The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 9 No. 49 - August 26, 2009


Big step for littlest students
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

SUN PHOTO/TOM VAUGHT It is hugs and kisses
as kindergartners say goodbye to their
parents and head for their first day of
school. The process went well and there
were few tears from either parent or child.

HOLMES BEACH – There was an air of anticipation in the auditorium at Anna Maria Elementary School Monday as kindergartners and their parents awaited the beginning of school.

It was a big moment for the youngsters who took their first step into the fold of public education and their parents, who were there to encourage and reassure them, worked hard to hold back their emotions.

Many of the youngsters had already spent a year or two in pre-school and those who did so at the School for Constructive Play in Anna Maria got to know their future classmates. For some, however, it was a day of discovery and getting to know a lot of strangers their own age.

Maggie Carter, of Anna Maria, spent her pre-school in Sarasota. She said she was ready for school, however.

Joseph Ross, a School for Constructive Play alumnus, was ready to show off his new backpack.

Laura and Rob Alderson brought their daughters, Josie and Ava, and three reams of copy paper for their teacher, Melanie Moran. It had been suggested that parents send supplies like copy paper to school when they could to make up for budget cuts that took away the funding for a lot of items like that.

Andrew Cortini’s mother, Eleri, spent a lot of their time with him sitting on her lap on the floor sharing a hug.

Finally, AME Principal Tom Levengood told the parents it was nearly time for the kids to go.

“Even though your children are leaving you here to go to their classrooms, we want you to know you are always welcome to come and visit,” he said. “We found that it is better for the kids to go to their classrooms alone to avoid kids running to follow their parents as they leave.”

Levengood said he broke a bone trying to stop a student he thought might get injured doing that one year.

As they stood up to form the lines that would lead them to either Melanie Moran’s or Maureen Loveland’s classroom, one student broke down and cried. Her mother and Mrs. Loveland both reassured her and finally, she joined the trail of tots headed for their first day of school.

Tourney to honor Air and Energy
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

Trudy and Stewart Moon

Trudy and Stewart Moon will be recognized at the 19th annual O’Connor Bowling Challenge for their 19 years of service to the tournament.

“Every year, they buy the trophies and plaques,” Billy O’Connor said. “They are so great because they just say, ‘Send us the bill.’ ”

Other businesses that have been recognized for continuous service since the tournament’s inception are the Beach Bistro, the Chiles Group, Duffy’s Tavern and the Anna Maria Oyster Bar.

O’Connor also reminds participants that tomorrow is the last day to sign up to guarantee a lane with your friends for the tournament on Saturday, Aug. 29, at AMF Bowling Lanes, 4208 Cortez Road. Sign up is at Duffy’s Tavern, 5808 Marina Drive, Holmes Beach.

The donation is $25 per person, which includes shoes and three games. If there are any lanes left, you can sign up at the bowling alley from 5 to 6 p.m. Bowling starts promptly at 6 p.m. and ends at 9 p.m.

This year’s after party will be held at the Anna Maria Oyster Bar, 6696 Cortez Road W., Bradenton. Owner John Horne has promised beer and margarita stations, a full bar and bowlers’ specials.

Raffle tickets for a big screen television donated by The Sun and hundreds of outstanding prizes from local merchants and restaurants will be available at the bowling alley. Tickets are six for $5.

In addition to the raffle, trophies will be awarded at the after party. Trophies include high and low game, male and female; high series, male and female and the Chuck Stearns Memorial High Game Trophy. The trophy is in honor of Holmes Beach Police Officer Charles “Chuck” Stearns, who passed away in 2005.

For information, call Billy O’Connor at 650-5488.

Port Dolphin comments due

August 27 is the last day to weigh in on Port Dolphin.

The U.S. Coast Guard, one of several agencies considering approval of the port, published an environmental impact statement last month listing its expected impacts on boaters, marine life and underwater sand reserves used for beach renourishment on Anna Maria Island and Longboat Key.

