Vol 6 No. 21 - February 15, 2006

 

County says Corps must move pipeline

Plan could expand business district

Real estate signs under scrutiny

Island teens facing �critical unmet needs�

Mote geared to predict red tide

Save lives, recycle fishing line

FPL embarks on long journey

Commission struggling with how to spend funds from line of credit

 

 

 

County says Corps must move pipeline

ByTom Vaught
sun staff writer

BRADENTON BEACH – After repeated failed attempts to get the Army Corps of Engineers to move the pipeline off the beach, the county finally got them on a technicality involving the last renourishment project in 2002.

"The contract for that project requires that the beach be tilled at this time as a maintenance item," said Manatee County Ecosystems Administrator Charlie Hunsicker. "The pipes will have to be moved and the contractor has the option of snaking it out of the way of the tiller or disassembling it."

The Corps has been reluctant to require the contractor, Goodloe Marine, Inc., to move the pipeline, apparently because of the expense.

Friday, Hunsicker and County Commissioner Joe McClash spent time on a conference call to Corps officials trying to convince them to force Goodloe to move the pipeline.

Unfortunately, the Corps did not have an answer for anyone at that time, but late Monday, McClash got the word.

“They will have to disassemble the pipeline and store the pipes around the street ends,” McClash said. “But, they will have to start reassembling the pipeline on May 15.”

Exactly when the pipes will be moved remained unclear at press time, but officials expect it will be fairly soon.

Hunsicker said three deadlines have been set. The contractor has to start getting the pipeline back in shape by March 15, renourishment must begin by April 1 and the whole project must be finished by June 1 at the latest.

The renourishment has been stalled since Christmas because Goodloe could not dredge sand from the Gulf during the winter high wave season. Since then, beach goers and resort owners on the Island have complained to local governments about the inconvenience of having the rusty pipes block their access to and view of the beach.

"They need some economic relief out there," McClash said Monday in reference to the Island businesses. “We’ve had reports of people checking in for a two week vacation and checking out the same day.

“Fortunately, we still have the heaviest part of the season ahead of us,” he said. “This will hopefully give them some relief.”

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Plan could expand business district

ByLaurie Krosney
sun staff writer

ANNA MARIA — After months of floundering, the planning and zoning board has finished a draft of the future land use map which includes an expansion of the business district.

"I’d like to see the ROR (Residential/Office/Retail) district expanded down Gulf Drive," said board member Fran Barford. "It would make a nice lead-in into the existing

business district, and there are already businesses there."

At one point the group seemed to be leaning toward changing all the existing commercial districts into ROR.

Planner Tony Arrant reminded board members that if they do that, they would be allowing three usable floors with a 37-foot height limit in the entire ROR district.

"That third floor makes a visual and physical impact," he said. "You do away with the protection of what’s allowed and what’s not allowed in the commercial district."

He added that most communities want to keep their commercial districts.

"Most communities have a commercial area that they cherish and protect," he said.

Board Vice Chair Doug Copeland said he thinks changing commercial land uses to ROR encourages a change to all residential usage.

With that, the board hammered out a plan for the future land use map that includes expanding the ROR district, which currently runs along Pine Avenue, to include Gulf Drive from Pine Avenue to Palmetto Avenue.

The board also will recommend that the medium density (R-2) district be eliminated.

Copeland chaired the meeting in the absence of Chairman Chris Collins. He had each board member draw out their vision of the future land use map and then guided the board to consensus.

Earlier, they worked out a consensus to recommend that existing ground level and non-conforming uses could be allowed to rebuild if they are destroyed in a natural disaster, such as a fire or hurricane.

There will be another public hearing on the map and other elements of the plan and then the p&z board will forward its work to the city commission, where a final decision will be made.

From there, the city’s comprehensive plan will be sent to Tallahassee for review. It may be adopted as is, or it may be sent back to the city for further revision.

All three Island cities are currently working on a state-mandated revision of their comprehensive plans.

A comprehensive plan is one of the most important documents a city has. In cases of conflict with the zoning and building ordinances, the comp plan trumps all else.<< Top
 

Real estate signs under scrutiny

By Laurie Krosney
sun staff writer

ANNA MARIA – Picture a street in any Island city without real estate signs. That’s what Anna Maria city commissioners are considering.

"For sale, for rent, for lease, seasonal rental, non-seasonal rental, Gulf view, bay view, pool – these are all real estate signs," City Planner Alan Garrett told commissioners at their Feb. 9 work session.

Commissioners are redrafting the city’s sign regulations, and real estate signs are coming under scrutiny.

"I took a look and on one stretch of North Shore from Coconut to North Bay – that’s eight-tenths of a mile – I counted 51 real estate signs," said Commissioner Duke Miller. "Twenty of them are for rent and they are occupied. You could see the cars from out of state. One of them had a for rent sign, call Melinda, call Evan – it gave the numbers – then it said ‘duplex’. You’d have to be deaf, dumb and blind not to see that it was a duplex. There were three numbers to call."

Regulating and limiting the size, shape and number of signs is being considered in addition to eliminating them all together.

