Royale Bridge to be built in summer
By Pat Copeland
sun staff writer
HOLMES BEACH Replacement of the Key Royale
Bridge should begin in late June or early July and
take 180 days.
A report from City Treasurer Rick Ashley came out
last week when commissioners approved an amendment
to the construction agreement with the Florida Department
"This added cost and the associated required
deposit of $138,332 is an unanticipated increase
in the CEI costs, which are the costs of construction,
engineering and inspections for the oversight of
the actual bridge contractor during the construction
phase," Ashley explained.
He noted that because FDOT is negotiating with the
contractor, the city has little control over the
"The funds needed for this will have to come
from city monies as it is not feasible at this time
to do a third draw on the commercial paper loan
that was authorized as it would involve another
loan closing and expenses," Ashley said.
"After these funds are deposited with the comptrollers
officer, the total amount deposited up front for
the bridge construction will be $3,852,328, of which
we have borrowed $3,715,000."
Ashley said FDOT made an award for the construction
contract and is in the negotiating phase, a 90-day
process. FDOT officials expect the construction
to be completed in March 2007.
The city has fronted the money for the construction
and will be reimbursed by the FDOT. Ashley said
he expects the reimbursement in the summer of 2007...<<
nixes parking plan
sun staff writer
BRADENTON BEACH It may be temporary, but
the planning and zoning board has voted against
allowing a small parking lot across the street from
city hall on BeachHouse restaurant property.
The board voiced its opinion last Thursday against
the proposal to develop such a lot as it was reviewing
and evaluating changes to the Bradenton Beach Land
The board was going over the future land use map
for the city, considering where to designate land
as conservation and where to use the preservation
The conservation designation would be given to areas
near the bay where there are protected forms of
native flora such as mangroves established and where
the city wants the land to remain in its natural
condition. No development would be permitted except
by special exception review and approval by the
city. Allowed structures would include parks, playgrounds
and recreational facilities, docks, piers, shelters,
boat ramps and access structures.
The preservation category would be located on land
that forms the first line of defense in major storms
and hurricanes and is seaward of the coastal construction
control line and/or Gulf Drive, whichever is farthest
west. No new development would be allowed except
for water-dependent uses, including parking and
beach recreational uses.
The board wanted the land south of the BeachHouse
to remain preservation, but board member Jo Ann
"Am I crazy, or didnt we already agree
not to allow parking there?" she asked. "Am
I the only one who does not want parking there?"
Mayor John Chappie, who was observing the meeting,
reminded members that they had voted against allowing
parking there at an earlier meeting but they found
out at a subsequent meeting that negotiations were
ongoing to develop a lot there. BeachHouse owner
Ed Chiles has been trying to get a lot established
there with one entrance and one exit to replace
the illegal parking that has been growing over the
years. Until the city fenced off its beach access
south of that land and ordered Chiles to do the
same, cars had been pulling in illegally and when
they tried to pull out, the drivers were backing
out into traffic.
Chappie asked the board to reaffirm their vote,
and one member of the board said it would not necessarily
shut the door completely to the proposed parking
"If the city fathers decide it is needed, they
will be able to overturn this when the city commission
votes on these changes," Ernest Clay said.
Building official Ed McAdam told the board that
Chiles had come in that day with a permit request
for a fence. He also brought in Florida Department
of Environmental Protection approval for the fence,
which is required on land that close to the water.
Chiles has been asked by the citys Scenic
Highway Committee to bring in plans for the proposed
parking lot. Members of that advisory board had
expressed a desire to work with Chiles to try to
control the parking there, which they said gets
out of hand during season.
cogitate on commitment
to sign ordinance
sun staff writer
ANNA MARIA At least three of the five city
commissioners have been doing some serious thinking
about the sign ordinance that has been under discussion
for several months.
Commissioners Duke Miller, Chris Tollette and Dale
Woodland each issued a one-way memo to their fellow
Miller took several pictures of signage in the city
and noted that hes not sure the proposed three
square foot limit for signs, including real estate
signs, in the residential district is too restrictive.
Miller noted that most of the signs he noticed along
North Shore Drive and North Bay Boulevard were within
that limit, including Island Real Estate, Betsy
Hills, Horizon and Green Real Estate signs.
Other signs advertising real estate in the residential
districts are smaller than the proposed limit, Miller
"The smallest of the signs at 1.5 square feet
is easily readable from the road, contrary to concerns
about safety hazards of smaller signs,"
Tollette has expressed concern about the limitation
of one sign per residential property.
"At our next workshop, I will be presenting
photographs of some of our historic homes which
do have attached plaques. Also, the homes, which
have what I call decorative, address signs or home
names," she said.
