New �quiet� trolleys up and running
Road fix prompts complaints
Whitmore, Meaker seek commission seat
candidates in Holmes Beach race
Maria to choose mayor, two commissioners
breaks neck after three-story jump
fight to beat red tide
owners have 30 days to correct violations
New �quiet� trolleys
up and running
By Tom Vaught
sun staff writer
BRADENTON BEACH The four
new trolleys that Manatee County Area Transit (MCAT)
recently purchased to replace the original five are
now in operation and if you havent noticed them,
it might be because they dont make as much noise.
MCAT Director Ralf Heseler said that the new vehicles
are much more refined and have quieter exhausts, which
is one thing the county sought when it went shopping
for the replacements. The original models were so
loud that residents who live along the trolley route
complained to the county.
Heseler said the replacements arrived late last year,
but there was a problem that required MCAT to have
the manufacturer make modifications. He said those
modifications have now been made and the trolleys
are running up and down the Island.
Meanwhile, the MCAT is talking with Sarasota County
about extending trolley service through Longboat Key
after getting approval for a grant to help finance
a portion of it. Thats the word from Heseler,
who addressed the Bradenton Beach Scenic Highway Committee
on Tuesday, Oct. 17.
"Over the past three years, we have been working
with Sarasota County Area Transit (SCAT) to go further
south in Longboat Key and as far as Lido Beach,"
Heseler said. "The two counties havent
been able to see eye-to-eye on how much money they
want to spend and the level of service."
Heseler said that the county lost a possible funding
source last year and talks stalled, but its goals
are still the same.
"The first goal was to connect service between
the trolleys and SCAT," he said. "That could
be as simple as having a SCAT bus run up to Coquina
Beach to connect the two systems. The paperwork is
in place and it could start any time."
Heseler said, however, that there is a new funding
source that could help pay to extend the trolley service
south, but it is only good for three years. Bob Herrington,
public transit manager for the Sarasota/Manatee Metropolitan
Planning Organization, had details of the Florida
Department of Transportation transit grant.
"Its a 50/50 grant for $370,000, which
means the local entities would have to match that
amount," he said.
Herrington said that Manatee County originally applied
for a $1.6 million grant, which is what they estimated
that it would cost to extend the service to St. Armands
Circle. That was the grant that it did not get last
"This grant is not for the full amount,"
he said, "but the two counties arent going
to turn it down, and they will try to get some sort
of service through Longboat Key."
Talks are ongoing between the two counties, according
to Heseler and Herrington, and officials hope to come
up with a plan soon.
"It will be ongoing," Heseler said Monday.
"The two transit systems will have to reach agreement
and since that agreement will require financing, they
will have to go to their county commissioners to get
After the successful launch of trolley service on
Anna Maria Island, residents of Longboat Key asked
their elected officials to see if they could have
it extend south. This was a surprise to officials
who had seen Longboat snub and attempt to ban a privately-owned
trolley that ran from Anna Maria Island to Lido Beach
more than 10 years ago. The residents objected to
the advertising on the sides of the trolley that paid
for the service. The current trolleys are government
owned and have no advertising on the outside.
Road fix prompts
By Cindy Lane
sun staff writer
CORTEZ Some residents and business owners
in Cortez say recent improvements to Cortez Road have
created new problems.
Villagers had expressed mixed opinions at a public
meeting a year ago about the improvements, which included
installing a new traffic light at Cortez Road and
119th Street West a few yards west of an existing
light and building a dual left turn lane and median
in the center of the road running from the bridge
to 119th Street West.
Now theyre complaining in writing.
The Florida Department of Transportation is going
door to door with a three-page survey that has produced
several concerns for future consideration, consultant
David Parks said.
One of the problems is the noise created by drivers
as they cross each pedestrian oasis a section
of red, brick-like pavers designed to slow traffic
down and give pedestrians a safe place to cross the
street. The oases are much wider than traditional
crosswalks, and therefore cause more noise. Cortez
resident Zach Zacharias said he can hear it inside
his home two blocks away.
