Cortez Trailer Park fights back
D Coy Ducks to change hands
Accidents mar Sunday fun
Price designated chief fire officer
Further delay for Coquina Beach Trail
removal to start at Kingfish ramp
Request to remove pavers refused
Lannon's finances running low
Park fights back
By Cindy Lane
sun staff writer
CORTEZ Cortez residents circled the wagons
Thursday night against a developers $10.8 million
proposal to buy the Cortez Trailer Park.
Developer Carlos Beruff, president of Bradenton-based
Medallion Homes Gulf Coast Inc., made the offer last
month for the 5-acre property, which borders the Intracoastal
Waterway and includes 79 trailers, cottages, a marina,
a restaurant and a historic community center dating
to the 1890s.
The parks 79-member association, whose members
lease their lots, offered the same amount to park
owner Butch Howey, but he refused to accept it, association
President Bob Coulter said.
"Butch Howey must be a stone wall," Coulter
said, visibly distressed over the prospect that he
and his neighbors mostly senior citizens
might lose their homes.
Cortez village residents offered to help "stonewall"
Beruffs purchase offer at the crowded community
"Lets build it high, wide, thick and deep
so he cant get over, under, around or through,"
Coulter said to cheers.
Villagers applauded when Cortez Village Historical
Society member Linda Molto announced that journals
dating back to the 1930s had recently surfaced, showing
that the trailer parks residents and the residents
of the Cortez fishing village are intertwined like
the fibers in a mullet net.
Cortezians take pride in pulling together against
a common enemy, whether its a hurricane, a proposal
to ban gill nets, or a developer.
Piero Rivolta tried to build a waterfront "boatel"
a boat/hotel development with four buildings
containing 20 units in the historic fishing village
in 2004, but overwhelming opposition forced him to
abandon his plans.
"Nothing is a done deal when we, the people,
get together," Cortez resident Mary Fulford Green
More questions than answers
Residents invited Manatee County Commissioner Jane
von Hahmann and county planner Carol Clarke to the
meeting to answer questions, but there were many more
questions than answers.
Some neighboring residents were concerned about high-rise
condos replacing the trailer park.
While the current land use designation for the site
is a trailer park, the future land use designation
is for light industrial use, which does not allow
residences, von Hahmann said.
For a developer to change that designation to allow
condos would require a change in the countys
comprehensive plan, Clarke said.
"Thats not something thats done lightly,"
von Hahmann said.
But Beruff may not be planning to build condos. VonHahmann
said that he told her he was considering building
a marina storage facility similar to the one at the
west end of the Cortez bridge.
The Cortez Vision Plan does not allow enclosed boat
storage on the trailer park site, she said, adding
that anyone can petition the county commission to
change existing rules.
"Whether they would be successful or not depends
on what the board is willing to give to them,"
Beruff did not respond to telephone inquiries about
"Whatever it is, its not good for Cortez
Trailer Park or Cortez Village," said an emotional
Harry Howey, 86, who operated the park from 1959 until
he sold it to his son, the current owner. He and wife
still reside in the park.
"Its his decision," the elder Howey
said simply of his sons choice to sell to the
The family does not know why Butch Howey refuses to
sell to the residents, said his sister, Linda Johnston,
who is concerned about her parents relocating, especially
her wheelchair-bound mother.
"They wanted to live the rest of their lives
here," she said.
Butch Howey did not return telephone calls seeking
Residents gather ammunition
Several options are being discussed as methods to
The park lies within Manatee Countys Cortez
Historical Boundary Overlay District, but is not within
the National Register of Historic Places Cortez
Historic District, which would affect how the property
can be used. The Cortez Village Historical society
hopes the presence of the 1890s community center on
the property could serve as ammunition for residents
to prevent development.
There are also flood zone considerations, since the
park lies on the Intracoastal Waterway.
The mobile homes in the park could be improved by
no more than 50 percent of fair market value under
current regulations, Manatee County Building Official
George Devenport said. If the parks use changes,
new structures would have to be built to current standards
on piling systems with breakaway walls a minimum of
30 feet from the water, with any living areas beginning
at 12 to 15 feet high, he said.
But the residents most promising strategy may
be to claim a right of first refusal, Coulter said.
