tide creating dead zones
By Cindy Lane
sun staff writer
On a shallow rock reef
a few steps into the Gulf from Bradenton Beach, the fish
came back last week.
It was a perfect snorkeling day, with no red tide in sight.
Half a dozen yellowtail snapper criss-crossed the algae-covered
rocks, a hermit crab stuck out its open claw from under
a rock, hoping for a passing morsel, and a school of tiny
fingerlings glistened as they changed directions.
But three miles out, it was a different, and frightening,
story, especially for commercial fishermen and recreational
charter boat operators who make their livings in the Gulf.
A diver noticed his silver jewelry and coins turning black.
Fisherman saw dead sea turtles floating on the surface.
A boater smelled rotten eggs.
And in some spots, the fish were gone.
Boaters have been calling the Fish and Wildlife Research
Institute since Aug. 1, reporting massive offshore fish
kills from Sarasota north to New Port Richey from three
to 23 miles out.
Everything from baitfish to goliath grouper is dead in
some areas, according to the reports, including corals,
sponges, crabs, worms, mollusks, sea urchins and starfish.
The institute links the deaths to red tide, both from
direct contact with the toxic algae and as an indirect
result of the red tide organism sucking oxygen out of
Last week, FWRI got emergency funding from the National
Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration for a three-day
research cruise to take offshore water, sediment and biological
samples. They confirmed the reports of dead zones with
low or no oxygen.
In places where no oxygen was found in the water, bacteria
possibly from marine life carcasses was
producing hydrogen sulfide, which smells like rotten eggs
and tarnishes silver.
Its not the first time this has happened, according
to FWRI. After a red tide in the summer of 1971, in the
same general area as the current red tide, it took up
to two years for the fish to recolonize the reefs and
five years for the fish populations to reach normal ranges.
The most recent fish kill statistics show red tide fish
kills in the thousands on Aug. 2 at Longboat Key (Key
West grunt, red grouper, gag grouper, puffer fish), an
unknown count on Aug. 4 near Port Manatee at the Sunshine
Skyway Bridge (red drum), thousands on Aug. 5 at Holmes
Beach (unknown species) and an unknown count on Aug. 10
along Bradenton Beach (unknown species).
Research is ongoing. To report fish kills, call FWRIs
hotline at 800-636-0511.
ballot wording approved
By Pat Copeland
sun staff writer
HOLMES BEACH Commissioners
approved language for a non-binding referendum on consolidation
after turning down a recommendation to determine the cost
of a feasibility study first.
The citys referendum will read: Should Holmes Beach
explore the feasibility of consolidating the three Island
Commissioner Don Maloney attempted to convince the others
to scuttle the referendum.
"I see as our purpose to study the cost of a feasibility
study on consolidation and then present that number to
voters for their approval. People want to know the cost
Maloney said he has contacted several experts who are
willing to perform a study.
"I think thats an awful idea," Commissioner
Roger Lutz responded. "We always figure out a reason
not to move it forward. Whenever were running for
office were all for it, but when its time
to vote, were against it."
He said City Treasurer Rick Ashley could study the budgets
of the three cities and determine where there is duplication
and how to save money.
"Lets find out if the people are OK with it,"
Lutz continued. "If its got a chance politically,
then we start building a case to see if we can sell it."
"People keep asking how much it will cost them if
they say yes," Maloney persisted. "I dont
see any reason for a public vote at all. A resolution
to look into that (the cost of a feasibility study) would
be all thats necessary."
Lutz said if people dont want the cities to explore
consolidation, theres no point in spending money
for a study first."
Mayor Carol Whitmore pointed out that she spent a year
trying to consolidate the three public works departments
and then the other two cities nixed the idea.
Whitmore said that Anna Maria Mayor SueLynn asked that
the cities add to the referendum a $30,000 cost per city
for a study if the referendum is approved.
"I never envisioned this as asking permission to
spend money," Lutz responded. "I think it is
important that we get a feel from the citizens that we
do it. I dont think this is wise to turn this into
a money-spending issue."
Commissioner Pat Morton agreed and added, "Its
putting the cart before the horse."
