Vol 5 No. 44 - July 20, 2005


Judge rules for three stories on Pine Avenue

Mayors miffed at meeting on consolidation

Water-cops to inspect boats off pier

Planners seek moratorium on rental licenses

Planning board recommends approval of AMICC expansion

Commission drowning in dock issues

Holmes Beach budget tops $10 million

The name game: How Anna Maria got its name





Judge rules for three stories on Pine Avenue

By Laurie Krosney
sun staff writer

ANNA MARIA — Months of waiting for a circuit judge to issue a ruling on the property at 303 Pine Avenue are over.

Judge Marc Gilner ruled July 14 that the city commission made an error in denying the site plan for a three-story structure at that location.

Robert and Nicki Hunt asked to build a structure that would have three usable floors within the city’s 37-foot height restriction.

The property is in the city’s ROR (residential/office/retail) district where mixed use is encouraged. Retail and office uses are allowed by FEMA regulations on the ground floor in this district.

The city building official said the plan conformed to code. A planner hired by the city said the site plan met code. The city attorney said the site plan met code.

Planning and zoning board members voted to recommend that the city commission approve the site plan.

But the city commission voted 3-2 to deny the site plan as it was submitted. Commissioners Linda Cramer, Carol Ann Magill and Dale Woodland voted against the application. Commissioner Duke Miller and Deputy Mayor John Quam voted to approve the plan.

The Hunts then filed an appeal with the circuit court asking for a certiorari review. In that proceeding, a judge looks at the record of the case. No new evidence is brought in. So in the case of 303 Pine Ave., the judge looked at a transcript of the May 24 P&Z board meeting where the vote was unanimous to approve the site plan and the June 24 city commission meeting where the Hunts plan was presented. The commission delayed a decision until Aug. 2 at which time they denied the site plan application.

That record of all three hearings was what the judge used to form an opinion.

Attorneys for both sides presented oral arguments to Judge Gilner last March, but again, they were limited to speaking to what was already on the record. No new evidence can be introduced in a certiorari proceeding.

Judge Gilner wrote in his ruling that the city wrongly interpreted its codes and comprehensive plan by reading the word “only” into the part of the code that limits “non-residential use to the ground floor and residential use to the second floor. The word ‘only’ does not appear in either the comp plan or the code”

The judge wrote that the interpretation of the three commissioners who voted against the site plan application “departs from the essential requirements of the law.”

Thus, the denial of the site plan application has been “quashed, because the city failed to comply with he essential requirements of the law,” Judge Gilner wrote.

What this means is that the city must now re-hear the site plan application. Commissioners are not to interpret the code or the comp plan as limiting a structure to two-stories.

“We are delighted with the outcome,” Nicki Hunt said after the ruling.

No date has been set as yet for the commission to hear the site plan application again.

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Mayors miffed at meeting on consolidation

By Pat Copeland
sun staff writer

HOLMES BEACH — Mayor Carol Whitmore was not pleased when Commissioner Don Maloney announced last week that he had met with a group of citizens to make decisions on the proposed consolidation referendum.

“If we want this process to move forward, it needs to be done in an organized fashion, not by individuals and private groups,” Whitmore stressed.

Anna Maria Mayor SueLynn echoed Whitmore’s displeasure.

“It hit me out of the blue,” SueLynn said. “It was unfortunate that he chose to do that. Anybody can meet and talk and I support that, but the issue for me was the process they used to do it. When the people who participated were unwilling to give their names, it makes you question what went on. They are not standing behind what they did.

At the last meeting of Island elected officials, all agreed that the three Island mayors would determine the wording on a referendum to ask voters if they want elected officials to pursue a study on consolidating the cities.

However, last week, Maloney told Holmes Beach commissioners that he had met with a group of residents representing the three cities, a planner, a retired city manager and an attorney familiar with municipal government.

“The group unanimously agreed on how they believed such a referendum should be worded, and their agreement has been presented to the county board of elections to determine the wording’s legitimacy,” Maloney reported.

He also said that the group agreed “that study of how best to go about such consolidation should be undertaken by an outside agency or agencies to later present their recommendations to voters… A number of ways to accomplish such a study were also agreed upon.”

Maloney said he would present the results of the group’s efforts at tonight’s meeting of Island elected officials set for 6 p.m. in Holmes Beach City Hall.

Memos fly

Maloney’s revelation prompted Whitmore to write Anna Maria Mayor SueLynn and Bradenton Beach Mayor John Chappie.

