plan presents two options
sun staff writer
HOLMES BEACH Do you want the Ford or the Cadillac?
Harry Hayes, of the University of Georgia, asked Island
mayors regarding their query on a study to merge the three
In February, the mayors consulted Hayes, who is with the
Carl Vinson Institute of Government at the university,
and last week he offered two alternatives. The first,
an in-depth study, would be very costly and take a year
, he said. The second would be what he called a macro-level
study of the key issues.
"The Vinson institute will identify options for a
governance change (or no change) that is generally supported
by a broad scan of the local, state and national environment,"
Hayes explained. "While the study will not provide
a specific recommendation for or against merger, it will
provide a road map for understanding the ways in which
a merger of the three government on Anna Maria Island
will either be easier or harder and more or less beneficial
than might be the case in an average community."
The macro-level study would include interviews and group
discussions with department heads in the three cities,
interviews with county government officials, focus group
sessions with community leaders and an analysis of existing
documents including comprehensive plans, service delivery
agreements, revenue distributions, budgets and performance
Hayes said the study would take five months at a cost
of $19,000 to $25,000 plus travel expenses. If the mayors
agree to the study proposal, Hayes said the university
would provide a formal proposal with an exact cost. He
said it would take two weeks for the university to review
it and have it back to Island officials.
He said once the study is complete, he would provide a
briefing on the results at a joint meeting of elected
and appointed officials..<<
seeks magistrate system
sun staff writer
ANNA MARIA Mayor SueLynn says she wants to have
a magistrate hear variance requests and give a ruling
on whether or not they should be allowed.
Currently, if someone wants a variance to a setback requirement
they appear before the planning and zoning board, which
hears the case, makes a recommendation and passes the
request to the city commission. The city commission makes
the final decision on the request.
If the applicant wants to appeal the commission decision,
they can go on to the circuit court where a judge will
hear the case.
The mayor told city commissioners late last month that
she wants them to be thinking about using a magistrate
to hear cases.
"This is just a heads up," she said. "Im
going to be coming to you at some point in the future
and asking you to reduce the P&Z Board from seven
members to five and asking that we appoint a magistrate
to hear variance cases."
The mayor didnt elaborate on her idea, and no commissioners
raised any questions at that time.
SueLynn also approached two members of the P&Z Board
as they sat on the dais waiting for a meeting to discuss
the comprehensive plan to begin. She told Vice Chairman
Doug Copeland and board member Frank Pytel that she is
going to ask the commission to reduce the board to five
members and to assign variance cases to a magistrate.
In Florida, a magistrate must be a member in good standing
with the Florida Bar Association. Several counties and
municipalities in this area use some form of the magistrate
or special master system including Manatee County.
"Its a system thats been in place for
years here in Manatee County," said Robert Pederson,
community planning administrator with the county. "We
dont get many complaints, just the occasional person
who was turned down."
Pederson said staff handles requests to the setback requirements
of less than one foot. When the request is greater than
one foot, it goes to a hearing officer who is usually
an attorney, but can be a certified planner with substantial
"Its common in the profession for planners
to hear variance requests," he said. "Usually
its an attorney, but planners with the right background
can be assigned, too."
Last year, Holmes Beach considered using hearing officers
to hear variance requests. They never adopted the idea
because they didnt want to give up local control.
"The commission looked at all the advantages and
disadvantages," said City Treasurer Rick Ashley.
"We never went very far with it, because the commission
wasnt interested in it."
The city looked at a list of advantages and disadvantages
prepared by their planner, Bill Brisson.
Brisson said the main advantage to using a local board
is that it retains the decision-making authority among
local residents who are familiar with the characteristics
of the community and its unique problems.
Disadvantages with local boards are that members can be
swayed by emotional appeals; members must make decisions
that may affect their neighbors, the board has to be comprised
of qualified and interested citizens and staff must cooperate
and prepare for the meetings. Additionally, sometimes
meetings must be postponed for lack of a quorum resulting
from a conflict of interest.
Brisson told members of the Holmes Beach planning board
that a professional makes professional and timely decisions,
ensuring fairness and consistency. He said there is improved
compliance with legal requirements, reduced liability
and a professional is familiar with the comprehensive
plan and development regulations.
Disadvantages, according to Brisson, include the cost
of hiring a hearing officer and the lack of accountability
to voters. Charging the applicant for the officers
fee could offset the cost, he said.
