alley swap a done deal
By Laurie Krosney
sun staff writer
ANNA MARIA After
months some said a decade of planning, talking
with city officials, planners, engineers, lawyers and
neighbors, Ed Chiles owns the alley just to the east of
the Sandbar restaurant.
By a vote of 3-2, city commissioners voted to vacate the
right to use the platted alley in exchange for one further
to the east that Chiles will pave as a landscaped walkway
for public use.
"I'm pleased with the vote," Chiles said after
the meeting. "I appreciate the thoughtful consideration
they gave the matter. It's nice to finally have the situation
The second reading and public hearing on an ordinance
for the alley vacation was held at city hall May 19.
It was the first time commissioners and residents had
heard from an ADA expert.
"To begin with, I was involved with the Sandbar restaurant
as part of the ADA litigation for the plaintiff's counsel,"
said Kirk Tcherneshoff, president of Tcherneshoff Consulting,
Inc., which is a firm specializing in ADA consulting.
In his testimony, Tcherneshoff answered many of the questions
that residents and commissioners alike have had about
Chiles claim that he needs the alley to build the restrooms
and install the handicapped parking. Both commissioners
and residents alike questioned why Chiles shouldn't be
required to expand the restrooms within the confines of
the existing building, which would require giving up restaurant
seats or the little shopping area.
"The ADA is very clear that this is a civil rights
law. It is not meant to affect the ability of an entrepreneur."
There was public comment from a total of 19 people. Deputy
Mayor John Quam alternated the pro and con speakers.
Many of the people speaking in favor of the alley vacation
had just come from a rally at the Sandbar. They were all
sporting yellow daisies in support of Chiles.
Several homeowners close to the Sandbar came with attorneys
who spoke about other options for the resolution of Chiles
problems with coming into conformity with the ADA.
Another concern that members of the commission and the
audience expressed was that Chiles would use the alley
to expand his business which Chiles attorney, Ricinda
Perry, called the "fear factor."
"We have shown what our future plans are," she
said. "Besides, we'd have to come before you again
if we ... we'd have to have a great deal more parking
and the cost and location are prohibitive."
Perry also pointed out that the restaurant is in a commercial
district, which comprises only 2.6 percent of the city.
She said to place a burden on that district is not in
the city's interest.
When the commissioners began their deliberations, there
was some discussion of placing restrictions on the vacation.
Commissioner Duke Miller asked Chiles if he was willing
to agree to never expand.
"Absolutely not," Chiles stated. "You're
a businessman. You'd never agree to a condition like that."
Some commissioners wanted to make the swap contingent
upon the approval of the site plan for the entire remodeling
But in the end, Quam and Commissioners Linda Cramer and
Dale Woodland voted in favor of the alley vacation and
swap and that was enough to pass the ordinance. Miller
and Commissioner Carol Ann Magill were opposed.
The next step for Chiles will be a hearing on the entire
site plan for his project, which includes the ADA improvements,
the landscaped walkway, some drainage swales and improvements
and the installation of a permanent canopy over the banquet
area to the north east of the restaurant building.
Quam had to perform a juggling act to get a date that
accommodated everyone's vacation schedules. In the end,
the date for the site plan approval was set for June 29
at 6 p.m.
may buy Perico land
By Pat Copeland
sun staff writer
Manatee County commissioners
are considering purchasing a portion of Perico Island.
Developer Pat Neal and his wife, Charlene, have offered
to sell the county 119 acres of land on the south side
of the island for $9 million. The land, which includes
tidal wetlands, uplands and Indian mounds, is along the
Palma Sola Causeway between the Anna Maria Bridge and
the Perico Bay Club. Neal, Frank Buskirk and Howard Adams
developed the Perico Bay Club in the mid-1970s.
County officials said they would recommend that the board
apply for a state land preservation grant to fund the
bulk of the purchase.