One option would be to allow only one four-foot by four-foot sign on a single post in a single color that would have to be removed when the property is rented or sold.

"What would happen if we had no signs in R-1 or R-2 (residential) districts?" asked Mayor SueLynn. "If there were no signs, then people would go straight to the real estate companies. I’d like to see us think about that."

Garrett noted that in Siesta Key, where he has done a lot of consulting work, it’s a well-known fact that when you buy a house, you leave the real estate sign up in the yard, because you are likely to get an offer.

"On the other hand, on Cape Cod, there are no real estate signs allowed," he said.

During several meetings with members of the business community, some business owners have indicated they’d like the ordinance to allow them to have one sandwich board that would list the day’s specials. That sign would come in each night. Or else, they would be allowed to post their menus on the side of the building.

Allowing a sign on each side of the business where the building fronts on two streets is also something the business community would like.

The city’s environmental enhancement and education committee has also weighed in with some recommendations that were well received by both Garrett and the commission.

In a memo to Garrett and commissioners, EEEC members asked that the commission think about the lighting element of signage. They’d like to minimize glare, and light shining on places other than the sign. They’d like the light to point downwards illuminating only the sign and not the night sky and they’d like to see lighting that minimizes disturbance of wildlife.

The EEEC members provided commissioners with information from the Sanibel code that deals with lighting and signage.

Commissioners will continue discussing the sign ordinance in the weeks to come before making any final decisions.


 

Island teens facing �critical unmet needs�

ByCindy Lane
sun staff writer

ANNA MARIA – Ashley Hollywood is a real heartbreaker, and it’s not because of her star-quality name.

The youthful director of the Anna Maria Island Community Center teen program touched the center’s board members last week with tales of Island young people with no one to talk to and no one to watch out for them.

Well, almost no one.

"They just want to hear that they matter. They walk around thinking that nobody cares about them," said Hollywood, who proves them wrong.

A 17-year-old about to graduate from high school who can’t read is getting tutoring through the teen program.

Island teens and even younger children who are sexually active and using drugs are looking for something different, she told the somber board. One pre-teen girl is already getting bored with activities that most 20-something adults have not yet tried, she said.

"If they’re doing everything at this age, what will they be doing when they’re 20?" Hollywood asked.

The teen program offers alternative activities such as flag football, arts and crafts, fishing trips, game nights, movie and pizza nights and community service to senior citizens. Programs in the works include a kayak festival and a mentoring program with the Rotary Club.

"Teens have critical unmet needs," said Center Executive Director Pierrette Kelly, who is working to raise more funds for the Center to expand its programs for teens, children and adults. "We have a lot more to do to really meet those needs. If the issues are this serious, can we bury our heads in the sand?"

A request for funds from Manatee County Administrator Ernie Padgett left board members with the impression that the county would be more inclined to contribute generously if the three Island city governments would show a greater monetary commitment to the Center.

"I don’t think we’re getting enough from the cities," board member Stewart Moon said.

"One of our problems is we’ve been too successful," board member Don Schroder added. "They see us and say, ‘Why do they need more money?’ "

Holmes Beach Mayor Carol Whitmore suggested that to encourage more contributions from cities, the Center should provide a monthly report to city governments of how many people from each city are being served by the Center’s programs, including teenagers.

"It’s one of those things that local government should be funding," board Chairman Andy Price said.

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Mote geared to predict red tide

By Cindy Lane
sun staff writer

CITY ISLAND – It may be more imperative to spend time and money on predicting red tide than on finding its causes and cures, according to Dr. Richard Pierce, director of the Center for Eco-toxicology at Mote Marine Laboratory.

Red tide kills fish, manatees, dolphins, sea turtles and water birds, causes respiratory difficulty in susceptible people and can cause shellfish poisoning so serious that some victims require respirators to survive.

2005 was a marathon year for Karenia brevis, the local species of red tide that affected the Florida Gulf coast for 10 months. But it’s not the first – or the worst – occurrence, Pierce told an audience last week at the Monday at Mote lecture series – breakouts in 1951-52 and in 1995 lasted a full 12 months each.

But the 2005 bloom spread so far, so fast, that even if researchers had a surefire cure, there would have been no way to affordably transport it to the huge area affected by red tide, he said.

A Jan. 9, 2005 satellite photo of a 20-mile-long, 40-mile-wide swath of red tide off Hillsborough County was one of the first indicators that the microscopic algae was present last year, he said. Even if a cure existed, it would have taken 8.4 million gallons of chemical to treat the area, and 9.8 months to apply it.

"That’s why continuous monitoring is so important," he said. "We need to develop a mitigation and control technology so you can get ready for it like a hurricane."

While Mote is working with red tide detectors on mobile submarines and fixed moorings to locate, monitor and predict red tide, it’s also important to study what causes it, he said.

Many nutrients feed red tide, including nitrogen, phosphorus and carbon. Naturally-occurring organic matter decaying on the Gulf bottom and contained in runoff from swamps and rivers into the Gulf is one of the sources of nutrients, along with iron from Saharan dust storms that blow over Florida and fertilizer runoff from yards and golf courses, which is often debated as a cause.

