The Manatee County Commission
is expanding a proposed tax relief ordinance
originally intended to benefit beach accommodations
Rather than limit eligible business owners to
those on Anna Maria Island and the Manatee County
portion of Longboat Key, commissioners asked
Senior Assistant County Attorney Pat McVoy last
week to rewrite the proposed ordinance to include
hotels and motels on all navigable waterways
in unincorporated Manatee County.
Cortez fish houses and marinas also would be
included, but restaurants and other tourist-related
business would be excluded.
"The whole purpose of this was to save
hotels and motels," said Don Schroder,
president of the Coalition Against Rising Taxation
(CART), which asked commissioners in May for
an ordinance that would allow Island accommodations
owners to defer their property taxes until the
sale of the property.
CART contends that sharply rising taxes are
forcing accommodations owners to sell
out causing a negative effect on the rest of
the tourism economy.
The county property appraiser is evaluating
property based on its potential "highest
and best use" which, on the beaches,
means condominiums instead of on its
income-producing ability, according to Schroder,
who also serves as chairman of the Anna Maria
Island Chamber of Commerce. Property Appraiser
Charles Hackney has said that is one of several
criteria his office uses to determine value.
An amendment to the state Working Waterfronts
law was passed earlier this year by the Legislature
allowing counties to pass tax relief ordinances,
which are intended to help property owners eligible
for "working waterfront" status.
Manatees proposed ordinance would roll
back property tax values to 2002 levels, increasing
a maximum of 5 percent per year for each year
since then, a much lower rate than the actual
commercial property tax increases on the beaches
in recent years.
"We went back to 2002," Schroder said.
"Thats when taxes really started
The deferment is like a loan with an interest
rate tied to the Florida retirement system,
currently about 8 percent, McVoy said
"Thats a pretty tough pill,"
she said, adding, "Its a mechanism
thats there that can maybe help sustain
your business through some unexpected difficulties."
The ordinance presents challenges, including
whether condominiums qualify for the deferral,
McVoy said, adding that if a condo complex is
operated like a hotel or motel ,with at least
six units open to an exterior and an office
on the premises, it could qualify.
She warned the commission that Hackney has cited
a constitutional mandate to determine the just
value of property, and could challenge the proposed
ordinance on constitutional grounds.
"Let him challenge it," Commission
Chairman Joe McClash said. "People should
be challenging the way theyre doing it."
Commissioners said they hope to pass the ordinance
before tax bills are mailed on Nov. 1.
The countys Tourist Development Council
is scheduled to discuss the proposed ordinance
on Aug. 21 at 9:30 a.m. at Holmes Beach City
Hall, followed by public hearings this fall.
of Center within four weeks
By Pat Copeland
sun staff writer
ANNA MARIA The walls of the Island
Community Center will begin tumbling down
within the next 30 days.
Board Chairman Andy Price signed the contract
with Walbridge Aldinger Construction Company
last week for construction of the new Community
"We have all the permits," Assistant
Executive Director Scott Dell said. "Were
hoping that the demolition can begin as soon
as Aug. 21."
Center officials have been working toward
this goal for five years.
"This has been delayed for a long time,
but it gave us time to plan for it all,"
Dell said. "Im psyched that this
community will have a building that it will
be proud of."
Programs have been moved to new locations
and the administrative office will be housed
in a trailer at the back of St. Bernard Catholic
Church parking lot by the end of this week.
"I have the deepest gratitude for the
church and the community coming forth to house
our programs," Executive Director Pierrette
Kelly said. "And also to our donors who
stepped up and to Northern Trust for giving
us the financing to make sure we can take
care of this project."
The next sports program scheduled for
the fall is soccer, and Dell said it would
be moved to the Holmes Beach city fields.
The offices of the athletic and teen coordinators
will be in the citys public works building,
as will the teen program.
The basketball program is a problem because
it requires a gym, Dell said.
"I havent met with the strategic
planning department of the construction team
yet," Dell said. "At this point,
I cant tell you too much. Were
exploring our options. It may be a condensed
or modified season."
"We always planned to maintain the programs
and services we have," Kelly added. "Basketball
has really become a part of our community,
and well move every obstacle to have
The Little League program will be held on
the existing fields at the Community Center.
Dell said the field will be blocked off and
the sprinkler system maintained and construction
equipment will not be allowed on the field.