At this point, Anna Maria commissioners have had no discussion;
theyve seen no recommendations. Theyve merely
been given a heads up by the mayor who says shell
be coming to them at some time in the future with the
idea of having a magistrate hear variance requests.
The mayor was out of town and could not be reached for
Pat�s parade set for March 19
The question is, "Would St. Patrick walk a mile with
The annual Beach Bistro St. Patricks Day Parade
happens at 4 p.m. on Sunday, March 19. Parade participants
will assemble behind Holmes Beach City Hall along Flotilla
Drive at 2 p.m. and then head north on Marina Drive and
Palm Drive to the corner of Gulf Drive and Palm Drive,
near Haleys Motel.
"The parade will be shortened this year, but enriched
by even more bands and musicians, said Beach Bistro owner
Sean Murphy. "The parade is a walking parade and
the shorter distance will be easier on the marching bands."
Murphy said the route would only tie up traffic along
one of the two north and south main roads, which will
leave the other road for cars and trucks.
"We also hope the shorter route will encourage more
walkers and cyclists," Murphy added. "We are
adding a Best Leprechaun costume contest for
the kids this year."
Last years attempt to get an elephant for the parade
was a bust, but Murphy hopes to have a four-legged surprise
"There was some confusion last year about the presence
of a metaphysical camel," he said. "We had originally
booked an elephant, but there was an elephant accident
in north Florida and elephants became real scarce. Then
we booked two camels who were apparently visible only
to those Irish visionaries who had flasks."
Murphy said he is certain he can deliver a camel this
year in less mystical form.
Parade participants dont have to sign up, just show
up at city hall at 2 p.m. on Sunday, March 19. For those
with questions, call the Beach Bistro at 6778-6444..<<
to buy second house
sun staff writer
After finding itself penned in by high land prices and
a growing inventory, the city of Bradenton Beach is looking
to purchase more land for itself.
After agreeing to purchase a house owned by Robert Bodell
directly behind the public works building last month,
Bradenton Beach Mayor John Chappie soon found out that
the small cottage next door was available for less money.
At last Thursdays city commission meeting, Chappie
introduced a last-minute packet of information on the
"I think this is an opportunity," Chappie said.
"It abuts the Bodell property and (project/program
director) Dottie (Poindexter) has already located some
possible grant money from a preservation source."
The city is taking money from its Community Redevelopment
Agency tax to purchase the Bodell house for $400,000 and
will be required to keep the property open to the public
because of that. Chappie said he would like to see the
city use general fund money to purchase this latest house,
located at 304 Church Ave., from Gerald R. Baker for $310,000.
Construction of the 1-bedroom, 1-bath cottage with an
unattached garage was started in 1947 and finished in
1951, and Chappie said he would like to see the city fix
up the house and use it for office space for Poindexter
and possibly Public Works Assistant Char Patterson.
"The Bodell property will essentially be a tear-down
and well use the land for parking," he said.
"I think the Baker house would make a nice restoration
"The building is in real good shape," said Building
Official Ed McAdam. "Additional piers to support
the structure were added when they put in the porch."
Chappie noted the property is located near a walkway that
runs from Bridge Street to the other side of the Cortez
Bridge. He said the property would be a good place for
a kiosk to distribute information on the Waterfronts Florida
program or the wreck of the Regina, which is a state underwater
archeological site. He urged the commissioners to approve
paying for the house with general funds whether they get
the grant or not.
Commissioner Bill Shearon disagreed, saying the two purchases
amount to a lot of money.
"If we agree on this now, we will be spending three-quarters
of a million dollars with no public input," he said.
"I agree with Commissioner Shearon a lot," Commissioner
Janie Robertson said. "If we agree (to let the mayor
negotiate for the house), could we promise we will discuss
this? We need some public input so the public knows why
we are purchasing this."
Commissioner Lisa Marie Phillips said she thinks they
should buy the second property.
"It makes me feel like were doing what our
visioning wants," she said, "to restore and
Commissioner John Shaughnessy said he supports the purchase
because the public works department is working out of
The commission agreed to authorize Chappie to negotiate
on the house for no more than $310,000 after scheduling
a work session later to give time for public input..<<
offers fine arts, food
By Cindy Lane
sun staff writer
HOLMES BEACH Springfest,
the 18th Annual Festival of Fine Arts and Fine Crafts,
is scheduled for March 11-12 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at
Holmes Beach City Hall park.
