Vol 6 No. 36 - May 31, 2006


Consolidation redo

Tax relief may be in sight

Galvano calls for insurance changes

Adult-style entertainment tough to control

Benefit for accident victims this weekend

AME sends 42 to middle school

Yes, Island will have summer fireworks

Attorney: Owners don�t have deeded rights to docks




Consolidation redo

By Laurie Krosney
sun staff writer

ANNA MARIA – Just as the consolidation movement appeared to be gasping its last, the Island’s northernmost city has signed on to take a look.

At their May 25 meeting, under the agenda item of old business/new business, City Commissioner Dale Woodland brought up the fact that he wants the elected officials to take a look at what would happen if the Island’s three cities combined some of their services such as public works and building departments and hired an Island-wide administrator to oversee day-to-day operations.

"I think we really do need to have an open mind about this," Woodland said. "John (Deputy Mayor John Quam) did a great job with his survey, and I appreciated Duke’s (Commissioner Duke Miller’s) editorial in The Sun."

Quam noted that the survey he conducted earlier this year showed that an overwhelming majority of Anna Maria residents favor taking a look at combining some services. An equally overwhelming majority does not favor consolidation of governments.

Commissioner Duke Miller, after some research, pointed out that if the three governments were to be combined, each city would lose its individual character. If you combine governments, you have to have one set of rules, codes and ordinances for everyone and one underlying comprehensive plan.

"Each city likes its own identity and likes the way its going," Miller said then, "We chose where we like because we like it. That’s true of people who live in Bradenton Beach, Holmes Beach and Anna Maria."

Anna Maria commissioners nixed the idea of putting the question of a consolidation study to their voters in last November’s election.

The position of the majority of commissioners was that the question that was to be put to the voters was too vague and they weren’t allowed to change it. They were just to ask whether or not the voters were in favor of funding a study of consolidation of the governments of all three Island cities.

Quam objected on the grounds that there was no dollar amount set; Miller objected on the grounds that the referendum looked only at consolidation of governments.

Other commissioners also objected, saying there wasn’t enough time to adequately study whether or not to put it on the ballot.

Much of the concern was that the city would lose its identity. And even though a referendum isn’t binding, commissioners were worried that there was no room in the wording that was being proposed to fund a study looking at consolidation of services.

So Anna Maria commissioners opted out of the consolidation referendum, and they took a lot of criticism from their constituents and from the press.

The other two cities did put the question to their voters, and an overwhelming majority favored the study.

However, no study was ever commissioned, though the Holmes Beach commission did ask Mayor Carol Whitmore to have her department heads work up some figures on consolidating services.

Several times in the past, both Bradenton Beach and Anna Maria have looked at combining their building department services with those of Holmes Beach, but in the end bowed out. The cities do maintain reciprocity agreements to fill in for each other when the need arises.

Exactly where the consolidation issue will go at this point is anybody’s guess. Anna Maria commissioners haven’t said what their next step will be, and they didn’t ask their mayor to take any action.

Miller said he has some proposals he’s putting in the form of a memo.

In an interesting side note, Woodland read some snippets from a 1959 edition of "Key Lookout," a publication that covered Anna Maria Island, Longboat Key and Siesta Key. One of the things he read related to a discussion of consolidation.

"Some things never change," he said.


Tax relief may be in sight

By Cindy Lane
sun staff writer

HOLMES BEACH – About 20 Island accommodations owners told Manatee County Commissioner Jane von Hahmann last week that they favor a county ordinance that would defer property taxes.

Von Hahmann, a Cortez business owner and commercial landlord, told the Coalition Against Rising Taxation (CART) that she’s eager to take advantage of a new state law allowing counties to pass commercial property tax relief laws for hotel and motel owners eligible for "working waterfront" status.

The law’s primary purpose would not be to save money for taxpayers, she said.

"My goal is preservation of the existing use," to keep hotels and motels running so that tourists continue to visit and patronize other businesses, she said. "I’m seeing this as hopefully doable in this upcoming tax year."

The ordinance would be a stop-gap measure to keep accommodations owners in business until the state Legislature revises the tax laws, which they’re scheduled to do next session, she said, adding that business owners should contact their state representatives about the statewide solution to the problem of rising taxes.

Meanwhile, she plans to announce her tax relief proposal next month to county commissioners, which would defer taxes for eligible accommodations owners until the property is sold, or for a certain number of years.

She suggests the ordinance be modeled after the homestead exemption, with a tax increase cap of 3 percent. She also proposes a tax forgiveness plan for accommodations that continue to operate for at least five years, eliminating the sixth year’s taxes.

Eligibility of the hotels and motels would be defined in the new county ordinance, according to the new state legislation.