Comments have been posted and are being accepted at regarding the proposed natural gas port, which would be built 28 miles from Anna Maria Island in the Gulf of Mexico, converting liquefied natural gas to gas at submersible buoys offshore and transporting it through a new 42-mile-long pipeline that would come ashore at Port Manatee.

Those in favor

Supporters of the project, including energy and maritime representatives, cite benefits including a positive economic impact and meeting a rising demand for a clean, alternative energy source.

Port Manatee Commerce Center favors the project, writing that “Port Dolphin is the best solution to bring additional natural gas to the southwest coast of Florida while at the same time protecting the area’s natural and living resources. The Port Dolphin project will also create jobs and provide an immediate economic stimulus to Port Manatee and related businesses.”

Associated Industries of Florida, representing employers and businesses, also supports the project, writing, “This deepwater port project will particularly have a major impact on the economy of west central Florida, the maritime community serving Port Manatee and the Port of Tampa, and will supply a much needed new source of clean energy for Florida.”

Other proponents of the project, including state Rep. Ronald Reagan, used the identical language to describe their support.

Sea Sub Systems Inc., a commercial diving business based in Indian Rocks Beach, supports the project because “Many businesses in West Central Florida are struggling in these difficult economic times, and Port Dolphin will provide a real economic boost when we need it,” wrote Operations Director Rob LaMaire. “Port Dolphin will offer employment and benefits during construction and during the life of the project.”

Tampa-based Hellenic Ship Supply also supports the project, citing Port Dolphin’s parent company, Hoegh LNG, as “…among the most efficient, courteous and respectable of ship owners in a long-established relationship developed over more than 15 years,” Alexander Korakis wrote.

Those opposed

Critics express concern about the project’s potential environmental impacts on navigation, fisheries and beach renourishment.

Among those opposed is Joneen Neilsen of Bradenton.

“Florida beaches are worth their weight in gold,” she wrote. “Already they suffer from pollution caused by shipping and toxic substances off Port Manatee. If government would like to create jobs, put solar panels on every house in Florida. That would create jobs and provide plenty of energy. It would be a better use of resources.”

Leslie Swackhamer, a Bradenton native who has spent summers at a family beach cottage on Anna Maria Island all her life, wrote, “The water is clear, the sand white, marine mammals are plentiful, the air is clean. This special island of Anna Maria is a haven for sea turtles and marine mammals - I see manatees and dolphins every day when I am here. Sport fishing is fantastic. That is why people live here and visit. Tourism is the main industry. There are few places of such natural beauty. Any ‘minor’ impact is unacceptable.”

Pete Gross of Holmes Beach questioned the project’s promised financial benefits.

“Nowhere are the specifics detailed – it is all smoke,” he wrote.

In addition, he pointed out that while the company proposed to provide renourishment sand before pipeline construction, “We require a compatible sand source forever, not one time only.”

“I believe that the only people who really stand to benefit from this gas terminal are companies who are only answerable to their stockholders and have little or no stake in the future of their developments other than commercial,” wrote Morgan Rothe of Sarasota.

ManaSota-88 weighs in

Conservation and environmental protection group ManaSota-88 recommends disapproval of the port application.

“Port Dolphin has not adequately demonstrated avoidance or mitigation of the adverse environmental impacts resulting from the project construction and operation,” Director Glenn Compton wrote.

The group anticipates impacts on water quality from construction, pipe laying, cooling water discharges, accidental spills and routine operations, he wrote.

“Unavoidable adverse impacts are expected on threatened and endangered marine mammals, including sea turtles, fish and migratory birds,” Compton wrote, adding that the Coast Guard’s environmental impact statement predicts that 22 acres of the sea floor would not recover.

The port also would impact fishing and the habitats that support marine life, he wrote.

Gov. Charlie Crist is scheduled to make a decision on whether to allow the port to be built by Sept. 11, followed by an Oct. 26 deadline for the U.S. Maritime Administration’s decision.

To comment on the project, go to, click on “Submit a Comment” and enter 2007-28532 as the keyword.

Ads go out for stimulus project bids
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

will receive $830,169 in federal stimulus funds for the corridor
enhancements project along Gulf Drive and Cortez Road.