The pedestrian oasis concept is backfiring, said Roger
Allen, coordinator of the Florida Maritime Museum.
Drivers see pedestrians standing on the new medians
and perceive that they are safer than they were standing
in the middle of the road before the medians were
added. As a result, drivers not only arent slowing
down, they go even faster, he said.
Other residents have complained that drivers arent
allowed to turn right on the red light from 119th
Street West onto Cortez Road, an intersection bound
to get busier as the museum continues its expansion
at the corner.
And new traffic islands at the west end of Cortez
village have made it difficult to make left turns,
resident Linda Molto said, adding that she often drives
a few blocks to avoid having to turn left where traffic
islands were installed.
Based on the results of the survey, DOT will consider
further improvements, Parks said.
seek commission seat
By Pat Copeland
sun staff writer
Democrat Sarah Meaker and Republican Carol Whitmore
are vying for the Manatee County Commission District
6 at-large seat vacated when long-time Commissioner
Pat Glass retired.
The pair will attend The Suns forum for Holmes
Beach Commission candidates at 7 p.m. on Wednesday,
Oct. 25, at Holmes Beach City Hall. Voters can meet
the candidates at 6:30 p.m. They will make opening
statements and then respond to three questions from
The Suns editorial staff prior to the city commission
Carol Whitmore, 51, has served as mayor of Holmes
Beach since 1998 and as a city commissioner from 1991
to 1998. She is an RN and currently works in the office
of her husband, Dr. Andre Renard. She has a 23-year-old
Whitmore has served on the Anna Maria Island Community
Center Board of Directors, the Manatee Opportunity
Council, Manatee Heart Association Manatee Childrens
Services, Solutions to Avoid Red Tide and Manatee
AIDS Council. She was honored by the Manatee Veterans
Council for coordinating the MED-VET program at Manatee
Sarah Meaker, 43, is a resource specialist for
alternative certification for the Manatee County School
system. She has a PhD in leadership education with
a specialization in human resource development, a
masters degree in instructional leadership and
BA in arts of political science. She is certified
in social science, grades 6 through 12 and exceptional
student education, grades K through 12. She is single
and has a 6-year-old daughter.
She is a member of the American Association of School
Personnel Administrators, Florida Association of School
Personnel Administrators, National Association of
Alternative Certification, Academy of Human Resource
Development, Main Line Chamber of Commerce and Professional
Association of Diving Professionals.
in Holmes Beach race
By Pat Copeland
sun staff writer
are in a race for two seats on the Holmes Beach
City Commission. Candidates include former Mayor
and Commission Pat Geyer, incumbent Commissioner
Sandy Haas-Martens, resident Sheila Hurst, former
Commissioner Don Maloney and Planning Commission
Vice Chair John Monetti.
All will attend The Suns candidates
forum at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 25, at Holmes
Beach City Hall. Voters can meet the candidates
at 6:30 p.m. The candidates will make opening statements
and then respond to questions from the audience
following a brief question and answer session with
Manatee County Commission candidates Sarah Meaker
and Carol Whitmore.
Incumbent Sandy Haas-Martens has served on the
Holmes Beach City Commission since 1998. Prior to
becoming a city commissioner, she served on the
Anna Maria Fire District Commission from 1992 to
Haas-Martens is vice chairperson of the Manatee
County Tourist Development Council, is a member
of the Anna Maria Island Kiwanis Club and the Great
Outdoors Conservancy Oktoberfest Suncoast Committee
and is secretary/treasurer of the board of Seaside
Gardens Civic Association.
She is a graduate of the Florida League of Cities
International Academy, Leadership Florida for Local
Government Officials, the Institute of Elected Municipal
Officials, Advanced Institute of Elected Municipal
Officials, Leadership Manatee, the Citizen Law Enforcement
Academy and the Manatee Citizens Academy.
Haas-Martens, 59, retired in 1995 as vice president
and branch manager of First of America Bank.
