The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 11 No. 46 - August 31, 2011


Mayor won't run

BRADENTON BEACH – It appears there won't be an election for mayor this year, even though a former city commissioner is making his first bid for the top job. Mayor Bob Bartelt announced late last week that he would not run for re-election.

"It takes up too much of my time," Bartelt said about the part-time job that pays $800 per month. "I want to spend more time with my new bride and enjoy retirement."

Bartelt became mayor last June when Michael Pierce resigned to attend to family matters. He was serving his first term as city commissioner and had been appointed vice mayor by Pierce, so he became mayor when Pierce resigned.

Bartelt was known for his efforts to speed up the process of bringing new projects to fruition, although for most of his term, the city had to curtail spending due to a drop in property values that form the basis of the property taxes that the city collects. Still, the city is in the process of planning for and installing trolley shelters, more public parking spaces, sidewalks and drainage improvements.

He said his biggest joy was working with good people, including the staff at city hall.

Former City Commissioner John Shaughnessy had already thrown his hat in the ring for the mayor's post. Shaughnessy was known for his jokes before meetings and was a voice for the Sandpiper Mobile Resort, where he lives, when the owners there added a series of improvements.

Two other city commission seats are open. Janie Robertson cannot run again due to term limits, and nobody has stepped in to run. Gay Breuler has already taken out papers to run for a second term.

Qualification for seats began Monday and goes through Friday, Sept. 2.

Robinson Farms density rescinded

The Manatee County Commission voted last week to rescind its approval of increased density at the proposed 49-acre Robinson Farms development near Robinson Preserve.

Last year, the commission had voted to allow up to three homes per acre instead of one on the Neal Communities property north of Ninth Avenue Northwest, east of 99th Street Northwest and south of 17th Avenue Northwest, despite citizen concerns about flooding and traffic during hurricane evacuations.

The commission approved an ordinance to amend the county's comprehensive plan to increase the density, and the amendment was approved by the Florida Department of Community Affairs (DCA).

Because of a change in the state's growth management law, the governor and cabinet were scheduled to decide the appeal instead of the DCA, until the commission intercepted it last week.

The county lost its jurisdiction over the appeal when it approved the ordinance, argued attorney Ed Vogler, representing Robinson Farms Inc.

"This meeting is not about the merits of the comp plan amendment, which you have already adopted," he said. "The question is whether you prematurely terminate the process of state law when there are no changes in the facts or the law."

Administrative law Judge D. R. Alexander, of the Florida Division of Administrative Hearings, recommended this spring that the DCA – now the governor and cabinet – find that the development is not in compliance with the county comp plan because the area is in a coastal high hazard area subject to flooding.

"Your (comp) plan says you do not increase density in the coastal evacuation area" in which the property lies, attorney Thomas Reese told the commission, representing neighbors Katie Pierola, a former Bradenton Beach mayor, and Greg Geraldson, who successfully challenged the decision.

Vogler said he will request that the hearing before the governor and Cabinet be held as planned.

Commissioner Joe McClash made the proposal earlier this month to revisit the narrow decision, which he said rested on then-Commissioner Gwen Brown changing her vote after improperly speaking with representatives from Neal Communities.

"Our attorney advised against that," he reminded commissioners last week.

Four qualify in Anna Maria

Anna Maria voters will have four candidates to choose from for three seats in the Nov. 8 election. Former Mayor SueLynn and planning and zoning board member Nancy Yetter are challenging incumbent Commissioners John Quam and Dale Woodland. Terms of office are two years and the salary is $6,000.

If elected, this would be the sixth term for Quam and the fifth for Woodland. SueLynn served as mayor from 2002 to 2006. Yetter has been a member of the planning and zoning board for two years.

Driver clocked at 72 mph

ANNA MARIA – One Lakewood driver broke the unofficial record for speed, surpassing 68 mph recorded in a previous incident, according to deputies on patrol in Anna Maria, where the highest speed limit is 25 mph.

According to Deputy Steven Stewart, he allegedly clocked a Mercedes driven by Christopher Evers, 21, on Tuesday, Aug. 16, at 72 miles per hour while using radar around Willow Avenue. He said he didn't believe it at first until he saw how fast the car was approaching and when he stopped the driver, a Holmes Beach officer pulled up and said he had been trying to catch up with the car.

