Vol 6 No. 13 - December 21, 2005


Verizon eyes four sites for tower

Consolidation talks move on without Anna Maria

Building moratorium debate escalates

More delays sought in restoring beaches

Opposition continues to Kingfish plan

City fields garbage complaints

Park to house dredge spoil

AME ficus tree likely to fall on Jan. 2




Verizon eyes four sites for tower

By Laurie Krosney
sun staff writer

ANNA MARIA – Mayor SueLynn says Verizon wants to install a monopole – or cell tower - in the city.

Representatives of the company met with the building official earlier this month and inquired about installing a tower, the mayor said.

"They made it clear that Verizon wants a monopole out into the city," she said. "It’s going to be a question of where."

Earlier, the mayor said Verizon is seeking a personal wireless service facility - PWSF - that will be 120 feet high.

According to the city’s wireless communication ordinance, a monopole has a specific definition:

"Monopole – The shape of mount that is self-supporting with a single shaft of wood, steel or concrete and antennas at the top and/or along the shaft. (Article VIII, Sec. 114-552, definitions)"

A monopole is a PWSF, which also has a specific definition, according to that same section of city code:

"A PWSF is any facility for transmission and/or reception of personal wireless services usually consisting of an antenna array, transmission cable, equipment shelter and mount."

A PWSF — commonly called the cell — that is located in Holmes Beach is a monopole, according to building department clerk Susan Lonzo. She said the monopole across from city hall in that city is 169 feet high. She also said she expects some company will ask for a higher facility in the not-too-distant future.

Anna Maria spent roughly $40,000 on a consultant and the city attorney to draft and pass that ordinance. Consultant Ted Kreines said it’s incorrect to call everything a cell tower.

The ordinance is very specific about where a monopole might be located. There are only five sites where such a facility would be permitted: Galati Marine, Roser Church, the community center, the public works lot at the corner of Pine Avenue and Crescent and at city hall. Verizon is reportedly interested in any of those locations with the exception of Galati.

Building Official Kevin Donohue and the mayor said Verizon is interested in a pre-application meeting with the city commission.

However, Deputy Mayor John Quam said at the commission’s Dec. 15 meeting that the company must first fill out an application.

"They have to come to us with the application first," Quam said. "City staff decides with them where it goes. We need to go by the process and procedure. It doesn’t come to the commission first."

Commissioner Duke Miller agreed.

"That’s why the procedure’s there," he said.

Under FCC regulations, Verizon can’t be kept out of the city entirely, but the company can be limited to serving the city itself and not the surrounding area.

No one from Verizon could be reached for comment.

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Consolidation talks move on without Anna Maria

By Pat Copeland
sun staff writer

HOLMES BEACH — City commissioners have directed Mayor Carol Whitmore to work with Bradenton Beach officials regarding a committee to study Island consolidation.

Whitmore told commissioners last week that the city has an obligation to initiate a study based on the results of a non-binding referendum held Nov. 8. The referendum asked, "Shall the city of Holmes Beach consider without being obligated to conducting a study or studies of the merits and feasibility of consolidating the Island cities?"

A similar referendum was held in Bradenton Beach, and the referendum was approved by a two-to-one margin in both cities. However, in Anna Maria, the commission voted not to put it on the ballot.

Commissioner Rich Bohnenberger said the city should do nothing until Anna Maria "is on board. The bottom line is the referendum was to look into the consolidation of three Island cities, not two.

"I don’t know how you can have a comparative analysis unless you have an agreement between the three cities as to what form of government you’re going to have, what services are going to be provided and how much you’re going to pay your department heads."

Commissioner Roger Lutz disagreed and noted, "The citizens voted for us to look into consolidating. It’s clear that we need to go forward and look at it and come up with some numbers."

Lutz said each city should have its own committee, and it should be comprised of the mayor, one or two commissioners, the city treasurer, the building official and one or two citizens. The committee would report back to the commission, which would take the next step.

Whitmore said she would contact Bradenton Beach officials and "come up with a plan and bring it back to the next work session."

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Building moratorium debate escalates

By Laurie Krosney
sun staff writer

ANNA MARIA – With not-so-veiled threats of lawsuits floating around commission chambers, city officials have slowed their rush to control building in the coastal overlay district.

