Vol 6 No. 1 - September 28, 2005


City passes parking plan

Sun wins 11 awards in statewide contest

Island condo prices nearly triple over past year

'Gulf relief' sought by boat captain

Comp plan discussions continue

Ban on landlocked development sought

HEART needs homes for hurricane victims




City passes parking plan

By Laurie Krosney
sun staff writer

ANNA MARIA — After decades of failed attempts and hours of discussions, city commissioners finally passed a parking plan.

The plan calls for alternate side of the street parking in the beach access zone, which includes the streets west of Gulf Drive on the Gulf and then swings around to the bay via Bean Point.

The plan was proposed by Commissioner Duke Miller, who originally favored resident parking only.

It was strongly backed by Commissioner Dale Woodland, who had originally favored open parking throughout the city.

Deputy Mayor John Quam spent hours measuring and mapping every street in the city so that the ordinance governing parking would be specific and enforceable.

There are a couple of streets in the beach access zone: Willow, Mangrove, Oak and Park. All the residents of those streets agreed that they wanted open parking.

Under the terms of the plan, all the residents on the street can ask for open parking. But all streets, other than those where safety is an issue, must allow at least alternate side of the street parking.

"The plan actually has fewer parking spaces than the city has now, but it spreads them around more equitably," said Quam.

Several areas that now have open parking will now be off limits. There will be no parking across from Galati's on South Bay Boulevard. Parking across from Bayfront Park is now out with the exception of the 57-foot frontage at 313 South Bay Blvd. where there are five rental units and only three parking spaces. Owner Barbara Sato argued successfully for that small strip of on-street parking.

Commissioner Linda Cramer, who has vocally opposed the plan all along, fought to have open parking on Palmetto Avenue where she lives. However, she didn't have a petition from the residents on that street asking for open parking. Her petition asked for resident only parking, which wasn't part of the plan.

In the end, she was able to talk the commission into agreeing to leave about 100 feet of the block west of Gulf Drive as open parking.

At the request of the mayor, the city has also banned on-street parking for non-residents between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. There will be a sign at the entrance to the city stating the overnight rules.

"You can put up the sign, but I'm not sure it would stand up before a judge in traffic court," said City Attorney Jim Dye.

Commissioner Duke Miller suggested the put up the sign and take its chances in court.

"We can always do something more if we have to," said Commissioner Duke Miller.

The plan has now been adopted by ordinance. The city administration will begin working on the signs required for the new parking plan.

The start date for the alternate side of the street parking is Jan. 1. The plan will be tried for two years to see how it works.

There is a document called Schedule B that spells out how each individual street is affected. That's available in the read file at city hall.

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Sun wins 11 awards in statewide contest

By Mike Field
sun staff writer

ORLANDO — The Island Sun captured 11 awards for excellence Friday in the Florida Press Association’s Display Advertising Contest.

The awards ceremony took place at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort.

The competition featured more than 1,800 entries from daily and weekly newspapers throughout Florida and was for any display ad published in 2004.

The Sun competed in the 7,000 to 15,000 circulation division for weeklies.

“Taking home five firsts and 11 overall awards is quite an accomplishment for our staff,” Sun Publisher Mike Field said. “Getting this kind of recognition from your peers is gratifying for all of us, but especially for our graphics and ad sales departments.

“They consistently have produced clever, entertaining and eye-catching ads that do what they’re designed to do - sell our advertisers’ products,” he said. “I am really proud of our staff.”

One of the first place awards was in the Best Use of Color category and featured the Island Bayfest 2004 ad, designed by graphic artist Elaine Stroili and account executive Chantelle Lewin. The award comes just as Bayfest 2005 is gearing up to take place Oct. 15 in Anna Maria.

In the Creative Use of the Paper category, The Sun took both first and second place. First place went to an ad promoting the newspaper’s website, while second place was awarded for a promotional ad on home delivery.

The Sun also swept first and second place in the Entertainment and Dining category, with an ad for Bistro at Island’s End capturing top honors and an ad for Bayou Steakhouse getting second.

It was almost a three-peat in the Best Use of Small Space category, where a Sun ad for West Coast Massage took first and one for the Island Grill Store won second.

Another first place award was captured by Sun graphic artists in the Professional Services/Medical category for a Manatee Obstetrics & Gynocology ad.

The Sun also picked up a third-place award for a page of ads under the Back to School theme, plus two honorable mentions - one for a White Egret ad in the Retailer category and a Bortell’s Lounge ad for Ads in a Series.

Other current and former staffers who contributed to the winning ads are Erin Krauss, Giancarlo Rodriguez, Mike Field and Felipe Vasquez.