Two years ago, Butch Howey put the park on the market
for $14.75 million, giving the association the first
option to buy it. Their counteroffer was not answered,
said Doug Morgan, co-chairman of the purchase committee
for the association.
Some say the right extends to the current purchase
"I think they have standing to pursue the right
of first refusal issue," von Hahmann said. But
while the two monetary offers are the same, Beruff
claims his offer differs from the residents
offer because theirs is contingent on obtaining financing,
while his ability to pay cash is not in question,
Beruff is a principal in more than 50 Florida corporations,
according to Florida Division of Corporations records.
"This may belong in a court of law to decide
what rights people have on leased land after so long
a time," von Hahmann said.
"It looks to me and to our purchase committee
that we will wind up in court," Coulter agreed.
"The best possible use of that real estate is
what is happening right now," said Allen Garner,
president of the Florida Institute for Saltwater Heritage
Beruff) may be facing a very big battle,"
he said. "Its not a battle that a reasonable
person would take on.
D Coy Ducks to
By Pat Copeland
sun staff writer
HOLMES BEACH An Island institution will soon
have a new owner.
Mondher Kobrosly, who owns Time Saver Food and Wine
Store, Jessies Island Store and Island Gourmet
Pizza and Wine, confirmed that he is buying D Coy
Ducks. In addition, he is buying the liquor license
from Anna Maria Island Liquor. Both sales are slated
to close on April 1.
Al Robinson, who bought D Coy Ducks four years ago,
said he gave Kobrosly the first right of refusal to
purchase the business three years ago.
"I told him at the time that if he ever got sick
of the business, he should talk to me," Kobrosly
In the four years he has owned the Duck, Robinson
has reduced the size of the kitchen, installed a pool
table, added package sales, sound proofed the room
and increased the capacity of the air conditioning.
The smoking bar offers a limited menu, music four
to five days a week, poker games and other activities.
Kobrosly said he would not change a thing, noting,
"Ill keep it the same, just like I did
when I took over Jessies. Ill keep the
same staff, but Ill put someone in charge. You
wont see me behind the bar."
"Im very pleased that the employees will
be retained," Robinson said. "I have really
enjoyed doing something with that place and giving
people a nice family-oriented establishment. The people
appreciate whats happened there."
As for the liquor license, Kobrosly said he plans
to transfer it to Time Saver. There he will expand
the wine selection and add discounted liquor and gourmet
items such as cheeses, olives and caviar. All the
food and snack items will be moved to Jessies.
He plans to continue his popular Friday wine tasting
By Tom Vaught
sun staff writer
Beautiful weather brought people
to the beach last weekend, but accidents caused two
people to leave the Island via Bayflight.
The first involved 42-year-old Karen Mischra, of Tampa,
who was injured when an RV may have brushed her as
it passed her on her bicycle in the 5900 block of
Marina Drive shortly after 9 a.m. on Sunday. She was
airlifted to Bayfront Medical Center. Her parents
live in Holmes Beach.
The second incident occurred around 10:48 p.m. on
Sunday when a vehicle, driven by 28-year-old Ronald
J. Landon, of Bradenton, failed to make the turn while
going south on Gulf Drive at the Manatee County Beach,
in Holmes Beach.
Landon was airlifted to Bayfront Hospital where he
was listed in critical, but stable condition. A passenger
in the vehicle was not injured.
Witnesses told the officer that the vehicle was speeding
as it entered the curve. The investigation is ongoing
and no charges have been filed at this time.
chief fire officer
Fire Chief Kenneth A. Price, of the West Manatee
Fire & Rescue District, has successfully completed
the process that awards him the professional designation
of Chief Fire Officer (CFO). Price is one of only
506 CFOs worldwide.
The Chief Fire Officer designation program is a voluntary
program designed to recognize individuals who demonstrate
their excellence in seven measured components including
experience, education, professional development, professional
contributions, association membership, community involvement
and technical competencies.
Those candidates exhibiting extensive experience and
or educational backgrounds are eligible for exemption
from certain components. All applicants are required
to identify a future professional development plan
and provide a letter of support from their supervisor.