Whitmore asked if the other two cities must have the same
language on their referendums. City Attorney Patricia
Petruff said they do not, but it must be clear that it
has the same meaning.
decreases millage in Holmes Beach
By Pat Copeland
sun staff writer
HOLMES BEACH At
the recommendation of City Treasurer Rick Ashley, commissioners
agreed to lower the citys millage rate from 2.0
to 1.9 for the 2005-06 fiscal year.
"Since the first draft, Ive been meeting individually
with commissioners," Ashley explained. "Ive
made corrections to the document and additions based on
comments that have come to me. This budget is a 1.9 mil
budget, and it is as comfortable as I felt we could go
at this point without starting to cut some things."
Ashley said he made the following changes since the first
draft was presented on July 12:
Added $30,000 for a possible consolidation study
and money for memberships and training, both to the mayor
and commission budget;
Added two requests from outside agencies
$1,500 each for Mote Marine and the Anna Maria Elementary
Added $15,000 for the fuel tank that will be jointly
owned by the city and the fire district.
He said he corrected an error in the public works department
of $10,000 for records management. He also increased
the carryover and reserve to $1,750,000 and doubled the
contingency account to $100,000.
"If we have any extra cash, I would like to see and
our auditors have suggested that we try to build our reserves
up a little bit higher due to inflation and everything
else thats happened over the last few years. We
also all got a little taste of what a catastrophic event
could do to us last year. Our cost for cleanup during
that one storm was $60,000."
Mayor Carol Whitmore said that one reason the city can
lower the millage is because it has planned so well in
"We had a 20.64 percent increase in assessments,
too," Ashley added.
Commissioner Rich Bohnenberger, who had protested the
millage rate in the past, said he was happy with it.
The total proposed budget is $10,147,903. The revenue
side shows $1,077,173 from federal sources, $5,989,901
from state sources and $3,080,829 from local sources.
The expense side shows $244,127 for mayor and commission,
$623,733 for general government, $119,641 for code enforcement,
$1,775,230 for the police department, $5,051,035 for the
public works department, $2,310,000 in carryover and reserves
and $33,137 in Hagen funds (dedicated projects).
planning lifeguard station at Coquina
By Tom Vaught
sun staff writer
Manatee County is planning on building a lifeguard station
complete with a meeting room, training facilities and
equipment storage in Coquina Park Bayside, south of Bradenton
Building Official Ed McAdam told the Scenic Highway committee
last week that county officials approached him with plans
for the facility. Public Works Director Dottie Poindexter
said it would resemble the large shelter and public restrooms
recently built on north Coquina Beach. Manatee County
owns the beach and bayside parks. He said the facility
would be about 200 yards north of where the city formerly
had a recycling collection area with bins and a trailer.
The city abandoned the area when it went to home recycling
pickup two years ago.
The new structure would be near land Bradenton Beach wants
to use for a park and ride for employees of businesses
in the city. The scarcity of parking spaces on and near
Bridge Street has been a problem since businesses opened
in the city's commercial district, and the plan calls
for employees to park in the proposed lot and take the
trolley to their jobs. A supplemental shuttle van for
employees who work after 10:30 p.m., when the trolley
ceases operating every night, is also in the plan. Poindexter
said the county will come back with a new rendering of
the lifeguard station in the future, and the committee
said it would invite county officials to one of its meetings
to view the rendering and discuss the possibility of having
the park and ride next to the station.
In other news, the committee said it would wait until
a multi-use path is built from Fifth Street South through
Coquina Beach before it builds bollards between the Cortez
Beach parking area and Gulf Drive. Member Mike Sosadeeter,
who works for Manatee County Parks and Recreation, said
his department is afraid there is not enough room for
the trail and the parking lot due to a Florida Department
of Transportation setback requirement. The bollards would
have an opening for entering the parking area and another
for exiting. The committee wanted to limit ingress and
egress to keep down confusion in the area, which leads
to traffic accidents.
Sosadeeter said the county commission will decide soon
on how much money it will spend to build the multi-use
trail. The county got a grant, with the help of the city,
to pay for some of the trailer and the city donated a
set amount. The county agreed to take up the slack, which
is increasing due to rising costs for materials and labor.
Sosadeeter said the county is looking at a redesign to
lower the cost.
"The cost is estimated at $421,000, and the redesign
might lower that to around $350,000," he said. "Realistically,
we're six months from starting construction on it."
