Commissioners discuss parking garages, more

Bradenton Beach Parking Garage
City Commissioners want to appoint a charter review committee and prohibit parking garages. - Jack Clarke | Submitted

BRADENTON BEACH – City Commissioners want to prohibit parking garages citywide, but they don’t feel amending the city charter is the way to do it.

In other charter-related business, the commission plans to appoint a Charter Review Committee (CRC) that among other things will debate the need to hire a full-time city manager.

Parking garage

At its April 19 meeting, the commission supported Commissioner Ralph Cole’s suggestion that the land development code (LDC) and comprehensive plan need to be amended to ensure that multi-level parking garages cannot be built anywhere in Bradenton Beach. Cole said the language currently contained in the land development code and the comp plan do not mirror one another when it comes to parking garages.

City Planner Alan Garrett told commissioners the comp plan currently allows for parking garages in two of the city’s dozen or so comprehensive plan zone designations. The commission wants to change that to ensure that no multi-level parking garages can be built in the city.

The commission discussion was partly inspired by the Keep Our Residential Neighborhoods (KORN) political action committee’s efforts to place a parking garage prohibition charter amendment question on the November ballot.

City Attorney Ricinda Perry said she does not think state law allows the city charter to be used as the means to address land use issues like a parking garage. She agreed these concerns should be addressed as commission-enacted amendments to the land development code and comp plan.

City Manager?

During the April 19 meeting, some commissioners shared their thoughts on hiring a full-time city manager – another charter amendment proposed by KORN.

Cole said previous CRCs have discussed hiring a city manager but never recommended it.

“It always comes down to the budget and you’d have to fund another position. Can we afford it? Would we have to raise taxes for the manager’s position?” Cole said.

Mayor John Chappie said he prefers the city’s current weak mayor form of government because it provides equal decision-making authority for all five commission members. He feels this prevents a strong mayor or city manager from having too much influence on the decision-making process.

During public input, KORN founder and treasurer John Metz expressed support for a city manager. He feels a city with a $3 million annual budget needs a professional manager.

He suggested a city manager trained in the execution and fulfillment of contracts could have prevented the delays the city’s experiencing with getting a floating day dock installed alongside the Bridge Street Pier.

Chappie, Perry and Cole disagreed with Metz’s opinion that a city manager could have prevented the delays the city has been subjected to by its dock contractor, Technomarine.

“I think it’s running very well the way it is,” Commissioner Marilyn Maro said of the city’s current form of government.

Maro praised the monthly department head meetings that provide commissioners with updates from staff regarding their efforts to carry out the commission’s directives and she encouraged residents to attend these meetings.

Charter review committee

The city clerk’s office will accept applications for CRC members through May 7. Chappie will then nominate members for the commission’s approval. Commissioners can also recommend committee members.

The appointed committee will conduct a comprehensive review of the city charter – the legally binding document that determines how the city is governed and operated.

The CRC will be asked to review and clarify three charter amendments adopted by city voters last fall. The committee also will be asked to help better define the residency requirements placed on city commissioners and commission candidates.

The committee will have the ability to review, but not alter, the four charter amendments proposed by KORN. The committee could then propose its own amendments to address concerns raised by the KORN amendments.

The committee can also propose for commission consideration any other charter amendment the committee feels would be beneficial to the city and its citizens if supported by city voters in November.