Last fall, a moratorium was imposed on subdividing and replatting lots in the coastal overlay district (COD) that sweeps from the south end of the city around Bean Point and south to Galati Marine on Bimini Bay.

At a city commission meeting Dec. 12, Commissioner Chris Tollette again asked the city to hire an expert land use attorney to help ensure the city is litigation-proof. She suggested Ron Weaver of Tampa.

Commissioner Duke Miller said he agreed, and he’s heard that Weaver is "terrific." Miller pointed out that there is a moratorium in place, so the city should slow down and give careful consideration to the ordinance.

City Attorney Jim Dye said he has taken land use seminars under Weaver, and he would have no objection to working with him.

Commissioners agreed that Tollette would contact Weaver to check on his availability and rates and report back at the January work session.

Several members of the audience, including Bradenton Attorney Kevin Hennessey who represents the Galati family, Lockwood Holdings, Inc. and Weld, Inc., which is the name under which Ed Chiles, does business, objected to the ordinance.

"I’m warning you," Hennessey said. "This action you are considering will engender suits."

The attorney referred to "takings" actions, the Bert Harris Act and other land rights protection litigation.

"The overlay district is burdensome, arbitrary and doesn’t meet its stated intent," Hennessey added.

The proposed ordinance would have no effect on lots already platted and on the books, according to City Planner Alan Garrett.

"It doesn’t take away any rights of any existing platted parcels of land," Garrett said. "If someone wants to replatt or create a new parcel or combine lots, then it would go into effect."

The purpose of the overlay district is to control development in the sensitive lands close to the beaches and to protect inland parcels from what might happen to that development during storms.


More delays sought in restoring beaches

By Tom Vaught
sun staff writer

If renourishment contractor Goodloe Marine, Inc., gets a delay on finishing the project now stalled in Bradenton Beach by bad weather, Manatee County may seek another two-month extension to alleviate the effects on our tourist trade.

That’s the word from Manatee County Ecosystems Administrator Charlie Hunsicker, who said he doesn’t know if the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will grant Goodloe’s request.

Goodloe announced it would ask to disengage from the project until the weather patterns change. Goodloe Safety Engineer Larry Chapman told The Sun last week that the company has had problems with cold fronts coming in ever since hurricane season ended. He said that when cold fronts pass through they bring high winds that whip up the waves, especially over the shoal where their barge gets the sand for the renourishment, and it makes digging to the precise depth impossible. Chapman said if it gets the delay, it would likely remove the pipes on the beach and take itsvessels back to home port.

"The county is asking to extend the project from March to May 1 in respect to the high season, tourist business," Hunsicker said. "We are trying to balance what is the essence of the Island – its natural beauty, protection of property and protection of sea-going mammals and animals, along with the tourist trade."

The project is being financed by the Army Corps of Engineers as a follow-up to the extensive erosion caused by the hurricanes of 2004. It has been plagued with delays by the record number of tropical storms and hurricanes this past summer. After the hurricane season wound down, a number of cold front spassed through the area forcing Goodloe to wait out the weather until the waves died down. The project has been stalled at Katie Pierola Park in Bradenton Beach for more than three weeks.

When Goodloe finishes the project in Bradenton Beach, it will renourish the beaches of Anna Maria City that were part of the 2002 renourishment project,but were not part of the original project of 1992. Manatee County is paying for that portion of the project.

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Opposition continues to Kingfish plan

By Pat Copeland
sun staff writer

HOLMES BEACH — Commissioners continue to question Manatee County’s request to request to remove Brazilian peppers on the west side of Kingfish ramp in order to add parking spaces.

"This isn’t about refurbishing the boat ramp; it’s about doubling the size of it," Commissioner Roger Lutz pointed out. "They’re not doing us any favors by removing our trees and putting in more parking places for people from Lakeland.

"If the first thing you see coming into our city is a public toilet, it’s not in our best interest," Lutz remarked about the county’s plan to install a bathroom on the east side of the ramp area.

City Attorney Patricia Petruff said the assistant county attorney contacted her "with respect to the location of the city boundaries in and around the boat ramp area. The reason for that request is whether of not the city of Holmes Beach has jurisdiction with respect to the upgrading of the boat ramp, the installation of the bathrooms and the removal of the exotic species.

"The city has no good information except for the meets and bounds description in our charter as to where the city boundaries are. The police department does answer calls all the way up to the bridge. The county is now asking a surveyor to map out the meets and bounds."