Has-Martens said that although the citys voters
approved a study of Island consolidation, it was
not placed on the Anna Maria ballot. She noted,
"It has to be all or none. As for consolidating
city services I dont think it would work.
Weve tried it before."
Limiting the duration of residential rentals "would
be nice, but I dont think we can tell people
what to do with their property," she said.
"People who rent to visitors need to be good
Haas-Martens said she needs more information before
giving an opinion on the size of real estate signs,
but maintains, "we must be consistent. If we
went to 4 square feet, whatever they can get in
that space is what they get."
The most critical issues for the city and Island
are escalating property values, taxes and insurance
she said, and observed, "Not only are the citizens
costs going up, but the citys costs are going
up too. At issue is affordable living on the Island."
Haas-Martens said she would bring experience to
the job "plus having worked and lived here
since 1969 and being very involved in the community."
Pat Geyer, 75, served as the citys mayor
from 1990 to 1994 and as a commissioner for 20 years.
She has owned property on the Island since 1954
and been a full-time resident since 1960. Geyer
has owned the popular Duffys Tavern since
She is a member of St. Bernard Catholic Church and
she and husband, Ed, have raised five daughters
and have four granddaughters and one great granddaughter.
Her community involvement includes the Anna Maria
Island Community Center, the Anna Maria Elementary
School, the Privateers Scholarship program
and Island Girl Scout troops.
Geyer said she would favor studying the consolidation
of the cities public works departments, but
not police departments or administration. She is
not in favor of total consolidation of the three
"Well never get the three towns together
anymore," Geyer said. "Each city would
want things their way."
On limiting the duration of residential rentals,
Geyer said there should be a 30-day minimum rental
period in the R-1 district.
"Too many people have been doing it for too
long in the R-2 district to change it now,"
Regarding the debate over the size of real estate
signs, Geyer said they all should be a uniform size
and that one rider and one tube should be allowed
Insurance and taxes are two critical issues facing
the city and the Island, she said.
"I like what CART (Coalition Against Runaway
Taxes) is doing," she said. "I would double
the homestead exemption and find a more realistic
approach to how they value the business and homes.
"As of 12:01 today (Oct. 18), my insurance
has been canceled. If the bank doesnt make
me take it out, Im not going to worry about
Geyer said she would bring common sense, experience
and knowledge of the Islands history to the
John Monetti, 45, has served on the planning
commission for four years and is currently vice
chairman. He has been general manager of the Columbia
restaurant on St Armands Circle for 12 years
and is director of government relations affairs
of the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association
He has a bachelors degree in management from
Notre Dame. He lives in the city with his wife,
Rejane , and three children, a 15-year-old daughter
and 7- and 2- year-old sons.
On consolidation, Monetti said, "The citizens
of Holmes Beach have made it clear that they would
like to see the issue studied. I think their wishes
should be fulfilled."
Monetti said he stands by the planning commissions
recommendation for 30-day minimum rentals in the
R-1 district. He said the 5 percent there that have
rental licenses could be grandfathered.
However, he pointed out, "Im running
for commission to represent the citizens and what
Ive been hearing is a lot of people voicing
their displeasure with that restriction for R-1.
I have an open ear."
On real estate signs, he noted, "You dont
want a proliferation of signs detracting from the
beauty, but we are a tourist community and people
have to buy, sell and rent homes."
Regarding critical issues, Monetti explained, "In
my view, Holmes Beach is a wonderful community.
The base is there; it is well run; it has a good
structure. But we should not become complacent and
assume that it will always be that.
"Issues will come to the commission and be
addressed. I would like to think that I have proven
myself as one that can digest an issue, boil down
an argument and render a decision."
He said his strength is his common sense approach
to issues and noted, "Often people get so involved
in a specific issue that they create tunnel vision
and dont look at the bigger picture and what
will provide for the greater good for the community."
Don Maloney, 78, is currently on the citys
code enforcement board and served on the city commission
for five years. He and his wife, Sarah, have lived
in the city since 1992. Their daughter and grandchildren
also live in the city.