Tollette also had questions about information signs"placed
in store windows. Those would be the open and closed
Tollette also commented that she thought it might
be a good idea for the Anna Maria Island Chamber
of Commerce to provide some education on sign usage.
"What impact do signs have on customers, is
less better than more, visual impact on potential
customers, what does your sign say about your business?"
were some questions that Tollette brought forward.
Woodland noted that he thinks it was a good thing
that the commission didnt take a vote on the
proposed ordinance at their last meeting.
"I sensed some people thought this was being
pushed along too fast, " he said.
Woodland also said that he thinks its important
that people know that the reason for the new ordinance
is to reduce sign clutter.
"It was obvious from the many comments that
in general people want us to regulate signs, but
our initial approach is too restrictive. I concur,"
The commission charged its planner, Allen Garrett,
with coming up with a new sign ordinance some months
ago for that very reason to reduce visual
Garrett held two workshops for members of the business
community out of which many of the proposed signage
The ordinance has been discussed at several commission
workshops. It wasnt until late last month
that the real estate community weighed in on the
The issue will be discussed again at the commissions
April 13 workshop.
"On a lighter note," Woodland said, "It
occurred to me that we could significantly reduce
sign clutter of only those homes NOT for sale had
while Chamber sets meeting on issue
By Tom Vaught
sun staff writer
The Anna Maria Island
Chamber of Commerce is hosting an instructive seminar
on changes in the sign laws in all three cities
at Holmes Beach City Hall at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday,
Chamber Chairman Don Schroder said the chamber wants
to craft an Island-wide ordinance that could be
presented to each city.
In a memo, he cited the new sign ordinance in Bradenton
Beach, a proposed ordinance in Anna Maria and forthcoming
change in the Holmes Beach code as containing highly
restrictive language concerning placement, color,
size and number of lines that a sign may contain.
He said the new laws could even restrict the size
of permanent signs outside strip malls.
Schroders memo said, "It has become apparent
that all three cities on the Island have begun a
concerted effort to drastically restrict the business
communitys ability to place appropriate signage
on their buildings or on private property."
The chamber is inviting each mayor to send a representative
as well as their planning officer so that those
individuals can understand the gravity of the effect
these ordinances will have on Chamber members
ability to successfully conduct business.
Copies of the ordinances are available at the Chamber
office. For more information, call the Chamber at
say cell tower
request moving too fast
sun staff writer
Commissioners want residents to ring in with their
thoughts on the addition of an antenna on the cell
tower at Smith Realty.
"This came out of nowhere; I feel like its
moving a little too fast," Commissioner Roger
Lutz said. "Its a pretty excitable issue,
and everybody that wants to talk ought to have a
chance. Lets get this meeting reported in
the newspaper and see how many people show up next
Harlan Ginn, the agent for Smith Realty and a zoning
consultant for Metro PCS, asked for the special
exception to add the antenna. The current cell tower
ordinance limits the number of commercial antennas
"Metro PCS, the carrier that will be attaching
its antenna to the tower, has entered into a lease
with Crown Castle International, the owner of the
tower," Ginn explained. "Metro PCS is
the newest cell phone carrier to enter the market.
Metro PCS likes to design their network on co-locations.
"Co-locations means putting antennas on existing
towers and buildings, rather than building new towers.
We would co-locate at the 90-foot level. Our equipment
would be contained within the walls of the current
Three people raised issues. Joan Perry said it would
increase intensity in the neighborhood and noted,
"Arrays are not real attractive. The only pretty
thing up there is the osprey nest because weve
run out of habitat."
John Wize, who lives by the tower, asked who performed
the stress analysis on the tower, and Commissioner
Pat Morton questioned the wind load and whether
the tower could handle the addition.
"When Metro PCS runs the structural analysis,
engineer signs and seals the drawings. He can be
personally liable," Ginn responded. "We
have had to walk away from sites because the structure
failed (the analysis).
"Your action tonight is only to allow the application
for a building permit for this antenna," City
Attorney Patricia Petruff explained. "The detailed
drawings would be sent out to the city engineer
for a complete review to insure that it complies
with all applicable regulations including the Florida
Building Code, wind load and those types of things."
She also noted that the citys cell tower ordinance
"I would be more comfortable if somebody from
staff could tell us theyve looked at it and
it complies with everything we have," Lutz
"Our cell tower ordinance says 140 mph (wind
load) and thats all that its ever been,"
Public Works Supervisor Joe Duennes responded. "That
is a three-second gust, which is 110 mph sustained.
We already have engineering for this fourth array
that sustains that."