BRADENTON BEACH – The first stimulus project on the Island is out for bids.

The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) advertised for bidders for the State Road 789/Gulf Drive Corridor Enhancements project on Aug. 20. The contract will be awarded in October and construction is scheduled to begin November 2009 and be completed in February 2010, according to an FDOT worksheet.

FDOT assigned $830,169 for the project, which includes adding sidewalks and landscaping on the west side of State Road 789 (Gulf Drive) south of Second Street to south of State Road 684 (Cortez Road).

Work will also be done along the west side of Gulf Drive from south of Cortez Road to north of Fifth Street South and along the east side of Gulf Drive from south of Second Street North to north of Fifth Street South.

The project was initially put together by the Bradenton Beach Scenic Highway Corridor Management Entity with the help of Manatee County, which helped the city get a matching grant. However, the city ran short of matching funds when the refurbishment of the Bridge Street Pier ran over budget because the restaurant’s footprint was increased and, according to then-major John Chappie, the city commission liaison to the project did not tell the city commission of the overrun. Chappie then removed the liaison from that position.

The plans for the project were shelved when the city had to abandon the grant, but when the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 offered money to Manatee County for road-related projects, the county commission encouraged cities to put together plans for the money. Bradenton Beach was the first to get its project on the table.

The sidewalk project will skip one location between Cortez Road and Second Street. Owners of the house east of Gulf Drive and closest to the Cortez Road intersection did not grant a right of way for sidewalks. Since then, the house has fallen to foreclosure and FDOT decided to skip putting the sidewalk there because it would take too much time to get the right-of-way.

Code board imposes hefty fines

HOLMES BEACH – Code board members last week imposed fines and costs totaling more than $11,000 on a property owner in two cases that have been unresolved since February 2008.

In the first case, the board found David Sandoro, owner of 6210-6214 Marina Way, in violation for doing work without obtaining permits at a hearing in February 2008. It gave him until March 6, 2008, to obtain permits or remove the work and pay the city’s costs of $250.

Sandoro appealed the decision in March 2008, but in June 2009, a circuit court judge upheld the code enforcement board’s decision. Sandoro obtained a permit for the work and a contractor to do the work on Aug. 19, one day before the board’s hearing last week.

“There are three items to consider when imposing a fine,” Code Enforcement Officer Nancy Hall explained. “First the gravity of the violation, any action taken by the violator to correct the situation and any previous violations committed by the violator.”

Hall said Sandoro had a tenant in the apartment, making it a life safety issue, that efforts to comply have been minimal and there have been continuous issues with Sandoro. She said the city would like the board to seek its costs of $250 and impose a fine for non-compliance from July 6, 2009, until the work is done, which would be approximately 50 days.

Attorney Peter Peak, representing Sandoro, said his client had trouble finding a contractor, but one began work that day and should be done by Aug. 24.

“Mr. Sandoro has made a good faith effort to comply with the order,” Peak told the board. “I request that no fine be imposed or the matter be tabled until the next meeting at which time the work will be completed.”

Board deliberations

Barbara Hines said the board could begin the fine as far back as March 6, 2008, but the board’s attorney, Michael Connolly, said the city was not asking for that because the case was on appeal. He said the board could impose a fine of up to $250 per day.

Hines made a motion to impose a fine of $250 per day from July 6, 2009, until the work is done, and noted, “The reason I’m moving the maximum is because nothing has been done to show good faith.”

“The goal is compliance,” Michael Faarup pointed out. “That’s a $12,000 fine; that’s hefty. He did make some efforts along the way.”

Ted Geerearts agreed with Hines, but Michael Klotz called it outrageous and said, “We should make Mr. Sandoro comply, but not retaliate for this dragging on. I would suggest $50 per day and that’s painful enough.”

John Wize said Hines' amount is excessive, but Joe Jackson stressed, “He waited until the last minute, he dragged this out and we have no guarantee that this will be corrected. It’s a lot of money, but $50 is not enough.”

Chair Don Schroder agreed with Faarup and said $50 is fair.

