cities are too much for church
By Pat Copeland
sun staff writer
Church leaders have written to Holmes Beach
Mayor Carol Whitmore asking that the church,
which straddles the line between Anna Maria
and Holmes Beach, be in one of the two cities.
"I spoke to someone from the church and
he said they want to annex into Holmes Beach,"
Whitmore said. "I have no problem with
it. We would welcome them. Theres no
benefit to us because churches are tax free,
but it would make it cleaner for them."
However, Anna Maria Mayor SueLynn may not
be so quick to give up the church property.
"The majority of the property is in Anna
Maria," SueLynn pointed out. "If
it became part of Holmes Beach, it would cut
a jigsaw puzzle out of the southern end of
the city. A logical boundary would be 84th
"It would create the same problems for
the city that it does for the church, Im
not supportive of that, but I support them
coming into the city."
According to a letter from Rev. Dale Lawson
to Whitmore, being in two cities creates a
number of issues for the church including:
Emergency and safety: Which police
agency will respond to calls?
Zoning and permitting: If church leaders
want to remodel or build, which citys
Mail and delivery: The churchs
mailing address is in Anna Maria, but its
physical address is in Holmes Beach, which
creates problems ordering and receiving parcels.
Services: Each city has separate franchise
agreements with service providers such as
Waste Management and Bright House. Which one
governs the church?
Representation: Church leaders want
to develop a strong relationship with city
leaders and having to deal with two cities
makes it more difficult.
"We are sure that you will agree that
these issues can be resolved by bringing our
church property under one jurisdiction,"
Lawson said. "We understand that this
will require a cooperative effort between
the two cities. It will benefit all parties
involved to establish a plan whereby this
can be accomplished in an orderly fashion."
"I gave it to our city attorney to see
what needs to be done," Whitmore said.
"I will meet with them when we have all
the information. We want to do it right."
SueLynn said she also has instructed City
Attorney Jim Dye to research the matter, and
"he said it would be a long, drawn-out
Now is the perfect time to straighten out
the problems, SueLynn said, because both cities
are revising their comprehensive plans.
puts condo plan on hold
By Tom Vaught
sun staff writer
It was a scene from "Celebrity
Poker" on Tuesday, April 26, as Building
Official Ed McAdam at a planning and zoning
hearing addressed plans by resort owner Bill
Romberger to convert Tropic Isle into a condominium.
The ante was the building setback, and the
jackpot was a 12-foot beach access. As negotiations
stalled, both sides folded and agreed to deal
another hand on May 26.
The project would be called Osprey, and Romberger
came to the city asking for approval of a
major development site plan as a planned development.
The issue was setback requirements on the
odd-shaped property, which measures slightly
more than an acre of land at the "S"
curve on Gulf Drive. Romberger also owns land
across the street on the beach.
Romberger, through his architect and cousin
Scott Prisco, is requesting a large building
over parking with the entrance and exit off
Avenue C, instead of Gulf Drive. Calling that
the front of the property, he wants to put
the required 25-foot setback there with required
10-foot setbacks along the other sides of
Romberger claims a variance granted when the
resort was remodeled in 1999 showed that the
city considered Avenue C as the main road
servicing the property, but McAdam said under
city ordinance, Gulf Drive should be the main
road. They did not reach agreement on that
point and decided to table the issue until
the board meets again at 6 p.m. on Thursday,
Because the project was proposed as a planned
development, there is room for negotiation,
according to both sides. McAdam indicated
the applicants might be able to trade a 12-foot
wide strip of land allowing beach access across
the street for some reconsideration of the
setback, but Romberger was not ready to negotiate
on that point.
Board member Ernest Clay repeatedly praised
the project, but voiced concern over several
points including the restricted line-of-sight
at the intersection of 22nd Street and Gulf
Drive, along the northern edge of the project,
which is further restricted by the "S"
curve. He also had a problem with the plan,
which showed no room for a bike path or sidewalk
along Gulf Drive.
When question about plans for developing the
beachfront property or purchasing the small
lot to the south for development, Romberger
answered "Not at this time."
Clay voiced a desire to get written promises
not to develop either property.
After nearly two hours of discussion, clay
recommended they get an attorney's opinion
on which street is the primary one to the
"The interpretation of the code is done
by the building official," McAdam answered.
"My interpretation is that Gulf Drive
is the primary street in this case."
Board member Rick Bisio recommended they make
a list of what they want and table the project.
