Merger or dissolution could erase local city regulations

    Merger or dissolution could erase local city regulations
    If the three Island cities are dissolved or merged, Holmes Beach could be removed from the very recognizable welcome sign. - Submitted

    ANNA MARIA ISLAND – The recent proposal by Manatee County’s state legislative delegation to fund a study to determine the feasibility of combining or eliminating the three Anna Maria Island cities has far-reaching ramifications.

    The Florida Legislature has the power to merge or dissolve cities, although it has only dissolved three cities in the past 50 years.

    The 1973 ratification of the Home Rule Powers Act allows dissolution or consolidation by a special act of the Florida Legislature or by a referendum vote of the voters in the municipality, according to the Florida League of Cities.

    Since then, only 11 municipalities have been dissolved and only three were by a special act of the Legislature: Hacienda Village was merged into the town of Davie in 1984, Golfview was sold to an airport in Palm Beach County for a new runway in 1998 and Islandia was dissolved in 2012 because the population dwindled to less than five and no elections had been held since 1990.

    In 2005, voters in Bradenton Beach and Holmes Beach voted in favor of a non-binding resolution to study the feasibility of consolidation, but Anna Maria city commissioners opted to not put the question to voters in that city, so nothing came of the proposal.

    If the state Legislature consolidates the three Island cities into one new municipality, the new city would lose its existing ordinances, including length of stay for vacation rentals, height restrictions, parking restrictions, occupancy requirements and vacation rental regulations. Some regulations would lose their grandfathered status as they would be pre-empted by subsequent state law, according to the league.

    Deconstructing cities

    According to Florida Statute 165.061, not only can a municipality be dissolved by a special act of the state Legislature, but multiple municipalities also can be merged together.

    The statutory requirements for a municipality to be dissolved include that the municipality not be substantially surrounded by other municipalities. The county or another neighboring municipality also must prove the ability and willingness to provide necessary services to the dissolved municipality and be able to absorb the financial responsibilities of the dissolved municipality. In addition, a financial or job placement arrangement must be made for employees of the dissolved municipality.

    To create a new municipality by merging existing municipalities, the area under consideration must be compact, contiguous and susceptible to urban services, honor existing solid waste contracts, provide financial compensation or job placement for employees and meet the prerequisites to annexation listed in Florida Statute 171.042. Some of those prerequisites include the creation of a new boundary map, creating plans for the running and governing of the new municipality and holding public hearings for all residents and property owners.

    Mayors on Anna Maria Island have expressed their opposition to the dissolution or consolidation of the cities and met on Jan. 30 with delegation members Rep. Will Robinson Jr. and Rep. Jim Boyd to discuss the proposed study and a proposed bill to circum- vent Holmes Beach regulations to build a four-story parking garage at the county-owned property at Manatee Beach. A joint statement on the two topics is expected to be issued after press time for The Sun.