The ramp is owned and maintained by the county but is within Homes Beach city limits.

Commissioner Rich Bohnenberger said the Florida Department of Transportation right of way extends 500 feet on both sides of the road, ‘so we may not have much to say about it anyway."

Residents of West Bay Cove also continue their flood of letters to city commissioners opposing the plan.

"We are totally opposed to the proposed expansion of the boat-launching facility on Manatee Avenue," said Sidney and Patricia Kilbank. "It makes no sense to beautify one side of the avenue and lay waste to the other side. If the Brazilian peppers are considered to be invasive, they should be replaced with native vegetation, not parking spaces."

Rob and Nancy Bell said removing the vegetation and expanding the ramp area would increase traffic, noise, dust and litter and reduce property values.

"The boat ramps are very clearly for the benefit of the non-Island residents and visitors to our area," the Bells pointed out. "But we do feel that such access should be controlled to provide the right balance between providing the opportunity to non-Island residents to enjoy the resource and providing Island residents with the right to peaceful enjoyment of their property."

Bill Shuman said the plan would severely impact West Bay Cove, and Barbara J. Knight said it would increase noise, create more of a traffic hazard and impact the habitat of shore birds.

Commissioners plan to discuss the county’s request at their Jan. 24 work session.

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City fields garbage complaints

By Pat Copeland
sun staff writer

HOLMES BEACH — Commissioner Pat Morton, liaison to Waste Management, is working to resolve problems created by the new garbage pick-up system.

Under the system, which was implemented Dec. 5, each household gets a 35- or 64–gallon garbage cart on wheels. A truck with one driver picks up the carts with a mechanized arm and dumps them into the truck.

At last week’s commission meeting, commissioners voiced some complaints about the system.

“This list of things," ‘Why we left some things behind,’ has me concerned,” Commissioner Rich Bohnenberger said, regarding a bright pink list of rules for garbage pick up that he received. "All the years I’ve lived here, if you did some work on your house, you could put the debris in the trash. Now it says, ‘Construction debris removal is the sole responsibility of the owner or contractor doing the work.’"

Bohnenbeger said during negotiations with Waste Management, he asked about construction debris and was told it would be picked up.

Commissioner David Zaccagnino said he is performing an experiment in front of his house.

"I put out some two-by-fours that have been sitting there since last week,’ he explained. "They’re cut to the right length and they’re still there."

"I don’t think our intention was to diminish the services for our citizens," Bohnenberger noted. "I don’t know if we’ve been sort of suckered here."

Resolving complaints
Morton said he received many complaints from residents and planned to meet with David Smith, district manager of Waste Management.

He said some residents complained that their garbage was not being picked up and residents with medical problems said that they are unable to pull the cart to the street.

"Some people called Waste Management’s office (with their complaints) and the people answering the phone didn’t have a clue what they were talking about," Morton said. "Some people were told to call Manatee County. There was bad information coming out of that office and people got upset."

Morton said one of the biggest problems is that people with medical problems don’t know that they can get back door pickup.

"They should get a letter from their doctor and mail or fax it to Waste Management," he explained. "The driver will come to their door and get their trash at no extra charge.

"I told four people about this today, and I told them to give me copy of their doctor’s note, so I can follow up and make sure they are being taken care of."

Regarding Bohnenberger’s question about construction debris, Morton said it will be picked up but must be a moderate amount and not too heavy.

"One person put out two trash cans full of tile that he had removed from his house, and the cans weighed 400 or 500 pounds," he said. "They can’t pick up something that heavy."

Another issue is people who generate a small amount of garbage and put it in a plastic bag.

"They should write a letter to Waste Management, so the driver knows where they live and can pick it up," he explained. "

After the meeting, Morton said, "I think we got things moving the way they need to be going. My position is that I represent the citizens. If they have a problem I’ll stand up for them. We’ll see how Waste Management does. If they mess up, I’ll be like a red-headed step child on them"

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Park to house dredge spoil

By Tom Vaught
sun staff writer

BRADENTON BEACH – A dredging project in the city’s only two canals is expected to impact a nearby park for two to three months next spring and it might mean some inconvenience to neighbors.

The project, financed through an $88,000 grant from the West Coast Inland Navigational District, will help clear debris from the two canals along Avenue A in the northern midsection of the cit.

