The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 12 No. 2 - October 26, 2011


Nine vie for commssion seats

Anna Maria candidates

Former Mayor SueLynn and planning and zoning board member Nancy Yetter are challenging incumbent Commissioners John Quam and Dale Woodland in this year's commission election. Voters go to the polls at Roser Memorial Community Church, 512 Pine Ave., on Nov. 8.


SueLynn served as the city's mayor from 2002 to 2006 and is seeking her first term on the commission.

She grew up in Ohio and received a BFA from Ohio University and a master's degree in speech pathology from the University of Arizona. She has worked in organizational development as a management and organizational consultant. She moved to Anna Maria in the early 1990s.

"I went to commission meetings and was appalled at what was going on,' she recalled. "I ran for mayor because of my training and working with people so they could be more productive.

"I naively thought if I got elected I could use the same skills I used in the private sector and apply them to government."

Some of the accomplishments during her terms as mayor were taking out a loan for drainage and road projects, starting the process of reviewing the city's comprehensive plan and codes, remodeling city hall, upgrading the city's computer technology, passing a personal wireless facility ordinance and writing the initial proposal that resulted in the pier boardwalk project.

Regarding the comp plan, she noted, "I believe they didn't realize the importance of the comp plan as the underpinning of all our rules and regulations."

Her big concern is the loss of full-time residents in the city and she pointed out, "An excellent job has been done attracting tourists to support our businesses, but at the same time, nothing was being done to ensure we maintained the residential nature of the city.

"We need to take actions to reverse that trend but keep it a preferred tourist destination at the same time. We need to find alternative ways to bring in revenue and for me, that means finding some way for the city to profit from the number of rentals we have."

John Quam

John Quam is seeking his sixth term as a commissioner and has served as its chairman for seven of his years in office.

Quam has a bachelor's degree in business management from Fairleigh Dickinson University in New Jersey. For 35 years, he worked in marketing with BASF, the world's largest chemical company. He retired to Anna Maria with his wife, Birgit in 1997.

"John Michaels (a former commissioner) was instrumental in getting me involved and got me to run in 2002," Quam recalled. "After I attended some of the meetings and saw what went on, I wanted to bring some civility back to the commission."

Quam authored the beach corridor parking plan and observed, "Previous commissions studied this for 25 years and couldn't resolve it. I came up with different plans, and they kept getting voted down. Then I came up with a compromise that was approved."

Other commission accomplishments since he's been in office include approving a charter amendment requiring a super majority vote for comprehensive plan amendments, approving a personal wireless facility ordinance, revising the comprehensive plan, completing major drainage and road projects, streamlining the budget process and approving the Pine Avenue parking plan.

"During my nine years, the budget process was one of the most important things, but it was quite controversial for the first six years. We got it into a realistic working document that set the foundation for the process we have today."

Quam's goal for the coming years is "to preserve or improve upon the policies we've adopted over the years and adopt new regulations in the best interest of the city.

"I want to make sure we maintain the single-family character and support the business district. We need to keep a balance on the commission, and I think I bring that."

Dale Woodland

Dale Woodland has served four terms as commissioner and is liaison to the capital improvement advisory committee.

He was born in Canada and moved to Bradenton Beach in the early 50s, then to Anna Maria a couple of years later. He attended local schools and earned a bachelor's degree in mathematics at the University of Florida. He worked in computers before retiring and opening Woodland Quality Pool Care in 1995.

"I've always been consistent in holding people's feet to the fire regarding density and intensity," he said. "They are the most important things that contribute to the quality of life in our community."

Accomplishments include getting four handicap parking spaces on Gulf Boulevard, starting the Lake LaVista dredging in 1988 and obtaining grants for the drainage projects.

One of the issues he hopes to tackle in the coming years is retirement and health care costs for employees.

He said in the 1970s, benefits in the private sector were superior to benefits in the public sector, but that reversed in the mid-1990s.

"I'm looking at it from a realistic standpoint, but you have to be fair," he said. "In every government the benefits are increasing faster that the budgets. To pay those increasing benefits, something else has to get smaller."

He said he also would like to investigate alternative revenue sources such as the public/private partnership in purchasing the six lots at the corner of Pine Avenue and North Bay Boulevard.

"Visitors use our infrastructure, and I'm looking at some way to voluntarily get revenue from them," he explained. "Maybe we could add a 2 percent surcharge on every purchase, 1 percent from the business and 1 percent from the buyer. Another source would be the rentals. We need to initiate the thinking and look at opportunities."

