The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 10 No. 3 - October 14, 2009


Bayfest to offer Island favorites
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

FILE PHOTO More than 100 hot rods, antiques and
specialty vehicles will be on display at Bayfest this weekend.

ANNA MARIA – When you get to the Bayfest on Saturday, Oct. 17, from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Pine Avenue, you might notice a familiar aroma among the tantalizing smells emanating from the food court.

The Anna Maria Island Privateers will be preparing and selling smoked mullet.

Privateer mullet smokes have been a longstanding tradition and fundraiser for the non-profit organization and many locals look forward to them each year. The smoked mullet will be sold during Bayfest hours, but supplies will be limited and are likely to be sold out quickly. Your best bet is to buy early. The Privateers will hold purchases to be picked up later in the day. The price is to be determined based upon fish size.

In addition to the smoked treat, 16 food vendors will set up tents to offer a wide array of flavors from the Island and the Gulf. Some of them will be selling food at the kickoff party Friday from 5 to 7 p.m., before Bootleg takes it home with live music from 7 to 10 p.m.

Vendors setting up both days and their menus are:

• Paradise Café and Catering with quarter-pound, all beef hot dogs, homemade chili and Italian sausage and pepper hoagies
• The Waterfront featuring fish tacos and carnitas;
• T&L Barbecue and Soul Food selling ribs and chicken, tallow rise, collard greens, baked beans and cornbread;
• Ad Good Eats, Inc., offering fish ‘n chips, gyros and snow cones;
• Tyler’s Homemade Ice Cream offering ice cream treats;
• Bite Me Beef Jerky featuring jerky treats with various flavors and heat.
Joining them Saturday will be:
• The Sandbar restaurant with lump crab cakes;
• Aaron’s Smokin’ BBQ with barbecued pork sandwiches and ribs;
• Ole’ Kentucky Kettle Korn with kettle korn, boiled peanuts, Italian ice and lemonade;
• Melinda’s Café offering bratwurst and lobster rolls;
• Cold Stone Creamery selling ice cream;
• A Moveable Feast of Holmes Beach selling white or cheese and pepperoni pizza;
• Corky’s Hot Dogs with – you guessed it - hot dogs.

In addition to food, there will be refreshments and a large selection of arts and crafts booths plus the classic and antique car show on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Organizer Bill Mergens said his phone is still ringing from people wanting to enter their vehicles, but he has reached his goal and cannot accept any more cars or trucks.

The Privateers also will be holding a fundraising raffle. The grand prize is a $600 gift certificate for the Tradewinds Resort in Bradenton Beach. Tickets will be sold throughout the day during Bayfest. The cost is $1 per ticket or eight tickets for $5. The best value is 20 tickets for $10.

Proceeds from both the mullet smoke and raffle will will help fund some of the many projects sponsored by the  Privateers, including the upcoming Christmas Parade complete with Santa, as well as their scholarship program that awarded $29,000 in scholarships to local high school students in July. 

Candidate forums set for next week

The Sun newspaper is sponsoring candidate forums for Anna Maria and Holmes Beach commission candidates for the Nov. 3 election.

The Holmes Beach forum will be held on Tuesday, Oct. 20, at city hall, 5801 Marina Drive. The forum will begin with a meet and greet at 6:30 p.m. Candidates will respond to questions from the audience beginning at 7 p.m. Forms to submit questions will be available at the door.

The Anna Maria forum will be held on Wednesday, Oct. 21, however, the location has changed due to anticipation of a large audience. The forum will be held at the Island Community Center, 407 Magnolia Ave., Anna Maria. Questions must be submitted in advance by e-mail to or dropped off at the Island Sun office, 9801 Gulf Drive, Anna Maria

For information, call the Sun at 778-3986.

City to pursue delinquent payers

BRADENTON BEACH – One indication of how tough times are right now is the growing lists of property owners who are delinquent in their sanitation and stormwater utility accounts. There is also a list of businesses that have not paid their business tax receipts.

The City Commission has decided to do something about the late payers since it, too, is feeling the effects of the tough times.

In a special meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 6, commissioners voted to advertise for a collection agency to contactthe late payers and to revoke the licenses of business behind in their tax receipts.

City Attorney Ricinda Perry told the commissioners that she has sent letters to the late payers threatening a lien on their property, but only two landowners responded.

The city is unique because it has its own sanitation department. While the citizens have expressed a desire to keep it that way, billing can put a load on the staff at city hall. Currently, delinquent sanitation collections total $54,923 plus $4,141 for delinquent rear pickup services and $902 for delinquent cardboard pickup.

