Vol 6 No. 27 - March 29, 2006


Tilling done on north end of renourishment

City to fix Salinas property snafu

Longboat Key to fund barrier island traffic study

Realtors mount opposition to new sign rules

Egmont, Passage plans to be revised

Cortez museum nearly home

County commission gets report on boat ramp work

Longboat renourishment halted




Tilling done on north end of renourishment

ByTom Vaught
sun staff writer

HOLMES BEACH – Beach-goers from 78th Street to 50th Street saw the first signs of life from the dormant renourishment program last week. Crews from Tigerhole Coastal Contracting of Jacksonville were on the beach tilling the sand fulfilling the first obligation of the renourishment contractor, Goodloe Marine Inc., before resuming the project.

"We went ahead and tilled the beach on the north side so there shouldn’t be any more activity there," said project manager Ben Goodloe.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers ordered Goodloe Marine to till the beach from the north end of the project to where the pipeline from the project sits, north of the Manatee County Public Beach. That pipeline runs from that point to Katie Pierola Park, in Bradenton Beach.
The sand was to be tilled in preparation of sea turtle nesting season, which begins May w and runs until Oct. 31. The tilling project loosens the sand, making it easier for mother turtles to dig holes in which they lay their eggs.

Goodloe said they had Tigerhole till the sand where they began the renourishment last July and portions of the beach that Goodloe used to set up for the project, even though that was not part of the contract requirements. The Corps added the unrenourished portions of the beach to the contract at a meeting held two weeks ago at Bradenton Beach City Hall.
Goodloe said the Corps gave them the go-ahead on Tuesday, March 21, to prepare to resume the project they hope to get back to renourishing the beaches this week, although two cold fronts passed through the area last week making it unsafe for them to pump. He said Friday that they have a lot to do.

"We need to get offshore to work on the pipeline," he said. "We will have to re-lay the pipes on the beach, too, because there has been so much erosion since the renourishment stopped."

Goodloe said he doesn’t understand why the Corps did not approve his suggestion that they pump more sand on areas that were already renourished due to the erosion. He suggested at that meeting two weeks ago that they could shore up some of the beach without pumping more than the 409,000 cubic yards of sand called for in the original contract, thus not costing any more than the agreed price.

Goodloe said barring any more rough weather, they should resume the project by the end of this week or next. He said they are calling all the workers to get them back on the job and they will be happy when they finish.

The Corps and the Federal Emergency Management Agency proposed this renourishment last year because of erosion in 2004 caused by the heavy storm season. The purpose was to restore the beach to the contour that it should have had without the heavy erosion. The beach is scheduled to be fully renourished again sometime around 2010.

Because of the delays in finishing the project in Holmes Beach and Bradenton Beach, a second, unrelated renourishment of beaches in portions of Anna Maria will not happen this year.<< Top


City to fix Salinas property snafu

By Laurie Krosney
sun staff writer

ANNA MARIA — It looks as though Amador Salinas and his family will be able to build their house. The couple has been seeking a building permit for more than a year.

After Salinas outlined the history of his efforts to get a house built on his lot, they ordered their attorney and building official to get to work to do whatever they need to do to get Salinas his building permit.

"Mr. Salinas," said City Commissioner Duke Miller. "I think I can safely say that there’s no one on this board that doesn’t want to see you build your house, and we will do whatever it takes to help you get it done."

The problem lies in a rezoning of the lot. The city authorized a change for the two lots on Spring Avenue at the southeast corner of Gulf Drive. That area had been zoned commercial, but the planning and zoning board and then the city commission voted to change the lots to residential zoning in 1997. Under state law, you can’t build residential structures on land that is zoned commercial.

The commission was within its rights to rezone the lots. However, that zoning change had to be registered with the state department of community affairs, and the city had to make the change by ordinance.

The final steps were never taken, so the property remained commercial on the city’s future land use map, which is an element in the comprehensive plan.

A building permit was issued and a home was constructed on the eastern-most lot of that two-lot parcel. It should not have been issued, and in fact, that house is technically an illegal structure.

About a year ago, according to Salinas, he approached the Building Official Kevin Donohue to see what he needed to do to build the house he and his wife had long planned.
Salinas said Building Official Kevin Donohue told him he couldn’t build a house, because the lot is zoned commercial.

"I explained to him that the lot had been rezoned," Salinas said. "He told me to prove it, so I got the tax records from the county. I’ve been paying residential taxes on that property since I bought it in 2001."

Salinas said the building official said that was not good enough.

"I had the county records, but I was told that was not good enough," Salinas said. "I had to have more proof."

So Salinas began to research the zoning change and brought in a letter confirming the zoning change as well as the records of the commission meeting authorizing the zoning change.

"I was told this was not good enough," he said.

Salinas went to see the mayor.