“On behalf of my city, I feel that I need to apologize for Mr. Maloney’s actions,” Whitmore explained. “The plan to present this to the public has been clear from the beginning. The three mayors were to get together regarding wording for a referendum and then come to our respective governments for ALL three cities to agree on language.

“Mr. Maloney has decided that he knows what is best for all three cities. If incidents like this continue, I feel that this may halt the process that we have been working on for months.”

Maloney responded with a memo noting, “You need not apologize ‘on behalf of your city’ for my reactions. If any apologies were necessary, I am quite capable of handling them myself. I know the three mayors were planning to get together to review referendum working. The desire we have is to make sure that they have opportunities other than themselves to accomplish coming up with the best possible product.”

“I spoke to both mayors yesterday and they are not happy with what has appeared to compromise the process that has been laid out,” Whitmore wrote in response.

Whitmore said the three mayors met Friday and drafted language for a referendum. The draft will be reviewed by the city attorneys and then taken to each city commission for approval.

The referendum working must be in the Manatee County Supervisor of Elections’ Office by noon on Sept. 19.

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Water-cops to inspect boats off pier

By Tom Vaught
sun staff writer

BRADENTON BEACH – Boat owners who have anchored in Sarasota Bay just south of the Bridge Street Pier have outstayed their welcome, according to Police Chief Sam Speciale
The police department has trained four officers to drive the department's new patrol boat, purchased two years ago with funds from a grant. The Manatee County Sheriff's Office recently deputized the police officers to patrol the Gulf and bay waters, which extend beyond the city's jurisdiction but are under the county's control. Now, Speciale wants them to be able to enforce some of the rules of the water.

"We have gotten together with the Coast Guard, which is going to train our marine officers on proper boarding procedures to conduct vessel safety inspections for life jackets and marine sanitation devices," Speciale said. "We are especially interest in the marine sanitation devices because some of the people living in those boats off the pier are reportedly wrapping up their human waste in plastic bags and bringing it onshore to dispose of it in public trash facilities in and around the pier."

Speciale said they would also conduct checks for proper registration documents for the boats, some of which have been anchored in the same place for years.

"We are also speaking to the Marine Patrol about the proper procedures for removing abandoned and derelict vessels," he said, "and we are negotiating with Sea Tow on a contract to have them tow boats from the area."

Speciale said the problems stemming from the boats, which have been anchored there without having to pay rent, culminated a week earlier when one of the boats broke loose from its anchor during high winds and waves and came toward the pier. City public works employees had their hands full trying to keep it from severely damaging the pier and at one time, the mast from the sailboat threatened the clock tower in the pier parking lot.

The city is working on setting up a mooring field in that area of the bay with a harbormaster who would oversee the facility. Owners of boats anchored there would have to pay rent. He said the loss of marinas in Manatee and Sarasota counties is another concern.
"We have heard that Marina Jack's in Sarasota is closing its mooring field," said Speciale. "We want to be able to get a handle on things before boat owners there start looking at this area to anchor."

Speciale said they want to be able to manage the boats within the proposed mooring area until the state gives the city permission to build it, but he said the boat owners there who are living without proper sanitation devices are the ones who prompted their immediate action.

"This is a beautiful area and we have a couple of bad apples that are going to ruin it for the rest," he said. "If we hadn't had the problem with the human waste, we would have waited until we got the mooring field."


Planners seek moratorium on rental licenses

By Pat Copeland
sun staff writer

HOLMES BEACH — Planning commissioners voted to ask city commissioners to place a moratorium as of June 15 on residential rental licenses in the R-1 and R-2 districts.

The vote comes on the heels of their recommendation to change the rental period in the two districts from one week to 30 days in order to preserve the residential character of the districts. They also have recommended a grandfathering period of five to 10 years for those who currently have licenses.

Planning consultant Bill Brisson said instead of a moratorium, city commissioners could institute "zoning in progress," which means that people could get rental licenses but only for the period until the change goes into effect.

Brisson also added new language to the code to address problems that may arise regarding duplex condos being built in the city.

"It appears that some people mistake duplexes that are joined only by the foundation for single–family structures," Brisson said. "In the future, when these units are redeveloped, we believe that the fact that these are duplexes not single family structures will be forgotten."

Other new language addressed the issue of lot coverage to ensure that an owner of one half of a duplex structure does not add to the structure or add impervious surface coverage beyond his proportionate share of ownership of the property.