Price has been a member of the district for 25 years
and currently resides in Holmes Beach.
for Coquina Beach Trail
By Tom Vaught
sun staff writer
BRADENTON BEACH A joint project between Manatee
County Parks and Recreation Department and the city
of Bradenton Beach remains stalled and construction
might not begin until May or June.
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection
(FDEP) initially gave the go-ahead to the Coquina
Beach Trail, a ribbon of asphalt that would run a
little more than a mile from Fifth Street South to
just short of the Longboat Pass Bridge between the
parking areas and beach.
The contractor, Billy Hay Excavating, set up boundaries
for the trail and cleared brush and trees from the
path in hopes of beginning the project around the
first of this month and finishing in 30 days or so.
All of a sudden, however, the FDEP told the county
that it wanted to see the plans, according to Manatee
County Parks and Recreation Department Project Manager
Tom Yarger. The contractor took down the forms that
outlined the path because they represented a safety
hazard to beach-goers, according to Yarger. He said
FDEP promised it would speed up the process.
f all had gone as planned, there might have been progress
this week, but this is not a perfect world, and Yarger
said FDEP recently asked for more information on the
$400,000 project. He said his department mailed the
information to the state agency last Friday, hoping
it would honor its promise to hurry the process, but
he said they are making contingency plans just in
The project is paid for in part by a Florida Land
and Water Conservation Fund grant administered by
the same FDEP that is looking over the plans. There
is a deadline of April 31 to complete the project.
I am applying for an extension of the grant,"
Yarger said last Friday. "I would like to extend
it through the end of August, just in case."
Hopefully the state agency will grant the delay on
one hand and approve the project on the other.
However, as noted, this is not a perfect world.
to start at Kingfish ramp
By Pat Copeland
sun staff writer
Manatee County plans to begin removing Brazilian
peppers at Kingfish ramp this week and continue the
effort across the Palma Sola Causeway.
Manatee County Commissioner Carol Whitmore made the
announcement at a recent Palma Sola Scenic Highway
meeting. Whitmore, the groups new liaison, took
over the duties from Manatee County Commissioner Jane
"Well spend the first month in Holmes Beach,"
Charlie Hunsicker, director of Manatee Countys
Conservation Lands Management Department, explained.
"The equipment we are renting will only remove
the Brazilian peppers, not the Australian pines.
"Well clear all the peppers and then stand
back and look at the Australian pines. Our employees
are not comfortable removing the pines, so well
have to hire a tree company."
Pines tagged for removal
Ingrid McClellan, executive director of Keep Manatee
Beautiful, said she and Beverly Burdette, who designed
the plantings for the Causeway, tagged the Australian
pines on the Causeway that are to be removed. Groupings
of pines by the picnic tables and on the southeast
side will remain intact, she said.
Hunsicker said the county plans to erect a 4- by 8-foot
sign to alert people about the exotic removal so they
wont think the county is removing mangroves.
"When we do the Australian pines, well
do another sign," Hunsicker said. "What
phone number can I put on the sign for people to call?
"I say this because of the resistance that weve
received in having cut the Australian pines for the
trail in Bradenton Beach. People will be upset."
McClellan said they could call Keep Manatee Beautiful.
Bridge rehab and sidewalk
In response to a question asked at a previous meeting
about a sidewalk from the Anna Maria Bridge to the
public beach, Whitmore said its part of the planned
"The rehab includes a sidewalk to hook up to
East Bay Drive," she said.
Hunsicker said he thought the county was responsible
for the sidewalk at Kingfish ramp.
"Ill check on the status of the sidewalk,"
Manon Lavoie, of the Florida Department of Transportation,
told the group. "It starts at the bridge, but
I dont know where it ends. Ill find out
when the rehab is planned."
Molly McCarthy, of West Bay Cove, asked if the power
lines at Kingfish ramp could be relocated underground.
Lavoie said it would be cost prohibitive. She said
the cost for 1/2 mile on dry land is $1 million and
suggested that the group approach local elected officials
about relocating the power lines as related to hurricane
evacuation and safety.
remove pavers refused
By Cindy Lane
sun staff writer
CORTEZ The Florida Department of Transportation
has refused the request of about 150 frustrated villagers
to remove noisy brick pavers installed last year on
Resident Zach Zacharias, who spearheaded the petition
drive, received a letter on Mar. 20 denying the request.