Salinas was told to go before the planning and zoning board, which he did. That board told him he really needed to go before the city commission.

The right body in the city of Anna Maria finally heard Salinas on March 23.

Commissioners have ordered their city attorney to work with the city planner to expedite the registration of the zoning change in Tallahassee and to prepare an ordinance so that the zoning change can finally be made official.

They also told the mayor to order the building official to work with Salinas to get everything done for the building permit so that when the change does come through, building on the house can be done immediately.

Dye said he thinks the entire process can be done in two months on an accelerated basis.
"I was quite happy with the way the meeting went," Salinas said.

However, he wasn’t so happy with his meeting with Donohue the following day.
"The clerk told Kevin that his appointment was here," Salinas recounted. "He said he didn’t have any appointments. When he realized it was me, he just handed me a packet. I thought maybe we’d sit down and he’d explain it to me. But he just handed this packet to me and then turned his back."

Nonetheless, Salinas said he’ll keep trying, and he does feel better now that the city commission is involved...<< Top

Longboat Key to fund barrier island traffic study

ByPat Copeland
sun staff writer

LONGBOAT KEY — Town officials agreed to hire Larry Hagen, of the Center for Urban Transportation and Research (CUTR), to gather data and present a proposal on alleviating traffic congestion on the barrier islands.

"Our communities all share a state road and the ability to get around on this road is of interest to all of us," Longboat Key Mayor Joan Webster said at the meeting of barrier island elected officials.

"I live three miles south of the Longboat Pass Bridge and often the traffic is backed up to Cannons Marina," Longboat Key Commissioner Jeremy Whatmough said. "It has really been a problem and it has been an objective of Longboat Key for many years to do something about it."

Whatmough said he and Hagen spent two hours traveling the barrier islands and noting problems.

Hagen said CUTR at the University of South Florida was created by the Legislature to serve as a resource for local elected officials to address transportation challenges facing Florida.
"City limits mean nothing to the transportation problem," Hagen explained. "It’s appropriate that you take a regional look at it. It’s a tough nut to crack, and I wish I had the answer. You have to manage it appropriately and effectively and decide what the real goal is that you want to achieve. My intent is to analyze the data and come back with a proposal."

Hagen praised the Island trolley as "an incredible success story" and said that providing it free reduces congestion and also makes traffic move faster and better.

Some of the problems identified by officials include Manatee County residents using Longboat Key as a shortcut to Sarasota, Longboat Key residents coming through Bradenton Beach to reach Manatee County destinations, service workers coming to the islands, the draw of the Island’s beaches and the drawbridges backing up traffic.

Officials must identify why people are coming onto the islands, where they are coming from and where they are going, Hagen said.

"How do you collect that type of data?" Bob Herrington, of the Sarasota/Manatee Metropolitan Planning Agency, asked.

Taking traffic counts, surveying people about their destinations by conducting roadside interviews and videotaping license plates and marking them with a time stamp, Hagen replied.

"These studies are all nice, but it’s tourist season," Holmes Beach Mayor Carol Whitmore stressed. "You may be spending a lot of money for nothing. It’s only four months. We’re not going to make our roads wider. Is the money for a study really worth it?" How will it help us resolve the issues?"

"First, let’s see what they are proposing," Whatmough replied."
Bradenton Beach Commissioner John Shaughnessy said it is a Catch 22 situation and noted, "If you build it they will come and that’s what they’ve done. You want tourism, you want the tax money, you want them to come to your business, so that’s the way we advertise it. Now you’ve got what you wanted. We only have so much room."
Longboat Key Commissioner Lee Rothenberg said he hopes that CUTR will offer solutions for officials to consider.

"Get good, fresh data that will help you to really get to the core of the issue,’ Mike Howe, executive director of the Sarasota/Manatee Metropolitan Planning Agency, advised Hagen. "Give them a cafeteria choice of options. It will be driven by community will but also by funding. Let’s see what the scope of the study is and what our funding sources are."
Hagen said he could have a proposal completed in two weeks.


Realtors mount opposition to new sign rules

ByLaurie Krosney
sun staff writer

ANNA MARIA — Members of the real estate community turned out in force to make their objections to a new sign ordinance heard and felt by the city commission.

The ordinance was scheduled for a second and final reading at the March 23 city commission meeting. Before that reading occurred, Commission Chair John Quam had this announcement:

"We won’t be voting on the ordinance this evening. We’ll be taking public comment and we’ll be listening to questions. We won’t answer the questions, but we’ll consider them and answer them at a later date."

The ordinance has been in the works since last fall when city commissioners directed City Planner Allen Garrett to begin work on a new sign ordinance, because the existing one is cumbersome and lacks clarity.

