BRADENTON BEACH – During the Bradenton Beach City Commission’s first meeting of the year, Mayor John Chappie mentioned several items he and the commission hope to address in 2019.
Commissioner and Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) Chair Ralph Cole mentioned several CRA projects and Vice Mayor Marilyn Maro wants to improve a city park.
During the Thursday, Jan. 3, meeting, Chappie suggested additional commission work meeting discussion on the 2018 decisions to increase swimming pool setbacks to 10 feet and to count pools as impervious (non-draining) surfaces when calculating the 40 percent maximum lot coverage allowed by city code.
Commissioners Jake Spooner and Ralph Cole opposed the commission majority’s impervious pool decision, and Spooner opposed the increased pool setbacks. Spooner fears the increased pool restrictions make it difficult for residents to add a pool to an existing home.
In August, developer Kevin McNamara told the commission that the increased pool restrictions are preventing him from installing pools at two homes he built on Seventh Street South.
Chappie also feels work meeting discussion is needed regarding the email notification process for the renewal of the mandatory Transient Public Lodging Establishment (TPLE) vacation rental licenses adopted in 2017. He noted that some property owners don’t use email.
Additionally, he suggested work meeting discussion on Spooner’s previous requests to exempt owner-occupied vacation rentals from the TPLE requirements, which Cole also supports. Spooner believes onsite owners prevent their guests from violating the city’s noise, occupancy, parking and trash ordinances and regulations.
Chappie said work meetings allow for more in-depth discussion on specific agenda items. They also allow the commission to issue requests and directives to city staff before final decision occurs at regular commission meetings.
Chappie said City Engineer Lynn Burnett is working with the Florida Department of Transportation on a potential project that could result in new Gulf Drive sidewalks being built atop stormwater infiltration trenches.
Chappie wants to renew previous City Commissions’ efforts to install a sidewalk along the west side of Gulf Drive between Cortez Road and the Gulf Drive Cafe. He also wants a welcome sign installed at that entrance to the city.
Cole said undergrounding the utility lines on the west side of Gulf Drive would create room for wider sidewalks, and he stressed the need to complete the previously-approved CRA-funded undergrounding of the utility lines on Bridge Street and a small section of Gulf Drive.
Cole mentioned the previously-approved, CRA-funded creation of a living shoreline and clam beds near the Bridge Street Pier, and he encouraged his fellow members to focus on first-things-first and to complete one project at a time.
Chappie suggested additional CRA discussion on the potential dinghy dock and finger dock options recently presented by architectural designer Emily Anne Smith and completing the previously-approved and funded installation of a boat lift at the pier for the police boat.
Chappie wants the commission to make some decisions regarding the potential flood-proofing and storm-hardening of city hall and other city-owned buildings because the city’s flood insurance premiums are increasing significantly.
He also mentioned possibly naming the city-owned alleys, getting a historic marker placed on the pier and addressing the delays stalling the renovation of the former Freckled Fin building and the owners’ plans to reopen it as 101 Bridge Street.
Vice Mayor Marilyn Maro wants to work with the Scenic WAVES Committee to make additional improvements to Katie Pierola Park.
Spooner said later that he was impressed by Chappie and Cole’s ambitious goals.