"The textured pavement serves as a traffic calming
measure which was specifically requested in writing
by the Cortez Waterfronts Florida," wrote Lance
Grace, an engineer with FDOT in Sarasota.
The written request appeared in a July, 2000 letter
from Manatee County Commissioner Jane von Hahmann,
then serving as the chairman of the Cortez Waterfronts
Florida Committee (CWFC), to FDOT director Chuck Lovell.
She wrote that more than 25 people at a July 20, 2000
CWFC meeting unanimously requested "traffic calming
methods to slow the speed of cars passing through
Cortez." Traffic calming features ranked second
of nine in the order of the number of endorsements
by people attending the meeting, according to the
"It hasnt calmed anything," Zacharias
said, explaining that when cars and trucks drive over
the pavers, the noise can be heard all the way to
Sarasota Bay several blocks away.
The pavers are not the width of the typical crosswalk,
he said, adding that at least one "pedestrian
oasis" is about 80 feet wide.
Its a case of "Be careful what you ask
for because you just might get it," Manatee County
Commissioner Jane von Hahmann said.
Samples of the material were presented to residents,
but people probably didnt think about the rough
texture creating noise when tires roll over it, she
said, adding that she didnt anticipate the problem,
"Nobody hears it more than me. Im on the
corner of Cortez Road."
In the future, von Hahmann said she may recommend
that residents considering the pavers actually visit
a site where they have been installed before deciding.
The pavers were among several improvements including
a new traffic light at Cortez Road and 119th Street
West a few yards west of an existing light, and a
dual left turn lane and median in the center of the
road running from the bridge to 119th Street West.
A survey of Cortezians taken by FDOT after the improvements
were completed cites opposition to the pavers and
to the right turn prohibition at the red light controlling
traffic from 119th Street West onto Cortez Road. Von
Hahmann said she will follow up on the survey.
The city of Holmes Beach is considering removing similar
pavers installed as narrow crosswalks last year because
they have begun to crumble, posing a hazard to pedestrians.
If that happens in Cortez, the pavers would likely
be removed, von Hahmann said.
finances running low
By Tom Vaught
sun staff writer
HOLMES BEACH As fifth graders at Anna Maria
Elementary School enjoy spring break, their resource
officer wishes he could return to work.
Holmes Beach Police officer Pete Lannon remains on
leave nearly a year since he started taking sick leave
for what was suspected to be a bad back. In late September
last year, it was diagnosed as pancreatic cancer.
He was given emergency treatment for his very painful
condition and when the public learned that he was
in financial straits, they responded by organizing
fund-raisers and giving money freely. Two funds were
set up, one through the school and another through
the Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce.
Lannon said last week that the funds are running low
and hes running into financial difficulty. He
has two houses and has been trying to sell one of
them since the cancer was diagnosed, but the housing
market is slow and there are few lookers.
The treatments slowed and eventually halted the cancers
progress and a new treatment alleviated the pain,
and as the Island got involved in another season,
"Officer Pete," as his students call him,
retreated to his east Manatee County home to recuperate
and hopefully return to work. But his condition is
Its still being treated and theres no
new growth," he said from his home. "Im
skinny, down to 159 pounds, although I have a good
Lannon said the chemotherapy has had an effect on
"My hair is white and its falling out,"
he said with a laugh. "They recently cut back
on the chemotherapy from three times a month with
one week off to two times a month with two weeks off."
Lannon said his energy level remains low, but he doesnt
spend his time sleeping.
"I get up and about," he said. "I get
out of bed a watch the news and try to keep up on
things, but I miss my friends on the Island and at
Lannon said he would come out and visit, if he could,
but he cant risk exposing himself to a lot of
people because the chemotherapy compromises his immune
system. He said he feels sorry that the fifth graders
did not go through the anti-drug, tobacco and alcohol
course he taught. He was named the top DARE (Drug
Awareness Resistance Education) administrator in the
country a few years ago. He was also named the Anna
Maria Island Suns Person of the Year two years
He says for now, he just takes his treatments and
dreams of the day when he might be able to return