"This is ‘mom and pop’ legislation," said Don Schroder, CART president and chairman of the Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce, adding that small hotels and motels reflecting the owners’ personalities are what attract visitors to the Island and bring customers to its businesses.

He estimates that 50 hotels and motels on Anna Maria Island and the Manatee County portion of Longboat Key could benefit from the law, as well as all the restaurants, gift shops, grocery stores and other businesses.

"For every $100 in room nights, another $3 is spent in the community," he said.

Galvano calls for insurance changes

By Tom Vaught
sun staff writer

HOLMES BEACH – An effort to extend windstorm coverage eligibility failed by one vote this year in the state legislature, but one lawmaker feels the battle is not over.

State Representative Bill Galvano, whose territory includes Anna Maria Island, spoke before more than 50 people at a special meeting of Save Anna Maria (SAM) last Thursday and he said he would not give up the fight to extend the area of eligibility.

Currently, only homes within 1,000 feet of the Gulf of Mexico are eligible, compared with five miles in Sarasota. Homes not in that territory would not be able to get coverage, although some lenders require it. The crisis created by this lapse of coverage has hurt the real estate industry.

The mandated area of coverage means property owners can get policies from a state funded company. Although expensive, it is the only way to satisfy the requirements of lenders.

When asked why the area of eligibility was so much smaller in Manatee County than Sarasota County, Christian Huth, of Oswald Trippe and Co., in Holmes Beach, explained.

"In 1984, there was a petition by agents to get the coverage guaranteed, but the Florida Windstorm Underwriters Association came and said you don’t need it, you have companies that will write it," he said. "The agents asked that the whole Island be included, but they said no, only within 1,000 feet of the Gulf."

Huth said that since then, all the companies that wrote windstorm coverage have left the area leaving the state-mandated coverage as their only recourse.

Galvano expressed disappointment at the vote in the state legislature to change the areas of eligibility, but he asked that everyone help by signing petitions or contacting other state lawmakers.

"You input is going to make a difference," he said at the end of the meeting. "Thank you for your participation, and you’ve got my heart on this one."

Adult-style entertainment tough to control

By Laurie Krosney
sun staff writer

An adult entertainment event at a rental house in Holmes Beach has opened a Pandora’s box of questions and worries about the possibility of similar events in residential neighborhoods on the Island.

The weeklong party at a rental home on Flotilla Drive across from the Island Branch Library was billed as "Mandingo Mania" and featured adult activities that went out over the Internet.

Now, local officials say they are learning that adult-style entertainment in residential neighborhoods is a very difficult thing to regulate.

"The adult entertainment ordinances that are commonly enacted can regulate things like movie houses, topless bars and places that sell adult books and toys, but it’s very difficult to regulate what happens in a private home – even if it’s a rental," said Holmes Beach City Attorney Pat Petruff. "Adult filming and the party you’re describing is not the sort of activity that an adult entertainment ordinance would capture."

You can try to regulate those things in a way that upholds community values, according to Petruff.

"But you have to be very careful that those regulations do not interfere with constitutional rights," she said.

The city attorney said adult entertainment laws are not something she’s completely familiar with, as she’s never been asked to look into them.

"But I do know that you have to craft them in a way that has a rational basis for what you are regulating," she said.

An example, she noted, would be liquor stores. Those establishments can be confined to certain districts and restricted to stay so many feet away from churches, day cares and schools.

"You have to craft this type of ordinance in a way that a rational basis exists in the impact for health, safety and welfare in a community," she said.

Petruff noted one topless bar owner has consistently challenged Hillsborough County’s adult entertainment regulations in court. She said in Manatee County there have also been some successful challenges to the adult entertainment ordinance.

"The ordinances have been regularly overturned in court," Petruff said. "It’s very difficult to regulate what takes place behind closed doors between consenting adults."

And that’s for commercial establishments. Regulation is even more difficult in private homes in residential areas.

"These ordinances, even when they work, are not geared toward what happened in Holmes Beach," Petruff noted.

"Unless there is an increase in traffic or loud noise, there’s very little you can do," agreed Anna Maria City Attorney Jim Dye. "If it’s a private party in a private house, and there is no excessive noise or traffic, there’s very little that government can do. Once the door is closed, government interest stops."

Dye said that the fact that the Mandingo Mania party in Holmes Beach was a business endeavor in a residential neighborhood was not really something that could be regulated, either.

"What about the guy sitting in his house and selling on e-bay all day?" he asked. "What about having a fund raiser for a charity or a political candidate and soliciting donations?"

Dye said as soon as a legal way is found to regulate such entertainment, the purveyors find a way to get around it.