Maloney is retired from the Harris Corporation,
where he worked in management for 30 years. He spent
seven years in Japan, where he was CEO of a joint
venture company between the Harris Corporation and
a Japanese company. He wrote a weekly newspaper
column for the Japan Times for three years and is
the author of seven books.
Maloney said he is "not pushing Island consolidation,
but I want to find out if theres any sense
in it. We finally got it on the ballot and 63 percent
of the voters said look into it. I think we have
a responsibility to do so."
Maloney said his only opinion on rentals in the
city is that the city must address overnight rentals
in the residential districts. He said a 30-day minimum
in the residential districts would be desirable,
but it is unenforceable.
Regarding real estate signs, he said, "The
ones we have now are acceptable. The problem is
that so many house are for sale, but that wont
One issue facing the city and the Island is managing
growth, Maloney said and pointed out, "We cant
ignore the growth. We have to concentrate very seriously
on the effects that growth has."
Another is hiring a professional manager.
"Half the items on our agendas could be resolved
by a professional manager," he observed.
A third is escalating taxes on Island businesses,
he said and advised, "We have to seriously
consider taxing the businesses on their profits
like we pay income taxes."
Maloney said he would bring to the job "experience
and dedication to making this place better. I have
the full time to do that."
Sheila Hurst, 44, has been an addiction therapist
at Manatee Glens for the past three years. She lived
in the city for 13 years before moving to New York
to get her masters degree at SUNY Albany,
then moved back to Holmes Beach with her husband,
Mike, and two daughters, 14 and 20 years old.
Hurst is president of Save Anna Maria, serves on
the board of directors of the Holmes Beach Civic
Association and is a volunteer animal care handler
for the well dolphin and sea turtle hospital programs
at Mote Marine.
She said the consolidation of city services, such
as the police or public works departments, is a
possibility but is not in favor of total consolidation
of the three cities.
"They need to keep their own identities. Thats
why they are unique," she noted.
Hurst differs from the other candidates regarding
residential rents and said there should be a 30-day
minimum stay in all the residential districts.
Although she had no recommendation on size of real
estate signs, Hurt said, "They should be the
regular, uniform size with no attachments. The one
sign is enough."
She said that critical issues facing the city and
Island are the environment, high insurance and taxes
and county intrusion.
"If we keep doing what were doing to
the environment, there will be nothing left,"
she maintained. "Grassy Point has to be preserved,
not enhanced. We need to get a handle on development
or well end up selling the Island to the highest
Regarding taxes and insurance, she said, "The
small businesses are dying. They will sell out and
well end up with concrete and hotels. Tourists
want to come to small friendly places and we have
to keep it that way. Changes have to happen in Tallahassee."
Hurst said she would bring youth, enthusiasm, education
and heart to the job.
Anna Maria to
choose mayor, two commissioners
By Laurie Krosney
sun staff writer
ANNA MARIA Two candidates are running for
the mayors office in the Island northernmost
city Fran Barford and Tom Turner.
The races for mayor and commission are non-partisan,
and all candidates serve at large rather than representing
Fran Barford has a long political history. She
was on numerous boards and committees in Temple Terrace
before serving as a city commissioner for eight years
and as mayor for six years.
She has a degree in occupational therapy from the
University of Illinois. She worked as a therapist
for 30 years in the Tampa area.
She currently serves as the chairman of the citys
planning and zoning board.
Barford and her husband, Tom, have owned property
in the city since 1987. They moved here permanently
Barford sees the mayors job as the CEO or executive
officer of the city.
"According to the charter, the mayor administers
the staff and the sheriffs contract," Barford
said. "The mayor is responsible for making sure
we move forward. I will present a lean, no frills
kind of budget."
Barford pointed to the $38 million budget she administered
in Temple Terrace, but she also said its time
to be careful of peoples pocketbooks.
"There is a tax revolution in our country,"
she said. "People are saying, Stop!"
