Vol 6 No. 33 - May 10, 2006


Wind premiums through the roof

Contractor asks to stage pipes

Key Royale Bridge to close Thursday

Code enforcement board fine exceeds $10,000 for property owners

Mayor starts consolidation study

Mayor approves tree-planting program

City seeks pier reconstruction bids

Visioning draws larger crowd




Wind premiums through the roof

By Laurie Krosney
sun staff writer

You know there's a problem in the industry when an insurance agency decides not to pay the sky-high wind insurance premium on its own building.

Doing without: that's the decision forced on the Oswald Tripp agency in Holmes Beach when their wind coverage premium went up - way up.

"Our wind coverage will lapse in July," said Christian Huth, who works at the agency. "Last year it was $2,300. For the coming year, it's gone up to $33,000. That's $33,000 for the wind coverage alone."

That's the annual price tag the agency would have to pay to cover its building for wind loss.

Meanwhile, some businesses on the Island can't get wind coverage at any cost.

"We have some businesses that just can't get it," Huth said. "It isn't out there at all in some cases if they aren't in the wind pool."

On Anna Maria Island, structures within 1,000 feet of the Gulf are considered in the wind pool. Those buildings can purchase insurance through Citizen's property insurance, the state-subsidized insurance program that was designed to be an insurance of last resort after private insurers began dropping coverage for coastal properties.

In Sarasota County, the wind pool extends out to I-75 and beyond. In Hillsborough and Pinellas Counties, nothing is in the wind zone.

The state legislature attempted to fix the problem in its session this year. They did manage to establish a task force to study the wind pool. That task force will take a look at who should be in the pool.

"I certainly think everyone on the barrier islands and everyone on the coast should be in the pool," said Representative Bill Galvano.

Galvano fought hard to get a stopgap measure in place for the impending hurricane season that would have offered temporary coverage to all business and residences on the state's barrier islands and coastal areas, but that was not included in the final bill.

One thing that was included was a grant program that will set aside $250 million to help property owners strengthen their structures to withstand greater wind loads.

For now, Citizens, the so-called insurance of last resort, will only be offered where it has been in effect in the past. The state-subsidized company has grown to be the second largest carrier in the state. By law, it has to carry the highest premiums and there have been two price hikes this year. Another is on the way to keep pace with the rising cost of private insurance.

Those rate hikes are hitting businesses especially hard.

"Many businesses have to make the decision to go without because the premiums have gotten so out of hand," Huth noted.


Contractor asks to stage pipes

By Tom Vaught
sun staff writer

HOLMES BEACH - A last- minute change in plans may have bought renourishment contractor Goodloe Marine, Inc. an extra week to try to finish the project and get his equipment off the beach by June 1.

Under terms of the renourishment contract, Goodloe was given permission to use the parking lot and beach access at Manatee County Beach as a staging area for the pipeline to be stored for removal from the Island, when the project was finished. However, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had to get permission from Manatee County, and the county was set to deny that permission, according to a staff recommendation to the county commission for its meeting on Tuesday.

That recommendation, authored by conservation lands management director Charlie Hunsicker, expressed concern that bad weather could keep the pipes in the parking lot for an extended period of time before barging them away if there was bad weather.

However, at a meeting between Goodloe staff, officials from the Corps and Manatee County beach renourishment engineer Rick Spadoni, project manager Ben Goodloe said their plans were to truck the pipes back to their Apollo Beach headquarters.

Under terms of the contract, the contractor was to bring the pipes off the beach at the emergency vehicle access north of Café on the Beach and store them at the southern end of the parking lot, block traffic in the lot and accessibility to the café and souvenir shop.

Instead, Goodloe suggested they store the pipes east of the access, in the northern portion of the lot, which would make it safer for beach-goers.

When Spadoni heard about Goodloe's plans to truck the pipes instead of taking them away by barge, he explained to the crowd what Hunsicker was recommending at the 1:30 p.m. county commission meeting. He said he would talk with Hunsicker, who was tied up in another meeting all morning, to try to get him to change his recommendation.

