resort poised to go condo
By Cindy Lane
sun staff writer
CORTEZ Escalating property taxes and insurance
premiums have prompted the owner of Holiday Cove
RV Resort to look at alternate uses for the site,
including condominiums and a maritime museum.
Sarasota-based Federal Resort Properties has filed
a site plan with Manatee County proposing 78 condominiums
in two five-story buildings, Operations Manager
Kevin Button said.
"Its a maritime community, so architecturally
we would make it fit in," he said, adding that
county planners have not yet reviewed the proposal,
which lists a reduction in the propertys density
from 14 to 8.8 units per acre.
The sparsely-inhabited RV park, at 11900 Cortez
Road, also could serve as an alternate location
for the maritime museum now slated for the historic
schoolhouse on 119th Street, if the county would
agree to buy it, Button said.
With 600 feet of canal front, 21 new boat docks
and a boat launching ramp, the museum and its traditional
boatbuilding operation could be located there instead
of at the schoolhouse or a proposed alternative,
the Seafood Shack restaurant at the Cortez bridge.
The location is not ideal, because the boatbuilding
program focuses on sailboats, which would have to
drop their masts to go under the humpback bridge
on their way to the Intracoastal Waterway, said
Roger Allen, coordinator of the Florida Gulf Coast
Maritime Museum at Cortez, adding that he would
investigate the idea.
If the county does not approve the condo plan or
buy the property itself, the owners could sell the
112 RV sites to individual owners, converting the
property to an RV condominium, or "RV-minium"
without county approval, Button said.
opts to keep ownership
By Tom Vaught
sun staff writer
City commissioners took heed of an old adage last
Thursday "Dont give up what you
cant get back."
The commissioners were given two choices by attorney
Ricinda Perry in acquiring use of submerged lands
for the construction of a pedestrian walkway on
the south side of the restaurant and a dock for
a future water taxi, which in effect, would enlarge
the footprint of the city pier.
The first choice was exchanging the dedicated lease
from the Department of Environmental Protection
(DEP) that was given the city in 1976 for a lease
renewable in 25-year increments.
The second was to enter into a lease just for the
access walkway and dock, which would also be renewable
every 25 years.
As Perry explained, the DEP has a policy to reacquire
all submerged lands around the state, which was
the purpose of the first choice. In essence, the
city would give up its "ownership" interest
in the pier, which would place decisions on what
goes on the pier up to the discretion of the DEP
and the board of trustees that leased it to the
city. City Attorney Ralf Brookes warned that might
put a dent in the citys plans to lease out
the pier to be used as a restaurant.
"Under the current ordinance, food service
over water is now allowed," he said. "I
recommend you take option two."
The commission agreed and authorized Perry to proceed
with the paperwork to take the second option, which
would not give up the citys rights to future
development of the pier.
playground under construction
By Tom Vaught
sun staff writer
HOLMES BEACH As the heavy machinery takes
away the old school buildings, construction has
begun on the new covered pavilion and primary playground
at Anna Maria Elementary School.
The pavilion and playground are scheduled to be
completed by the first week of February, according
to Principal Kathy Hayes. The memorial plaque on
the old pavilion, which honors the husband of former
teachers aide and Holmes Beach City Councilwoman
Billie Martini, will be taken off the old structure
and installed on the new pavilion.
The primary playground for kids in kindergarten
through second grade will have a large modern play
structure, which Hayes said would carry the schools
dolphin logo in two areas. The new structure is
handicap-friendly. Hayes also said the teeter-totters
and alligator riders would be transferred from the
"The area also includes a trike path and it
will be fenced in," she said.
As the track hoe brings down the old school buildings,
it is clearing a view of the new school from Gulf
Drive. The demolition began on the west end and
is nearing the new school structure, but that hasnt
bothered the staff or students.
"I am amazed at how sound-proof the new building
is," said Hayes, whose office is in the west
area of the new building. "You can hardly hear
School Counselor Cindi Harrison said that the only
memorial plant that has not been transplanted into
a temporary container for replanting later is the
tree planted in memory of Pat Wagner, who died three
years ago. The memorial plants will be replanted
in a new Peace Garden between the auditorium and
the art building, the only two structures from the
old campus that will remain. Workers are now remodeling
the old buildings. Harrison, who oversees the memorial
plantings, said it was a joint project to get them
out of the way of the demolition crews.