The city’s stormwater utility fee is a fairly new concept that sets up a fund to improve drainage throughout the city and maintain it. Late payers owe the city more than $39,000 for that service. Because sanitation is tied with the health safety of the citizens, the city cannot refuse to collect trash at somebody’s address and the city’s hands are tied regarding the stormwater utility, since it cannot take away anything for people who don’t pay.

“I would put the stormwater and sanitation bills together and send each late property owner a registered letter,” said Commissioner John Shaughnessy. “As for the business tax, we could revoke their permit.”

Perry had a list of remedies to try for each type of bill. Currently, the city can impose a lien on property for late stormwater payments, but not for sanitation. She said they could pass an ordinance giving the clerk’s office that power.

“I don’t like the idea of a lien because you have to wait for them to sell their property to get your money and we need it now,” Shaughnessy said. “Why pass an ordinance if it doesn’t have teeth.”

Perry suggested using code enforcement on businesses that have their permits revoked.

“If you go with the special master, it’s quick and you can tack on collection expenses,” she said.

“There are 111 people who are delinquent, and that’s 10 percent of the registered voters,” Shaughnessy said. “That’s not fair to the people who pay their fees.”

Shaughnessy pointed out that the amount owed the city is nearly as much as the city borrowed from its reserves to balance the budget this year.

“If they had paid their bills, we wouldn’t have had to borrow,” he said.

Asked about how old these bills were, Deputy Clerk Karen Cervetto said that they went back five years, but she said most of the delinquencies only go back a couple of years.

St. Joe sells Perico property

BRADENTON – Minto Communities, a subsidiary of the Canadian Minto Group, has purchased St. Joe’s suspended Perico development.

“It’s a very attractive site, a beautiful location,” said Mike Belmont, executive vice president for Minto Communities. “People have already called expressing interest in it.”

He said it is against company policy to disclose the sale price and that the company’s plans for the site are uncertain at this time.

“We are looking at the product developed for the site by St. Joe,” he said. “We will continue with what’s installed (the infrastructure), and we will not exceed the heights and density that have been approved.

“In today’s challenging economy, we want to approach it in a deliberate fashion and determine what fits in with the community. Nothing will happen until late 2010 or early 2011.”

Manatee County Commissioner Joe McClash, who spearheaded a move for the county to buy the property, said he contacted St. Joe as recently as a few weeks ago, but his efforts were unsuccessful.

“I’m still not going to give up on this piece of property,” McClash said. “They did not buy all the property. The county should aggressively work toward acquiring the rest of it.”

St. Joe, which suspended sales in the high-rise condominium development named Seven Shores in 2007, was approved for 686 units in 13 buildings ranging in height from six to12 feet. Nine units priced from $600,000 to $1 million were sold as of September 2006.

Regarding the units sold by St. Joe, Belmont said the company did not purchase any contracts or obligations. He said Minto is considering a low- to mid-$300,000 price range.

The sale also includes the Perico Harbor Marina, which St. Joe purchased in 2004 and tore down in 2008. In 2005, the Bradenton City Council approved a plan, which included a wet slip marina, shops, restaurants and offices on the 16.52-acre site.

“The marina is approved and ready to go,” Belmont said. “When the plan was approved, the market was different. We want to make sure what was approved is the best use of the site.”

Belmont said as adjacent landowners, the company also plans to become involved in the county’s development of the 175-acre Perico Preserve, which the county purchased from St. Joe in 2007 as part of a lawsuit settlement. The preserve is located on the eastern side of Perico Island.

Dredging, speed zone planned for Jewfish, Sister Keys

An emergency dredging project and a slow speed zone are planned for the Intracoastal Waterway between Jewfish Key and Sister Keys at the south end of Anna Maria Island.

The Manatee County Commission voted unanimously last Tuesday to ask the West Coast Inland Navigation District (WCIND) to begin the dredging, using up to $300,000 in county navigation improvement funds.

The money will be reimbursed by regional district navigation improvement funds, said Fred Loveland, of the Manatee County Community Services Department.

A spoil site has not yet been determined, Loveland said, adding that the sand could be stored temporarily at Coquina Park until a permanent site is chosen.

To avoid having the sand moved twice, the board voted to request that WCIND place the sand on the northern end of Longboat Key’s Gulf side, which is severely eroded.

The board also voted to request that the U.S. Coast Guard institute a slow speed zone from the northernmost point of Sister Keys to the southernmost point of Jewfish Key.

City halts wedding advertising for residences

ANNA MARIA — The Island is becoming known as a prime wedding location, and one homeowner apparently wanted to get in on the action.

A complaint came into city hall that one homeowner was advertising her house on a commercial wedding Web site as a location for weddings.

The city has received frequent questions regarding the use of residences within the city for weddings.

“Visitors have even come to city hall to obtain a wedding license,’ Mayor Fran Barford told city commissioners at their Oct. 8 work session.”