Spadoni got assurances from Goodloe that they would not truck out any pipes over Memorial Day weekend, May 27-29. Goodloe asked for a 30-day period after June 1 to get all of the pipes trucked out, which Spadoni said he would take to Hunsicker.

Goodloe has to have all the pipes off the beach by June 1 under terms of a permit extension given by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission and Turtle Watch. Nesting season for endangered sea turtles on the beach began May 1.

Goodloe will concentrate on removing the pipeline before June 1, then turn its attention to trucking them away. They will also barge the underwater portion of the pipeline away after June 1, according to Ben Goodloe.

Goodloe restarted the barge Tuesday morning for the first time since it replaced a flexible joint in the underwater portion of the pipeline. However, shortly after it began, the barge was hit by lightning during Tuesday's rain storm. Ben Goodloe said the bolt went through the hull of the barge and damaged some electronic equipment, which he said they expected to fix either Tuesday or Wednesday.

The project began July 5, 2005, was delayed numerous time by hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico and was discontinued in December because of a series winter storms that made it unsafe to use the barge that harvests the sand from the Gulf bottom.

According to the report, if Goodloe could not use the parking lot, it would have to stop renourishment around May 18, to get its equipment off the beaches. If it can use the lot, that deadline would be through "approximately May 23."

At the meeting on Coquina Beach Tuesday, Goodloe said he thought they would stop pumping sand by March 22, if they could use the county beach parking lot.

"I’m very pleased," Bradenton Beach Mayor John Chappie exclaimed. "It’s wonderful that the three Island cities and Longboat Key worked together to come to some resolution in this. Let’s give it a run and see how it goes."

Chappie said the ITPO’s recommendation would be taken back to each city commission for final approval.

"It’s great," Anna Maria Mayor SueLynn said. "It’s a demonstration of what took years of perseverance and it finally paid off. It’s a good solution for both boaters and vehicle drivers."

Key Royale Bridge to close Thursday

The Key Royale Bridge will be closed to traffic on Thursday, May 11, for two 45-minute periods between noon and 3 p.m. Electricians will be installing temporary power lines for the bridge construction project slated to begin in June or July.

Fire Chief Andy Price, of the West Manatee Fire District, said the district would station a fire truck with three firefighters at the Key Royale Golf Club at 11:30 a.m. Manatee County EMS will station an ALS (advanced life support) crew with the firefighters.

Code enforcement board fine exceeds $10,000 for property owners

By Pat Copeland
sun staff writer

HOLMES BEACH - What could be the costliest rental license in the city's history is the subject of a code enforcement board fine that stands at $10,050 as of Monday, May 8.

In February, the board gave George Ellin, Joe Hieronimus and Richard Santia, owners of 4605 Gulf Drive, until March 2 to obtain a rental license for their duplex. When they did not obtain the license, the board set a fine of $150 per day beginning March 3.

When the owners did not pay the fine within 30 days, the code board's order was recorded with Manatee County, which created a lien against any personal property in Manatee County that is owned by the three.

Chairman Chuck Stealey asked if the fine continues forever.

"Yes, without some action by the board," board attorney Michael Connolly replied.

Code Enforcement Officer Nancy Hall said in addition to the fine, the owners must pay the rental license fee of $26.25 per unit, or $52.50 for the duplex; a 25 percent penalty for not acquiring the license, which would be $13.12; and a $15 application fee.

Also, 14 days after receipt of the notice of violation, the city automatically assesses a $250 penalty fee, so the owners owe the city a total of $330.62 in addition to the fine.

Other cases
The board also set a fine of $250 per day and $500 in costs for Mohammad Walingha, of 515 57th Street, for not registering his two boats and having one of them parked in the front yard. They gave him 30 days to cure the violation and pay any fine.

In February, the board found Walingha in violation with two unregistered boats and trailers, which were also parked in the front yard, and ordered him to cure the violation by March 31.

Hall said he got tags for two trailers and moved one boat and trailer, but said when she went to the property to inspect the boats, Walingha refused her permission to come on the property.

"She could not verify compliance because of the way the boats were positioned and parked," City Attorney Patricia Petruff explained. "So, as of that date, the city's position is those boats are not in compliance.

