study dead - sort of
By Laurie Krosney
sun staff writer
There will be no Island-wide
referendum asking voters whether or not they want to go
forward with a study of consolidating the three cities
into one political entity at least for now.
All three cities were considering whether or not to poll
their voters to see if there was enough interest to fund
a study of the pros and cons of consolidation.
A tie vote at the Aug. 25 Anna Maria city commission meeting
killed the referendum in that city. Commissioners Dale
Woodland and Carol Ann Magill voted against putting the
issue to the voters.
Woodland had indicated earlier that he was against consolidation
but not necessarily against the referendum, but his vote
was against placing the referendum on the ballot.
"Not one resident I talked to is in favor of consolidating
all three cities into one government," Woodland said.
"In no way do we want to give up our city, our government,
our comp plan, our vision statement. We don't need to
go to a referendum."
With Commissioner Duke Miller out of town and unable to
attend the meeting, the tie vote killed Commissioner Linda
Cramer's motion to put the referendum on the ballot, since
there was no majority in favor of the issue.
No one knows how Miller would have voted. He's due back
Sept. 6. There isn't a voting meeting scheduled before
the deadline for getting the referendum on the ballot,
so unless a commissioner calls a special meeting to reconsider
the issue again, the referendum will not be on the Anna
Maria ballot in November.
Holmes Beach had already approved placing the referendum
on the ballot. Mayor Carol Whitmore said she's disappointed
in Anna Maria's city commission vote.
"Carol Ann and Dale's votes denied not only their
citizens the right to decide, they denied my voters the
right to decide if they want to find out more about consolidation,"
Whitmore said. "We don't really know about the benefits
of consolidation, so they don't even know what they voted
She said she may very well recommend to her commission
that the referendum go forward so at least the residents
of Holmes Beach will have a chance to voice their opinion.
Bradenton Beach Mayor John Chappie told The Sun that his
commission is scheduled to decide whether or not to include
the consolidation study referendum on their ballot at
their Sept. 1 meeting. He said he's planning to leave
that issue on the agenda for discussion.
The plan had been that to go forward with the study, all
three Island cities had to participate. It appears now
that the referendum may proceed for at least one and possibly
two of the Island cities, but probably the consolidation
study is a dead issue for now.
"I'm tired of working on this issue," Whitmore
said. "I have no interest in pursuing it. I'm not
interested in a consolidation of services. We tried that,
and it didn't work. I'm not subjecting myself or my staff
to the stress of this again. If someone else wants to
look into it after I leave office, let them."
Meanwhile, Don Schroder, who has worked diligently to
get the referendum placed on the ballot, said he's disappointed
with Anna Maria's stance, but he wasn't sure what the
next step would be. He said it's way too early to discuss
what may come next.
"I made my case," he said. "I feel that
every resident on this Island was disenfranchised by their
vote. We had the right to know how the voters feel. They
made a decision they didn't have to make. Not only will
Anna Maria voters not get to make their wishes known,
but also the residents in Holmes Beach and Bradenton Beach
are denied that opportunity."
Holmes Beach City Commissioner Don Maloney has long been
a vocal champion of consolidation. He said he, too, was
disappointed in the Anna Maria vote and doubts the issue
will get serious consideration anytime soon.
"I don't see anything happening for the foreseeable
future," Maloney said. "You know, I'm sure,
that this is my 10th anniversary with this. I don't know
what will happen next. What we tried to do this time was
to see how the people themselves feel. We couldn't get
across to them that all we were trying to find out is
if the voters think this would work or even what it's
Royale channel to be closed during bridge construction
By Pat Copeland
sun staff writer
HOLMES BEACH Engineers
from the Florida Department of Transportation said the
Key Royale channel will be closed to boat traffic for
possibly nine to 12 months while the bridge is being replaced.
"Maintaining boat traffic will be a problem,"
DOT District Permit Engineer Jim Wilt explained at an
informational meeting held at St. Bernard Church last
week. "We asked for permission to close it down for
the duration of the contract for safety reasons."
Wilt said because there is no place to store materials
except on a barge in the channel and the contractor must
also drive piles, the channel must close during construction.
"We want input from local boaters on whether it will
create a problem," Wilt said. "It will be an
imposition on local boaters if theyre going south,
but we want to be on the safe side. People that Ive
talked to tonight said it would be minor inconvenience,
but they know it has to be done and they want the bridge."
DOT Design Engineer Ed Ponce said the department would
advertise for a contractor in November and December and
the contract would be let on Jan. 25, 2006.