The list included whether they have to abide
by a previous decision (the earlier variance)
in determining the primary street, if the
beachfront property is developable and whether
they can impose 20-foot setbacks all around
as opposed to 25 feel in front and 10 feet
on the side.
They'll shuffle the deck and try to play out
the game on May 26.
red tide killed manatees
sun staff writer
have discovered biochemical evidence that
52 manatees that died this year in southwest
Florida waters were killed by red tide.
Researchers at Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota
have found a biomarker that confirms that
the manatees were exposed to red tide, said
Elsa Haubold, program administrator for marine
mammal research at the Fish and Wildlife Research
Institute, which is funding the project.
The biomarker is a set of chemicals found
in the tissue samples of dead manatees. Its
presence indicates a high likelihood that
red tide killed the manatees, she said, adding
that other factors also could have played
a part, including overexposure to cold water.
Red tide is a naturally occurring organism
called Karenia brevis that blooms excessively
when nutrients are plentiful. It is poisonous
to manatees when they ingest the red tide
that settles on the underwater plants they
It also is toxic to fish and to birds and
marine mammals that feed on fish. The researchers
plan to examine dolphin tissue next for a
similar biomarker, Haubold said.
The biomarker discovery may affect the Florida
Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commissions
forthcoming evaluation of whether manatees
will stay on the states endangered species
list, she said.
A group of recreational boaters called the
Coastal Conservation Association has petitioned
the commission to lower the manatees
endangered status. Last month, the commission
changed its criteria for determining whether
manatees and other endangered species will
remain on the list.
Environmental groups including the Save the
Manatee Club are concerned that the new criteria
will cause manatees to lose protection and
be reclassified to less-protected status such
as "threatened" or "species
of special concern."
The Save the Manatee Club estimates that only
2,500 manatees remain in Florida waters. The
commission estimates at least 3,142.
This year is the third worst year for red
tide-related manatee deaths since 1996, when
151 died, and 2003, when 96 died, according
to the Fish and Wildlife Research Institute.
Three of this years 52 manatee deaths
were in the manatees namesake county
off Longboat Key, Terra Ceia and Palmetto.
bid opening this week
By Tom Vaught
sun staff writer
The Army Corps of Engineers re-established
its deadline for bids for the Islands
beach renourishment project to Wednesday,
May 4, according to project director Charles
"We will open the bids on May 4,"
he said. "Once we open them, we will
look for the lowest bid, as long as it is
within the cost projections we have, and we
could award the job as early as May 11.
Stevens said once they award the contract
and the papers are signed, they will give
the contractor the go-ahead to start the project.
The Corps recommended renourishing the Island's
beaches following last year's active hurricane
season that took away more of the beaches
than normal. The beach was last renourished
in 2002, but the storms last year wore them
down to the point where they were ahead of
the projected rate of erosion, which would
have shortened the life of the beach.
The Corps came to the county to recommend
the project and the Federal Emergency Management
Agency will pay the entire cost.
The project will cover the entire length of
the 2002 renourishment, but will not build
out the beach as far as that project. In 2002,
1.2 million cubic yards of sand were brought
onshore, but this project will only produce
400,000 cubic yards.
Stevens said the project could start as early
as June, and it is projected to last only
about 10 days, after the equipment arrives.
There are 14 other emergency renourishment
projects in Florida this summer.
show up for Regina dedication
By Tom Vaught
sun staff writer
The Friends of the Regina made quite
a few more friends last Saturday morning at
the BeachHouse restaurant as they gathered
to dedicate the shipwreck that has become
the state's 10th underwater archeological
Several dozen people, including all three
Island mayors, several city commissioners
and Manatee County Commissioner Jane von Hahmann,
attended the dedication of the molasses barge
that sank in a storm about 100 yards off Bradenton
Beach in 1940. It has since become a popular
spot for scuba divers.
Pete and Lorraine Athas, owners of Sea Trek
Divers located a stone's throw from the wreckage,
were honored for their work in getting the
state designation, which comes from the Florida
Department of State's Division of Archeological
Resource. The members of the department's
underwater archeological department, Dr. Roger
Smith, Della Scott and Jennifer McKinnon,
who dived the wreck site and helped get the
designation, were there and they spoke of
the community effort involved.
"This is one of the best turnouts I've
ever seen for a dedication," said Scott.
