Boat canopies scheduled for vote

Boat canopies
HBPD Chief Bill Tokajer may soon need a different way of shading the department's rescue boat if commissioners vote to remove the boat lift canopy. - Kristin Swain | Sun

HOLMES BEACH – The showdown between city leaders and residents of Westbay Point and Moorings over boat canopies is finally coming to an end.

During a Sept. 28 workshop, commissioners committed to placing the item on the Oct. 10 agenda for a vote. The decision comes after months of conversation between commissioners and residents of the neighboring condominium complex.

Residents argue the canopies block views and reduce property values. Holmes Beach Police Chief Bill Tokajer argues the boat canopies protect valuable rescue boats. The canopies were installed in late 2016 over private boat lifts for the HBPD and West Manatee Fire Rescue. Though commissioners gave approval, the canopies remain a sore spot with residents.

“I’m totally in opposition,” Westbay resident Penny Gray said of the canopies. “Those need to come down.”

Gray was only one of a dozen residents attending the Sept. 28 meeting hoping for answers. Commissioner Judy Titsworth asked residents to submit questions in writing for the Oct. 10 meeting. In addition to commissioners, surveyor Leo Mills Jr. is expected to answer resident questions. Mills completed the riparian rights survey proving the canopies are legally placed.

“We’re trying to be patient,” resident Robyn Kinkopf said. “I feel we deserve to have our questions answered.”

Property manager Robert Glynn feels commissioners are interpreting the city ordinance governing the placement of boat canopies incorrectly. He argues that placing the canopies on a waterway with residential neighbors violates the ordinance. Titsworth says it’s up to commissioners how to interpret the ordinance.

“It’s a big decision for all of us,” she said. “We already spent taxpayer money to put it up and it will take taxpayer money to remove.”

Commissioner Marvin Grossman was ready to make a decision that night. Legally though, no action can be taken by commissioners during a work session.

“This is ridiculous,” he said. “The canopies seriously block some condos. We went along with this because we were told it wouldn’t block anything.”

Grossman suggested exploring other options such as boat covers instead of the boat canopies.

“Even though we’ve spent some money, it was a mistake,” he said.

Though present, Tokajer remained mute on the issue.

The Oct. 10 vote determines if the canopies come down at the 63rd Street boat ramp. Options under consideration by commissioners include relocation of the lifts and canopies or an alternative type of protective covering at the current lift location.