine Avenue.

We have many neighbors living on the Island who own rental homes, some of which we have rented weekly and even nightly to house friends, family, and our employees.

To suggest I am in favor of minimum rentals is ludicrous.
'Nuff said.
Harry Stoltzfus

A Flawed Process

If you are a developer and wish to build something in Anna Maria, you work up a site plan and present it to the City. At any point you can ask our City Planner for advice and assistance on bringing your site plan into compliance with City ordinances. The Planner bills the City for the time he's spent on your project, and the City bills you.
You then present your finished plan to the City. If the City has questions about your plan, they refer your presentation to the City Planner, who again reviews it and advises whether or not it's in compliance.

It's a flawed process.

Why? Because no one is perfect. We are all prone to err.

If the City Planner errs while advising the developer, he will likely repeat that error while advising the City.

Anna Maria needs to change the planning/approval protocol now in place. We need to strengthen the system of checks and balances to decrease the likelihood of mistakes made in the planning side being automatically perpetuated on the approval side.

We need to reinstate the adversarial dynamic between developers and the City. We want our Planner concentrating on delivering the highest level of scrutiny to every site plan in his purview. And we need him to notify us immediately when any aspect of a site plan, or ordinances pertaining thereto are able to be interpreted more than one way.

We can achieve all of the above with one simple change.

By requiring developers to hire their own experts, not use ours. They hire their own architects and engineers. Let them hire their own Planner as well.

Our City Planner should not be put in the position of having to advise and consent. He needs to work for the City, and the City alone.

I am not impugning the integrity, the ethics, or the competence of our City Planner in any way. But he's been placed in an untenable position. That needs to change.

For discussion: Traffic on Pine Avenue

If you apply for a special event permit in Anna Maria, one of the requirements for obtaining it is an estimate of the number of attendees. It's a way to determine if the City needs to take measures regarding potential traffic issues.

When Walmart applies for its building permits, most localities require impact studies to determine what if any changes need to be made in nearby corridors to accommodate the projected increase in traffic. Walmart pays for the studies and often pays for the required changes: things like turn lane additions, traffic lights or roundabouts, shoulder widening, etc. It's Walmart's way of mitigating the impact of their presence.

Has anyone attempted to calculate the long-term effect of more than tripling the number of office/retail spaces on Pine Avenue?
If we require someone who wants to stage a one day event to estimate their effect on our traffic, isn't it reasonable to suggest a developer who affects our traffic permanently do the same?
Would it make sense to call for a moratorium on permits on Pine until a traffic impact study is done?

All commentary is invited, but I'd especially like to hear from principals of Pine Avenue Restoration and the other candidates for City Commissioner regarding this issue.