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.