"These preserves could never happen without
Scott praised the local divers who helped
form the Friends of the Regina to promote
the designation, as well as Clayton and Pauline
Adams, who gave first-hand knowledge of the
wreck. Clayton Adams was one of the Bradenton
Beach residents who helped save all but one
of the crew members of the barge as it floundered
on a sandbar during a violent storm.
The police dive boats from Bradenton Beach
and Holmes Beach appeared over the wreck site
and a Coast Guard boat cruised near the BeachHouse
during the ceremony. Divers from Friends of
the Regina took a bronze plaque out to the
site after the dedication to attach to a concrete
monument base that had already been dropped
near the wreckage.
After the ceremony, Pete Athas said he was
"We had a great turnout and the 'social
registry' included the Island mayors and elected
officials, as well as County Commissioner
Jane von Hahmann," he said.
"This just shows how great the Island
community is," said Lorraine Athas.
surcharge for stormwater management
at least for next year
sun staff writer
Property owners in the city will not
be paying any additional money for the management
of stormwater run off at least until
City commissioners have agreed to use tax
dollars to pay for drainage improvements.
"The city gets more money back from the
ad valorem taxes," said Commissioner
Carol Ann Magill at a special stormwater meeting
"I've talked to Diane (Deputy Clerk Diane
Percycoe) and she said we can set aside money
for drainage and put it in a special line
item that can't be touched for any other reason."
With property values raising on the Island,
the amount of money collected in taxes increases
each year without any increase in the millage
rate. It's this money that Magill was proposing
be set aside in the special drainage account.
Commissioners estimated that there would be
at least $200,000 in additional revenue for
the city in the coming fiscal year, and they
agreed unanimously to set aside that amount
to pay for two stormwater projects.
There was unanimous consensus among the commissioners
present to use the additional ad valorem monies.
Commissioner Linda Cramer was absent from
They also agreed to have Steve Minnis come
from the Southwest Water Manage-ment District
to talk to them about grants available to
the city. There was agreement that the city
will pursue grants.
Commissioners had been working to set a fee
for each property in the city. That money
would be used for drainage and stormwater,
but they would have had to have an ordinance
completed and on the books by June
which was putting them under a time constraint
that they said they were finding difficult.
The fee would have been roughly $45 for a
single-family residential dwelling.
Commissioner Dale Woodland and resident Chris
Collins have been working on a plan for the
utility tax for months, but both signed onto
the Magill proposal and agreed that they would
continue to pursue the tax for next year.
Both Holmes Beach and Bradenton Beach already
have stormwater surcharges in place.
group gets help from local restaurateur
sun staff writer
A request for
support sending the cast of the play "Metamorphoses"
to the national community theater competition
has resulted in a generous gift from Beach
Bistro owner Sean Murphy.
That's according to Anna Maria resident and
former City Commissioner Tom Aposporos, a
cast member in "Metamorphoses,"
which took first place in Florida Theater
Conference competition, then won again as
Florida's entry in the Southern Theater Conference
competition in North Carolina.
The cast and Manatee Players are now finding
themselves with the pleasant but difficult
dilemma of raising $25,000 to send the 13-member
cast, eight-member crew and many sets to the
National Theater Conference competition in
Michigan in June.
"All of this is a first," Aposporos
said. "No local theater company has ever
sent a play to the regional competition, and
also, no local play has ever competed at the
Theoretically, according to Aposporos, the
company could be going on to international
competition, but that's too far in the future
to think about, and no one's been able to
get specific information about the international
So here's the cast, crew and set of this award-winning
play poised to travel to the nationals in
June. How to pay for this has become an urgent
"We've been approaching business people
and individuals all over the area, but it's
an uphill battle," Aposporos said. "Our
need for funds for travel happens to coincide
with the Manatee Players fund raising efforts
for a new Riverfront Theater, so they can't
help a lot."
Enter Sean Murphy
"I approached Sean Murphy for a donation,
actually, and he said he reserves his monetary
donations for things that involve children,"
Aposporos said. "What he did propose
is a dinner for four at Mangrove Grill and
dinner for four at Beach Bistro."
Both are award-winning restaurants. Beach
Bistro is Zagat-rated and well known nationally.
Aposporos and his theater colleagues talked
about what to do with the donation, and they
decided to hold a raffle. They also threw
in a season ticket to the Manatee Players
for each winner.
How to enter
To become eligible to win, participants must
a $100 donation to Manatee Players. Make a
check out to that organization and write "Metamorphoses"
on the memo line.