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Island condo prices nearly triple over past year

By Tom Vaught
sun staff writer

The average price of condominium units on Anna Maria Island nearly tripled in the past year as demand for housing, whether for residential or investment use, continues to grow.

Over the past few years, single-family homes led the way in appreciation, but now the multiple unit residences are catching up, and they are breaking records while doing so.

According to the Anna Maria Island Property Sales Report, compiled and edited monthly by Barry and Dantia Gould of Island Vacation Properties, the average price of condominiums nearly tripled in August 2005 over the same period last year.

The average price in August '05 of the 12 units sold was $852,995 compared with seven condo units sold in August '04 at and average of $310,700.

The total value of the 12 condos sold in August '05 was $10,235,940, five times the amount of August '04 condo sales of $2,179,000 and almost three times as high as the total for condos sold in August '03, $3,567,000.

The top sellers in the August '05 market were 6400 Gulf Drive, #1, Holmes Beach, $1.9 million; 7314 Gulf Drive, #7, Holmes Beach, $1.5 million; and 7300 Gulf Drive, #4, Holmes Beach, $1.4 million.

In addition, the number of listings last month was way up over a year ago, from 279 to 110. The breakdown for August '05 was 102 single-family residence, 124 condominiums, 28 duplexes, six lots and 19 commercial properties.

Sales of single-family homes also held the trend with an average price of $880,397 compared with $696,200 a year earlier. The number of homes sold went from 15 to 17. The increase in the number of single family residential sales coupled with higher prices pushed the total volume to $14.96 million in August '05, up from $9.5 million in the year earlier August.

The average price of a duplex rose from $574,330 to $656,944 and the one commercial property went for $750,000 compared with one sale in August 2004 at $540,000.

The report said of the 102 active listings on Sept. 15, 35 were price at $1 million or more. Of the 124 condo listings, 31 were price at more than $1 million.


�Gulf relief� sought by boat captain

By Cindy Lane
sun staff writer

LONGBOAT KEY – While parts of the Gulf of Mexico fishery have been declared failed due to hurricanes, Wayne Genthner hopes that Gov. Jeb Bush will consider a new designation for the central Florida Gulf coast due to red tide.

Genthner, a Longboat Key charter boat captain who discovered and reported a dead zone in the Gulf in August, made his second request last week to speak to Bush about designating an "ecological/economic devastation zone" in local waters.

The federal disaster relief provisions of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act also should apply to fishermen and charter operators affected by red tide, Genthner said, adding that unlike a hurricane strike, the nine-month red tide bloom in area waters is ongoing.

"The issue here is about getting the National Marine Fisheries (Service) to re-examine their criteria and factor in the red tide impacts," he said.

The Gulf of Mexico commercial fishery from Pensacola west to the Texas border and in the Florida Keys was declared officially failed after Hurricane Katrina, triggering federal relief funds for fishing communities.

Katrina virtually halted commercial fishing in those areas due to lost boats, damaged ports, clogged waterways and closed processing facilities, said Susan Buchanan of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) National Marine Fisheries Service.

Depending on whether and to what extent polluted runoff from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita reaches and affects the central Florida Gulf coast, the area might be included in the hurricane-related designation, she said, adding, "It’s too soon to tell whether the hurricane disaster area will be expanded."

Federal researchers from NOAA are taking water, sediment and marine life tissue samples in the Gulf from Pensacola to Texas and are checking for changes in water quality, bacteria counts and red tide, among other things, Buchanan said.

At the state level, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission also are researching water samples in the area for petroleum byproducts, pesticides, herbicides, industrial chemicals, metals and nutrients, some of which feed red tide.

The failed fishery area includes 15 ports and 177 seafood processing facilities in Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana and has affected 3,738 federally permitted boats in Florida, 432 in Alabama, 351 in Mississippi and 1,033 in Louisiana, according to NOAA.

Commercial fisheries in the area include finfish, shrimp and oysters, with an estimated annual value of nearly $700 million, according to the U.S. Commerce Department.

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Comp plan discussions continue

By Laurie Krosney
sun staff writer

ANNA MARIA — Discussion on how to fine tune the city's comprehensive plan will continue when the planning and zoning board meets Monday, Oct. 3, at 7 p.m.

The board is sitting as the local planning agency. It is working on revisions to the comp plan after hearing from an ad hoc committee that spent nearly 18 months working with the plan.

There has been a public hearing, and now the P&Z board is finalizing several aspects of the plan, including a couple of hot-button issues.

One is how many habitable or usable floors will be allowed in the city's residential/office/retail (ROR) district. The city lost a court case earlier this year when Robert and Nicki Hunt prevailed against the city and will be allowed to have three usable floors at their property at 303 Pine Avenue.

