The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 8 No. 49 - August 27, 2008


How should Pine Avenue look?

Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

SUN PHOTO/LAURIE KROSNEY City Planner Alan Garrett, left, clears
up a question asked by Commissioner Chris Tollette, to the right.

ANNA MARIA — How should Pine Avenue look in the future? What regulations should be imposed on that area, which runs the length of the city’s residential/office/retail (ROR) district?

Changing land development regulations, eliminating conflicts in the code and bringing the land development regulations (LDR's) into agreement with the comprehensive plan was the goal of a joint meeting between the City Commission and the Planning and Zoning Board.

"We’re looking at some basic issues with ROR that staff has to deal with on a daily basis, and we want to have some consensus on what you want," said City Planner Alan Garrett at the beginning of the Aug. 21 meeting at city hall.

With that, Garrett asked members of both bodies to answer several questions, which would give direction to the city attorney and the staff on what they want in the revised regulations for the ROR district.

There was overwhelming agreement that the district should require a mix of commercial and residential uses. There is to be no requirement that the upper story of a building in the ROR district has to be residential.

"The comp plan opened the door to all the changes you might want for ROR," Garrett said as he asked whether or not city leaders wanted to require that the owner or tenant of a residential floor be associated with the business use. In the current zoning code, someone who owns or operates the business must occupy the residential space. The comp plan says there doesn’t need to be a connection between residential and business uses in any particular building.

The answer was no.

There was no consensus on the amount of time for which people could rent the residential space.

Garrett pointed out that there is currently no upper or lower limit as to the length of time a property owner can rent to someone. Overnight rentals are allowed; yearly or longer leases are allowed.

It appears the answer to that question will be left to another day.

There was also consensus that tandem parking may be allowed at the back of a property on a case-by-case basis.

"I think if we allow it, we should allow it in the back," said Commissioner Jo Ann Mattick. "It would look tacky in the front. There’s not room on all those lots, but if there is, we should allow it."

There was agreement that building will be allowed on any platted lot of record, whether it’s a 5,000 square foot lot or a 7,500 square foot lot.

In the new LDRs, front lot setbacks, i.e. the front of new buildings, will be 29-feet regardless of the lot depth.

The consensus on parking space locations was that the city should look at each lot individually to determine the best location for parking.

There was some confusion on the part of commissioners and P&Z board members as to whether or not structures on adjacent lots can be joined or must be separated.

Garrett and City Attorney Jim Dye reminded the discussion group that they had already voted to allow them to be joined.

That won’t allow any increase in the size of the structure allowed, and the side setbacks will have to be larger to compensate for the deletion of the setback that would have been required had the structures been built apart from each other.

The commission earlier ruled that the adjoined buildings would not be duplexes, which are not allowed under the code. They would be viewed as two separate structures with an adjoining wall.

A few adjustments were made to the list of what is allowed and what is not allowed in the ROR district.

Secondhand merchandise establishments were formerly not allowed, which would have made Ginny’s and Jane E.’s at the Old IGA a non-conforming use and would have prohibited any antique shops from opening along Pine Avenue.

These uses will be allowed under the revised LDRs.

And a question about what constitutes manufacturing was cleared up at the meeting.

Some time ago, permission to open a candy-making operation on Pine Avenue was denied under a previous building official.

Now, something that is made on the premises can be allowed as long as what is made there is sold there.

Garrett thanked members of the commission and P& Z for their time and direction.

"This gives us a good idea of what you want, and we can work on the LDRs with that in mind," he said. "This has saved an enormous amount of time. Instead of going back and forth and back and forth and waiting for meetings, we have everything we need and can just move ahead."

As things change formally, public hearings at the P&Z level and at the city commission will be held," Garrett noted.

Anna Maria Island Sun News Story
Investment Corner

Investor results improving, but could be better

I have previously referenced data which shows individual investors, as a group, fail to achieve results nearly as good as those offered to patient investors who simply bought and held average stock and bond mutual funds through all of the market’s ups and downs.

Dalbar, a research firm that monitors trends and service levels in the financial services industry, recently published its 2008 study of the results achieved by the typical mutual fund investor, compared to the returns available from using a buy and hold or systematic approach to investing in funds. This latest report shows that stock fund investors are doing a little bit better than a few years ago, but still not achieving full potential, while bond fund investors are doing poorly compared to the returns potentially available during the time period in question.

Dalbar’s study revealed that the average investor in stock funds achieved a 4.5 percent average annual rate of return over the 20 years ending Dec. 31, 2007, about 7 percent less than the 11.5 percent a buy and hold approach of an S&P 500 Index fund would have produced. As a result, these equity investors outpaced inflation by just over 1.4 percent instead of the 8 percent the stock market averages achieved.

Surprisingly, buyers of fixed income bond funds did worse, achieving a average annual return of the 20-year period of about 1.6 percent, while the Lehman Aggregate Bond Index, a general barometer for the domestic bond market, averaged over 7 percent annualized. I would have expected the average investor in bond funds to do better since these funds are less volatile and easier for investors to stay in for longer periods of time without being scared off by excessive volatility.

However, I suspect the poor results of the fixed income investors are related to their poor efforts of trying to hop in and out of the stocks market, and their bond investment results suffer because of it. I have long said that the two main causes of sub-par investment results for individual investors relate to lack of a diversified investment plan and a lack of discipline to stick to the plan.

There is no shortage of examples of general investor behavior buying asset categories after multi-year runs of above average performance, only to find themselves investing in what they believe will continue to be a big winner, just prior to the next correction. Adding insult to injury, the funds they just sold because they had been performing poorly have now suddenly come to life and are one of the best performers.

The 2008 Dalbar study goes on to point out that these investors would have achieved better results by using a systematic, scheduled investment plan to put new investment capital to work, rather than putting new money into the plan when they feel good about the market. This feeling, of course, occurs after periods of great performance and when the next period of time has lower potential for return. This process of scheduled deposits is known as dollar cost averaging, and involves making monthly or quarterly deposits to your investment account during the accumulation phase of your wealth-building plan.

The advantage of the dollar cost averaging approach is that, assuming you stay disciplined, you won’t feel the need to sell portfolio holdings during the inevitable performance lulls because you are buying more each month as your new deposits are made to the plan. In essence, dollar cost averaging forces you to buy low, which is the right idea.

Another forced sell-high-buy-low"strategy is one we have reviewed many times. Portfolio rebalancing back to an appropriate target allocation is used by most sophisticated institutional investors to stay away from large mistakes caused by emotional decisions. Rebalancing is a simple process which can be applied once a year or so to avoid having too much of your investment capital in a market segment about to undergo a correction.

Good luck, and good investing.

Tom Breiter is president of Breiter Capital Management, Inc., an Anna Maria based investment advisor. He can be reached at 778-1900. Some of the investment concepts highlighted in this column may carry the risk of loss of principal, and investors should determine appropriateness for their personal situation before investing.

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