"It will take a couple of months to award and execute
the contract," Ponce said. "Construction will
probably begin in April 2006 and take 200 to 300 days.
Ponce said there would be lane closures during construction,
but one lane would be maintained at all times. DOT Public
Information Director Cindy Clemmons-Adente said Key Royale
residents would receive weekly updates on the projects
Construction and comments
The bridge will be replaced with a two-lane, low-level
bridge. Lanes will be 12 feet wide, and there will be
five-foot wide sidewalks. The minimum vertical navigational
clearance will increase from 9.3 feet above mean high
water to 10.3 feet.
The construction is planned in two phases.
Phase I: remove the north portion of the existing bridge,
maintain traffic on the remainder of the existing bridge
by providing one-way traffic on a single 10-foot lane
controlled by a portable traffic signal and build the
Phase II: Switch the single lane of traffic to the north
portion of the new bridge controlled by a portable traffic
signal, remove the remaining portion of the old bridge
and construct the south portion of the bridge.
The construction requires permits from three agencies
the Coast Guard, the Southwest Florida Water Management
District and the Army Corps of Engineers.
"We should be getting the Swiftmud permit in the
mail any day, and we are expecting the permit from the
Corps soon," Wilt said. "Were trying to
get a record fast issuance with the Coast Guard permit,
but we probably wont get it until December or January."
The cost of the bridge is currently estimated at $2.1
million, up from the initial estimate of $1.3 million.
Ponce said the DOT would update the cost immediately before
the contract is let. The city is advancing the funding
and will be reimbursed by the DOT.
DOT officials are seeking comments from residents. The
deadline is Sept. 6. Comments can be mailed to Dick Combs,
deputy director of transportation development, Florida
Department of Transportation, P.O. Box 1249, Bartow, FL
to return, bigger and better
By Tom Vaught
sun staff writer
ANNA MARIA It's
the first festival of the season and for many, it's a
time to shake off the hot summer, hurricane- season doldrums.
Bayfest 2005, hosted by the Anna Maria Island Chamber
of Commerce, will be a day of fun, food and shopping along
Pine Avenue. The Anna Maria Island Sun is the event sponsor.
Bayfest organizer Cindy Thompson is already at work to
make it bigger and better than last years festival,
which was widely regarded as one of the finest festivals
the Island has ever seen.
"We have the whole street available again and we
intend to fill it," she said. "We will have
more than 100 booths for arts and crafts and not-for-profit
organizations. Last year, we had 96 and I already have
commitments for more than that."
Once again, there will be a children's area and the popular,
classic car display also will return.
"We expect to have around 100 classic cars with the
help of a local car club," she said. "A disc
jockey from Oldies 108 will be there to emcee."
The children's area will feature fun and games, while
grownups can sample live music from local bands and solo
artists on two separate stages.
"We will have a main stage with acts including Koko
Ray, Almost Famous, a steel drum band and a D.J. to play
between the acts," she said. "Then there will
be a children's stage where Jimi Gee will lead his students
in various bands including the Island Hobbits, Magic Tree
Conspiracy and the Edison Band, plus there will be a performance
by Eric von Hahmann."
In addition, there will be food booths.
"We already have 19 commitments for food booths,"
she said. "We will also have beer trucks at each
end of the street and the Chamber Margarita Bar."
A portion of the proceeds goes toward the AMI Chamber
There is still time to join the fun. Anybody wanting to
rent a booth should call Cindy Thompson at 761-4766.
wants beachfront lifeguard station
By Tom Vaught
sun staff writer
Plans for a bayside lifeguard station received a cold
reception from the Scenic Highway Corridor Management
Entity last week and the mayor hopes talks with the county
administrator can rescue the plans.
Bill O'Shea, of the Manatee County Planning Department,
brought project architect Mike Bryant, of Fawley and Bryant
Architects, with him to the Scenic Highway meeting to
show the committee scaled down plans for the project.
It would be a single-story, 22-foot-high elevated building
with room inside for lifeguards to store their equipment.
There would also be room for training and space for parking
boats and rescue equipment beneath the building.
The problem is that the committee felt it was on the wrong
side of Gulf Drive. The station would be near the northernmost
boat launch in Coquina Park Bayside, where the city would
like to put a park and ride lot for people who work in
the city to make more room for shoppers and diners to
park in the city's business district.
After seeing the plans, committee member Mike Pierce said
he thought the facility would be more useful on the beach
near the bus turnaround. Mayor John Chappie suggested
the snack bar at Coquina Beach, saying they could rehabilitate
the snack bar and incorporate the station in the design.