She said shed deal with this by lobbying hard
at the county and state level for the citizens of
She noted that insurance rates, tax rates and policy
are largely set at the county and state level.
"I plan to use my governmental contacts and experience
to work with our legislative delegation to lower those
rates and to improve county service on the Island,"
Barford also stresses that one of her biggest priorities,
as mayor will be to treat citizens courteously.
"Staff knows what Im about. They know Im
going to expect good customer service. This is what
Ive done in 14 years of government service
Candidate Tom Turner has owned property in the
city for 38 years. Hes lived here permanently
for 22 years.
Turner retired from the U.S. Air Force as a chief
master sergeant after 23 years of active duty. He
then worked in property and casualty claims and real
Turner served for several years as a member of the
planning and zoning board and also as its chairman.
Turner said he thinks the mayors job is one
that should be part-time.
"There doesnt need to be an assistant to
the mayor with three on the staff in the front office
already," he said. "The staff can handle
60 to 70 percent of the stuff that comes in and not
drop it on the mayor to do it all."
The mayor should administer the city.
"They can speak soft and carry a big stick and
they can get a lot done," he said.
Turner would like to see the number of consultants
and the amount of money spent on them cut back.
"Too much planning," he said. "Put
everything back in the P&Z board. Most of the
present LDRs (land development regulations) were written
by the P&Z board. I did most of it myself and
ran it through the attorney. We dont need all
this consulting. Leave the P&Z to establish policies
and formalize them."
Turner said hed put the code enforcement officer
on the street where nothing is being done about some
of the numerous violations.
A special bone of contention for Turner, something
he said hed address early on as mayor, is in
the building department.
"He (the building official) works for everybody
in the city," Turner said. "He should be
able to communicate with the public in a more professional
manner than he does."
Three candidates are vying for two seats on the
city commission. Incumbents Linda Cramer and Duke
Miller are running to retain their seats. Jo Ann Mattick
is making a second run at a commission seat.
Cramer is seeking a fourth term on the commission.
Shes lived in the city for 26 years. Shes
an independent businesswoman. She has served as the
commissions liaison to the Community Center
and to the AMI Historical Society.
Cramer said shes seeking a fourth term because
of the importance of the upcoming adoption of the
citys comprehensive plan and the coastal overlay
"I especially want to see us protect our dune
system," she said. "We can do that with
Cramer said that overall, she feels the work on the
comp plan is pretty much done.
"Im supportive of the work done with just
a couple of reservations," she said. "Id
like to see the plan through its adoption."
She also said shed like to see a more business-friendly
"The business owners are a vital part of our
community," Cramer said. "With the tough
times, the tough taxes and insurance facing the business
community, its in our best interest to give
them all the support we can."
Providing oversight of the capital improvement projects
funded by the citys $1 million line of credit
is another reason Cramer said she is seeking a fourth
"We have to remain very diligent and fiscally
responsible to see that projects are completed properly
and continue to look for ways to get grants,"
Cramer also said she feels that the commission needs
to be cautious about hiring outside consultants.
"Certainly it benefits the commission to have
an engineer and an attorney and a planner, but we
have to be careful how much we are spending,"
Jo Ann Mattick
Jo Ann Mattick has been a property owner in the
city since 1999. She and her family own Pine Avenue
Mattick worked for many years in hospital management
in Ohio before moving permanently to the Island with
several of her children and grandchildren.
She was responsible for securing a $300,000 grant
from the Florida Department of Transportation for
Mattick said she would bring a fair and balanced view
to the city commission.
She said she is not in favor of the coastal overlay
district because shes concerned that impositing
it would be a violation of property rights.
"This is a perfect example of the big brother
mentality on the part of some of our elected officials
who believe they know better than we do how our property
should be developed," she said.
Mattick said she will work to defeat the COD and do
all she can to protect private property rights.
Mattick also said that shed work to generate
more money for capitol improvement projects from grants
rather from taxes.
"I think theres a lot of money out there,"
she said. "We can go after a lot of the grant
money to pay for what we need. That way we wont
have to raise taxes."