Before and after school programs are being
held at Anna Maria Elementary School, and
counseling programs are being held in the
conference room in the Holmes Beach Police
Department. The majority of the adult and
senior programs have moved to St. Bernard.
Kelly noted, "Were trying to fit
into the churchs schedule and not impose
on them, Some programs will be at other churches.
Were trying to find places that they
can be consistent throughout the nine months."
Bridge lessons are being held in the West
Manatee Volunteer Fire Station in Bradenton
Beach, but the bridge players are meeting
at the Episcopal Church of the Annunciation
in Holmes Beach until October. Beginning Oct.
3, they will move to St. Bernard.
"Everyone is trying their best to be
flexible," Adult Program Coordinator
Sandee Pruett explained.
The SHARE program was initially set to be
moved to St. Bernard Church, but Pruett said
church groups have programs scheduled for
the activity center during the season.
"I thought it would be better to keep
it in one location, so were having it
at Roser Church Fellowship Hall.
The existing healthy trees on the Community
Center property will be dug up and relocated
along Palm Avenue at the rear of the property
and then dug up and replanted once construction
"Were responsible for the landscaping
of the new Center, and were working
hard to preserve what we have," Kelly
pointed out. "Because were saving
our trees, were saving a lot of money."
Dell said Center officials saved $27,000 by
keeping the trees and agreeing to do their
"Wed love to have help from any
of the gardeners and master gardeners to landscape
the property," Kelly said. Well
have a community event to help us put it all
together. Thats what the Community Center
is all about."
"We hope everyone will pitch in and get
their hands dirty," Dell added.
Challenge� Aug. 26
By Pat Copeland
sun staff writer
Dust off your bowling shoes and get ready
for some Island-style fun at the 16th Annual
OConnor Bowling Challenge on Saturday,
Aug. 26, sponsored by The Sun.
Billy and George OConnor and their wives,
Sharon and Sue, organize the event, and this
year, they will have a new trophy to award
to the bowler with the highest score
the Chuck Stearns Memorial Trophy. The trophy
is in honor of Holmes Beach Police Officer
Charles "Chuck" Stearns, who passed
away last year.
"Chuck was with us from day one,"
Billy OConnor explained. "He was
the kind of person that always made you happy;
you looked forward to seeing him. This is
our way of never forgetting someone special."
In addition to the trophy, the OConnors
have made three plaques honoring Stearns.
One will be presented to his widow, Lynda,
one will be presented to Holmes Beach Police
Chief Jay Romine to be installed in the police
department and one will be presented to Executive
Director Pierrette Kelly to be installed in
the new Community Center. Each year, the winners
name will be added to the plaques.
Check-in is from 5 to 6 p.m. at AMF Bradenton
Lanes, 4208 Cortez Road, Bradenton. Bowling
begins at 6 p.m. The fee is $20 per person,
which includes shoes and three games.
Following bowling, there will be an awards
party at the BeachHouse restaurant in Bradenton
Beach. Trophies will be awarded and prizes
from Island merchants will be raffled, including
a big screen television donated by The Sun.
Registration forms are available at Duffys
Tavern, 5808 Marina Drive, Holmes Beach; and
The Sun office, 9801 Gulf Drive, Anna Maria.
To reserve a lane, call the Community Center
at 778-1908 or Billy OConnor at 792-9099.
Other event sponsors are the Anna Maria Oyster
Bar, Duffys Tavern and SS20 Building
Systems. All proceeds will benefit youth sports
at the Community Center. The event has raised
$160,000 in 15 years.
�supressant� in works
By Cindy Lane
sun staff writer
Peter Cordani wants
to put Dyn-O-Storm on the radar.
Cordani wants to kill hurricanes using a
product he says could suck the life right
out of them.
The product is a different version of other
polymers made by Cordanis Jupiter-based
company, Dyn-O-Mat, that are used to absorb
pet urine and retain moisture in garden
The gel-like substance would soak up moisture
from a hurricane, cooling it and slowing
it down by 10 to 12 miles per hour, then
fall into the water or on land, reliquify,
and dissolve harmlessly, he says.
The glitch it needs about $48 million
worth of testing.