Nancy Yetter

Nancy Yetter has been a member of the planning and zoning board for about two years and is seeking her first term as commissioner.

Yetter grew up in Indianapolis and received a bachelor's degree in business administration from the University of Indianapolis. She was circulation director for Indianapolis Magazine before moving to Tampa to become circulation statistics director for Time Warner and then went into sales management for a food manufacturer.

During that time, she and her husband, Mike, vacationed on Anna Maria and fell in love. In 2007, they built their home on the Park Avenue property they purchased 15 years prior. That same year, Mike became a member of the planning and zoning board, but when his office relocated, he was unable to continue.

"We talked a lot about issues that came before the board," she said. "After he left the board, I volunteered to be on it. It's been a big learning experience. You learn to leave emotion out of it and go by the rules."

She said one reason she is running for office is because she was raised to give back to the community and noted, "I felt the commission was a good match to my experience on the P&Z. I can bring new energy and focus, which I feel is needed at this time.

She feels there should be a limit of two terms for commissioners.

"I think after a while, you get blinders on and don't keep your mind open to trying to find solutions to problems. You do things because they've always been done the same way. You have to keep and open mind and be creative.

"I've always kept up with issues and discussed them with people in the community. I feel I'm up to date on all the issues and how they've been handled in the past."

Holmes Beach candidates

Three Holmes Beach city commission incumbents and two former candidates are running for three commission seats up for election on Tuesday, Nov. 8. Pat Morton is seeking his fifth term, Al Robinson, his second, and David Zaccagnino, his fourth. Jean Peelen ran in 2010, and Andy Sheridan ran in 2009.

Pat Morton

Big rental houses pushing out city residents is the biggest issue the city faces, according to Holmes Beach Commissioner Pat Morton.

Morton said he voted against changes in the land development code that enabled property owners to build the houses.

"I predicted this, but they didn't listen," he said.

A proponent of recycling, Morton is proud that the city has an 80 percent recycling rate and reminds residents to recycle old phone books at the collection station at city hall field.

A Holmes Beach resident with his wife, Gailene, since 1994, he is administrator of CrossPointe Fellowship Church.

Morton has served as city liaison for the Anna Maria Island Community Center, Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce, Keep Manatee Beautiful, Waste Management, the Island Emergency Operations Center, the Manatee County Emergency Operation Center and the Communities for a Lifetime program.

He currently serves as city liaison for Waste Management, the Manatee County Emergency Operations Center and the public works department.

Jean Peelen

Residents are taking a back seat to tourism, and it's a "tragedy in the making," said Jean Peelen, who is running for a second time for a Holmes Beach Commission seat.

"When I started knocking on doors on Sept. 1 to campaign, I realized I didn't know the half of it," she said. "People are outraged at the huge duplex houses built for tourists only. They are destroying neighborhoods."

The current commission has addressed the issue only tangentially, primarily because of problems with renters leaving garbage cans out, she said.

"We have got to stop it now," Peelen said. "We have to take care of the damages from the ones that were already built."

The commission should invite residents to interact by e-mail, Facebook or community meetings, not just at poorly-attended commission meetings, said Peelen, who attends most commission meetings as an observer.

Peelen works as a consultant, writer, model, actress, workshop leader and personal coach. She previously worked as a civil rights lawyer for the federal government, as chief of staff of the International Broadcasting Bureau and as a keynote conference speaker.

She was a finalist on the "Survivor" television show and is co-author of two books, "Invisible No More: The Secret Lives of Women Over 50," and "Saving the Best for Last: Creating Our Lives After 50."

Al Robinson

Holmes Beach Commissioner Al Robinson said he is running again because big box rental houses continue to cause problems.

"That's been a festering sore that's come to life," he said. "It took us a little while to get on top of it, but we're on top of it with both feet."

Robinson said he is pleased with fellow commissioners, except on financial issues.

"I come from a background of always doing for myself, and I've had to be thrifty and make good choices," said Robinson, who formerly owned a West Virginia coal mine and D. Coy Ducks in Holmes Beach. He now works in real estate and investments.

"When it's somebody else's money, it's easy to say, 'Let's give it to them,' " he said, citing the commission's recent vote favoring police pensions he considers too high.

"I think we're out of control on some financial things in the city," he said. "I used to complain, and I decided to shut up and try to change it."