The land is directly across the Causeway from St. Joe/Arvidas
planned development of 13 high-rise condominiums. The
development was the subject of several lawsuits initiated
by the county, Mana-Sota-88 and Concerned Citizens of
The purchase of the environmentally sensitive parcel would
be the second one on the west side of the county. The
other is the Robinson Preserve along 99th Street Northwest,
which is connected to the Causeway by a recently completed
footbridge. Planned for the preserves nearly 500
acres are canoe, fitness and nature trails.
move gains momentum
By Pat Copeland
sun staff writer
After a presentation by Holmes Beach Mayor Carol Whitmore,
Island elected officials agreed to continue to discuss
consolidating the three Island cities.
"We need to think about the next generation, not
the next election," Bradenton Beach Mayor John Chappie
pointed out, even after revealing his reservations about
consolidation. "I have no problem putting it on the
ballot and letting the people decide."
Whitmores plan showed three Island city districts
with seven representatives two for Bradenton Beach
and Anna Maria and three for Holmes Beach because of its
larger population. The representatives would choose their
mayor like commissioners do on Longboat Key. Whitmore
said it would be unfair to have citizens vote for mayor,
again because of Holmes Beachs larger population.
An Island administrator would serve under the seven representatives.
Serving under the administrator would be a treasurer,
police chief, detective, public works supervisor and assistant
supervisor, a city clerk and deputy clerk, a code enforcement
officer and staff members.
"The idea is to bring the governments together without
losing the character of each city," Whitmore said.
"I feel strongly that the public would buy this concept
if they were assured that their area of the Island couldnt
be changed easily.
Whitmore said a super majority could decide any land development
code changes. She said officials could put other safeguards
Let the people decide
"This is totally workable," Whitmore continued.
"Were not trying to take somebodys city
away. Government is a business. People who live here expect
"If you educate the public, they can make an informed
decision. We must all step back and think what is best
for the Island and let the people decide."
Anna Maria Commissioner Linda Cramer said people complain
about how much money is wasted by having the three cities
and noted, "We could be a lot more effective if we
consolidated. The decision shouldnt be up to the
mayor and commissioners. It could be effectively done
by way of referendum."
Anna Maria Mayor SueLynn agreed with the structure presented
"It has to be done in phases over a period of time,"
SueLynn said. "We can agree to the structure and
begin to work towards that. This is a gigantic step to
be here talking about this."
While agreeing to the idea of studying the concept, Chappie
expressed his personal reservations.
"Im lukewarm about it," he explained.
"I keep telling myself that this could be a good
idea, but I have this lump in my stomach, and usually
your gut tells you something.
"I think of the positive things weve done in
Bradenton Beach. Its an identity thing. Were
very proud of what weve accomplished. Anybody in
this community can have a tremendous influence on what
happens in the government. I dont want to live in
Holmes Beach. I fell in love with Bradenton Beach."
Chappie provoked laughter from the other officials when
he compared the three cities to three cousins that are
all from the same family but "that doesnt necessarily
mean they want to be part of the immediate family."
Bradenton Beach Commissioner Lisa Marie Philips agreed
with Chappie but said the citizens should make the decision.
"Before we take it to the public, we have to know
it wont affect the character of each individual
city," Whitmore stressed. "Thats really
Bradenton Beach Commissioner Bill Shearon suggested seeking
advice from the Florida League of Cities and other cities
that have consolidated.
"The first thing I want to do is make sure our citizens
know the advantages of professionally managed government,"
Holmes Beach Commissioner Don Maloney said. "I plan
to do this with the help of a group of citizens who believe
with me and have pledged to help make all citizens aware
of those advantages."
He said he would work to put an unbinding referendum on
the ballot in each city.
"Its got to happen and I dont see why
we cant be the group to make it happen," Maloney
makes boat basin offer
By Pat Copeland
sun staff writer
HOLMES BEACH Robert
Greene, attorney for Reliance TideMark, has made an offer
to the city for leasing the citys portion of the
boat basin along Marina Drive.
