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 theres no one
on this board that doesnt 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 cant 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 citys 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 couldnt build a house, because the lot is zoned
"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. Ive been paying residential
taxes on that property since I bought it in 2001."
Salinas said the building official said that was not good
"I had the county records, but I was told that was
not good enough," Salinas said. "I had to have
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
"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,"
However, he wasnt so happy with his meeting with
Donohue the following day.
"The clerk told Kevin that his appointment was here,"
Salinas recounted. "He said he didnt have any
appointments. When he realized it was me, he just handed
me a packet. I thought maybe wed sit down and hed
explain it to me. But he just handed this packet to me
and then turned his back."
Nonetheless, Salinas said hell keep trying, and
he does feel better now that the city commission is involved...<<
Key to fund barrier island traffic study
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
"City limits mean nothing to the transportation problem,"
Hagen explained. "Its appropriate that you
take a regional look at it. Its 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 Islands 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
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 its tourist
season," Holmes Beach Mayor Carol Whitmore stressed.
"You may be spending a lot of money for nothing.
Its only four months. Were 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, lets see what they are proposing,"
Bradenton Beach Commissioner John Shaughnessy said it
is a Catch 22 situation and noted, "If you build
it they will come and thats what theyve done.
You want tourism, you want the tax money, you want them
to come to your business, so thats the way we advertise
it. Now youve 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. Lets 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.
mount opposition to new sign rules
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 wont be voting on the ordinance this evening.
Well be taking public comment and well be
listening to questions. We wont answer the questions,
but well consider them and answer them at a later
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
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.
Thats four square feet."
Ginny Dutton of Ginnys and Jane E.s at the
Old IGA said she had concerns about the look becoming
Concerns were also raised about signage for some of the
historic cottages in the city.
The matter will be discussed again at the commissions
April 13 work session..<<
Passage plans to be revised
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. "Its too early
to say what will be considered, but well 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
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 Keys current conservation plan is to "administer
the refuge in accordance with the National Wildlife Refuge
System Administration Act of 1966," while Passage
Keys 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,
museum nearly home
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 clerks 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
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
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.
commission gets report on boat ramp work
sun staff writer
County Environmental Manager Bill OShay reported
to county commissioners on recent work on the countys
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," OShay
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. Theres 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 havent 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 wed 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.
"Since I prepared this report, we became aware some
damage to the northern pier which has created a hazardous
situation," OShay told the board. "Were
going to get that fixed as soon as possible.
"It appeared that the dock was jarred and the stringers
had broken and theres a section of dock thats
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. OShay said they are both on the
east side of Gulf Drive, and Leffis Key is located between
the two ramps.
OShay 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
were going to put all of these different uses and
still keep in mind that were trying to increase
boat parking space. We will be doing some surveying work
before we come up with a conceptual plan to show you."
OShay said a plan for increasing parking at Kingfish
ramp has been squelched by Holmes Beach commissioners,
who opposed the countys plan to remove the invasive
"Thats not going anywhere at this time,"
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
attorneys office has determined who has jurisdiction
over the ramp area. OShay said the office is looking
into that issue.
Von Hahmann made a motion to expedite that process, and
it was approved unanimously.
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 towns 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 projects
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
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.