Insurance laws revamped
North Shore trolley route idea revived
Dollhouse raffle to aid search for cancer cure
RoseBay may sell GSR property
commission OKs impact fee expenditures
dog odors prompt ruling
Students find �gold� in aluminum cans
it or leave it?
By Cindy Lane
sun staff writer
A seven-day marathon in the Florida House and Senate
ended Monday night with near-unanimous joint legislation
designed to reduce property insurance premiums, make
insurance more widely available and create a uniform
statewide building code.
Gov. Charlie Crist, who repeatedly insisted that the
special legislative session result in a "meaningful"
rate reduction for policyholders, has indicated that
he will sign the legislation.
Legislators quoted widely varying savings from 5 to
30 percent, but averaging around 20 percent for most
homeowners, much of it attributed to the expansion
of the Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund. Changes
in the fund will allow insurers to buy additional
reinsurance of up to $12 billion above the funds
limit of $16 billion, which is cheaper than private
reinsurance. Insurers are then required to pass their
savings on to policyholders.
The Legislature also focused on improving construction
standards as a long-term solution to the insurance
problem, creating a uniform, statewide building code
as recommended by the Governors Property and
Casualty Insurance Reform Committee, which called
Florida "the highest-risk state in the country
Lawmakers recognized that the legislation shifts much
risk to the state. If a catastrophic hurricane like
Katrina hits Florida, all policyholders and taxpayers
statewide would likely be called on to make up the
deficit. Consequently, more changes to the law are
likely during the regular session, which begins in
Meanwhile, some provisions of the legislation will
assist homeowners and business owners who have been
unable to get insurance, or have been required to
pay escalating premiums for existing policies. For
- Policyholders can lower their rates by choosing
a higher deductible or excluding coverage of their
- Policyholders can lower their rates by declining
wind coverage if they submit a written statement along
with the written permission of any mortgage or lien
holders on their property.
- Insurance companies are prohibited from denying
coverage based solely on the age of a structure.
- A grant program will be created during the 2007
legislative session to help low-income homeowners
- Residential and commercial policyholders can make
quarterly or semi-annual payments on their insurance
Other changes affect policyholders of Citizens,
the state-run insurer of last resort, now poised to
compete with private insurers.
- The legislation repeals the approved Jan. 1 rate
increase for Citizens policyholders and requires
the refund of premiums already paid.
- Citizens rates are frozen at Dec. 31, 2006 levels.
- Citizens will no longer be required to have the
highest rates in the state.
- Citizens will not be required to purchase reinsurance,
and must pass on savings to policyholders.
- Non-homestead property owners can buy Citizens insurance
without proving rejection by private insurers.
- Property owners can get Citizens coverage if a private
insurer quotes a premium at least 26 percent greater
than the comparable Citizens premium.
- Existing Citizens policyholders can stay with Citizens
even if theyre offered private insurance.
- Citizens is required to provide commercial insurance
coverage, and the Office of Insurance Regulation is
directed to transfer policyholders from the Property
and Casualty Joint Underwriters Association to Citizens.
- Citizens can write multi-peril policies in addition
to wind policies.
- Insurers must write property insurance policies
in Florida if they sell it in other states and sell
automobile insurance in Florida, eliminating "cherry-picking."
- Insurers can offer discounts for policyholders with
- Insurers must send non-renewal notices at least
100 days before the June 1 hurricane season begins.
- Insurers are required to provide coverage for sinkholes.
North Shore trolley
route idea revived
By Pat Copeland
sun staff writer
ANNA MARIA A request for the Island trolley
to travel over the humpback bridge and along North
Bay Boulevard and North Shore Drive was back in the
hands of the Island Transportation Planning Organization
(ITPO) last week.
Fred Loveland, director of Manatee County Community
Services, said the county had investigated the original
request and pointed out, "We run the county transit
system and are happy to provide service, but I work
for the board of county commissioners.
"My knowledge is that the trolley can more than
likely go up there. Typically we try and stay out
of residential areas. As far as I know, the bridge
would take the traffic. The roads are somewhat narrow,
but we could drive safely and slowly."
"It is totally residential," Anna Maria
Mayor Fran Barford stressed. "The streets are
narrow and theres quit a bit of negative resident
concern about that trolley going up there. It will
be a big issue with our residents."
Bradenton Beach Mayor John Chappie said he would defer
to the wishes of the citizens of Anna Maria. He asked
if the trolley could traverse Bridge Street.