Mattick would like to see the commission set forth
clear guidelines for the administration.
"There have been some problems with the building
official getting information," she said. "Nobodys
willing to take the time to explain. Everything should
be an open book and everyone should get a response
to questions. I think that every citizen deserves
an answer to every question.
One of Matticks prime goals if elected would
be to oversee the comp plan through the rest of the
process of adoption.
"Then we have to re-write all our land development
regulations," she said. "We have to clear
out the discrepancies in the policies that dont
Duke Miller is seeking a third term on the city
commission. Miller has been an Anna Maria property
owner since 1957. He began coming to the Island as
a child while he was growing up in Lakeland. Miller
and his wife, Linda, moved here permanently in 2000.
Miller said that in this election, the main issue
to him is the comp plan.
"The comp plan is not a single issue," he
notes. "There are hundreds of issues inside the
comp plan. A lot of our neighbors spent a lot of time
working to get it to this point, and Im 100
percent confident that this is going to be reflected
in the way were going for the next 10-20 years."
Miller said he supports the business community in
"It makes me cringe every time someone on the
Island says were not business- friendly,"
he said. "Weve gone out of our way, but
the charges are leveled at us every time a site plan
comes before us. We have to make sure a site plan
meets the law and we do that."
Another thing Miller said hed like to see is
for the city to be more user-friendly.
"Its up to the administration to see that
we are as user-friendly as possible," he said.
"But the buck stops at the commission and we
need to consider in concert with the mayor
just how we can accomplish that."
Miller said he thinks that the line of credit the
city has secured is one of the best things the commission
has done. He also said he is in favor of the coastal
"It makes sense to me to do whats in the
comp plan and to protect the rest of the coastal area,"
he said. "All anyone has to do is look at Pass
Christian and Biloxi to see what over-building in
the coastal area can do in a hurricane."
Man breaks neck
after three-story jump
By Tom Vaught
sun staff writer
BRADENTON BEACH A 37-year-old Parrish man
broke his neck last month when he jumped from a third-story
balcony toward a swimming pool and missed after an
evening of drinking, according to a Bradenton Beach
The victim, Mike Edward Volker, was airlifted by a
Bayflight helicopter to Bayfront Medical Center in
Tampa. His nephew, 23-year-old Kyle Ranch, of Battle
Creek Mich., told Bradenton Beach police officer Roy
Joslin at the scene that they had consumed a 24-pack
of beer prior to Volker attempting his jump. According
to the report, he told Joslin that he and Volker were
"responsible adults and it was OK for them to
drink a 24-pack of beer."
When Joslin arrived at Club Bamboo, 2502 Gulf Drive,
where the pair was staying with two unidentified females,
Volker was in the pool bleeding from a laceration
to his head and Battle was holding him above the water.
Battle said that after drinking the beer, they were
"acting crazy and playing around in the pool
and Volker had decided to jump into the pool from
the third story balcony" of the resorts
walkway. He said that Volker had to climb over a metal
gate that was erected to keep people from falling
over the side.
Ranch said that Volker had said all night that he
was going to jump from there to the pool, "but
Ranch did not think Volker was really going to carry
out the act." When he did jump, he missed the
pool and landed on his head. One of the women with
the two men called 911 after seeing Volkers
Police called Club Bamboo manager Richard Dorsey and
initially told him that they would not file a report
on the incident, which was listed as assisting EMS.
Dorsey called police later and said that Volker had
broken his neck and he would like a report written
in case of legal action by the victim. He also said
that Volker was with the other three occupants when
they rented the room and that only Ranch and the two
women were supposed to be on the property.
The fight to
beat red tide
By Cindy Lane
sun staff writer
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commissions
Fish and Wildlife Research Institute has received
a $4.7 million, five-year grant to study the causes
of red tide.
Part of the grant, from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administrations Ecology and Oceanography of
Harmful Algal Blooms program, will fund research on
what types of nutrients feed the Karenia brevis microorganism
that causes Florida's red tide.