Small lot issue
Planners discussed a request by resident Rebecca Smith to allow a higher level of lot coverage for small, legally non-conforming lots by permitting owners to build to the minimum setbacks. Brisson said Smith noted that people want larger homes that cannot be built on these undersized lots.

"The city’ various land development regulations are not set with the primary purpose of optimizing the development potential or marketability of a property, nor to allow land to be developed in the fashion that happens to be desired or marketable at any given time," Brisson pointed out."

He said the purpose of lot coverage and setbacks is to provide light an air between properties and privacy between residential units.

"There’s nothing wrong with changing the regulations, but not if they eliminate the basic intent of why you have the regulations in the first place," Brisson said. "You may wish to ID those areas where you might be willing to see homes with lesser setbacks."

Planner Gary Hickerson said that only one person has lobbied for a change and asked, "What about the people next door to these lots? Anything they build will be more massive than what’s there."

Chairman Sue Normand said she might consider the request if it involved an entire block or area of the city, but the lots are scattered throughout the city.

Planners agreed they would not recommend any change.

Resident Ron Simpson, who owns property on 59th Street, pointed out that 30 percent coverage forces people to build homes with two living levels in order to get the space that they need. He said if the lot coverage were increased to 35 or 40 percent, it would encourage one-story structures.

"What he says is true," Brisson agreed. "Your code does force people to go two stories. You can’t go to 40 percent; your code doesn’t allow it. You need some for impervious surface coverage. The way you do it is to increase the coverage allowable for a one-story building, but keep your two-story buildings at 30 percent."

Brisson said the extra 5 percent coverage would be in the back yard and it would be about two feet.

Planners said they would like a drawing to show the two options. Public Works Clerk Susan Lonzo said she would provide one at the next meeting.

The next meeting is set for 7 p.m. Thursday, July 28.

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Planning board recommends approval of AMICC expansion

By Laurie Krosney
sun staff writer

ANNA MARIA — With all the I's dotted, the T's crossed and with several stipulations in place, the planning and zoning board voted to approve the Anna Maria Island Community Center's plan for expansion and rennovation.

The board voted 6-1 at meeting July 12 to recommend approval of the plan to the city commission. P&Z board member Frank Pytel cast the lone dissenting vote, saying he had serious safety concerns about parking issues on the site.

At an earlier meeting, board members voted to approve the vacation of an alley that runs through the Community Center's property. They also voted then to approve a variance to the setback of the building on Magnolia Avenue, which leaves the front of the building exactly where it is now.

Board members and planners for the Center worked out an on-the-spot compromise, which moved several parking spaces several feet further from the road. That satisfied the safety concerns of most of the board members, but Pytel still remained unconvinced. At one point, he urged that one of the three tennis courts on the site be turned into parking. That idea didn't get the support of the Community Center or the P&Z board.

The renovation and expansion plan will add a second floor to the Center. That floor will be used for counseling rooms, offices and as a space to serve teens.

"The state says you can't serve teenagers and younger children in the same space at the same time," said Community Center Executive Director Pierrette Kelly. "We really need this space for the teens," she said.

Community Center board members and supporters were out in force and spoke in support of the plan.

Several neighboring residents spoke against the plan, primarily citing safety concerns. No one spoke against the Community Center itself, simply against the expansion.

In the end, the board voted to recommend approval of the project with some stipulations suggested by city planner Alan Garrett. Those stipulations are that any light poles that interfere with parking safety will be moved and that any time there is a large event such as a concert, the Community Center will arrange parking at a remote spot such as Roser Church and shuttle people over the Center.

The city commission is to begin hearings on the site plan application Wed., July 20, at 7 p.m.

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Commission drowning in dock issues

By Pat Copeland
sun staff writer

HOLMES BEACH — Due to the complexity of the issues regarding the city’s docks, canals and waterfront, City Attorney Patricia Petruff asked commissioners to set a special work session on the subject.

"Every time we look at this issue, it’s like touching a tar baby," Petruff said. "Our hands get stickier and sticker."

One issue is the Sunrise Park dock ordinance, which governs docks in the canal at 28th Street and Avenue B. Another issue is the T-end canal ordinance, which governs docks in the T-end canals between 72nd and 77th streets.

The Sunrise Park dock ordinance was slated for its second reading on June 28 when Commissioner Rich Bohnenberger raised a number of questions.