Barford said she would support Chappies request
because Bridge Street is a business community.
Mike Howe, executive director of the Sarasota/Manatee
Metropolitan Planning Organization, said there are
Barford could poll her commission and if the
response is favorable, she could bring the request
to the ITPO for approval, then make the request to
the MPO, which would approach the county commission.
The Anna Maria Commission could take the request
directly to the county commission.
The Anna Maria commission could make the request
to the ITPO, which would make the request to the county.
He said the second option would get the most direct
result but noted, "There could be some operational
impacts to the other communities on the Island."
Loveland said the trolley costs $66 per hour to run
and if it takes 10 minutes to go around the north
end, it could generate six trips and hour with 20-minute
"You can do the math," Loveland said. "The
other factor is the logistics of it all. Once you
throw that off, you lose efficiency."
Chappie asked Loveland to calculate the cost of the
additional service and bring it to the next ITPO meeting.
Barford said she would take the request to the city
commissions Feb. 8 work session for discussion,
and then come back to the ITPO with the citys
Howe reported on the status of the change in the
bridge opening schedule from 20 minutes to 30 minutes
during season. The change was approved following public
comment and a public hearing and is in the process
of being implemented.
"It is being reviewed by legal counsel for the
Coast Guard in Washington," Howe explained. "As
soon as they approve the final rule, they will transmit
that for publication in the Federal Register. That
will then trigger a 30-day waiting period before the
schedule would become effective."
Howe said Coast Guard officials are hopeful that the
publication would occur this week.
Members also agreed to amend the bylaws to change
the requirement for each city to have two representatives
on the Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC). Howe said
the cities have never been able to find two people
each to serve on the CAC, and at the last ITPO meeting,
members agreed to one representative per city.
Currently, Holmes Beach has two people who are willing
to serve; former commissioner Don Maloney and Rob
"We are blessed to have two from Holmes Beach
that are interested and competent to do a good job,"
Barford said. "Were all about the same
transportation issues. I would like both members to
She suggested having three members from the Island,
but not specify which city. Bohnenberger suggested
having three alternates also. Chappie agreed. MPO
Planner Bob Herrington said he would write an amendment
for consideration at the next meeting, Feb. 20.
to aid search for cancer cure
By Tom Vaught
sun staff writer
HOLMES BEACH A golf tournament at the Key
Royale Club to raise money for breast cancer research
has provided an inspiration to a Holmes Beach woman
to give something to the cause.
Margaret Schuller, who spends half the year on the
Island and the rest of her time in Vancouver, Wash.,
has donated a large, homemade dollhouse to raffle
to coincide with the golf tournament.
Raffle tickets are $1 apiece or you can buy six for
$5 at the clubhouse. Anyone can purchase a ticket
and a winner will be chosen on Tuesday, Jan. 30, the
day of the "Fore the Cure" tournament.
Schuller said she built three previous dollhouses,
a log cabin and three 1930s-style stores before this
current one, which she started three years ago. They
come in kits, but every piece is glued together making
it very time-consuming.
"I always wanted a dollhouse when I was a child,
but my family didnt have enough money,"
she said. "I guess I decided to build myself
one and then I just kept going."
The house being raffled is a two-story model with
a large front porch. There is access to each of the
furnished rooms from the rear of the house and each
room has its own working light fixture or lamp.
"Were calling it the House of Hope,"
tournament chairwoman Mary Pat Swamy said.
Schuller said she was compelled to make the dollhouse
available to raffle after her sister, Lyla, died of
cancer last year.
The tournament, which begins at 9 a.m., is open to
club members and guests. There is no set fee to play,
but Swamy said everyone who enters gets an envelope
and is asked to write a check for any amount they
want to donate. Lunch is available following the nine-hole,
shotgun start contest.
Swamy noted that more than 60 people had already signed
up for the event as of last Thursday, and she said
she was hoping to raise a lot of money. She said the
club would probably do something every year to help
For information on the dollhouse raffle, call the
clubhouse at 778-3055.
sell GSR property
By Cindy Lane
sun staff writer
RoseBay Real Estate is poised to become the exclusive
sales broker for 11 Anna Maria Island properties whose
proceeds are slated to partially repay creditors of
U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge K. Rodney May is scheduled
to decide a motion this week to appoint RoseBay to
sell the properties, owned by GSR Development LLC
and AMI Development LLC, whose common principal is
Bradenton-based land development company GSR, whose
other principal is Steve Noriega, filed for relief
from creditors under Chapter 11 of the bankruptcy
code last year.