Building Clerk Susan Lonzo said the special exception
application has been in process for a year and noted,
"If the ordinance allowed for four arrays,
that antenna would be up by now. We get structural
reports every time a new antenna goes up, and the
building department approved those. Theyve
met the criteria."
She said all the surrounding neighbors received
notice of the application by mail, and 12 of them
came in to the building department to ask questions.
The request was continued until the April 25 commission
plans to shore up more Island beaches
sun staff writer
Because of the extended amount of time this current
renourishment has taken, plans to reinforce beaches
along the city of Anna Maria have been dropped for
That doesnt mean the county wont follow
up on that area of the Island later and it might
spell relief for beleaguered homeowners north of
the area originally planned to get more sand.
Thats part of the message Manatee Countys
Ecosystems Administrator, Charlie Hunsicker, gave
to members of Save Anna Maria at a meeting last
Saturday in the Island Branch Library.
Hunsicker went over the renourishment projects on
the Island over the past 14 years, but after talking
about the current one that began last summer and
was delayed over the winter due to storms and high
seas, he talked about plans for Anna Maria.
Hunsicker said the county plans to renourish the
beaches along Anna Maria that were not part of the
1992 project, but were added to the 2002 program.
Because those beaches were not part of the original
federally funded program, they were not eligible
for new sand in 2002. However, the county and state
pitched in to fund the additional coverage in Anna
Maria at that time.
After the 2004 storm season saw five hurricanes
pass near the area and accelerate erosion along
the states beaches, the federal government
set aside $238 million to bring renourished beaches
in Florida back to the level they would have been
without the storms.
Because the beach projects in Anna Maria were not
federally funded in 2002, they were left out of
the 2004 federal funding, but Manatee County agreed
to use some of the resort tax money set aside for
beaches to pay for that portion. Then came the delays
due to weather that set the project behind almost
nine months and the Anna Maria project was dropped.
Hunsicker said the county would start the paperwork
to do that project by late this summer or next spring.
He said a big part of a renourishment project is
mobilization, which could cost up to $2.5 million.
The actual renourishment of the Anna Maria beaches
would cost less than that, so he said they might
tack on other areas.
"We might try to do some of the areas along
North Shore Drive where there has been heavy erosion,"
he said. "We will also try to get permits to
go south from Cortez Beach in Bradenton Beach."
Hunsicker also talked about using groins to help
stop erosion in some areas. He talked about the
1940s and 50s when the bottom portion of Coquina
Beach was a series of small Islands.
"The county decided to add sand and make it
a solid mass of land so Gulf Drive could be extended
and a bridge built to Longboat Key," he said.
"After they did that, they found out that Mother
Nature was trying to turn that mass back into islands,
so they built those groins along Coquina Beach."
Hunsicker said the county is looking at groins south
of North Shore Drive and Bean Point in Anna Maria
to try to control erosion there.
focuses on fishing villages
sun staff writer
premiere of an oral history documentary featuring
residents of Cortez and Cedar Key opened Friday
night to a packed house at the Bayside Banquet Hall.
"In Their Own Words the Perseverance
and Resilience of Two Florida Fishing Communities"
features interviews with residents of both fishing
villages, whose economies were devastated by a 1995
Constitutional referendum banning gill nets.
Cortez fisherman Albert Mora expressed a common
opinion of fishermen in both villages when he said
the state should not have allowed voters who know
nothing about commercial fishing to decide on the
Mark Ibasfalean, also of Cortez, recalled feeling
betrayed by his Manatee County neighbors when the
vote against gill nets was passed. Another resident
compared the net ban to putting Indians on a reservation
and expecting them to maintain their nomadic way
of life in much less territory.
Funded by the Cortez-based FISH Preserve, the Florida
Humanities Council and the Legacy Institute for
Nature and Culture (LINK), the documentary was written
by Michael Jepson and photographed by Carlton Ward
The filmmakers also recorded recollections of life
in the old days,"before the net ban.
Cortez resident Blue Fulford reminisced about the
village before nets were regulated and seasons were
closed, when no one locked their doors and none
of the yards had fences.
"Everybody was kin," he said. "It
was just heaven on earth."
In those days, men built their own boats, and a
marked stick was just as good as a tape measure
for making a boat come out right. Kids went to the
Cortez school barefoot. Boys grew up hearing their
grandfathers tall tales of the sea and chose
to follow in their wake.
Its a way of life missed by many. There are
no nets drying in yards anymore, or fishermen walking
down to the docks carrying their lunch pails and
paper sacks, Fulford said.
"Its the things that you dont see
anymore that are hard."