"If I didnt believe that there
were some possibilities for it, I wouldnt
have volunteered," says Peter Ray,
a Florida State University professor with
a Ph.D. in meteorology who is willing to
test Dyn-O-Storm if Cordani can secure the
Little testing has been done on hurricane
modification since 1998, when the American
Meteorological Society issued a policy statement
stating: "There is no sound physical
hypothesis for modifying hurricanes,"
says Frank Lepore, of the National Hurricane
"The time and money would be better
spent understanding the dynamics of these
things," he says, adding that concerns
about the product include whether it could
cause a drought, relocate a storm to another
country or negatively impact the environment.
"We dont know the environmental
impacts of the stuff dissolving in salt
water," he says.
Hugh Willoughby, formerly with the National
Oceanic and Atmospheric Administrations
research office, ran some preliminary tests
a few years ago, Lepore says.
He found it would take a significant amount
of the substance to influence even a small
section of a hurricane, so much that it
would have to be delivered by hundreds of
Nonsense, Cordani says, estimating that
only eight to 10 planes would be needed.
No one will ever know without research,
"We put a team together this year to
move forward, reaching out to Congress for
help," Cordani said, adding that he
also has consulted with Michael Brown, the
former director of the Federal Emergency
Management Agency. "My ultimate goal
is to see NOAA do the science and the U.S.
Air Force do the planes."
Meanwhile, Cordanis parents are moving
back into their Palm Beach Gardens home,
14 months after it was destroyed by a storm.
The new generator and storm shutters are
a good idea, but not as good as Dyn-O-Storm,
"If we would have used it in Katrina,
it would have saved lives, heartaches, and
millions of dollars."
sued over Sandbar expansion approval
sun staff writer
The Sandbars expansion project
is being challenged in court.
William and Barbara Nally, who own a house
adjacent to the Sandbar, have hired Dan Lobeck
to represent them in a circuit court challenge
to the citys approval of the expansion
projects final site plan.
In their challenge, the Nallys, whose property
at 110 Spring Avenue is adjacent to the Sandbar,
claim that the project "creates an adverse
effect." They cite the potential for
flooding, stormwater runoff damage, increased
traffic and incompatibility of uses
a commercial operation adjacent to their residence.
The Nallys house was built in the commercial
zone something that is no longer allowed.
The Nallys further claim that their use and
enjoyment of their property will be adversely
affected by the Sandbars expansion and
that the project will have a negative impact
on their property value.
The Sandbar expansion will include constructiing
a rigid canopy over the existing open-air
deck, constructinghandicapped-accessible restrooms,
paving accessible parking spaces, placement
of block pavers for a pedestrian walkway,
and installing a walk-in cooler unit.
The Nallys and their attorney maintain that
not all the required parking spaces are owned
by the Sandbar. Several lots are leased. The
leases are due to expire within two years,
and there are no provisions for renewal of
the leases, though one owner of a leased parking
area testified at the hearing that he would
renew his lease with Sandbar Owner Ed Chiles.
A petition for writ of certiorari was filed
July 28 in Manatee County. The challenge is
based entirely on the record of the quasi-judicial
hearing held before the city commission in
The Nallys, through their attorney, contend
that the final site plan approval "departed
from the essential requirements of the law,
denied the petitioners their due process rights
and was not supported by competent substantial
A certiorari action is not like a traditional
trial. There is no jury. Attorneys for both
sides argue their cases before an administrative
law judge. The entire case must be based upon
the record of the quasi-judicial action
in this case, the final site plan approval.
The transcript and the collection of documents
presented at the approval hearing will be
what the judge considers in issuing an order
finding that the city was correct or incorrect
in issuing final site plan approval.
In this type of review, the judge will consider
whether or not there was due process, whether
the city commission applied the correct law
and whether the findings are supported by
"competent and substantial evidence."
Both attorneys will have a chance to point
out to the judge any precedents they want
him or her to consider in making a decision.
No date has yet been set for the hearing.
news; hurricane forecast revised down
sun staff writer
If it seems like the hurricane season is off
to a slow start, there may be a reason.
According to Colorado State University researchers
who make annual hurricane season forecasts,
a combination of changes in the ocean/atmospheric
system means we probably wont see as
much cyclonic action as first predicted. Head
researchers Phillip J. Klotzbach and William
M. Gray have revised their prediction downward
in an update released last week.