The total asking price is $9,279,000 for the 11 properties,
which do not include most of the lots in GSRs
two unfinished developments, Villa Rosa in Anna Maria
and Rosa del Mar in Bradenton Beach.
According to federal bankruptcy court records, GSR
owes more than $30 million to more than 20 creditors.
"Given the complete absence of liquidity and
cash in general, the challenges presented by this
case have been substantial," the motion states.
According to the motion, William Maloney, acting as
GSRs chief restructuring manager, recommended
RoseBay to liquidate GSRs properties after interviewing
several Island Realtors and consulting with creditors.
If approved, RoseBay would establish an office on
the Island solely to handle GSR marketing and sales,
according to the motion.
The company would advertise the properties locally
and on the Internet, place them on the Multiple Listing
Service, provide market analyses for prospective buyers,
produce signs "to capitalize on GSR publicity,"
arrange open houses and produce press releases.
RoseBay would earn a 6 percent commission on sales,
with the possibility of a 1 percent bonus for sales
contracts submitted before March 15.
According to the motion, the sale is timed to maximize
the potential number of prospective buyers arriving
for the peak tourist season, with a target date of
July to complete all sales.
OKs impact fee expenditures
By Pat Copeland
sun staff writer
HOLMES BEACH Fire commissioners last week
approved impact fees expenditures of $36,600 for a
fire extinguisher simulator and communications devices.
"The fire extinguisher simulator is a good public
education tool," Fire Chief Andy Price explained.
"This is an item that Deputy Fire Marshal Kurt
Lathrop has been trying to get a grant for, but has
been unsuccessful. Its something that we really
need. We can take it to businesses and train the lay
person how to use a fire extinguisher."
Lathrop said there are props that come with the simulator
and the district plans to order a trash can, a stove
and a flammable liquid cabinet.
"I felt those three would cover what were
trying to do," Lathrop said. "Our codes
require these things to be put in, but we fail to
take the step further and teach people how to use
The communication devices include voice amplifiers
that mount on the outside of firefighters masks,
which "will take our voice from inside the mask
and amplify it outside, so you can hear it clearly,"
"The other device is an interface that goes to
the radio. Its a lapel mike that hooks to the
radio and has two contacts on it. The voice amplifier
has two contacts and when you touch them together,
they link. Anytime youre talking on the radio,
its coming through inside your mask."
Price also reported on the districts focus statement
for the year.
"I felt it was important for our department to
have some sort of focus for the year aside from our
mission statement and our vision," Price told
the board. "Last year we used safety as or focus.
This year it will be Tuning the Engine,
and theres four competencies that we want to
The four competencies are:
Physical to become as physically fit
Mental to develop brain power to go
along with the brawn;
Professional to hone professional skills;
Emotional to become involved in family
functions and other civic- oriented pursuits to broaden
Fence, dog odors
By Pat Copeland
sun staff writer
HOLMES BEACH The Code Enforcement Board last
week found Mohamad Waliagha, of 515 57th Street, in
violation for having an illegal structure and a nuisance
and ordered him to correct the violations by Feb.
14 or face a fine.
Code Enforcement Officer Nancy Hall told the board
that Waliagha built a dog run with a six-foot fence
and a roof without a permit and the odor of dog feces
is a nuisance and impairs the value of the neighbors
Waliaghas neighbor, Chuck Potter, said he has
tried to resolve the problem in a friendly manner
over the past five or six years, but has been unsuccessful.
He said he was reluctant file a formal complaint.
"I spent the money to erect a PVC fence out of
my own pocket to see if that would buffer the noise,"
Potter explained. I did everything I could.
I talked to him 30 to 40 times over the years. The
fecal odor will make you sick to your stomach."
In questioning Hall and Potter, Waliaghas attorney,
Jack Hawkins, asked both, "You dont like
Mr. Waliagha do you?"
This prompted City Attorney Jim Dye to point out,
"Whether you like each other or not is not an
element of this case. The citys case stands
on the facts presented to you (the board). What is
before the board is what exists on the property and
whether that violates the citys code. Its
irrelevant to the boards deliberation and if
it is allowed to continue, it will contaminate the
Waliagha said that he had only spoken to his neighbor
eight or 10 times over the years and that he agreed
to put the dogs in at night and his children were
told to keep the area clean of feces.
"Ill take the cover down (from the fence),
Ill wash it more often and move the container
(of feces) away from Mr. Potters property,"
Waliagha said. Ill do my best."