“That’s nothing,” objected Hines. “The message you're sending is, ‘Drag it out as long as you can and you don’t have to pay.’ ”

Klotz amended the motion to $150 per day plus the $250 in city costs and it was approved with Jackson, Hines and Faarup dissenting.

Sandoro’s second case

Also in February 2008, the board found Sandoro in violation for leaving debris and trash in his yard for two months. The board gave him until March 6, 2008, to remove the remainder of the debris and pay the city’s costs of $200.

Hall said the court did not review this case during the appeal because Sandoro’s attorney, John Fleck, did not file a brief. She said Sandoro came into compliance on July 29, 2008, 145 days from the date of the board’s order. She asked the board to recoup the city’s costs of $200 and impose a fine.

Peak said Sandoro would be willing to pay the $200 but asked the board to waive the fine.

Klotz suggested a fine of $10 per day, but Hines said that is “absolutely the wrong message to send” and suggested $50. Geerearts suggested $25 per day, which the board approved unanimously.

In the first case, if the number of days were 50 plus the city’s cost of $250, the total would be $7,750. In the second case at 145 days plus city costs of $200, the total would be $3,825, for a grand total of $11,575 in costs and fines.

Still divided in duplex expansion discussion

ANNA MARIA — After months of discussion at the commission level and at the planning and zoning board, the question of whether or not to allow duplexes to expand remains just about the same as it was on the first day the issue was raised. The discussion at the Aug. 13 city commission work session was little different than earlier discussions this year.

Positions do not seem to have changed, either on the part of commissioners or on the part of residents.

There are 65 duplexes in the city. Most were built in the area that became a single-family district with the adoption of the comprehensive plan in the early 1990s, which made them non-conforming. All duplexes in the city became non-conforming with the adoption of the new comprehensive plan last year, which eliminated the two-family district. At that time, all the residential districts were merged into one classification, which allows only single-family homes. All existing duplexes are grandfathered, or allowed to remain as non-conformities.

Under the comp plan, non-conforming structures can be rebuilt to the same footprint if they are destroyed by a disaster such as a flood or a hurricane. If the owner tears them down, they can’t be rebuilt as duplexes.

Duplex owners can make roofing repairs and they can add non-habitable space such as decks or storage spaces.

Under city code, you cannot expand on a non-conformity, but some commissioners want that restriction modified to allow duplexes to expand to the legal setbacks; some want duplexes to be allowed to expand and add up to 250 square feet one time only; some want to keep the status quo.

“But what about people who bought small duplexes planning for retirement,” questioned Rafe Sackett, a resident who lives in one half of a duplex? “My mother can’t afford to keep the big house on Tarpon since my father died. She wants to move to the duplex they bought years ago, but it’s too small. She needs to add some space.”

“This city is primarily for single-family residences,” said Robin Wall, representing another point of view. ‘If we allow expansion of duplexes, they’ll just add bedrooms and baths and make them more attractive to renters.”

Bob Barlow thinks the city should allow expansion.

“It’s a question of fairness and equality among all people that own single family as well as two-family property,” Barlow said. “Owners of existing duplexes should have the same identical property rights.”

Barlow said it was not the intent of the comp plan to eliminate the property rights of anyone.

The city planner, who said he wasn’t really clear on what the commissioners intended, said he’d prepare an ordinance with options that they can choose from.

Making water safe for people, marine life
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

SUN PHOTO/CINDY LANE Recycle your monofilament fishing
line in designated containers at area boat ramps.

With Labor Day just around the bend, a few tips for boaters and fishermen will keep people - and marine life - safe.

Boating safety

• Wear your life jacket.
• Attach a Personal Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (PEPIRB) to your life jacket.
• Install a GPS system.
• Keep flares on board.
• In a crisis, stay with the boat.
• Have enough rope to anchor in rough seas - seven feet for every foot of depth.
• Tell someone where you’re going and when you’ll be back.