Kim: Ready for prime time
By Cindy Lane
sun staff writer
CORTEZ Local fishing
holes, personality profiles and boater-accessible restaurants
are among the features coming up on a new weekly television
program based in Cortez.
Captain Kims Adventures began airing last month
on Suncoast Network 96, a Bright House cable channel.
The weekly 30-minute program airs Wednesdays at 7:30 p.m.
Cortez charter boat Captain Kim Ibasfalean is the creator
and host of the all-girl show, which also features Kathe
Fannon, Charlotte Huntley, Erin Garner and Renee Bailey.
"I have so much to show people," she says, adding
that she was bitten by the show business bug when she
worked on the 2003 movie Out of Time, filmed
partly in Cortez.
Upcoming episodes will feature profiles of longtime Cortez
resident Wyman Coarsey; Roger Allen, the coordinator of
the Florida Gulf Coast Maritime Museum at Cortez; and
local diver Ed Ryan, who maintains aquariums for Disney
Other segments will feature fishing spots and eco-tourism
destinations from Anna Maria Island south to Siesta Key
that Captain Kim visits in her day job, says her husband,
Mark Ibasfalean, who works behind the scenes with his
brother, Bryan Ibasfalean, and channel 96 staff to videotape
and produce the program.
The team hopes to produce at least 30 shows during the
first 52 weeks, with a few reruns, he says.
"As we get more footage, well run new shows
more frequently," says Ibasfalean, who also works
as a dockbuilder and stone crabber. An outdoors show is
much more time-consuming than videotaping an indoor studio
program, he says; sometimes a second boat is needed just
to carry equipment.
Sarasota-based Suncoast Network, which launched channel
96 earlier this year with infomercials, is gradually adding
programs like Captain Kims Adventures that are not
The station sells the airtime to the program producers,
who sell their own commercials, which can be produced
by the advertisers, the program producers or channel 96
struggles with comp plan
By Laurie Krosney
sun staff writer
ANNA MARIA There
are several thorny issues confronting members of the planning
and zoning board, which is going through a series of public
hearings on revisions to the comprehensive plan.
Should the medium density zone in the city, where duplexes
are currently allowed and where lots that are 50 by 100
feet, stay as is, or should it be eliminated?
"If it's eliminated, would I be allowed to rebuild?"
asked Robin Wall, a resident who owns one such lot with
a ground level home.
"Am I allowed to rebuild now? What if I want to sell
my property and the new owner wants to tear down the existing
house and build a stilt house?"
Building Official Kevin Donohue said no one can "willfully
destroy" an existing non-conforming home and then
rebuild. However, if that home is destroyed to more than
50 percent of its value, it can be rebuilt to current-day
standards. That includes elevating ground-level homes.
Members of the P&Z board tried to find a way to allow
those homes to be rebuilt in the event they are struck
by fire or a catastrophic hurricane.
"I think they should be able to put back what was
there," said Margaret Jenkins, a member of the board.
Not so fast, said Donohue. There's flood insurance to
consider. You have to follow FEMA rules, which mandate
elevation in all new construction.
"What if they decide not to have flood insurance?"
asked board member Randall Stover?
"That creates problems with getting mortgages,"
Donohue said. "And flood insurance is an issue for
the entire community.
If you don't follow FEMA's rules, you put the ability
of the entire community to get flood insurance in jeopardy."
Stover said he thinks the city commission ought to investigate
self-insurance for the community. That way, "the
federal government won't be dictating to us."
Another problematic issue is what to do about residential
properties that have been built in the commercial zone?
Property owner Joe White wants to be sure he can rebuild
his non-conforming house in the event of disaster.
"We built our home in 1987," he said. "We
hope to preserve our home under the new comp plan."
White wants his lot to be a residential enclave in the
A neighboring property owner, whose house was actually
built after the existing comprehensive plan was enacted,
may have a stickier issue. No residential uses are permitted
in the commercial zone. A permit for that house should
not have been issued without a change to the zoning maps.
That's the same issue that property owner Amador Salinas
is faced with. He owns the property at 9907 Gulf Drive.
"We were told our lot's zoning had been changed to
residential," Salinas said. "We want to build
our retirement house there, but now we find that the zoning
A check of the city's records revealed that the city commission
approved an ordinance changing the zoning on the Salinas
lot, which is located on the south east corner of Gulf
Drive and Spring Ave.