Earlier, the city attorney told commissioners that the city must allow property owners in the ROR district to build to the same maximum height as property owners elsewhere in the city. That's 37 feet.

Now the P&Z board is arguing about what to put in that 37 feet.

"I think they should have two floors, just like the rest of the city," board member Frank Pytel said at the last meeting. "I'm worried that the three floors will increase the density and intensity along Pine Avenue."

At that meeting, there was no decision made because there was no clear majority. Three of the board members favored allowing three floors; three favored limiting the number of floors to two. Board member Randall Stover was absent.

Also under discussion will be what to do about retaining or eliminating the R-2 district. In that district, duplexes are currently allowed. All existing duplexes would be grandfathered as non-conformities, but if the R-2 district is eliminated, no new duplexes could be built.

Under the current comp plan, according to resident Tom Turner who worked on the original plan, the state decided where the R-2 district would be.

"They came to town one day and rode up and down the streets," Turner said. "They said you have to have an R-2 district. They just rode around and said, 'This will be R-2; that will be R-2.' We didn't have anything to say about it."

Another controversial issue is whether or not to ban construction on all landlocked parcels on Bean Point.

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Ban on landlocked development sought

By Laurie Krosney
sun staff writer

ANNA MARIA — A move to stop future development of some landlocked platted lots seaward of North Shore Drive has met its first snag.

Two residents who own houses on the Gulf side of North Shore Drive came to the city commission and to the planning and zoning board to ask that development of landlocked parcels be prohibited.

Stacey Frank, an attorney, and Jack Egan both own homes on North Shore Drive. They told commissioners that they fear someone will buy a house fronting on North Shore Drive, tear it down and put in a subdivision behind the existing homes, thereby creating havoc with their property values.

They are asking for a clause in the comprehensive plan that would prohibit development on any platted lots that don't have street access.

Mayor SueLynn arranged for Frank to meet with Allen Garrett, the city's planner, and with City Attorney Jim Dye. Frank offered to write the language for the comprehensive plan that would prohibit the development of landlocked parcels.

Now, attorney Ricinda Perry has stepped forward. She represents Harry and Karen Lockwood, who own some of the land in question.

"I want to make sure that their rights to use and develop their land remain as they were when they purchased their property," Perry said.

She told commissioners that she wanted the same access to the planner and the city attorney that the people who want to prohibit development have.

"I'm sure the city will be fair in this matter," Perry said. "They have scheduled a workshop to deal with this, and I'm confident that the city will do what's right."

Perry said that her clients are determined to protect their property rights.

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HEART needs homes for hurricane victims

By Pat Copeland
sun staff writer

"Home is where the heart is," say members of HEART, the Island group that is aiding hurricane victims, and that’s exactly what they need — homes.

There is no shortage of families in need, Pierrette Kelly, executive director of the Anna Maria Island Community Center, said at last week’s HEART meeting. The Manatee County Red Cross has registered 211 families that have fled to Manatee County from Louisiana and Mississippi since Hurricane Katrina struck.

"We really need to focus on housing," Kelly told the group. "Before we can sponsor another family, we have to have housing."

Jennifer Lowman offered to go on line to research housing offers and see if she could find some on the Island.

Kelly said there can be legal issues for those who donate houses or apartments, but a county legal aid group has offered to advise donors and provide legal documents. She said those who wish to donate housing could call the Center for a name and number for the legal aid group.

Shannon Dell reported on the group’s first adoptees, Gerri Bobele and Sharon Oaf. She said Oaf has taken and efficiency apartment offered to the group, but Bobele is still seeking an apartment. As she was speaking, the phone rang — it was a Bradenton Beach resident, who had read the articles on HEART in The Sun, offering an efficiency apartment.

Cindi Harrison, who had taken the call, asked the others, "Can you believe it?"

Dell said both Oaf and Bobele are seeking employment and have job interviews scheduled, but are open to any offers of employment.

Dell reported that the Peralta family, also adopted by the group, only needs diapers, size Newborn through Stage 1, and baby wipes for their twin babies. These can be brought to the Community Center, 407 Magnolia Ave., Anna Maria.

Kathy Joyce, of the Community Center, said she is keeping a database of all items that people offer to have for future use. She is also keeping an accounting of funds coming in and going out. All funds donated to HEART are used for the families. No administrative fees are deducted.

Checks can be made payable to the Anna Maria Island Community Center, with HEART designated on the memo line, and dropped off at the Center or mailed to AMICC, P.O. Box 253, Anna Maria, FL 34216.

For more information, call 778-1908.

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