Stewart said that Evers kept saying "I am from the Lakewood Ranch area and have never been out here before," when asked why he was driving so fast. Stewart issued Evert a summons to appear in court and said that the fine could exceed $1,000, if Evers is found guilty.

Bowling challenge rolls on
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

SUN PHOTO/TOM VAUGHT Visiting at the after-bowling party at
Anna Maria Oyster Bar left to right: George O'Connor,
Lynda Stearns, Sue O'Connor, Debbie Sniadach, Hugh and
Christine Holmes and Annie Mosseau.

The changing of the guard this year had no negative effect on the annual O'Connor Bowling Challenge at AMF Lanes Saturday. In fact, the fund-raiser for the Anna Maria Island Community Center was a sellout. Mike and Katie O'Connor took over for Mike's dad, George and his uncle, Billy, and the 21st annual event was a success.

Dan France had the top men's game at 222 and Erin Kosfeld had the high lady's score with a 182. Bryan Fritz had the men's high series with a 594 and Kosfeld's 468 was tops for the women. Ramon Camacho had the men's low score with a 58 and Megan Cusack was the gutter queen with a 38.

There was a lot of team spirit, even though the trophies went only to individuals. Air and Energy's blue shirted bowlers filled several lanes at one end of the alley.

Like last year, the alley turned off the lights over the lanes, which didn't have much affect on the scores, but the emphasis was on fun and the bowling alley set up two carts to sell beer and shots to make sure no bowler went thirsty.

After the challenge, most bowlers headed for the Anna Maria Oyster Bar for the trophies. Mike O'Connor set the new tone for the fundraiser when he announced the new generation had taken over. The younger audience members cheered, as did George O'Connor, who knew his days of spending hours on the phone and making sure everything got done the right way were over.

Mike was emphatic before the raffle drawings telling winners to go to the nearest booth, where Katie was seated, to get their prizes.

"Don't come to me because I will embarrass you," he warned, drawing laughs from the crowd.

After dozens of prizes were claimed, the grand prize big-screen television was awarded to Cory Bouziane, who lost his TV to a burglar last week.

Commission must designate use for six lots

ANNA MARIA – Commissioners must determine a use for the six lots at the corner of Pine Avenue and North Bay Boulevard in order to proceed with the $3 million purchase advised their bond counsel, Judson Freeman.

The advice came after Commissioner Dale Woodland asked that some language be deleted from the bond ordinance under discussion at last week's commission meeting. Freeman said the city charter requires an ordinance for borrowing money.

Woodland asked that the words "necessary" and "for city pier overflow parking" and "municipal" be removed from a section that read, "It is necessary and desirable to acquire six parcels of unimproved real property in the city limits for city pier overflow parking and other municipal recreational purposes."

Chair Chuck Webb asked if there is a legal requirement that the ordinance state a purpose.

"At some point you'll have to make a decision about what you want to do with the property," Freeman responded. "You have to have some sort of plan for the property, so someone can't say, 'You borrowed money but you didn't tell us what you were going to do with it. It's the legality of the bond issue.'"

Debating uses

Commissioner Gene Aubry agreed with Woodland about the pier parking language but said the purpose should be to "create open space."

Mayor Mike Selby said in 15 to 20 years the city would have to rebuild the humpback bridge adjacent to the property.

"In order to do that we'll probably need federal funds," Selby explained. "We've been warned by FDOT (Florida Department of Transportation) that we have to be very careful about how we obtain this property and what we call it. If we call it a park, we'll probably never see a penny of federal dollars."

Woodland said he felt that "municipal purposes" is sufficient, but Webb stressed, "We have to designate a purpose to make the bond valid."

Commissioner John Quam said he favors the term "open space."

"Manon LaVoie from FDOT explained to us that if we want to apply for another transportation enhancement grant, it has to have some relation to transportation," Commissioner Jo Ann Mattick said. "So I think we would have to specify some kind of parking and include pedestrians and bicycles."

City Attorney Jim Dye advised, "Think about what you don't want and then come up with something that's more appropriate. You could say 'municipal purposes including but not limited to …' and have a couple of examples."

Webb asked Dye and Freeman to come up with language regarding purposes with input from Mattick. The second reading and public hearing was set for Sept. 8.

Commission fixes comp plan glitch

ANNA MARIA – Commissioners approved on second reading a comprehensive plan amendment to fix a glitch that would have prohibited development along the Gulf.