The city owns five feet into the boat basin, including
the seawall, which holds up Marina Drive. In June 2004,
the city declared the lease in default due to TideMarks
bankruptcy action. In April the city terminated the lease
and asked the developer to make a new offer.
"As requested by the city, Reliance would propose
an increase in the annual rental from the existing $100
to $5,600," Greene said in a letter to the city.
Greene said there are 11 boat slips, which will be rented
for $14 per foot. The average boat length is 30 feet.
"Under the above assumptions, boat slip rent per
month would be $420," Greene said. "Reliance
has then allocated 20 percent of slip rent to the city
based on approximate percentage of dock within the leased
area and discounted rent by 50 percent due to the fact
that Reliance will bear all construction, maintenance
and insurance costs for the docks."
Based on the above calculations, the total rent would
be $5,544, which Greene rounded up to $5,600.
City commissioners were scheduled to take up the TideMark
issue at their meeting Tuesday, May 24. At press time,
they had not made a decision on the offer.
Commissioners had also asked Greene to provide proof that
Reliance TideMark owns the boat basin after receiving
an offer to lease the basin from another attorney. Greene
was expected to respond to that request at Tuesdays
to formalize request for bridge openings
By Pat Copeland
sun staff writer
The Island cities will
formally ask the Coast Guard for changes in the bridge
opening schedules of the Anna Maria Island and Cortez
Holmes Beach Mayor Carol Whitmore, on behalf of the four
island cities, plans to send a letter to the Coast Guard
asking for the changes.
In March, Whitmore, again on behalf of the four island
cities, asked for a meeting with the Coast Guard to discuss
a change in drawbridge openings.
Last week, the Coast Guard responded and said it was willing
to entertain a proposal regarding half-hour bridge openings
as well as no openings during rush hour.
Mike Howe, acting director of the Sarasota/Manatee Metropolitan
Planning Agency, said that following the discussion of
the Coast Guards response at last weeks Island
Transportation Planning Organization meeting, he contacted
Coast Guard Management Specialist Michael Liberum to verify
the Coast Guards concurrence with the terms of the
The terms are as follows:
Anna Maria Island Bridge Open every 30 minutes
at the top of each hour and half past each hour, seven
days a week, all year long, except for peak hours. No
opening would occur at the peak hours of 7:30 a.m. and
Cortez Bridge Open every 30 minutes at 15
minutes past and 45 minutes past each hour, seven day
a week, all year long, except for peak hours. No opening
would occur at the peak hours of 7:15 and 7:45 a.m. and
5:15 and 5:45 p.m.
Howe said the process to make the changes could take nine
months and the terms could be revised based on response
from boaters, citizens and elected officials.
shine in FCAT tests
By Tom Vaught
sun staff writer
HOLMES BEACH While
students at Anna Maria Elementary School wait for their
report cards, the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test
reports put them collectively at or near an A.
According to the scores published by the Florida Department
of Education, fifth grade students on the Island should
be well prepared for middle school next year. The fifth-graders
topped the rest of the scores in Manatee County in science
with a 339, math with a 355 and reading at 345 in mean
scores. In norm reference scoring, which adds several
other factors to the mix, the students were second in
the district in math with 673 and tied for second and
reading with 641.
Fourth grade students, who tested for reading and math,
did well in mean scores. They were tied for first in math
at 340 and tied for second in reading with 345. Their
norm reference scores placed them in fifth place for math
at 651 and in third place for reading at 654.
Third grade scores were equally impressive as compared
with the rest of the district. In math, they were tops
with 360 and in fourth place in reading at 333. Their
norm reference marks showed them in second place in math
with 656 and tied for second in reading with 641.
While the district does not compare schools in measuring
achievement, these scores show that the school's teachers
and students were successful overall. Anna Maria Elementary
Principal Kathy Hayes is studying the results and comparing
student progress from one year to another and will comment
on that later this week, she said.