"It was a real effort by the school people,
(contractor) W.G. Mills and the community,"
She also praised Mike Pierce, whose granddaughter
attends the school and former student Debby Crowe,
who now owns the Shake Pit in Bradenton, for getting
the brick fascia out of the old office. She said
they would decide whether to sell the brick as mementos
for former students and parents or use it for other
Harrison said the students have adapted well to
their new school.
"Most of them are happy," she said. "We
occasionally get a student who misses the breezeway,
but we had one kid tell us hes happy that
everyone is under one roof."
The staff and students will soon turn their attention
to testing. The Florida Comprehensive Assessment
Test (FCAT) starts the first week of February and
the full FCAT testing begins Feb. 28. Student Achievement
Tests begin after that.
Patch Program needs help
By Tom Vaught
sun staff writer
The media specialist at Anna Maria Elementary School
has asked for help from the Rotary Club of Anna
Maria Island in purchasing the Reading Patch Program
for the students.
Lynne McDonough was invited to the Rotary Clubs
monthly meeting last week along with parent Donna
Perez and her student daughter, Chelsea, to explain
McDonough asked the Rotary Club for help in raising
the money for the program. She said if they agreed,
the school would call it the Anna Maria Rotary Reader
Rotary Club President Birgit Sesterhenn told her
the club is holding a budget meeting soon and would
Chelsea Perez got up and made a pitch from the Rotarians,
drawing applause at the end of her talk.
The program would have a one-time cost of $10 per
student for all six years of each students
education at the school, according to McDonough.
She said she would like to have the Patch Program
in place by March 1, when a national program called
"Reading Across America" begins.
Each student would be given a sash at the beginning
of the program. That student would receive a patch
for each book he or she reads.
"They can even receive patches for books they
read over the summer," she told the club. "They
would get their patches when school resumes at the
end of summer."
Even kindergarten students would participate, she
said, receiving up to three patches for books read
"There is a progression of reading material
as they advance through their schooling," she
said. "Patches are given for each of 18 genres
such as art, biography, science and folk tales."
McDonough said that in addition to needing the financing,
she would appreciate help from the parents or any
interested citizen in sewing the patches.
For more information or to volunteer, call Lynne
McDonough at 708-5525, extension 233.
to negotiate on re-permitting fees
sun staff writer
The city commission has agreed to negotiate the
fees for re-permitting a stalled beachfront condominium
project, despite some concern that it does not follow
The request came from Steve Noriega, part owner
of GSR Development, regarding the Rosa Del Mar project
at 2510 Gulf Drive. Noriega said he is facing up
to $150,000 in fees for new permits.
On Oct. 4, 2005, Building Official Ed McAdam declared
the permit for the project null and void, due to
suspension of work in excess of six months. On Nov.
22, GSR asked that the fees for resubmitting an
application be waived and McAdam obtained legal
counsel when the request was denied.
On Jan. 5, GSR asked for an opportunity to negotiate
a resolution to the matter, according to McAdam,
who said in a memo to the commission that there
are three options to resolving it - an appeal to
the board of adjustment, negotiations or court.
He said GSR preferred negotiation.
"I dont understand," said Commissioner
John Shaughnessy. "How can they negotiate instead
of appealing to the board of adjustment?"
"There is no good answer for that," City
Attorney Ralf Brookes said.
"I dont like closing doors," said
Mayor John Chappie. "This is a project that
has potential for a lot of revenue to the city,
but I dont mind going with an appeal if thats
the commissions decision."
"I have nothing against Mr. Noriega,"
Shaughnessy said. "But when I read about this,
red flags popped up."
"This is a negotiation mainly on fees so that
we can have a friendlier resolution for a restart,"
Commissioner Lisa Marie Phillips said.
Commissioner Bill Shearon said he had stipulations
he wanted to place on the project before he would
agree to negotiations. They were to have counsel
present at the negotiations and to make sure GSR
pays the attorney fees, to spread out the sand that
is piled on the west side of the lot to cut down
on blowing sand and to remove an old propane tank
on the property.
McAdam said the sand and propane were code enforcement
Noriega explained why progress had stopped on the
"When I went for the first permit, the city
did not have a building official and was using Holmes
Beach officials, he said. "They found
deficiencies in the structure and I had to hire
an architect to review the plans. Thats the
After hearing commissioners concerns over
going against procedure, Noriega offered to seek
a new permit and pay full price.
"I am willing to go for a new permit, looking
at the mess where were headed," he said.
"I never asked for special favors."