City Planner Alan Garrett said he’s concerned that the current code may not be strong enough.

“I do not believe that the current code provides any restrictions to prohibit weddings from being in any residential structure on a daily basis,” he said.

The city and the homeowner in question were able to resolve the complaint, and the property owner will cease advertising for wedding business.

“But we may not always be able to resolve things so amicably,” he said. “This particular property owner wanted to be a good member of the community, so there was agreement to stop the wedding business there.”

Garrett said his first suggestion would be that the city amend the current residential district code to allow weddings only if the owner of the residence is present.

“This may preclude many such events, however, it may be possible for someone to actually rent out their home, in which they reside, for continuing wedding events.”

Garrett said another suggestion would be to amend the residential district code to prohibit any commercial uses.

A suggestion that one way to go might be to prohibit advertising for any commercial purpose such as weddings or birthday parties. However, that idea was nixed by City Attorney Jim Dye, who said advertising is considered a free speech issue, and therefore it might be tricky to regulate it.

Commissioner JoAnn Mattick expressed some concerns.

“I just hope we don’t go overboard on this, because one of my granddaughters wants to use my house for her wedding,” she said.

Garrett made it clear that any homeowner in the residential district could hold a wedding, graduation party, birthday party or any other normal use at their property.

“It’s only when they’re charging a fee for the party and we start to see 50 cars every other weekend,” he said.

Commissioners decided to take a wait-and-see attitude and to address the problem by strengthening the codes if further problems develop.

Board asks that liquor law be revisited

BRADENTON BEACH – When the city decided to clean up Bridge Street in the early 1990s, the city council, as it was known then, voted to limit the number of bars allowed. Since then, the former lone route to the mainland has transformed itself into the heart of the city’s business community, and now the pendulum is swinging the other way.

The Planning and Zoning (P&Z) Board agreed to hold a public hearing to consider changing the requirement that establishments serving alcohol be located no closer than 200 feet from other establishments doing the same.

The request came from JoAnn Meilner, co-owner of The Back Alley, an arts and crafts shop which occasionally holds opening receptions. Meilner is a member of the P&Z, and she recused herself from the meeting. She further requested that the city waive its $1,000 fee for a land development code text amendment.

Building Official Steve Gilbert discussed the unique situation under which businesses in the Historic Bridge Street Business District operate with regard to alcohol sales.

“The land development code is silent with respect to alcohol except in one place – Bridge Street,” he said, “I am told it stems from the wild and wooly state of the street in the past.”

Gilbert said that the city did grant variances to Le Creperie restaurant to serve wine and The Sun House restaurant to serve beer and wine with meals, but he said the city might want to revisit the ordinance instead of hearing variance requests in the future.

“You can’t start the change without a request from the city commission,” he said. “Until planning and zoning makes its request to the city commission to consider it, staff cannot work on it.”

P&Z member Art DeHardt asked if a change would allow every business on Bridge Street to sell alcohol and Gilbert said it depends on the wording.

After some discussion, the board decided to start the ball rolling on a change to the LDC by asking the city commission to consider it.

That request will be heard at the 1 p.m. city commission meeting on Thursday, Oct. 15.

Fish Hole to hold tournament
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

Bridge Street Bazaar manager Dana Snell
tries his hand at one of the lushly
landscaped holes at Fish Hole, which is
holding its annual mini golf tournament

BRADENTON BEACH – Get out your best putter and practice. It’s time for the Fish Hole’s Second Annual Golf Tournament at the Island’s only mini-golf course, 117 Bridge St., on Saturday, Oct. 24.

Players will play 36 holes for great prizes. The cost is $25 for adults and $10 for kids 12 and under.

First place male and female adults win a pair of Costa Del Mar sunglasses and Sanuk sandals. Second place winners in male and female win $50 cash and a pair of Sanuk sandals and third place male and female wins a $25 gift certificate from Bridge Street Bazaar.

First place kids wins a $50 gift certificate from the Bridge Street Bazaar and second place kids win a $25 gift certificate from the Bridge Street Bazaar.

"We’ll also have a great prize for each hole where somebody gets a hole in one,” Bridge Street Bazaar manager Dana Snell said. “For instance, there is a free smoothie from the Back Alley, a free at the Drift In and a two-night stay at the BridgeWalk Resort at one hole.”

Snell said that there would be a drawing for any two golfers who get a hole-in-one on the same hole.

Pizza and drinks will be provided for all players, he added.

Snell said that they are open to additional prizes from the business community. Just call him at 778-3388.

“This is a great chance to enjoy some competitive play at the Island’s premier mini golf course,” Snell said. “Come on out and enjoy our lush golf course and avoid the crowds during season.”

Snell suggests getting your reservations now since availabilities are limited. For more information, visit

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