What they clean out, called spoil, will have to go somewhere. That somewhere is in the northern segment of Herb Dolan Park along 25th Street and Avenue A.

Bradenton Beach Public Works Director Dottie Poindexter made the announcement at a neighborhood meeting at Annie Silver Community Center Saturday, Dec. 17.

"Some time between April and June, Herb Dolan Park will be used as a temporary dredge spoil for the canal dredging project," Poindexter said. "The spoil will be trucked in the shortest possible route, from the canals up Avenue A to the northern section of the park."

Poindexter said the spoil would be piled up in the park until it dries enough to be trucked away. She said this was the cheapest method possible to get the project done under budget.

The dredging project began as a request from canal-side residents two years ago and Poindexter found out about the grant, which might come with future cleanings also.

To alleviate concerns over the smell of the spoil, Poindexter said the city would use a chemical to control odors. She also said the dredging would bring drainage benefits to the area.

"When we do the dredge engineering, we will work on the drainage outfall problems in the area," she said. "What we come up with won’t take care of it all, but it will improve the overall drainage of the area."

Resident Billy Wagner, who said he had lived in Bradenton Beach all of his life, said the canals were dredged earlier in the 1960s or ‘70s, during the years when Dick Connick was mayor. He said they used a dragline with a bucket and a dump truck to get all of the dirt out and asked if that would be the same method used this time.

Poindexter said they would contract someone to use a device that would suck out the dirt from the middle of the canal, so as not to disturb the seawalls, and deposit it on a flatbed boat. From there, it would be loaded onto trucks.

When asked why they didn’t take the spoil to the park via the boat, Poindexter said the government agencies overseeing the bay’s water quality would not allow it. She said times had changed since the last time they dredged the canals.

The meeting at the community center attracted around 15 residents.

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AME ficus tree likely to fall on Jan. 2

By Cindy Lane
sun staff writer

HOLMES BEACH – The ficus tree in front of Anna Maria Elementary School will likely be destroyed on Jan. 2 as part of the school’s renovation.

Ficus is a non-native species, and the Department of Education’s State Requirements for Educational Facilities require that school districts have "a program in place to remove all invasive, non-native plants," according to Sheridan Dowling, director of Construction Services for the Manatee County School Board.

In a letter to Project Director Jane Dreger, Principal Kathy Hayes cited that requirement and others as reasons to remove the tree, including the fact that its location is where the parent pick-up area has been sited in the construction plan, and that there was no opposition by the Parent Teacher Association or anyone who attended an October community meeting.

She also cited the opinion of landscape architect David Jones, who originally recommended the tree be destroyed because its exposed roots pose the danger of tripping and can lift up pavement and soil, and that poor pruning has left the tree vulnerable to potential rot and pests. He later agreed to support the tree’s relocation if a suitable location was found elsewhere on the site.

"The district has gone to exhaustive lengths to see what we could do, if anything, to relocate this tree," School Board Community Relations Spokeswoman Margi Nanney said, including meeting with Cortez landscaper Rob Crafts, who volunteered to move the tree for free if the School Board would rent a crane. The School Board tentatively agreed to do it if an appropriate location could be found on the school site, but Nanney said she couldn’t say whether the offer would be extended to an off-site location.

"There’s absolutely no place to put this tree," she said, adding that she checked with the Manatee County Parks department, which also has restrictions against non-native species.

The city of Anna Maria is working with its Environmental Enhancement and Education Committee to investigate whether the city can take the tree, Public Works Director George McKay said.

The city of Bradenton Beach has an ordinance against planting non-native species in the city limits, Commissioner Lisa Marie Phillips said.

City of Holmes Beach Public Works Director Joe Duennes said Monday that he would inspect the tree and determine whether the city has a location large enough to accommodate it.

But the approaching demolition deadline will make it difficult to find alternatives, Nanney said, adding that if anyone wants the tree, they would have to act immediately to allow time to secure permits.

"This is going to have to move at lightning speed," she said.

The tree is not the first at the school to create controversy. Several oak trees were cut down a year ago over the objection of parents, children and former students.

Last month, anonymous supporters of the tree placed potted poinsettias around it and decorated it with ribbons and a sign saying "We love our giving tree." Hayes guessed that the sign was a possible reference to "The Giving Tree," a story by Shel Silverstein, about a tree that gives its life for a man who played in its branches as a child.

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