Petruff said Walingha brought in photographs, but they only show one side of the boats. Registration numbers must be displayed on both sides of a boat.

Connolly told the board that a photo is "relevant admissible evidence, but you must decide how much weight to give it. A photo could be altered."

He also said the board could not require Walingha to allow Hall on his property, but could impose a fine to "put the ball back in the respondent's court."

In a third case, the board ordered William and Tracy Wimpy to complete work to bring them into compliance with the city's floodplain regulations. This work included removing electrical and plumbing work and walls and partitions on the ground floor of their home at 501 58th Street.


Mayor starts consolidation study

By Pat Copeland
sun staff writer

HOLMES BEACH - Mayor Carol Whitmore told her board that she has begun the consolidation study process but that it will be time consuming.

"This is not going to be a simple task and I may not be able to give you any information for a few months," Whitmore said in a memo to commissioners. "My personal opinion is that this is a waste of good staff time when we could hire a professional that is objective and will look at the numbers."

At a recent meeting, commissioners asked that the city department heads determine how much it would cost for the city to provide services to the entire Island. This followed a vote by Bradenton Beach commissioners against pursuing a study of Island consolidation.

The mayors of the two cities had been in talks since voters had approved a study by a two-to-one margin. The mayors had also received a proposal from the Carl Vinson Institute of Government at the University of Georgia for a study that would cost between $19,000 and $25,000. Whitmore had hoped that the two cities would share that cost.

Whitmore said she is seeking the following information from the other two Island cities for her study: lists of assets, budgets, financial statements, health insurance plan details and costs, retirement plan costs, pay plans, employee information and liabilities.

Harry Hayes, of the Carl Vinson Institute of Government, told Whitmore that he still stands ready to help in any way and noted, "One thought did occur to us. With two of the three cities closer together on this policy issue, is there any reason these two could not begin to explore cooperative service agreements, if not looking at full consolidation of the two?"

He also suggested another option.

"I am aware of situations where department heads have been shared in cooperative intergovernmental agreements," he explained. "In fact I served as a joint city/county planning director for 10 years in a community of 100,000. We had two planning commissions, two boards of zoning appeals, but our staff served both governments."


Mayor approves tree-planting program

By Pat Copeland
sun staff writer

HOLMES BEACH - Mayor Carol Whitmore approved a tree-planting program outlined by the city's parks and beautification advisory board and said she would write a policy for staff members to follow.

The program includes the following:

· The city will encourage citizens to memorialize persons or significant events by planting trees on city-owned property.

· The city will match the cost of a tree up to $200, if there is money in the beautification budget.

· The tree must be native to Florida and selected from a list developed by the beautification board.

· The planting location will be determined by the contributor and the public works department.

· The public works department will purchase the trees, prepare the sites for planting and maintain the trees.

· The contributor will purchase a marker for the tree to be selected from designs approved by the city.

· The beautification board will aid the contributor in arranging for a planting ceremony.

Board members agreed on native, salt-tolerant plants as the topic for next year's plant seminar to be held in February 2007. The board plans to have two or three speakers and a forum so audience members can participate and ask questions. Board members said they would decide on speakers in the fall when they resume meetings.

Board member Kim Kuizon suggested having regular, city-wide coastal cleanups due to the amount of trash appearing on Island beaches. Board members said they would discuss details in the fall and hope to coordinate the effort among the three Island cities.

Whitmore asked board members to give her suggestions for a summer movie to be shown in the city hall field. She said people would bring blankets and lawn chairs to watch the movie and refreshments would be provided.

The county is planning to provide a trolley shelter at the Manatee Public Beach, Whitmore told the board. However, the city must make up the difference in cost needed to match the design of the city's trolley shelters.


City seeks pier reconstruction bids

By Tom Vaught
sun staff writer

BRADENTON BEACH - After months of seeking input, planning and applying for permits, the city is now asking for bids to start rehabilitating the Bridge Street Pier.

