Vol 6 No. 18 - January 25, 2006


Reaction swift from city officials

RV resort poised to go condo

City opts to keep ownership

Pavilion, playground under construction

Reading Patch Program needs help

City to negotiate on re-permitting fees

Trappers on Island seeking colorful birds

Mayors urged to regulate fertilizers




Reaction swift from city officials

ByTom Vaught
sun staff writer

BRADENTON BEACH – A statement by Holmes Beach City Commissioner Roger Lutz pertaining to the mechanics of combining at least two of the Island’s three cities drew a heated response at a city commission meeting in Bradenton Beach.

Lutz’s statement, as published in The Sun last week, pertained to cutting down the number of employees in each city, if there was a consolidation.

"I don’t know why anybody would make such a statement,” said Mayor John Chappie. "Heads are not going to roll; people are not going to be fired. This is Bradenton Beach and that’s Holmes Beach."

In the story, Lutz was quoted as saying he would begin talking with department heads in his city and Bradenton Beach should do the same.

"I would say to the chief of police, ‘If we combined your department with the Bradenton Beach Police Department, can we get rid of anybody, can we get rid of some cars, can we have a couple less shotguns and radios?’"

The issue came up because the commission was asked to approve Chappie entering into negotiations with Holmes Beach Mayor Carol Whitmore about consolidating at least the two cities. The city of Anna Maria did not place a referendum on its last ballot asking if its residents wanted to explore consolidation.

"I’m not sure about consolidation," Chappie said. "We have a feeling of community in Bradenton Beach and so does Holmes Beach and it’s strong in Anna Maria."
Chappie said combining cities should not be for one reason.

"Everyone is focusing on money, money money," he said. "Well, it’s not all about money."
The commission gave a consensus approval to let Chappie negotiate with Whitmore.

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RV 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.

"It’s 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 property’s 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.

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City opts to keep ownership

By Tom Vaught
sun staff writer

BRADENTON BEACH – City commissioners took heed of an old adage last Thursday – "Don’t give up what you can’t 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 city’s 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 city’s rights to future development of the pier.


Pavilion, 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 teacher’s 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 school’s 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 old playground.

"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 hasn’t 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 them outside."

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 said.

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 fundraising projects.

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 he’s 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.

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Reading Patch Program needs help

By Tom Vaught
sun staff writer

HOLMES BEACH – 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 Club’s monthly meeting last week along with parent Donna Perez and her student daughter, Chelsea, to explain the program.
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 Patch Program.
Rotary Club President Birgit Sesterhenn told her the club is holding a budget meeting soon and would decide then.

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 student’s 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 to them.

"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.

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City to negotiate on re-permitting fees

ByTom Vaught
sun staff writer

BRADENTON BEACH – 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 procedure.

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 don’t 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 don’t like closing doors," said Mayor John Chappie. "This is a project that has potential for a lot of revenue to the city, but I don’t mind going with an appeal if that’s the commission’s 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 matters.

Noriega explained why progress had stopped on the project.

"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. That’s the time frame."

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 we’re 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.

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Trappers on Island seeking colorful birds

By Laurie Krosney and Tom Vaught
sun staff writer

ANNA MARIA – A business owner recently told a Manatee County Sheriff’s 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 trapping them.

"The only way they are protected is the law against harming them," he said. "They are classified as exotics. The government doesn’t want them."

Sgt. John Kinney, of the Manatee County Sheriff’s 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 Straight’s statements.

"Monk parakeets are exotics," said Florida Wildlife Commission Spokesman Gary Morse. "They aren’t protected and they aren’t 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. It’s 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 it’s illegal to take the birds from private property without the owner’s permission, and it’s 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, they’re 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.

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Mayors urged to regulate fertilizers

By Cindy Lane
sun staff writer

BRADENTON BEACH – A Sarasota fertilizer company owner has recommended that the Coalition of Barrier Island Elected Officials pass ordinances in their cities to reduce fertilizer use.

Sarasota County is considering the idea, St. John’s 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.
"What’s 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 doesn’t kill the weeds completely, the fertilizer component makes them grow, defeating the product’s purpose.

Bradenton Beach Mayor John Chappie said that Rosenthal’s 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.

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