Drop the check off at The Sun offices in Island
Sun Plaza, 202 Palm Ave., Anna Maria, or call
Aposporos at 778-8456 for a ticket. The group
is selling 100 tickets, which will raise $10,000.
"That's pretty good odds," Aposporos
noted. "You have one chance in 50 of
winning one of the dinners. So you might get
dinner for four at either restaurant
and we know that's worth well over $100. You
also get to take the $100 off your taxes as
a charitable donation.
How to see the play
Before the company goes off to Michigan for
the national competition, local theater buffs
will have one more chance to see "Metamorphoses."
"The play, written by Mary Zimmerman
in 2001, is a compilation of updated versions
of ancient myths by Greek storyteller Ovid
and other Greek and Roman writers," wrote
Bradenton Herald reviewer Donna Hartman.
The play was seen on Broadway and won a Tony
Award in 2002.
There will be performances June 9, 10 and
11 at Riverfront Theater, 102 Old Main St.
in downtown Bradenton.
Tickets are $10 each for the June 9 and 10
performances at 8 p.m. and $15 for the June
11 performance at 2 p.m. which will be followed
by a reception and the drawing for the dinners.
The winners of the raffle don't have to be
present at the reception to win.
To make your reservations to see "Metamorphoses"
before the trip to the national competition,
call the Riverfront Theater at 748-5875.
to make boat basin offer
By Pat Copeland
sun staff writer
Commissioners instructed Bob Green,
attorney for TideMark, to return to them on
May 24 with a proposal 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.
The lease was to be in effect for 10 years
at $100 per year.
Commissioner Roger Lutz questioned whether
TideMark owns the basin and asked for evidence
"In December, property was sold by the
debtor in bankruptcy to a company called Reliance
TideMark LLC," Green explained. "They
are proceeding with the TideMark project expeditiously.
They have their construction financing.
"They do own the basin. The reason is
that the basin was artificially created. It
was never state owned land. It is privately
owned. The city owns five feet out from the
seawall cap, and thats what the lease
Green said Reliance TideMark has no proposal
but is willing to return with one. He said
the company is open to reasonable negotiation
with the city.
He also pointed out that the TideMark owners
have not asked the city to vacate any land
in the area, and they would be willing to
participate in an improvement project there.
Mayor Carol Whitmore asked if TideMark could
proceed with its plans for the basin if the
city backs out of the lease.
"A dock/pier could be built (parallel
to the seawall)," Green replied.
Green said the company plans to close on the
construction loan within 30 days, and the
first phase of the project is improving the
Tom provides timely tips
sun staff writer
When we start to see Turtle Watch volunteers
walking the beach at dawn each day, it's an
annual sighting that lets Island residents
know that summer's close.
It's also the beginning of sea turtle nesting
season, which officially began on May 1.
There's an Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch
volunteer Tom Van Ness, fondly called Turtle
Tom, who has been volunteering for a dozen
years now. He's the coordinator for the area
near Coquina Park.
"I can't wait for the season," Van
Ness said. "Every year, I find myself
pacing around just waiting for the season
to begin. And then it's here, and we all get
into it. I just love it."
The Cortez resident said what he likes most
is the people.
"It's a chance to meet people from all
over the world. I have folks from England
and Germany calling me to find out if the
season has started yet. They come and sit
with me in the evenings waiting to see if
the nest will hatch that night."
Van Ness said it's also a chance for him to
help people learn about the endangered green
turtles and threatened loggerheads that lay
their eggs on Island beaches.
"People want to know more," he said.
"They want to help."
What makes this outgoing man give so much
to the nesting turtles and to the people who
want to learn more?
"I just love it," Van Ness said.
"I really get more than I give. It just
makes me feel good to be helping. I don't
know. I guess it's a way for me to give back
for all the blessings I have in my life."
Van Ness said he started volunteering the
same year Suzi Fox took over as director of
"No one had even heard of us," he
recalled. "I can remember when I'd go
around to the businesses up and down Cortez
Road, and ask them for donations or stakes
or buckets. They'd say, 'You mean we have
sea turtles that nest on the Island? I've
lived here all my life and I never knew that!'"
Van Ness said he's enjoyed watching the organization
grow to the more than 10 volunteers who help
out today. He's also enjoyed being part of
saving the species.
"Each turtle matters," he said,
anxious to make sure everyone understands
this essential fact. "Only about one
in a thousand hatchlings makes it to adulthood,
so we want to give each mom and each baby
every chance we can.