The commission voted, however, to proceed with negotiations
between Noriega and McAdam, who would update them
at a later work session.
on Island seeking colorful birds
By Laurie Krosney
and Tom Vaught
sun staff writer
A business owner recently told a Manatee County
Sheriffs deputy about two apparent trappers
who came onto the property where his shop was located
and tried to take colorful Quaker parakeets from
their nests in a tree in the parking lot.
The business owner said the two men were wearing
shirts with the word "Fowl" printed on
them. He said one had a stick and the other a net
on a long handle. As the one stirred the nest, the
other put up the net to catch birds flying away.
Ed Straight, of Wildlife Rescue, a private, non-profit
organization, said it appears there is no law against
"The only way they are protected is the law
against harming them," he said. "They
are classified as exotics. The government doesnt
Sgt. John Kinney, of the Manatee County Sheriffs
Office contingency in Anna Maria, said people who
come on private property to trap the birds must
have permission from the property owner. That appears
to be the only way of preventing the trappers from
taking the parakeets from their habitat.
The parrot-sized birds, also known as monk parakeets,
depending on their color, are plentiful around the
Island. They live in colonies and build nests in
trees and on power poles. They mate year-round and
are very protective of the colony, according to
information gathered from various Internet sites.
A state wildlife official agrees with Straights
"Monk parakeets are exotics," said Florida
Wildlife Commission Spokesman Gary Morse. "They
arent protected and they arent considered
wildlife. There are federal and state laws that
protect native species and migratory birds, but
monk parakeets, which are the same bird as Quaker
parrots, are not protected by any laws."
Morse said there are a few people in the state that
capture the wild birds and sell them. Its
not illegal to capture them, but you must have a
license to sell them.
"Some people make a business of it," Morse
said. "They go around and collect the birds
and their eggs. One guy was killed last year in
Pinellas County. He went to harvest some birds from
behind a transformer on a power pole and was electrocuted."
Morse said its illegal to take the birds from
private property without the owners permission,
and its illegal to harvest the birds from
any public land federal, state or local.
"Like all exotic species, monk parakeets compete
with native species for food, water and cover,"
he said. "So in that sense, theyre detrimental
to native birds."
"The birds are apparently in demand, especially
the babies" Straight added. "They could
be worth $30 apiece."
Straight said they had a Quaker parakeet for several
years at Wildlife Rescue and it learned how to talk
and do tricks. He said both species of birds are
very intelligent and would make beautiful house
pets. Their only downfall is their loud screeching
noise, which could become annoying after a while.
One Internet site said it is possible the birds,
which apparently originated in South America, were
brought to the United States as pets and then turned
loose because of their noisy way of communication.
The birds have spread as far north and west as Colorado,
according to one web site.
urged to regulate fertilizers
By Cindy Lane
sun staff writer
A Sarasota fertilizer company owner has recommended
that the Coalition of Barrier Island Elected Officials
pass ordinances in their cities to reduce fertilizer
Sarasota County is considering the idea, St. Johns
County already has done so and other municipalities
should follow suit, Ed Rosenthal of Florikan told
the mayors of Bradenton Beach, Holmes Beach, Anna
Maria and Longboat Key last week.
Rather than waiting for scientists to prove that
nitrogen and phosphorus fertilizers cause the growth
of the microscopic algae red tide, which caused
massive marine life deaths and human respiratory
problems for most of last year, city leaders should
act now, he said.
"Whats the down side?" he said.
"We know nitrogen causes plant growth and algae
is a plant."
He said the laws should ban the use of fertilizer
on barrier islands in the summer, when heavy, frequent
rain washes most of the nutrients into the water.
Golf courses on or off islands should not be fertilized
during the summer for the same reason, he added.
The laws should include limiting fertilization to
once or twice a year, and only with fertilizer containing
a certain percentage of nitrogen and phosphorus
or less, he said.
"Environmental legislation should force the
fertilizer industry to be part of the solution,"
Rosenthal said, adding that Florikan produces a
controlled-release fertilizer that uses half the
typical amount of nitrogen.
Weed and feed products should be outlawed altogether,
he said, because if the weed killer doesnt
kill the weeds completely, the fertilizer component
makes them grow, defeating the products purpose.
Bradenton Beach Mayor John Chappie said that Rosenthals
ideas sounded reasonable to him, adding that he
does not use fertilizer in his landscaping business.
Longboat Key Mayor Ron Johnson said that research
is still necessary to improve the ability to detect
red tides early, when new technologies to kill it
- such as clay and ozone - are still viable.