Chappie expressed disappointment that the county did not
include the city in the planning process.
"We had an interlocal agreement that the county would
consult the city when it was planning projects in the
county parks here," he said. "The county spent
$1.5 million to rehab Manatee County Beach, but nothing
has been done to rebuild the semi-permeable groins along
"Coquina Beach is the most visited place in the county,"
he said. "This is the draw, folks, and we can't get
the county to spend money here."
Chappie said he did not want to delay the lifeguard station
because he realizes they need a place to store their equipment.
"They have been working out of a shed next to the
restrooms on the bayside," he said. "But we
need to be brought in on this."
Mike Sosadeeter, of the Manatee County Parks and Recreation
Department and a member of the Scenic Highway committee,
also expressed concern.
"We didn't know about this," he said. "Since
we have to maintain the facility, it would have been nice
if they had included us in the planning stage."
"I see a lot of disconnect here," said Chappie.
"We need to bring this all together."
City Commissioner Bill Shearon, the city's liaison to
the committee, said putting it on the beach would be better
"That's where the multi-use trail will go and that's
where the beachgoers will be," he said.
"There should be a point man for the county who could
communicate with all these agencies," said Bradenton
Beach Building Official Ed McAdam. "The county needs
to pull a team together to address all these issues."
Chappie said he had talked with county administrator Ernie
Padgett and county commission chairman Ron Getman about
the project earlier and they told him to bring his concerns
to them after seeing the plans. Sosadeeter said he would
also be talking with Padgett to express his department's
makes tourists sick
By Tom Vaught
sun staff writer
The high waves caused by Katrinas passage brought
out the surfers over the weekend, but the Category 5 hurricane
also caused a return of a summer-long nemesis, red tide.
As the winds from Katrina shifted, they blew in the single
celled organisms that give off noxious fumes when they
bloom in high concentration. Mixed with the foam from
the wave action, it caused two swimmers at Cortez Beach
to call for help.
Two people ingested it when they got near the foam,
said Capt. Joe Westerman, head lifeguard for the Manatee
County Department of Safety. We had to call for
Westerman said the unidentified men were revived and did
not require hospitalization.
Jay Moyles, of the Department of Safety, said the same
situation occurred with a former lifeguard several years
He was surfing and got off his board, Moyles
said. When he came up, he breathed in some foam
and he said he literally could not catch his breath.
Dr. Barbara Kirkpatrick, red tide researcher at Mote Marine
Laboratory, said the foam picks up the toxin in heavy
Dr. Richard Pierce, a fellow scientist at Mote,
found the foam has 10 times the toxin than water.
Moyles said people should avoid the foam on the beaches.
Being as it is a neurological toxin, it can be very
bad, he said.
of non-conforming use OK�d
By Pat Copeland
sun staff writer
HOLMES BEACH The
board of adjustment last week granted its first variance
for expansion of a non-conforming use.
Developer Pat McConnell wants to add 450 square feet,
or 225 square feet per unit, to a duplex at 2913 Avenue
E. The additional space would allow for a second bedroom
Expansions of non-conformities are generally handled through
the building department, but because this one was an expansion
of use, it had to come before the board, Emily Anne Smith,
of OBrien and Smith Architecture, explained to the
board. At the time it was built, duplexes were permitted
on 5,000 square-foot lots, however, the 1989 comprehensive
plan changed the duplex lot size to 8,750 square feet.
The only other option to improve the property is to demolish
the structure and build an elevated one, Smith said.
"People want to keep the character of the small cottage
homes," she pointed out, adding that the project
would promote affordable housing on the Island.
"Affordable housing can only be created through existing
non-conforming structures," McConnell added. "If
you can split the cost of the ownership between two parties,
you can create as close to affordable housing that you
can have on this Island. If we dont do something
like this to promote affordable housing, the only people
who can afford to live here will be the billionaires."
Pro and con
"This is a no-brainer," neighbor David Zaccagnino
stressed. "This is the kind of thing that we want
to see. Not where they come in and clear the lot and build
this huge thing."
Neighbor Rick Wheeler agreed with Zaccagnino and added,
"Pat is doing everything right for this neighborhood."
A livable family unit is two bedrooms," Barry
Gould, of Island Vacation Properties, pointed out. "People
come into my office looking for affordable housing. Heres
an opportunity for the city to take a stand and answer
the call for something affordable. Where does the city
really see itself 10 years from now? Are all these little
houses that are up and down the street going to be 35
Neighbors Kathleen and David Toale spoke in opposition,
expressing fears that the citys flood insurance
would be jeopardized if the variance were allowed.