The zoning of the adjacent lot was included in that ordinance.
A house stands on that lot today.
However, the change was never registered at the state
level in the future land use map, which establishes the
zoning districts. To make changes in the future land use
map requires a change in the comprehensive plan, a lengthy
Apparently, no one knew the procedure in 1997 when the
change was granted.
Another issue is whether or not the small, family-operated
motels that are nestled in residential areas will be allowed
to rebuild in the event of disaster.
They are non-conforming uses today, and as such, they
are in jeopardy.
Land Planner Bob Schmitt, who has been hired by business
owners in the city (see related story), suggested that
the board consider making a zoning category for resorts.
He also asked the board to extend the same protection
and concern to the property owners in the ROR (residential/office/retail)
and commercial zones that they are extending to property
owners in the residential districts.
"And I think it would be a mistake to take the medium
density zoning away," Schmitt said. You want
to leave as few non-conformities as possible."
The P&Z board heard suggestions from the community
about changes to the infrastructure, traffic and housing
elements of the plan and then moved on to hearing more
comments on the land use element of the plan, which includes
the zoning map.
There was very little discussion among the members of
the board. The bulk of the meeting was devoted to hearing
from the public.
The comprehensive plan is the document that outlines the
way the community will look in the future. In cases of
conflict with ordinances or codes, the comp plan trumps
The P&Z board is holding public hearings and then
will make changes to the plan before forwarding it to
the city commission.
The commission will hold its own public hearings, finalize
any changes to the document and forward it to the Florida
Department of Community Affairs in Tallahassee, where
it will either be approved or sent back to the city for
The next public hearing before the planning and zoning
board will be held Monday, Aug. 22, at 7 p.m. at city
The board will hold a business meeting from 6 to 7 p.m.
and break for the public hearing after which, they will
resume their business meeting.
number of turtles wash up on beach
By Laurie Krosney
sun staff writer
A record number of dead
and ailing sea turtles are washing up on Gulf Coast beaches.
Sea turtle strandings include dead and sick or injured
All indications are that the unusual number of strandings
is related to the on-going red tide outbreak in southwest
Florida, according to Mote Marine Laboratory's Dr. Debbie
"The initial findings indicate that exposure to red
tide is the most likely cause of much of the mortality,"
Fauquier said. "As is always the case, there are
still some turtles that are succumbing to other mortality
factors boat collisions, entanglements and chronic
illness, but the preliminary explanation for the unusually
high number of deaths is exposure to red tide."
Clearwater Marine Aquarium is also documenting many sea
turtle strandings and is rehabilitating a record number
of turtles at its facility.
Mote received a grant from the sea turtle license plate
fund to investigate the effects of red tide on marine
turtles, so Fauquier was able to check into the cause
of the record number of strandings.
In Pinellas, Hillsborough, Manatee and Sarasota Counties,
there were 45 strandings between July 24 and August 10.
The average for that time is six strandings.
Anna Maria Island has seen its share of strandings.
During the last week alone, AMI Turtle Watch volunteers
dealt with a total of 13 strandings. Three ailing turtles
are still alive and are being cared for at Mote.
"It's just awful," said AMI Turtle Watch Chief
Suzi Fox. "We don't know if we're coming or going
we're so busy. If we get a live turtle, the people from
Mote come right out and start treatment on the spot. I
think the three that are still living would have died
without immediate treatment."
Fox said the dead turtles are buried where they wash up
or where they are brought to shore.
"We have wonderful help from the public works departments
of all three Island cities," she said. "You
couldn't find a better group of people than the public
works people. We love them."
How you can help
Mote is swamped, according to Fox. Rehabilitating
a sea turtle can be quite costly, and with the record
number of live strandings, funds are running low.
"People on our Island have always answered the call
to help turtles," Fox said. "Anna Maria Island
residents always dig deep in their pockets to help out."
It's Fox's hope that that Island residents will be willing
to dig deep again to help care for the ailing turtles
two of which were restored to health and released
last week well south of the red tide area.
If you want to help, you can write a check to Mote Marine
Laboratory Sea Turtle Program. On the memo line write
"sick and injured turtles." Mail to Mote Marine
Laboratory, Attn: Sea Turtle Program, 1600 Ken Thompson
Parkway, Sarasota, FL 34236.