Anna Maria passes moratorium to limit height of houses

nwilliams@bradenton.comFebruary 5, 2013 

ANNA MARIA -- Anna Maria commissioners have adopted an administrative moratorium on the construction of houses more than 27 feet tall in the city.

The suspension of construction of taller homes is the latest move by the city's government to control the abundance of short-term rental houses within city limits.

The moratorium, adopted Thursday, is the third recent course of action commissioners have taken on rental houses in response to the frustration of some residents regarding vacation rentals, which they say are ruining the city's quality of life.

On Jan. 24, the commission approved a motion to enforce existing restrictions of short-term rentals. Under the existing code, all land-use elements must be compatible with residential zones and a short-term rental is illegal.

Five days later, the commission reversed the motion, saying the initial vote was premature.

Officials said the moratorium was a step in the right direction for the city.

"It will give us time to get things in place," said Mayor SueLynn. "It will keep them to a size that is compatible with the rest of the city."

The city avoided possible litigation by rescinding the motion to enforce existing restrictions. An attorney for several property owners in Anna Maria said he was prepared to file before the reversal was made. The city of Venice in Sarasota County is fighting a lawsuit for its decision to limit rental properties.

Commissioner Chuck Webb, also a land-use attorney, said information on the county property appraiser website showed investors and developers were buying properties to maximize short-term rentals. One property, he said, was said to have six to eight bedrooms.

"That type of structure, a normal family would not buy," he said. "We know what it will be used for."

Webb said the previous height limit was 37 feet.

"We are taking off a floor," he said. "We intend to work quickly on an ordinance to end the moratorium."

Commissioners will continue to hold workshops every Thursday to solve the issue with rental homes.

"We have a start," SueLynn said. "There's a lot of things to be done. Changes in a number of different places can tighten things up."

Nick Williams, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-748-0411, ext. 7049. Twitter:@_1NickWilliams

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