Turtle Tom the midwife
He recalled a time when he thought he was
going to lose an entire nest.
"It was in front of the Moose Club there
in Bradenton Beach," Van Ness said.
"The mom had laid the nest up high on
the beach under an Australian pine. When it
came time to hatch, only two hatchlings emerged.
I knew there was something wrong. I waited
and I waited. Finally, I started pushing the
sand away. All the rest of the babies were
tangled up in the small roots of the tree.
I had to cut the roots away. I tell you, it
was like I was performing surgery."
He added with the look of a fond parent that
all the "little guys" made it.
Seeing the turtles lay their eggs and monitoring
the nests for the approximately 65 days the
eggs take to hatch and ultimately seeing the
hatchlings scramble to the sea is the greatest
feeling anyone can imagine, according to Van
Turtle Tom's timely tips
Last year, Turtle Tom was named the Sadie
award recipient. It's an honor named for Sadie,
a loggerhead who was stranded and injured
on the Island, rehabilitated at Mote Marine
Laboratory and successfully released into
the wild. It's given each year to a volunteer
who has advanced the protection of marine
turtles on Anna Maria Island.
This year, in addition to helping the turtles,
Turtle Tom is going to be helping the rest
of us understand what we can do with very
little effort to help insure the survival
of marine turtles.
"The turtles have survived for thousands
of years, but now they are in danger"
Tom said. "We people are pushing them
to the brink of extinction."
Van Ness noted that when he sees a child playing
joyfully on the beach with a balloon, he sees
a grave danger to a sea turtle.
"Those balloons pop and get left behind.
They get into the water. The turtles think
it's food, and when they swallow it, they
can die. There weren't balloons around for
those thousands of years. The things we are
doing are killing the turtles."
You can look for Turtle Tom and his volunteers
on the beach, and start looking for Turtle
Tom's timely tips in the Sun each week during
nesting season to learn the simple things
we can all do to help.
vacation request must be re-advertised
By Pat Copeland
sun staff writer
A public hearing on a request to vacate
an 8-foot strip of 52nd Street must be re-advertised
due to an error in the original advertisement.
Moreland Marine Development Corporation, which
is developing condominiums on the former Holmes
Beach Marina property, made the request. The
request would allow the company to build 10
units instead of nine.
The city has built a stormwater retention
pond on a portion of 52nd Street fronting
the property. There is a chain link fence
separating the property from the pond.
Moreland Marine has offered to landscape the
drainage basin and donate $20,000 to the city,
if it grants the request.
City Attorney Patricia Petruff said despite
the advertising error, staff could make a
report on the request and members of the public
who were there to comment could do so.
"I think an argument can be made that
people understood where it was because you
have citizens here," Petruff explained.
"There were other types of notice. Its
up to the city commission."
Mayor Carol Whitmore objected because in a
previous case with similar circumstances,
the city was sued.
Commissioner Don Maloney agreed and noted,
"There are some people not here because
they didnt know what we were going to
Commissioner Roger Lutz suggested that any
citizens who wished to comment could do so
during public comment at the end of the meeting.
In his staff report, Assistant Public Works
Supervisor Bill Saunders told commissioners
that he is concerned about the location of
the fence because "it is very close to
the property line. Ive seen no proposal
to move the fence or increase the fill dirt
to bring it out and if they do, will it affect
the volume requirements of the drainage area?
If you decide to vacate it, can the fence
stay where it is?"
During public comment, Tom McGannon, representing
three homeowners on Peacock Lane whose back
yards abut 52nd Street, said, "We do
not oppose this vacation. We would like to
see the developer be required to install and
maintain an attractive fence and entry-way."
McGannon asked the city to vacate the 8-foot
strip on their side of the street to Peacock
Lane residents. He said vacating it would
relieve the public works department from having
to maintain it and would place the area on
the tax roll.
Attorney Mark Barnebey, representing Moreland
Marine, said the company would work with residents
on beautifying the area.
Starter car 17th at Lakeland
The Geoff Wall/D
Coy Ducks car owned by Island Starter finished
17th last weekend after a rough start in the
USA Internationals at the Lakeland International
Speedway. According to owner Bill Carlbert,
the driver - his son, Billy Carlbert Jr. -
experienced handling problems during the race
and had to back off but moved back up to 17th
place in the field of 34 vehicles. Island
Starter will have its car and pickup truck
in the Florida Mini-Stock Challenge at DeSoto
Speedway on Saturday, May 14, beginning at