Robinson is the city liaison for buildings and grounds, the Holmes Beach Police Department, Communities for a Lifetime, the Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce and the Manatee County Council of Governments.

Andy Sheridan

Quality of life issues are key for candidate Andy Sheridan, who has run once before for a Holmes Beach Commission seat.

"I have been a voice and will continue to be a voice in determining which direction our local government is going to take," said Sheridan, who attends most commission meetings and is a member of the Holmes Beach Code Enforcement Board. He also serves as vice president of the Key Royale Resident Owners Association.

"I was very involved in the garbage ordinance last year," said Sheridan, adding that garbage is one of several issues that have residents up in arms over large rental homes.

"I'm distressed that the last remaining affordable housing on the Island for the service industry folks is being torn down for rental properties," said Sheridan, a sales clerk who has previously worked in auto sales, banking, as a limousine company manager, a pool technician and for Publix.

Sheridan said that business opportunities abound in Holmes Beach, especially in the service industry, but that not all businesses are appropriate for a residential community.

Sheridan has volunteered with All Islands Denominations Food Pantry, Keep Manatee Beautiful cleanup campaigns and the Island Community Center Tour of Homes, and is a blood donor.

David Zaccagnino

The city's most pressing issue is the increase in rental properties and the problems they cause residents, according to Commissioner David Zaccagnino.

Otherwise, "The commission has done a good job with keeping services up and keeping costs down," said Zaccagnino, who works as a financial advisor with Ameriprise Financial in Sarasota and was previously with Morgan Stanley in Bradenton.

Too many tax dollars go off the Island to Manatee County, he said.

"I'm pretty proud of being the only city on the Island to increase our tree canopy," said Zaccagnino, who currently serves as the city's liaison to the Police Pension Board and the Parks and Beautification Committee, where he previously served as chair. While he served on the commission, the city has created pocket parks, planted memorial trees and beautified Kingfish park.

A Florida Institute for Saltwater Heritage (FISH) board member, Zaccagnino also is a member of the Rotary Club and Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce.

He has served as the Holmes Beach liaison to the Chamber, Anna Maria Elementary School and the Island Community Center Board.

He has a B.S. degree in chemical science and an M.B.A. from Florida State University and once was a chemical analyst for the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.

Wet noses attract visitors
Carol Whitmore

Bob and Joanne Friar don't own a dog, but
enjoy The Sun's annual canine costume contest.


ANNA MARIA – Their friends in Michigan might say that Bob and Joanne Friar have gone to the dogs.

And they would be exactly right.

The Friars plan their vacation each year around the Anna Maria Island Sun's Canine Halloween Costume Contest, Saturday, Oct. 29, at 1 p.m. at the AMI Sun Plaza.

The retired couple, who are Hospice volunteers in Livonia, Mich., heard about the Island from another Hospice volunteer in their home state who had stayed at Queensgate in Bradenton Beach.

They looked at a brochure in 2003 and came down, just missing the first doggie costume contest, but have planned their vacations around it ever since, Joanne Friar said.

"We love it here," she said. "We don't have a dog, but we had two dogs, and we still enjoy watching them and how original some of the costumes are and the atmosphere."

They also visit Snooty the manatee each year at the Parker Aquarium in Bradenton, and try to catch opening night at the Island Players.

And, nearly as important as the dog contest – and, fittingly, at St. Bernard's Catholic Church – is the annual rummage sale.

"We'll be standing in line at 9 a.m.," she said.

The Friars were happy to learn that their adopted county has instituted a no-kill policy at the Manatee County Animal Services shelter.

"I agree with no kill," Joanne Friar said. "They're trying to do that in Michigan too. People are just walking away from their pets with the economy and unemployment up there."

Participants in this year's Canine Halloween Costume Contest will have their photos taken and can pick up free 5 by 7 color prints at Walgreens in Holmes Beach, Manager Eileen Erwin said.

The store will have a box for donations of pet supplies for the no-kill shelter, along with its box for collecting food for All Denominations Island Food Pantry.

Despite stall, real estate sales remain strong

Real estate sales for September 2011 were down 16 percent compared to sales from the same month in 2010, according to Island Real Estate Broker/Associate Alan Galletto's monthly newsletter.

There were 30 sales total last month, which breaks down into 17 single-family homes, nine condos, one duplex and three lots. A year ago, September saw 35 sales – 20 single-family homes, nine condos, four duplexes and two lots. August and September are the first two months this year when sales have not exceeded the same periods last year.