"Holmes Beachs participation in the National
Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) is based on your ability
to adopt and enforce sound floodplain management,"
Kathleen Toale said. "Ignoring the rules places all
the citizens in jeopardy," adding that in a worst
case scenario, the Federal Emergency Management Agency
(FEMA) could suspend the citys flood insurance.
"This is not a hardship; this is a desire,"
David Toale said. "I request that you say no to the
Chairman David Moynihan asked Assistant Public Works
Director Bill Saunders to explain the FEMA issue.
"The city operates on adoption of FEMA guidelines,"
Saunders pointed out. "Its in our code and
thats what we work with. The city is not putting
itself or its property or its citizens in danger of losing
their flood insurance or increasing their flood insurance
Saunders said McConnells project is within the 30
percent land coverage as required by code, meets the setbacks,
is under the 50 percent FEMA requirement and under 40
percent impervious coverage as required by code.
"Your decision is going to be controlled by the citys
code on the expansion of a non-conformity," City
Attorney Jim Dye advised. "There are certain criteria
set forth in the code. Youve heard a lot of testimony
that doesnt go to the code, for example, affordability,
the visioning process and the FEMA process. There is a
place in the process where the FEMA criteria are taken
into account, and its not at this level."
Moynihan read the criteria for expansion of a non-conformity
and McConnells responses and noted, "The applicant
has addressed each of those criteria."
"If they provide these guidelines and somebody follows
them, not granting them could be infringing on their rights,"
member Mark Kimball observed.
Following the vote, Kathleen Toale said it is her understanding
that no work can take place on the property until the
boards decision is recorded with the clerk of the
Dye said that is correct and added, "This takes them
up to the building permit stage. That will take time to
be reviewed. Theres an automatic lag time until
any work is done to the property."
See related story on page 15.
takes toll on turtle nests
By Pat Copeland
sun staff writer
For the second time this
summer, the turtle nests on Anna Maria beaches have taken
a hit from a storm out in the Gulf.
First it was Dennis who passed by on the way to the Panhandle.
The high surf and surge from that storm washed over all
the nests that had been relocated to the north of the
"This time it wasn't quite as bad," said Suzi
Fox, who heads up Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch. "With
Dennis, the storm passed by a little closer to the Island,
and the nests at the north end were inundated. We may
have lost all of them."
Fox said Katrina wasn't quite that bad.
"We got to the south relocation area at about dawn
on Sunday. There was high surf and a bit of a surge,"
she said. "The eggs from one of the nests were washing
around in the surf. We were able to collect most of those
and relocate them to higher ground."
Fox said she and AMITW volunteers Lee and Marvin Zerkel
were at Coquina Beach at dawn Sunday to check on that
"We found one nest hatching," she said. "It
was overcast and the temperature was sort of cool
especially with the wind. There was one hatchling with
its head poking out of the nest. When it's cool like that,
they think it's night and time to hatch."
Fox said the other turtles began emerging and she and
the Zerkels discovered that the nest had been invaded
by fire ants.
"We washed the ants off the hatchlings with salt
water," she said. "We'll let them rest for a
couple of days and give the surf time to calm down and
then we'll release them.
Worker finds dead turtle
Bradenton Beach Public Works Employee Rob Greer and
his wife, Sharon, came to the Island on Sunday to check
out the beach.
"They found a 13-inch loggerhead that was dead,"
Fox said. "The turtle was freshly dead, and it showed
no signs of trauma. I put it on ice so we could take it
to Mote for a necropsy."
Fox said finding a turtle that size is unprecedented on
"We've seen the adult females, of course, and both
males and females sometimes strand here. Of course we
see the babies when the nests hatch, but we've never seen
one this size."
Loggerheads usually only return to the area of their natal
beaches when they are mating and nesting, so it's unusual
to find a juvenile anywhere in this vicinity, according
"I'm curious to see what they say about it at Mote,"
The turtles from that nest that was found hatching
on Sunday will be released into the Gulf on Wednesday
evening, Aug. 31, at 8 p.m. by the southern-most bath
house on Coquina Beach.
Fox said the public is welcome to come out and watch the
hatchlings scramble to the sea.
"It's a good time for people to learn a bit about
the sea turtles that nest on our shores," she said.
People are advised to come early.
"Tell everyone there can be no flashlights and no
flash photography because it can distract the turtles.
The flash photography may damage their eyes."
She added that if there is no wind, people coming to watch
the release might want to bring some insect repellant.
"It can get buggy," she warned.