Personal watercraft

• Life jackets are required.
• Do not operate a personal watercraft from a half hour after sunset to a half hour before sunrise.
• Operators must be at least 14 years of age.
• A person must be at least 18 years of age to rent a personal watercraft.
• Operators 21 years of age or younger are required to have completed a National Association of State Boating Law Administrators-approved boating education course and have a boating education ID card and photo ID to operate a vessel with a 10 horsepower motor or higher.

Manatee/swim zones

• Observe slow speed/no wake zones and idle speed/no wake zones between the white buoys and the beach on Anna Maria Island’s Gulf side to protect both manatees and swimmers.
• To protect swimmers, buoys at Manatee Beach and Coquina Beach designate areas in which no vessels are allowed.


To prevent causing propeller scars, stay in designated channels to avoid running through seagrass beds, the principal food for manatees, and nature’s water filters.

Beach fishing license

Fishing from the beach or in water accessed on foot – as well as from many bridges, piers or docks – now requires a $9 saltwater shoreline fishing license. You do not need the new license if:

• you have a resident recreational saltwater fishing license.
• you are fishing from a pier that has a blanket license, such as the Anna Maria City Pier, Rod n’ Reel Pier or Bradenton Beach Pier.
• you are fishing in your home county with a pole or line not equipped with a line retrieval device.
• you are 65 or over and are a Florida resident.
• you are under 16 from any state.
• you are a Florida resident and a member of the U.S. Armed Forces not stationed in Florida and are here on leave for 30 days or less.
• you are eligible for food stamps, temporary cash assistance or Medicaid.

Fishing line recycling

Recycle fishing line in designated monofilament recycling bins at boat ramps, piers, marinas and bait shops.

City approves solar lighting

BRADENTON BEACH – The commercial district will get new decorative lighting before the December holidays. While the design of the lights is supposed to compliment the district’s historic flair, the solar panels on top of each one won’t. But they will save the city a lot of money.

After months of researching and talking with a local outdoor lighting company, Bradenton Beach Public Works Director Tom Woodard brought a proposal to last Thursday’s city commission meeting that met with their favor. It will also clear up a point of contention between the city and the merchants of Bridge Street.

The new lighting, which was already in the budget, replaces lighting that was originally installed about 15 years ago when the city refurbished Bridge Street with the help of a state grant. The ornate, old-fashioned poles with arms under the bulb to hold holiday banners and decorations gave a historic flair to the street, but the city had to pull the plug on them when a person complained of getting an electrical shock by touching one of the poles in 2007.

The city hired an electrician who found that the wiring was so corroded that the lights were not properly grounded. The city set aside money to replace the lights years ago, but the project got sidetracked when Projects and Programs Manager Dotty Poindexter resigned.

The Bridge Street Merchants Association sent a liaison to city hall at a meeting last year to ask about the lights and the mayor assigned the project to Woodard.

Woodard talked with Beacon Lighting Products, which made the lights for the pier. The city wanted lights with the same design, but Beacon told Woodard about their solar products.

The city initially wanted to replace the light fixture and the wiring, but keep the poles and wire all the lights to solar panels at the city parking lot behind BridgeWalk, but Beacon representative Chris Bailey said the extensive length of wiring required would cause too much of a power drop. He said Beacon sold Manatee County lights with solar panels attached for use at bus stops. He wrapped up his presentation with positive points.

“It’s something that is moving forward,” Woodard said. “The mayor put the task to the department heads to save money and this will save money with no electric bills.”

Woodard added that the lights were guaranteed and would be built by Beacon in Sarasota.

Bailey said that the batteries in the lights are guaranteed for five years and the solar panels for 25 years and that they emit amber-colored light, which is turtle friendly. He said the lights would come on via a photocell and that the system is designed to run a minimum of 14 hours, which is the length of darkness during the long winter nights. Bailey pointed out another advantage.

“When the power goes out in the city, these lights will stay on,” he said.

Woodard said he spoke with Bridge Street merchants and they seemed pleased.

The commission approved spending up to $127,470 for 21 lights and $22,575 for installation.

“Wow, we’re actually doing it,” City Commissioner Janey Robertson said after the vote.

Woodard said that they expect to have the lights up before the Christmas holiday season.

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