Commissioner Bill Shearon, in an update to the commission last Thursday, passed out samples of the bid solicitation notice sent to contractors to repair the pre-cast concrete piling underneath the pier. The bids are due back by May 24 at 2 p.m.

Shearon also passed out a timeline showing that 70 percent of the design should be done by the end of this month. He said architectural design firm O'Brien and Smith had finished 50 percent of the design last week. According to the timeline, the city's consulting technician should submit a permit application to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection this month.

The city is also seeking input for potential franchisees to run the restaurant and possibly a bait shop. The pier team, consisting of Shearon, Police Chief Sam Speciale, Building Official Ed McAdam, Public Works Director Tom Woodard and Special Projects Manager Dottie Poindexter, is working on terms for a pier lease.

Shearon said the pier team, which meets every Friday morning at city hall, is still seeking input from restaurant owners about setting up an ideal franchise situation.

The team will review input on May 12. Those interested should submit a written notice to the city with suggestions.

The pier was shut down in 2004 after the roof of the restaurant was damaged by winds from a nearby hurricane. The lease with the franchisee was voided, and the commission decided to fund a massive reconstruction of the pier. Plans included a redesigned restaurant, a day docking facility, a bait shop, rest rooms on the end of the pier for anglers and a dock master's facility for an upcoming mooring field south of the pier.

For more information, call city hall at 778-1005.


Visioning draws larger crowd

By Tom Vaught
sun staff writer

BRADENTON BEACH - About 15 people joined a group of about the same number of committee members to work on their vision for the future of this city on Wednesday, May 3. In doing so, some disagreed with prior ideas and objectives but nearly all of them enjoyed the Greek salad and snacks provided by Vice Mayor Lisa Marie Phillips.

The meeting was the third in a series of six visioning sessions mandated by the city's recent designation as a Florida Waterfronts Community. Phillips, who was instrumental in the city's successful quest for the designation, formed a committee called WAVES (Waterfronts: Accessible, Viable, Ecological, Sustainable), which has been working on the vision.

Facilitator Dr. Thomas Taylor went through the suggestions to arrive at four major areas of concern and split the large group into teams to work on each area separately. When they finished, they went down the lists.

The four areas were: keeping Bradenton Beach's Florida beach community atmosphere, people moving and parking, special places and projects and the downtown business district, also know as the Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) district.

One hotspot in the Florida beach community area was the large number of homes in the residential areas that are being rented out on a nightly or weekly basis. The group, especially homeowners in that area, felt that it detracted from the residential flavor while some of those with ties to the resort industry felt it competed unfairly with their businesses. The group decided that stricter enforcement of zoning rules would be the only way to stop it.

The group appeared to feel that the Florida beach community flavor was something that came from the residents, and that the city needed to make sure that residential areas are being used as such, not for short-term rentals.

They rejected a suggestion of horse-drawn carriages along Bridge Street, citing the logistics of cleaning up after the animals and the stress the horses could be subjected to from heat and traffic. They also rejected talk of building new parking lots, unless they were off Island as part of a park and ride project. Another suggestion was to take out the raised rumble strips surrounding the roundabout, at Gulf Drive and Bridge Street and they decided that landscaping should be used for traffic calming so as not to impede emergency vehicles.

Under special places and projects, that group decided that an earlier suggestion to build gutters along Gulf Drive would impeded storm water runoff. Instead, they suggested building more collection and treatment areas along the street.

They suggested that neighbors of Herb Dolan Park hold their own visioning to decide what to do around the city's largest park. They also wanted to develop a partnership and connectivity with the Cortez Waterfronts program and Manatee County to work on future projects.

The group handling the downtown CAR district tackled a lot of subjects including preservation of historical buildings. One suggestion from Phillips was to develop a historic overlay map to prevent buildings in those areas from being torn down and replaced with new ones. They said that an overlay should also be developed for the north end of the city. They also wanted to develop the new WAVES office on Church Street into a preserved historic building.

WAVES holds its next visioning session on Saturday, May 13, from 9 a.m. to noon at city hall. Those who are interested, but cannot attend the weeknight meetings are invited to help the committee work on a vision for the city's future.

For information, call 778-1005.


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