The amount awarded for the first year of research
About $100,000 of the first years funds will
go to Mote Marine Laboratory to support its red tide
nutrient monitoring program, especially its research
on the release of nutrients from sediment, Public
Relations Manager Nadine Slimak said.
Motes overall research is aimed at finding better
methods of detecting and predicting red tide blooms
and finding ways to reduce or prevent impacts on human
and animal life.
At a July red tide workshop at Mote, international
red tide researchers agreed that more information
is needed about the nutrient sources that support
the growth of red tide.
Red tide is caused by the population growth of the
Karenia brevis microorganism, which produces a neurotoxin
that can paralyze and kill fish, manatees and dolphins
and can cause respiratory and gastrointestinal problems
in people who inhale it or eat shellfish tainted with
A record bloom on Floridas Gulf coast lasted
throughout 2005, creating a dead zone in the Gulf.
Another, smaller and less intense bloom has been present
since July 2006 from Pinellas County south to Collier
have 30 days to correct violations
By Laurie Krosney
sun staff writer
ANNA MARIA City commissioners stuck to their
guns and ordered the owners of 504 South Bay to remove
a wall built in a disputed right of way and to correct
other violations at the building site.
Terry and Patricia Oleson were told to get the property
in compliance within 30 days, or the city would take
The problems at the property have come before the
city commission repeatedly over the past six months.
Underlying the issue is the question of ownership
of a beach access easement that runs beside the property
between South Bay Boulevard and Tampa Bay.
The Olesons claim the property is legally theirs and
they have the right to use it. The city says no, that
property is a right of way, the use of which was granted
to the city on the original plat map.
City Attorney Jim Dye explained to commissioners:
"Its just like the road in front,"
he said. "The land is owned to the middle of
South Bay Boulevard, but its use is granted to the
public. The property owner cant close it off."
Craig Colburn, the Olesons attorney said that
the five feet of the easement is clearly the Olesons
property, and they have the right to use it as they
Several months ago, the city issued a building permit
for a complete renovation of the house on that land
and for the construction of a cement block fence in
the middle of the easement.
Building Official Kevin Donohue said he issued the
building permit based on a professional survey submitted
with the plans.
"I rely on professionals," he said at the
Oct. 19 commission meeting. "The plans show the
property to be 67 feet wide, but its been brought
to my attention that the survey shows the property
to be 62 feet wide. The site plan is five feet wider
than the survey."
The matter came up when a citizen complained that
the Olesons had erected the wall in the middle of
the beach access path. When Donohue investigated,
he found the discrepancy. Because the lot is narrower
than what is shown on the site plan, the structure
of the house intrudes into the setback. Both are problems.
City commissioners told the Olesons and their attorney
in past meetings that if they would tear down the
wall and apply for a variance for the intrusion into
the right of way, that the commission would look favorably
upon that action.
The Olesons have refused that course of action, claiming
that to apply for a variance should not be necessary
since they own half of that easement.
The commission had authorized Dye to talk to Colburn
and the Olesons about those courses of action, but
the city attorney said there has been no movement
in the impasse.
Dye said there are three courses of action open to
the city, as he sees it: a variance request, legal
action, or a vacation of the land to the Olesons.
Commissioner John Quam moved to order the city attorney
to draft a letter to the effect that the Olesons must
remove the wall and bring all other violations into
compliance within 30 days.
Colburn charged that the city wanted to make the Olesons
tear down their house. He said that the commission
had the power to interpret their codes in a way that
would allow the Olesons to leave things the way they
are, especially since the city permitted the situation
as it stands today.
Commissioner Dale Woodland took exception.
"We have bent over backward to help with this,"
he said. "But we cant violate our own codes
and procedures. We have repeatedly urged the Olesons
to apply for a variance."
In the end, the commission voted 4-1 on the motion
to give the Olesons 30 days to bring their property
into compliance. During the 30 days, they can apply
for a variance for the intrusion of north side of
the house into the right of way.
Commissioner Linda Cramer voted against the motion.