For example, Dye said in Hillsborough County, they passed a law prohibiting the consumption of alcohol at some adult businesses.

"Entrepreneurs are now offering their activities without serving alcohol," he said. "So you go to the party and have iced tea."

Finding out what the government interest is in the activities that occur in a private house is pretty much a matter of looking at crowds and noise.

"Look at fishing guides that have parties for their clients at their homes after a fishing party," the attorney said. "Those can get noisy, and there’s an increase in traffic, so there is a government interest there, but it’s a very tough case to make.

"The person that has a home office at their kitchen or the guy who makes his living off e-bay is not causing any impact on his neighbors."

Dye said laws cannot withstand a challenge if they focus on the activity. They have to focus on the impact on the neighborhood.

"That’s why most adult entertainment laws are in the land development sections of codes instead of the criminal sections," he said.

About the only way to control the type of activity that happened in Holmes Beach last week is through contractual agreements between property owners and the people they rent to.

In fact, it was the rental contract that allowed the owners of the Flotilla house to terminate the rental of the party people last week.

Holmes Beach Code Enforcement officials said their hands were tied when they got a complaint. Police said their hands were tied. In fact, it was the "morals clause" in the rental agreement that allowed the owners to evict the tenants as soon as they learned what was taking place in their house.

Bradenton Beach has the only adult entertainment ordinance on the Island. Last week, Bradenton Beach City Attorney Ralph Brooks and Building Inspector Ed McAdam both said they are confident that their ordinance would prohibit a Mandingo Mania-style party within city limits there.


Benefit for accident victims this weekend

By Tom Vaught
sun staff writer

Mark your calendars for "Tranquility Jam," a benefit for the families of Zane Zavadil & Ryan Costello on Saturday, June 3, from 3 - 8 p.m. at the Anna Marie Island Community Center, 407 Magnolia, Anna Maria.

There will be music, food, refreshments, baked goods and a silent auction. The featured bands include Magic Tree Conspiracy, FunkSui, Blues Injectors and Jimi Gee & Friends.

Donations will be taken at the door or make checks payable to "Ryan Costello & Zane Zavadil Assistance Fund." This is a fund through Wachovia Bank, and donations can be brought to any Wachovia Bank branch. This will help the families of Zane Zavadil and Ryan Costello in their time of grief. Your financial support will help provide for med�ical costs, time away from work and adjustment to their changed lives. For more information call Joy at 812-2735.


AME sends 42 to middle school

By Tom Vaught
sun staff writer

HOLMES BEACH – It was a day of celebration last Wednesday as the fifth graders at Anna Maria Elementary school, all of them, got their certificates of graduation.

The program started with a video presentation that showed each student as a baby or young child and as they looked during the past year. Julie Dearlove compiled the photos with musical accompaniment.

Principal Kathy Hayes spoke of the first class to graduate from the newly built school and reminded them that souvenirs of the old and new schools were available for purchase. They included engraved bricks for a walkway they will be constructing, prints of the old school from Rob Reiber and T-shirts. She also talked about what they will be taking with them.

"Hang on to the core values instilled by your parents and teachers," she said. "Always say you did your best."

She asked them to be a friend to all of their classmates and to "always be a person of great character."

Hayes expressed appreciation for the high FCAT scores that the fifth graders had this year. She said that 93 percent of the class scored level three, four or five with nine students scoring at level five in math and two scoring at that level in both math and reading.

Students winning Presidential Certificates for straight As and Bs were Olivia Alstrom, Lindsey Bell, Candace Hanson and Elijah Pellegren from Mrs. Davis’ class. In Miss Kinnan’s class, they were Isaiah Beaton, Dayle Hoffman, Mallory Kosfeld and Emily Rappe.

Students in Mrs. Davis’ class with straight As were Dylan Allen, Kayla Aritt, Phillip Biddulph, Julian Botero, Emma Carper, Dalton Hicks, Stephanie Purnell, Courtney Schmidt and Chase Stripling. In Miss Kinnan’s class, the straight A students were Billy Annis, Cady Chennault, Hailey Dearlove, Christopher Pate, Savannah Schield and Taylor Wilson.

Students in Mrs. Davis’ class with straight As in math were Dylan Allen, Olivia Alstrom, Kayla Aritt, Phillip Biddulph, Julian Botero, Emma Carper, Dalton Hicks, Stephanie Purnell, Courtney Schmidt and Chase Stripling. Students in Miss Kinnan’s class with straight As in math were Billy Annis, Isaiah Beaton, Cady Chennault, Hailey Dearlove, Mallory Kosfeld, Christopher Pate, Emily Rappe, Savannah Schield, Molly Stoltzfus and Taylor Wilson.

