ANNA MARIA -- The Anna Maria Commission debated possible bedroom restrictions Thursday for new houses to cap home density in the city.
The lengthy discussion in a special meeting at Anna Maria City Hall, 10005 Gulf Drive, produced no answers.
Anna Maria Commissioner Chuck Webb, who supported requiring a minimum bedroom sizes, said he wants to keep the city room intensity at a reasonable level. He suggested setting a required square-foot ratio of bedrooms to lot size for new houses.
"We get to choose what our community is going to be. ... and the population and all that," Webb said. "If someone is going to live here, they're not going to have a house that's 70 percent, 80 percent bedrooms."
Webb said some houses built in Anna Maria have bedrooms covering nearly 90 percent of the structure. The kitchens, he added, are incredibly tiny.
"It's not something that a normal resident would build," he said. "That's the issue. If people are allowed to max out the number of people you can get into a house, then that's going to jack up our population."
The city, he added, can only support so many people.
"This goes to the intensity and density of uses in the city," Webb said. "New York has a much more intense use, bigger population than Anna Maria, so the more people you can get into a house, the more intense the use of that particular lot."
Anna Maria Commissioner Dale Woodland expressed doubt over the ratio idea but had no problem with setting a minimum bedroom size,
"I don't think putting a ratio of bedroom, if you want to take all the bedrooms together to the house. ... I'm just questioning if that's an area we want to really get into," Woodland said. "I don't think it's our place as a commission to be like an architectural board, telling you how to design your house. I could see the standpoint of the safety issue and the minimum bedroom size. ... but whether it's three bedrooms, or four bedrooms or six bedrooms. ... there I start to have a real problem."
Woodland said the city commission shouldn't tell people how to build their homes.
"Where does it end?" he asked. "I can see the thing with the minimum bedroom size, no problem. Once you go beyond that, I start to have an issue."
Anna Maria Mayor Dan Murphy said the problem is officials don't want "the eight-bedroom boarding house, period."
"If you put this into effect, it's a great hedge," he said. "We've got vacation rentals, we've got an eight-person occupancy limit, but this hedges it."
Anna Maria Commission Chairman Doug Copeland also spoke against the idea.
"I'm not sure I feel comfortable saying: 'Well, I know better what your house should look like on the inside and how you'll want to use it,'" he said. "I think that's something that is very personal and should be left up to the individual, to determine how they use their property."
Amaris Castillo, law enforcement/island reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7051. Follow her on Twitter@AmarisCastillo.