"At the last meeting I asked for a continuance until tonight, Bohnenberger said at last week’s meeting. "In the meantime I’ve come to learn that the biggest issue is liability. I firmly believe we would be liable no matter what, so we should take charge of the situation.
"I think it’s time for the city to rebuild the docks, not only in the Sunrise Park basin but also in the T-end canals, and to charge a lease fee that’s reasonable. It would insure that the docks are built and maintained to our standards and would relieve the citizens of the responsibility to provide their own insurance for liability."

He said the lease fee could be used to create a fund to pay for dock construction and maintenance and canal dredging. Rebuilding the docks also would provide more boat spaces because the docks would be uniform.

"We’ve come full circle," Petruff noted. "At one point I had recommended that you do exactly that."

She said another issue involves boats docked at the ends of canals and the city’s setback requirements. A third issue involves an ordinance that allows boats to be up to 20 feet into the waterway. However, there are boats longer than 20 feet in the city’s canals.

"There are a lot of issues," Petruff pointed out. "We need pictures and drawings and graphics even to explain the problem to you. It would be prudent for you to evaluate it now before it gets any worse."

Petruff said she has been researching how other cities legislate such issues.

"I totally agree with Rich and Patricia," Commissioner Roger Lutz said. "I think we ought to bite the bullet and look at doing it ourselves and renting them out at a fair price."

Commissioners Pat Morton and Don Maloney agreed.

Chairman Sandy Haas-Martens said she would set the work session date when Petruff and staff members have collected all the documentation.

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Holmes Beach budget tops $10 million

By Pat Copeland
sun staff writer

HOLMES BEACH — Commissioners got their first look at the 2005-06 budget last week but agreed to hold discussion until a future work session.

However, they did set the millage rate at 2.0 at the recommendation of their city treasurer.

"The major issue is to set the millage," City Treasurer Rick Ashley told commissioners. "I’m fully confident that 2.0 mils is more than sufficient to do anything you need to do in the next year. Your taxable property base has increased 20 percent, so your 2 mils will bring you in about $400,000 more this year."

Regarding the rest of the budget, Ashley said there will be a cash carryover, and he would like commissioners to put that into the reserve fund in light of last year’s hurricane season.
"Last year we ran out of our contingency money that we had budgeted for the storms," Mayor Carol Whitmore added. "I want to have a good healthy reserve that nobody can touch. We’ll have $1.6 (million)."

The total budget is $10,065,592, up from $8,418,157 in 2005-05.

The revenue side of the budget shows $1,007,173 in state sources, $6,082,493 in local sources and $2,905,926 in carryovers/reserves.

On the expense side is mayor and commission, $205,327; general government, $620,427; code enforcement, $119,641; police department, $1,756,172; public works, $5,029,888; Hagen funds, $33,137; and carryovers and reserves, $2,301,000.

The public works department budget is the largest in the city and the $2.6 million Key Royale Bridge replacement project accounts for more than half of that figure. Commissioners just learned last week that the cost of the bridge has doubled.

The public works budget includes personnel services, $756,218; operating expenses, $802,200; capital improvements, $$3,287,000; equipment, $104,470; and debt service (bridge financing), $80,000.

The police department budget is the second largest in the city and includes personnel services, $1,434,672; operating expenses, $254,000; and equipment, $67,500 (two vehicles, two in-car radios, AV equipment and computer upgrades).

The mayor and commission expenditures include personnel services, $36,177 and operating expenses, $169,150.

The general government shows personnel services, $288,727; operating expenses, $324,700; and capital expenses, 7,000 (computer and equipment replacement and upgrades.

The code enforcement budget includes personnel services, $102,791; operating expenses, $15,300; equipment, $1,550 (two monitors, camera, printer).

Recommended donations to outside agencies are as follows: Anna Maria Island Community Center operations, $30,000; Anna Maria Island Community Center capital campaign, $10,000; Anna Maria Island Community Center endowment trust, $1,000; Mote Marine, $1,500; Anna Maria Island Historical Society, $1,500; START, $4,000; Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce, $3,000; Keep Manatee Beautiful, $1,000; Anna Maria Island Art League, $750; and Anna Maria Island Orchestra and Chorus, $1,000. The total of donations is $53,750.

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The name game: How Anna Maria got its name

By Pat Copeland
sun staff writer

You don’t often hear Anna Mar-ee-a called Anna Mar-eye-a anymore, unless you’re in the company of Gene or Elizabeth Moss, but at one time it was a hotly debated issue, and the issue was directly related to stories about how the Island got its name.