Several students were honored for perfect attendance during the school year. Hayes said it was not easy to show up for all 180 days of school, especially with the illnesses that are common in school children. Perfect attendees were Dalton Hicks, Courtney Schmidt, Chase Stripling and Nicole Pierce. Schmidt was also honored for having perfect attendance during all six of her elementary school years.

The Sons of the American Revolution award for outstanding citizenship went to Kayla Aritt, Emma Carper, Dalton Hicks, Stephanie Purnell, Hailey Dearlove, Christopher Pate, Savannah Schield and Taylor Wilson.

Then came time for the Rotary Club of Anna Maria Island to give its "Service Above Self" award. Former Rotary President Jim Dunne and current Rotary President Birgit Sesterhenn gave two awards, one to Julian Botero and the other to Danny Krokroskia.

Counselor Cindi Harrison spoke of the two winners.

"Julian came to us just before the September 11 attacks from New York and it affected his school," she said. "He and his sister were instrumental in getting a Peace Pole from the Rotary Club here and for his school in New York.”

Harrison said that Krokroskia had become their electronic handyman during the move to the new school. She said he would come in early to help them wire the new studio where they put on their morning show.
"He had great ability technologically," she said.

Following the presentation of the certificates of completion, the fifth graders and their parents celebrated with a reception on the oak hammock.


Yes, Island will have summer fireworks

By Tom Vaught
sun staff writer

ANNA MARIA – Now that Memorial Day has come and gone, the next holiday will be the Fourth of July.

Once again, people will put up their flags and enjoy a day off work to come to the beach and enjoy fireworks after the sun sets.

Thanks to some quick work by the Chiles Group, the fireworks will go on despite the tragic death of long-time fireworks showman Jim Taylor.

The Chiles Group operates the BeachHouse restaurant, which holds the largest fireworks show on July 3, and the Sandbar, which hosts a smaller show on the Fourth of July.

Chiles Group Chief Operations Officer Stephen Ananicz said they have contracted with Bell’s Fireworks in St. Petersburg, to put on the fireworks shows over the July 4 holiday, as well as the New Year’s show at the BeachHouse.

"The two men I’m dealing with at Bell’s, Rob and Joe, knew Jim Taylor," he said. "They met him while attending an annual fireworks convention in Orlando and they took courses with him."

Ananicz said the new group would perform the shows the same way Taylor did – off a barge in the Gulf on July 3, off the beach at the Sandbar on July 4 and off the beach at the BeachHouse on Dec. 31. He said he began to think about getting a new contractor after the shock of Taylor’s death Jan.16.

"A couple of weeks went by and I realized I would now have to deal with somebody else," he said. "I got some names from our food supplier, Sysco, and talked with them. For the first time since we began working with Jim, I had to get prices."

Ananicz said the contacts from Bell’s knew Jim and they knew that he had a special relationship with the Chiles Group and they hope to develop a similar relationship.

"Our show kind of grew with Jim," he said. "In the 1980s, a local fireman was putting on the shows and when he gave it up, Jim took over. We never had to worry about it after that."

He said he feels the fireworks shows they have planned will be good ones, even though the familiar face behind it all is gone.

"We’ll miss Jim," he said. "We know the show must go on, but we’ll miss him."


Attorney: Owners don�t have deeded rights to docks

By Pat Copeland
sun staff writer

HOLMES BEACH — City Attorney Patricia Petruff told commissioners that property owners in the Sunrise Park boat basin do not have deeded rights to a dock.

Last fall, commissioners agreed to remove all the docks in the Sunrise Park boat basin and replace them with eight finger docks with 16 boat spaces. Docks would be 20 feet long. The city also provided water and a fish cleaning station.

Last month, commissioners a set an annual fee of $425 for each dock, and said that Sunrise Park residents would receive priority to rent them. However, at the meeting two owners said their deeds showed that they owned their docks.

Petruff said the language in the current deed that was provided to her office says, "… with boat docking slip 15 in the Sunrise Canal." However, the original deed dated 1959 says, "The owners of this property have a designated spot to dock this boat in the Sunrise Park canal."

"Somehow that morphed into dock 16," she said. "I don’t know when that happened. I spoke to Mr. Deitrich (attorney David Deitrich) about the language in the 1959 deed and he advised that the 1959 deed does not describe any specific property.

"In the view of property lawyers, it does not qualify as a deed because there is no way to locate the property on the ground. It does not give this gentleman any specific rights."

She said in her firm’s opinion, the property owners do not own the boat docks but have a priority to rent them. She also said the owners thought they were paying taxes on the boat slip, but according to the description on the county’s Web site, he is not being taxed separately for it.


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