Galletto's newsletter reports Sept. 30, 2011, year-to-dates sales were 278 (137 single-family, 110 condos, nine duplexes and 22 lots) up 18 percent over Sept. 30, 2010, year-to-date at 235 (141 single-family, 65 condos, 19 duplexes and 10 lots). Of the September 2011 year-to-date sales, only 15 percent were distressed (bank owned or short sales) compared to September 2010 year-to-date sales in which 29 percent were distressed. Pended properties (properties under contract) are currently at 49 (33 single-family, 13 condos, two duplexes and one lot) eleven less than last month, but still above average.

Inventory on the Island continues to drop, Galletto said, and is well below average (450-500) at 417 (190 single-family, 147 condos, 31 duplexes and 49 lots) which is 17 fewer than last month and 105 below the same time last year. Of the 417 properties currently for sale on the Island only five percent or 26 (nine single-family, 11 condos, four duplexes and no lots) are distressed.

Inventory remains at historical lows at 417, down from 434 last month and 522 in September 2010. Pending properties (properties under contract), although down a little from last month, are still strong at 49 and expected to remain in that range. Distressed properties also remain low at 5 percent of the inventory. Distressed properties have stayed in the 4-to-8 percent range over the last year, but the inventory has been declining significantly over the last year, which has brought the number of properties also down significantly.

Last year at this time, there were 43 distressed properties for sale compared to 24 currently. Of the 30 properties sold in September, 17 percent were distressed compared to the 35 properties sold in September 2010, 43 percent were distressed.

Last year-to-date, of the 235 properties that were sold, 29 percent were distressed. This year-to-date, of the 278 properties sold, only 15 percent were distressed.

Additionally, the average and median sales prices for single-family homes and condos continue to trend upward, while duplexes are still flat. Duplex sales are down, but that's primarily because over the last two years, most of the conforming duplex properties were bought and torn down by the group building two land condos on them.

Longboat explores AME tower option

BRADENTON – The mayor of Longboat Key went fishing for an easy solution to the cell phone tower problem, but he didn't get much more than a nibble.

At a joint meeting between the Longboat Commission and the Manatee County Commission, Jim Brown asked if the county was going to build a cell tower at the new county marine rescue headquarters on the bay south of Leffis Key. He said the town of Longboat Key had been dealing with demand for better cell phone reception versus the desire to not have a tower that some might perceive as unsightly.

"At the opening of the marine rescue headquarters, I said this would be a good place for a tower," Brown said. "I talked with other barrier Island officials and their argument is it would not be beneficial on the south end of Anna Maria because there are not a lot of people there."

County Commission Chair Carol Whitmore said the county had considered one near that location at one time, and it appears the county is looking to increase cellular phone coverage.

"We've been looking at this at the staff level," said Manatee County Assistant Administrator Karen Windon. "We would not have one if the economics don't work."

Brown said Longboat Key had been looking for a consultant to help rewrite their cell tower ordinance, and they feel it would be more economical if other governmental agencies would share. Whitmore asked if Longboat Key had talked with officials of Bradenton Beach, which addressed the situation earlier.

"Bradenton Beach had requests last year for a tower but I don't know where it is now," said Manate County Commissioner John Chappie, a former Bradenton Beach Mayor. "You should check with them.

Brown said their latest suggested site was on the grounds of the Longboat Chapel.

Longboat Key Council members also had some questions about continuing the trolley service on the key.

An agreement was reached last December to finance the route for one more year. The total cost was $600,000 with Sarasota County picking up $300,000 and Manatee County paying $200,000. Longboat agreed to pay up to $42,000 and to institute a marketing plan and an ad revenue program much like the one Manatee County has. However, the service was reduced from every half hour to hourly.

"Most of us (in the Manatee County Commission) want it because it closes the gap," said Whitmore.

Sarasota County presented some statistics that showed 75 percent of the riders come from Sarasota County, the cost per trip is lower because of the less frequent service, 72 percent of the riders on that route started in Sarasota County and 25 percent ended there. In addition, an average of 49 people ride the trolleys four days per week or more and 90 percent of the riders use it to get to and from work.

"It would be a travesty if we lose it," Whitmore said. "I wish there was a way to save it."

"The marketing program started at the end of last season," said Longboat Key Vice Mayor David Brenner. "The number of passengers went up, even though trips were down. There are thousands of schedules along the route, lots of them in St. Armands Circle."