Garrett held several meetings with members of the business community to get input. Out of those meetings, a consensus evolved to allow a sandwich-type sign listing daily specials or a menu board, to allow a sign on each side of a building or entrance and to level the playing field by eliminating the grandfathering of non-compliant existing signs.
The city commission, with input from those meetings with the business community, discussed the new sign rules several times at work sessions.

One of the aspects of the new ordinance was that signage in the residential districts, including real estate signs, would be quite limited: There can be only one sign per property; signs must be anchored in a metal frame and must not exceed three square feet; signs may have a maximum of three colors.

No one from the real estate community had weighed in on the proposed ordinance until the latest meeting.

"Regulation of signage is one of the most contentious issues in any community," Garrett told commissioners. "And you have First Amendment issues as well."
Realtors agreed with that.

"I do applaud the mayor and city commissioners for their efforts to clean up real estate signs with an ordinance," said former City Commissioner Bob Barlow. "But the ordinance as written appears to be far too restrictive."

Barlow said that there are enforcement issues with the proposed ordinance as well.
"Who will enforce this?" he questioned. "What will trigger it?"

Barlow suggested that the city needed more input from the real estate community before implementing the new ordinance.

Tom Aposporos, another former city commissioner and a real estate agent himself, said the new ordinance and signage was problematic for people who must use signs in the course of their business.

"This has changed from the possible improvement of our city to one of the most destructive arguments to be had here in my lifetime," he said.

Realtor Don Schroder, chairman of the board of the Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce, agreed.

"There are numerous errors in what you are trying to accomplish," he said. "This is very restrictive. Remax-Gulfstream, the current sign regulation for our company is two-feet six inches by one-foot six inches. That’s four square feet."

Ginny Dutton of Ginny’s and Jane E.’s at the Old IGA said she had concerns about the look becoming "homogenized."

Concerns were also raised about signage for some of the historic cottages in the city.
The matter will be discussed again at the commission’s April 13 work session..<< Top

Egmont, Passage plans to be revised

ByCindy Lane
sun staff writer

EGMONT KEY – Changes are in store for the Egmont Key National Wildlife Refuge and the Passage Key National Wildlife Refuge just north of Anna Maria Island.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is developing a 15-year comprehensive conservation plan for the two keys that may shift the boundaries of areas that are currently off limits to people and possibly add new closed areas, said Mary Morris, Natural Resource Planner for the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge.

"Our mission is ‘wildlife first,’ " she said, adding that planners will strive to balance wildlife use with public use. "It’s too early to say what will be considered, but we’ll be looking at a range of alternatives."

While it is unlikely that Egmont Key will be completely closed to the public, as Passage Key is, she said, planners will look closely at whether areas that are now open should be closed due to shifts in bird nesting, and whether the boundaries of areas that currently are closed should be changed.

All of Egmont Key is a national wildlife refuge and part of it is a state park. Within both areas are wildlife preserves that are closed to people, some seasonally and some permanently, like the southern third of the key where bird colonies nest, she said. Egmont also is one of the largest habitats in Florida for gopher tortoises.

Egmont Key’s current conservation plan is to "administer the refuge in accordance with the National Wildlife Refuge System Administration Act of 1966," while Passage Key’s current plan is to "maintain a preserve and breeding ground for native birds."

After the new conservation plan is drafted and reviewed by state agencies, meetings will be scheduled to hear public comments, which will influence the final plan, she said.<< Top


Cortez museum nearly home

ByCindy Lane
sun staff writer

CORTEZ – After four years, the Florida Gulf Coast Maritime Museum at Cortez is nearly home.

The dust is settling on the renovation of the 1912 schoolhouse at 4415 119th St. W., where the museum soon will be relocated from its temporary home at the Cortez Community Center.

The project began with a grant submission in 2002 and a resulting funding award in 2003 that was later cut from the state budget, then awarded in 2004, allowing work to begin in 2005, said Christine Clyne, director of public information for the Manatee County Clerk of the Circuit Court, which oversees historic preservation in the county.

The clerk’s office is seeking more grant funding to purchase the Seafood Shack restaurant, with an eye to one day moving the museum to the waterfront Cortez location. Meanwhile, the move to the schoolhouse will proceed as planned, she said.

The site plan is being reviewed by Manatee County planners, and when it is approved, two more stalled projects will accelerate – the relocation of the historic Burton store and Pillsbury boat works buildings to the museum grounds.

A new museum curator, Karen Geis, begins her job next week assembling collections and exhibits and training docents, Clyne said.

In 1912, the two-room red brick schoolhouse – now covered in white plaster – replaced a one-room school built in 1895 that is now a private home at 12016 45th Ave. W. In 1933, an auditorium was added, and the building served as both school and community center until it closed in 1961.

The schoolhouse was rented as a residence until 1974, when artist Robert Sailors purchased the property. The woven fiber art of Sailors, who died in 1998, will be featured in the museum.