The fence was built when the house was constructed
10 years ago and was considered part of the original
permit, Waliagha told the board. He also said building
officials had been to the home recently.
Assistant Public Works Supervisor Bill Saunders said
that a fence permit is separate from a construction
permit except in the case of commercial construction
where there is a site plan. He also noted that he
had been to the home about three months ago to respond
to a question about elevation, but had not seen the
dog run or the back of the building.
Hawkins asked if the fence could be allowed to remain
as a non-conformity. However, Dye said it would have
to have been legal when it was constructed and because
there is no permit, the city considers it illegal.
"I dont think from what I heard that theres
anything to show that the fence is legally constructed,"
Chairman Chuck Stealey said. "The nuisance of
the odor is a serious problem. He needs to get a permit
and take care of the odor."
The other board members agreed.
�gold� in aluminum cans
By Tom Vaught
sun staff writer
HOLMES BEACH The Kiwanis Club of Anna Maria
Islands Grandparents Program with third graders
at Anna Maria Elementary School isnt all about
Sometimes theres a lesson to be learned, as
the students found out last week.
The theme of the monthly luncheon and meeting at the
Church of the Annunciation was the environment, and
the grandparents had a treat for the kids.
After enjoying a spaghetti lunch with some savory
garlic bread that most everyone came back for more,
the grandparents went out on the beach just west of
the church as the students stayed behind and listened
to a talk about the environment by Bob LoPicollo.
Finally, he told them to get in line and go out to
the beach also.
Their assignment was to pick up aluminum cans that
the grandparents had left on the beach and around
the beach grasses and put them into large plastic
While that type of an assignment is something that
might produce yawns from youngsters, they were also
told that there was money in the cans.
When they got to the beach, the grandparents had them
get on their marks, get set and go, and they were
off to the races searching around the dune areas and
pulling cans from underneath plants. They were forewarned
not to try to take the money out of the cans until
everyone was finished.
his years crew of third graders is a good one
and they generally toe the line when given orders
and the aluminum can hunt was no exception. When they
got off the beach, they stopped in a shaded area and
started shaking the cans to get the change to fall
Ralph Bassett, who is a long standing grandparent
in the program, said the cans had a new design and
that prompted him to make some changes. He said the
pop-up slots were smaller than before so instead of
putting quarters into the cans, he had to go to the
bank and trade them in on dimes and nickels.
Of course, that didnt slow down the kids, some
of whom earned a tidy sum while learning about keeping
the beaches clean.
Take it or leave
By Cindy Lane
sun staff writer
The family was snorkeling in waist-deep water on
a sandbar, the children popping up with sand dollars
in each hand, as if they had just unlocked a pirates
treasure chest and found gold doubloons inside.
One by one they started piling them onto a raft, until
dozens of sand dollars, brown, fuzzy and very much
alive, were baking in the sun. They hauled their trove
into shore and laid them out on the sand to dry, perhaps
with the thought of filling a glass lamp base with
But the stench of dead sea life soon discouraged them
from taking the sand dollars back to the motel room.
Occasionally, uninformed visitors decimate living
creatures in the waters off Anna Maria Island, not
knowing the rules that are meant to maintain the delicate
balance between vacation fun and seashell survival.
Here are the rules, according to the Florida Fish
and Wildlife Conservation Commission, to help shellers
decide whether to "take it or leave it."
In Manatee County, a sheller may not take or
possess more than two live shells (those containing
living organisms) per species, per day. Although sand
dollars are not scientifically classified as shells,
the rules apply to them, too. The exceptions to the
rule are oysters, hard clams, sunray venus clams and
coquinas, the tiny, colorful, clam-like animals for
which Coquina Beach is named.
A Florida recreational saltwater fishing license
(resident or non-resident, whichever is applicable)
is required in order to harvest a seashell containing
a living organism.
Selling seashells by the seashore, or anywhere
else for that matter, requires a valid commercial
saltwater products license if the shells contain living
All harvest is prohibited of live rock, Bahama
starfish (Oreaster reticulatis), longspine urchin
(Diadema antillarum), Venus sea fan (Gorgonia flabellum),
common sea fan (Gorgonia ventalina), any hard or stony
coral (Order Scleractinia), fire coral (Genus Millepora)
or live queen conch (Strombus gigas). Possession of
queen conch shells is permitted if the shells do not
contain any living queen conch at the time of collection.
More stringent rules may apply in certain state
or federal parks, national wildlife refuges and portions
of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.