About 100 artists and craftspeople are expected to display
their work, accompanied by continuous live music.
On Saturday, The Anna Maria String Band will perform from
10 a.m. - 1 p.m., the Rizzo Family Band will play from
1-2 p.m. and the Gumbo Boogie Band will perform from 2-5
p.m. On Sunday, The Anna Maria String Band is scheduled
from 10 a.m. - noon, the Gumbo Boogie Band will play from
noon - 3 p.m., the Rizzo Family Band will perform from
3-4 p.m. and Howie Banfield will perform from 4-5 p.m.
Other attractions include a food court featuring food
by Ollies Shrimp Shack, of Clearwater, and displays
by community organizations. Admission and parking are
A raffle of art work donated by festival exhibitors will
benefit the Anna Maria Island Art Leagues Scholarship
Fund, which provides classes for adults and children.
Springfest and its counterpart, Winterfest are the primary
fundraisers for the Art League, which offers classes and
art exhibits at its gallery at 5312 Holmes Blvd.
differ on open consolidation meetings
sun staff writer
HOLMES BEACH Commission
Chairman Rich Bohnenbergers opinion that the mayors
meetings on consolidation should be open to the public
brought a variety of responses from commissioners in the
other Island cities.
Bohnenberger said that although the meetings do not violate
the Sunshine Law, "Any meeting on consolidation should
be an open meeting, and the press and the public have
the right to witness this discussion.
In December, Holmes Beach commissioners directed Mayor
Carol Whitmore to work with Bradenton Beach Mayor John
Chappie regarding a study of Island consolidation. They
said the city has an obligation to conduct a study based
on the results of a Nov. 8 referendum in which voters
approved a study by a two-to-one margin.
Voters in Bradenton Beach approved the referendum by the
same margin. Voters in Anna Maria did not have the opportunity
to vote on the referendum because commissioners voted
not to put it on the ballot. However, Anna Maria Mayor
SueLynn is sitting in on the meetings.
"I have no opinion because Im 100 percent against
holding any discussions on consolidation," Anna Maria
Commissioner Duke Miller said. "If I were subject
to what the discussions were about, I would want to attend.
I can see how some citizens could be upset because theyre
talking about the fate of the cities. I would assume it
would come out eventually. Theyre not making any
Bradenton Beach Commissioner John Shaughnessy said he
has no opinion on the issue.
Anna Maria Commissioner Chris Tollette said she is pleased
that Mayor SueLynn is sitting in on the meetings, although
others on the commission are not.
"It doesnt concern me that theyre meeting,"
Tollette said. "I have no problem with it. Theyre
just exploring options, and there will be times when they
report their findings."
However, Bradenton Beach Commissioner Lisa Marie Phillips
said, "Open them up. They should make a conscious
effort to make them inclusive so the public can participate
in the process. If its a meeting where they wont
entertain public comment, they can make that known up
blocked on BeachHouse beach
sun staff writer
MARIA The low bid for the Gladiolus/North Shore
drainage project came in too high to allow for engineering
The city has budgeted $135,000 for the project. The Southwest
Floridaw Water Management District has approved a matching
grant for an additional $135,000, making $270,000 that
the city has in its coffers to pay for the project.
DeJonge Excavating, a Venice company, came in with the
low bid at $263,119.29, making it the company likely to
win the contract to do the project, which will run in
the alley between North Shore Drive and Gladiolus Street.
A shallow swale will run in the alley there from Jacaranda
to Hibiscus avenues with a turn by Crescent Drive across
North Bay Boulevard to a filtered outlet into the bay.
City Engineer Tom Wilcox, of Baskerville-Donovan, opened
four bids Feb. 23.
"Thats good for a little project like this,"
Wilcox said. "Im really happy with that."
The bids ranged from DeJonges low to Westra Construction
of Palmettos high of $448,253.38. The two other
companies that submitted bids were Adkins Contracting,
Inc., of Ruskin, and ET MacKenzie, of Bradenton.
Wilcox said Swiftmud had left the door open to come back
to them for an increase after the bids came in, but its
unusual for the water management district to increase
the amount of a grant after the fact.
Deputy Mayor John Quam said he hasnt seen the bids
yet and thus doesnt know how the commission will
handle the costs for the engineering.
"Its something well have to look at,"
Construction could begin as early as June.<<