Even without definitive evidence that fertilizers are one of the main causes of red tide, "It would make sense to reduce coastal pollution now," he said.

Another avenue of exploration is to find a cure. Clay, ozone, bleach and other substances may kill red tide, but they also affect surrounding marine life, he said. For example, clay takes red tide to the bottom, then kills bottom-dwelling animals, he said. Ozone removes red tide, but is toxic to people.

Research continues, but funds are relatively scarce, Pierce said, comparing Mote’s $3.5 million red tide budget over five years to Longboat Key’s $21 million budget for beach renourishment and NASA’s $800 million budget for photos of Pluto.

"The answer must be ecologically sound, economically feasible and logistically attainable," he said.

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Save lives, recycle fishing line

ByCindy Lane
sun staff writer

A new program for recycling fishing line could prevent marine life injuries and deaths.

The Monofilament Recovery and Recycling Program sponsored by Keep Manatee Beautiful provides bins at several places around the Island to dispose of fishing line and keep it from entangling birds and marine mammals and being ingested by marine life.

Fishing line injures and kills sea turtles, dolphins, manatees, birds, fish and whales.

Monofilament fishing line is invisible and virtually indestructible, lasting for 600 years in a marine environment before disintegrating, according to Yvette Little, operations manager for Keep Manatee Beautiful.

The recycling program collects fishing line in outdoor bins, which are emptied by volunteers who take the contents to indoor bins. Those bins are mailed to an Iowa company that melts the line into raw plastic pellets that can be made into other plastic products, including tackle boxes, spools for line and material for fish habitats.

Keep Manatee Beautiful is looking for businesses and service organizations to provide places for new bins and adopt existing ones.

For more information, call Keep Manatee Beautiful at 795-8272.


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FPL embarks on long journey

ByTom Vaught
sun staff writer

It’s a short ride from the Island to the mainland via the Anna Maria Island Bridge, but it’s a long journey when you’re going under the bay.

That’s what Florida Power and Light (FPL) is doing for a project that will replace the oldest of the Island’s four main electrical lines. In fact, the 3,400-foot-long drilling project under the bay is the longest every attempted by the power company.

According to FPL Superintendent of Contract Labor Rich Corali, they expect to finish the project within a week, if all goes well. They started drilling Feb. 4 after weeks of plotting and permit applications. The technology involved is fairly new and very accurate.

The hole is being drilled from one side of the bay to the other to a depth of 60 feet using 30-foot long sections of pipe. There are locator wires on the bridge and across the bay to keep track of where the head of the drill is at all times. The head has a sensor and is adjustable so that when a computer in a nearby trailer determines it needs to change course, it can do so. It is called a "True Tracking" system, based on a Microsoft Windows® Auto CAD system.

"By the time we get to the other side," Corali said, "we could almost pop it up inside a five-gallon jug."

As the pipe winds its way through the bay bottom, it makes small adjustments that won’t stress the pipe to get where it is going. There is a pump that sends bentonite, a clay-like substance in powder form through the hole, which hardens and makes sure it does not collapse, according to Corali. After they get to the other side, they will put a reamer around the pipe and make the hole larger until it can easily house the black pipe that will form the permanent home of the electrical cords. At that point, they will pull the wiring from the mainland to the Island.

Paul Klein is the man who guides the pipe under the sea bed and he is charged with making sure they avoid natural hazards such as rock and coral and man-made ones like anchors, nautical wreckage and other utility lines that feed the Island. One of them is cable television lines that were laid 11 years ago.

"We had to get BrightHouse out here to locate their lines in the bay," Klein said. "They cross our path several times. They don’t run in a straight line, but our new cables will. That’s the difference between technology then and now."

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Commission struggling with how to spend funds from line of credit

By Laurie Krosney
sun staff writer

ANNA MARIA – The city commission’s new $1.5 million line of credit is posing its first problem – how to spend it.

"I just want to make sure that this administration or any future administration spends any money this city borrows in a way that will be of benefit," said City Commissioner Dale Woodland.

The city has been approved for a $1.5 million line of credit to be used exclusively for capitol improvement projects. The city attorney is in the process of drafting an ordinance that will govern the withdrawal and spending of that money.

Woodland and the commission have been working on guidelines that he wants included in an ordinance that will control how the money is spent.

"This is all unnecessary," said Mayor SueLynn. "I can’t spend more than $2,500 for anything without coming to the commission for approval."

Commission Chair John Quam presented a draft of a resolution he drew up to attach to the line of credit ordinance.

"I think this covers all of our concerns," he said. "It states that we (the commission) approve all the road and storm water projects. It states that we have to do a budget amendment to spend the money."

The resolution states that the administration initiates the bid process for projects, but it reserves for the commission the right to approve contracts. The initiation of any action to draw from the line of credit must come from the commission; the money is to be in a separate account with all activity noted on a separate spreadsheet.

Any future line of credit would be governed by the same terms.
No action has been taken as yet, and the commission continues to work on the issue.
Approval of some version of the ordinance authorizing the line of credit is expected at the commission’s Feb. 23 meeting.

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