According to an account by Elizabeth Moss, "In 1948, the Anna Maria Island Women’s Club declared the name Anna Maria was of Spanish origin, named for a queen of Spain or for sisters of the queen. They pronounced the name Anna Mar-ee-a instead of the long "i" stressed in the Scottish Mar-eye-a. This caught on with the new residents moving to the Island, and the pronunciation gradually became changed to long "e" sound."

In the early 1950s, newspaper editor Harry Varley and Anna Maria Commissioner Frances Livingstone jumped into the fray, trading verse to make their points.

Varley wrote:
How the Gounod would hate it
If in the church choir
The soloist warbled it —
Ave Mar-eye-er

To which Livingstone replied:
The sunshine is hot
And life is much freer
For all of the tourists
But to the Crackers —
Let yell the town crier!
They’ll bask in the sunshine

The Spanish theory
Going back a little further in time, we find Captain John R. Jones, who established a fishing camp on the Island in the 1890s, and espoused the Spanish theory. In 1927 Jones wrote:
“On the old Spanish maps and charts, we find it marked ‘Ana-Maria-Cay,’ and it is recorded that it was named in honor of the mother of Christ (Mary) and her mother, Anne. The Latin nations were accustomed to giving sacred names to many places discovered and settlements established by them."

Jones pointed out that three Spanish settlements — one at the north point in Anna Maria, one in Holmes Beach near 52nd Street and one in Bradenton Beach — were established on the Island at a very early date.

He noted, “Traces of these early settlements could be found when the government turned over the Island for homesteaders; and in the early 1880s, when part of the Island was taken under pre-emption, the remains of houses and broken cooking utensils were in evidence."

Palm Key
Jones also told of the Island’s second name:

“The Spanish residents on the north point in time planted a small grove of royal palm trees, which grew to such height as to become a landmark for sailors and coastal fishermen, and eventually gave the Island it’s second name — Palm Key."

According to a 1974 newspaper article by Kent Chetlain, "The name Palm Key was alternately given on maps along with Anna Maria until 1903, when John R. Jones, a mid-Island farmer-fisherman, successfully had the federal government strike it from the records due to confusion between the two names and conflict with the several other Palm Islands in Florida."

Anna Maria Cobb Riles, the first white child born on the Island, also subscribed to the Spanish theory. She said the name came from an old Spanish map and may have been named for two Spanish princesses, Ana and Maria.

Marion Coleman, granddaughter of George Emerson Bean, the Island’s first homesteader, said she was told that the Island was named for Jesus’ mother, Mary, and his grandmother, Ann.

The Scottish theory
Enter Al Robson, who came to the Island in 1944 and maintained that the Island’s name was of Scottish origin.

Robson told Chetlain in the same 1974 newspaper article mentioned above, "I have searched the National Archives and Smithsonian Institution in Washington and never have come across any Spanish map of this region that specifically lists Anna Maria Island by that name.

In fact, my research reveals that the first map listing the Island as Anna Maria is dated 1948. It is a U.S. government map which specifically marks it as ‘Anna Maria Key or Island.’"

Robson followed up on stories that the Island was named for the wife, Maria, and sister, Anna, of Tampa Mayor Madison Post by government surveyors in 1848. The surveyors were staying with the Posts, who were of Scottish decent, and Robson theorized the surveyors were returning the hospitality that the Posts had showed them with the naming gesture.

Unfortunately, Robson learned later that Madison Post did not arrive in Tampa until 1849, a year after the surveyors did their work. Post was not elected mayor until 1858.

One last twist
Another chapter in the name game came in 1975, when Lou Barolo, chairman of the planning and zoning board n Bradenton Beach, learned that the Island was listed as Anna Maria Key in the U.S. Board on Geographic Names. He also found that the body of water between the Island and the mainland was listed as Sarasota Bay or Sarasota Pass.

Barolo set out to have the listings corrected and had to prove common usage by getting affidavits from residents and researching maps, publications and papers. Barolo worked for six months on the project to have the names changed to Anna Maria Island and Anna Maria Sound.

The change was recorded by the government in 1976 and added one final twist to the story. The government decision read:

Anna Maria Island: island, 12.1 km. (7.5 miles) long, extends SE from Passage Key Inlet to Longboat Pass between the Gulf of Mexico to the W and Anna Maria Sound and Sarasota Bay to the E; reported to have been named in 1513 by Ponce de Leon for the queen of his sponsor, King Charles III."

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