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County commission gets report on boat ramp work

ByPat Copeland
sun staff writer

BRADENTON — Manatee County Environmental Manager Bill O’Shay reported to county commissioners on recent work on the county’s boat ramps including the three on the Island.

"This report will summarize the activities that took place in 2005 and apprise you of activities that have occurred since the first of the year," O’Shay explained. "We re trying to take a closer look at all of the facilities and try to use the money that we have available for boat ramp improvements as wisely as possible. There’s been some pretty astronomical increases in the costs of construction."

In 2005, the Coquina North boat ramp received a new fish cleaning station, he said. Plans for 2006 include reconfiguring and extending the parking lot and cutting concrete pilings below the deck. In 2007, the deck will be replaced and an ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) sidewalk and parking space will be added.

"The last part is to widen and replace the ramp so it can serve larger vessels," he said, "but we haven’t decided which ramp, Coquina North or South. Staff is evaluating which of the two ramps would be more appropriate to widen.

"It will pretty much depend on where we end up getting the most parking. It most likely will be the south location. Just looking at the area to the north of the existing ramp, there are seagrasses, so we’d have a hard time getting a permit for that area."

Proposed improvements to Coquina South include reconfiguring and extending the parking lot, installing sheet piling to keep sand off the ramp surface and constructing an ADA sidewalk and parking spaces.

Hazardous situation

"Since I prepared this report, we became aware some damage to the northern pier which has created a hazardous situation," O’Shay told the board. "We’re going to get that fixed as soon as possible.

"It appeared that the dock was jarred and the stringers had broken and there’s a section of dock that’s not safe, so it has been closed off until we can get a contractor out there to repair that."

Commissioner Donna Hayes asked where the north and south ramps are located. O’Shay said they are both on the east side of Gulf Drive, and Leffis Key is located between the two ramps.

O’Shay said he has met with the Bradenton Beach Scenic Highway Committee "to get their input on the types of things they would like to see and do as we develop plans for these parking areas."

He said plans for two uses have been discussed for the area — a public safety complex for the county and a park and ride facility for the city.

"I think we came up with a pretty good idea of where we’re going to put all of these different uses and still keep in mind that we’re trying to increase boat parking space. We will be doing some surveying work before we come up with a conceptual plan to show you."
O’Shay said a plan for increasing parking at Kingfish ramp has been squelched by Holmes Beach commissioners, who opposed the county’s plan to remove the invasive Brazilian peppers.

"That’s not going anywhere at this time," he said.

He said future plans include reconfiguring the parking lot, constructing a restroom facility and adding an ADA sidewalk and parking space. A fish cleaning table has been built and seaweed buildup is removed on a daily basis.

County Commissioner Jane von Hahmann asked if the county attorney’s office has determined who has jurisdiction over the ramp area. O’Shay said the office is looking into that issue.

Von Hahmann made a motion to expedite that process, and it was approved unanimously.
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Longboat renourishment halted

ByCindy Lane
sun staff writer

LONGBOAT KEY – Longboat Key has halted its beach renourishment project until April 20, and is requiring its contractor to bury or move the pipes on the beach until then.

With the town’s approval, Manson Construction left the renourishment project to work on an Army Corps of Engineers project in Mayport, Florida, using the beach renourishment hopper dredge, Bayport, to deepen a channel for U.S. Navy vessels.

The Bayport is too large to access the white sand in the shallow borrow area off Anna Maria Island, and since two smaller dredges will not be available until mid-April to transport the white sand from shallow areas to the Bayport in deeper water, the town agreed to temporarily allow the Bayport to leave, Longboat Key Town Manager Bruce St. Denis said.
The two small dredges are unavailable until mid-April because of the amount of beach renourishment work caused by the last two hurricane seasons, he said.

Under an agreement between the town and Manson, the contractor will bury some of the beach renourishment pipes in trenches, leaving a flat beach surface, and move some to the site of the former Holiday Inn to keep them out of sight, Public Works Manager Juan Florensa said.

In addition, Manson will move most of the project’s heavy equipment until work resumes.
"Recognizing the problem that happened up on Anna Maria, we required that," St. Denis said.

Manson also will be liable for about $60,000 in liquidated damages, or $2,000 a day for each of the 30 or so days of their absence, St. Denis said, adding that the town did not impose liquidated damages when it allowed Manson to suspend work to assist projects in Pensacola after Hurricane Katrina.

Manson also agreed not to charge the town for the $186,000 cost it incurred when the state stopped the project for several days after a sea turtle was killed, Florensa said, adding that Manson also waived any potential claim for the second turtle death.

In addition, Manson will pay the cost of mobilizing and demobilizing a trawler used to catch and release sea turtles in the path of the project.

The project, which was scheduled for completion in May, now is scheduled to be completed in mid-June, St. Denis said, adding that the town has permission from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to continue the project into turtle season, which begins May 1.

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