The glitch was discovered when owners wanted to develop property along Park Avenue and Beach Street. City officials learned that the land use category along the Gulf was changed from preservation to conservation in a 2007 revision of the 1989 comprehensive plan. No development is allowed in the conservation category.

The city has submitted a text and map change to the Florida Department of Community Affairs in order to restore the category to its former designation, which would allow construction. The DCA offered suggestions on the wording.

"We incorporated their suggestions into the wording and now it's before us as the final document," City Planner Alan Garrett explained. "DCA did ask that we place a limitation on the number of units that exist in the conservation land use category that can receive permits and those lands that are vacant that would be receiving building permits."

Garrett said there are 25 existing residential units and 16 more can be constructed for a total of 41.

Limiting development

"This language will limit the amount of development that we can have on the remaining vacant lots," he continued. "We have had the concern of somebody combining two or three of the lots, tearing them (structures) down and replatting for six or seven lots. This is a way to keep that from happening."

Commissioner Jo Ann Mattick asked how he determined the number of lots.

"We did a thorough analysis with maps and records and looked at each individual lot in order to determine which lots are vacant," Garrett replied. "Everybody will have the ability to pull a building permit."

Mattick asked if they have to make any change in language for the preservation land use category, and Garrett said they eliminated it and only have the conservation land use category.

Commissioner Dale Woodland asked if the language would hold up in court.

"Yes," City Attorney Jim Dye replied. "The research was based on what was existing in the city and allows it to be put to a reasonable use. A reasonable use is being defined as a single-family home on an existing lot.

"Because this is a waterfront sensitive area, the city can say it is not reasonable to allow further division of that land and increase density. It's with the DCA's encouragement that we put it in there."

Garrett said the next step would be to amend the land development regulations to make them consistent with the comprehensive plan amendment.

Historic store renovations to resume

SUN PHOTO/CINDY LANE A historic water cistern has been
restored and may help the building be designated green,
supplying rain water to the rest rooms.

CORTEZ – The shutters on the 1890s Bratton store at the Florida Maritime Museum at Cortez may not be the only thing green about this historic building when it's finished.

The Florida Institute for Saltwater Heritage (FISH) and Manatee County are working towards having the building certified green under Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards.

Plans are underway to resume interior renovations in a green manner, site manager Ryan Murphy said.

If all goes as planned, a historic water cistern relocated to the museum complex behind the store could collect water from the store's rain gutters on the roof for use inside, he said, adding that with energy efficient lighting and insulation, the store could qualify for LEED designation.

The shotgun style of the house, so called because a bullet could travel from front to back without hitting an interior wall, also will be used to maximize breezes and minimize air conditioning, he said.

When renovations are complete, the store will feature a replica of the original store and a small classroom on the first floor, open to the public, with storage and a meeting room on the second floor that will not be open to the public, he said.

The Cortez Village Historical Society's (CVHS) Family Life museum, once slated for the store, will be housed instead in the Monroe cottage, recently relocated from Bradenton Beach to a lot behind the store.

Store history

One of the oldest buildings in Manatee County, the store was built by William C. Bratton around 1895, when Cortez was called Hunter's Point. In 1896, when the village's name changed to Cortez, it housed the community's first post office and later served as a general store and steamboat wharf.

L.J.C. Bratton bought the store and added a few hotel rooms in 1900, calling it the Albion Inn after his son. Subsequent owner Albert "Joe" Guthrie expanded it in the early 1900s to a 24-room hotel.

Along with the museum - then the Cortez Rural Graded Schoolhouse - the store served as a refuge for villagers during the hurricane of 1921, before storms were named. The store was the only building on the Cortez waterfront to survive the hurricane.

The inn operated until 1974, when the U.S. Coast Guard bought the building to use as a station.

The building was mostly demolished in 1991 and replaced with the existing U.S. Coast Guard Cortez station on the west end of the village, but $12,000 in contributions from CVHS and the Organized Fishermen of Florida saved the store portion of the building.

The store sat empty across the street from the Coast Guard station for 15 years until 2006, when CVHS moved it to the Florida Maritime Museum at 119th Street and Cortez Road.

Since then, the store's porch has served as a stage at the annual Cortez Folk Arts Festival in November.

Beginning last Saturday, it also is the site of free, monthly jam sessions for local musicians. For more information on future sessions, call 708-6120.

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