Instead of expecting 17 named storms, they
now expect 15. The number of named storm days
has gone from 85 to 75, the number of hurricanes
from nine to seven, the number of hurricane
days from 45 to 35, the number of intense
hurricanes from five to three and the number
of intense hurricane days from 13 to eight.
That doesnt mean were out of the
woods, however. The average number of hurricanes
per season from 1950 2000 is 5.9, so
the revised prediction is still above average.
The average number of named storms is 9.6,
the average number of named storm days is
49.1, the average number of hurricane days
is 24.5, the average number of intense hurricanes
is 2.3 and the average number of intense hurricane
days is five.
The physical features that are making the
storm season less intense than first thought
include an increase in the sea level pressure
values, the strength of the trade winds in
the tropical Atlantic Ocean and a decrease
in the tropical Atlantic surface temperatures.
In addition, there is an increase in the Pacific
sea surface temperatures, which increases
vertical wind shear over the tropical Atlantic.
That wind shear is like the one that helped
tear apart Tropical Storm Chris last week,
weakening it to a tropical disturbance in
the eastern Caribbean.
The fact that we had only two tropical storms
during June and July of this year did not
necessarily impact the revised forecast, according
to the researchers. They pointed out that
there were several years such as 1950 and
2004 when there were few storms during the
first two months of the season yet there was
a flurry of activity during the final four
Last year was an unusually active one, in
fact a record one, with seven named storms
and two major hurricanes before Aug. 1.
What does this mean for us? Bradenton Beach
Police Lt. John Cosby, who serves as the citys
emergency operations chief, said we should
not let down our guard.
"As we saw last year in New Orleans,"
he said, "it only takes one direct hit
to put everything in turmoil."
approves oil drilling plan
sun staff writer
are on in Congress over an offshore drilling
bill passed by the Senate that is more restrictive
than a previous House version.
The Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act, passed
last week, would open 8.3 million acres in
the Gulf to oil and gas exploration in Lease-Sale
Areas 181 and 182.
It also would prohibit drilling within 125
miles of the Florida Panhandle or in the U.S.
military's training zone in the eastern Gulf,
which extends to 234 miles off Tampa Bay.
The protections would be in place until 2022.
The buffer zone does not extend to Floridas
The bill also provides a financial incentive
for states to allow drilling, allocating 37.5
percent of royalties that energy companies
pay for drilling rights to drilling-friendly
Florida Sens. Bill Nelson and Mel Martinez
voted for the bill, which passed 71-25, replacing
the Permanent Protection for Florida Act they
proposed in February, providing for a 150-mile
"This provides a tremendous zone of protection
for the state of Florida," Martinez said.
"I look forward to the day this bill
becomes law because that will be the day Floridians
can rest assured they have lasting protections
The Senate bill is more restrictive than the
Deep Ocean Energy Resources Act passed by
the House earlier this summer that would open
the entire U.S. coast to oil and gas exploration
as close as 50 miles from shore, with an option
for states to limit it to 100 miles or more
or allow it even closer than 50 miles.
Senators have said they will not accept many
Opponents of drilling say an accident could
ruin Floridas tourism industry and quality
hall caught with its roof down
sun staff writer
ANNA MARIA A summer thunderstorm and
a re-roofing job did not mix well at city
hall over the weekend.
Water got into the building on the west end
by the old entrance, according to Mayor SueLynn.
"We have ceiling tiles down and the carpets
are wet," she said. "The water apparently
came in the old entrance at the end of the
building and traveled along the side to the
east end of the building."
The mayor said there was insulation down,
but there appeared to be no damage to any
of the computers, the electrical system or
the air conditioning.
The cause of the flooding was not immediately
known. The old roof of the building has been
removed, and the new one hasnt been
"It may have been that things werent
properly covered up," the mayor said.
She added that there is ample insurance included
in the contract between USA Roofing, Inc.
and the city.
There was no estimate available yet on what
the costs will be to repair ceilings, dry
out the carpet and insure against the formation
of mold anywhere inside city hall.
The $80,000 roofing project began last week
and forced a change in city hall hours.
At press time, the mayor announced that city
hall would be open only from 8 to 11 a.m.
Monday, Aug. 7, through Thursday, Aug. 10.
Regular hours, which are from 9 a.m. until
4 p.m., should resume by Friday.