Manatee County Commissioner Robin DiSabatino asked if they had started on the ad program and was told they had not. County Administrator Ed Hunzeker pointed out the program is successful in Manatee County. Whitmore added the ads spaces on the outside of the trolleys are all sold.

Commissioner Joe McClash said he felt funding the trolley extension was one way of returning the property taxes that come from the Island that has high property values. He said he would like to see a pamphlet with complete route information for both counties.

"I think the county is committed to this, as long as Longboat Key markets it, and it appears they are," said Chappie.

Hunzeker said they would talk with Sarasota County Area Transit officials about a pamphlet and with the local chambers of commerce and come back to the Manatee County Board to fund it for another year.

Longboat wants seat on tourist council

LONGBOAT KEY – The town would like more representation in decisions about Manatee County tourism, county commissioners learned during a meeting with town commissioners last week.

Longboat Key Vice Mayor David Brenner suggested that one of the seats on the nine-member Manatee County Tourist Development Council (TDC) board should be a Longboat Key tourism business person or government official.

The north end of Longboat Key is in Manatee County.

Two current members have ties to the town – Ed Chiles, who owns Mar Vista Dockside Restaurant and Pub on the key, as well as two restaurants on Anna Maria Island, and Tom Jung, manager of the Courtyard Marriott in Bradenton, who previously worked in hotel management on Longboat Key.

But no position is set aside for a Longboat Key representative, with the positions allocated as follows: one member of the Manatee County Commission serving as chairman, two elected municipal officials, one being from the largest municipality (Manatee County), four members who are owners or operators of hotels, motels or other accommodations in Manatee County and are subject to the 5 percent resort tax and two members who are involved in the tourist industry and have demonstrated an interest in tourism, but who are not subject to the resort tax.

The earliest a TDC term expires is in June 2012, with others expiring in 2013 and 2014.

The Longboat Key/Lido Key/St. Armands Key Chamber of Commerce is the tourist bureau for Longboat Key, Brenner said, adding that he would like to see Tom Aposporos of the chamber on the TDC.

The doors are always open at TDC meetings for anyone to express ideas, said Elliott Falcione, of the Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau.

In the past, Longboat Key did not want representation on the board, according to Manatee County Commission Chair Carol Whitmore.

"The whole culture has changed," she said.

Officials discuss collaboration

BRADENTON - At a workshop last week, Manatee County and Longboat Key officials discussed several areas where they could potentially save money by working together.

Longboat Key Mayor Jim Brown and Town Commissioner Jack Duncan suggested investigating which services the county and the municipality could share.

"Anything to keep taxes down, we support," Manatee County Commissioner Carol Whitmore said.

Beach renourishment is one area where consolidation could work, Manatee County Commissioner Joe McClash said, recalling a recent battle between the county and the town over increasingly scarce, high quality submerged sand.

"One of these days, were going to be pitted against each other for that last grain of sand," he said.

The group also discussed cooperating on patrolling Greer Island (Beer Can Island) at the north end of Longboat Key.

The island, now a peninsula, is crowded with boaters on weekends, and is not always accessible by land depending on tides and erosion, according to Manatee County Sheriff's Office Marine Unit Capt. Ron Couch, who said that law enforcement also has problems finding a place to land a boat at times.

Manatee County Administrator Ed Hunzeker suggested that municipalities could save money by consolidating back office operations such as e-mail and data storage.

Longboat Key officials also suggested the possibility of locating a cell phone tower at the Manatee County Marine Rescue facility at Coquina Beach, as some property owners on Longboat Key are opposed to locating one at the Island Chapel.

County officials suggested approaching Bradenton Beach officials, where the facility is located.

Board surprised by merger collapse

BRADENTON – West Manatee fire commissioners expressed their surprise at the decision by Cedar Hammock fire commissioners to drop the consolidation effort.

"Chief Price did a lot of work to pull things together as far as the tax rate and the assessments," Chair Larry Tyler said. "Those were the main things that had to be dealt with first. I was surprised that they did what they did and turned it down on their first meeting."

In August, Fire Chief Andy Price told the board he was approached by the chairman of the Cedar Hammock Fire Commission to investigate the feasibility of merging the two districts.

On Oct. 6, the two fire commissions met to hear a preliminary report from their chairs and chiefs who had met and evaluated the organizational structures and taxing methods of each district and then developed an organizational structure and taxing options for a combined district.

Fire commissioners gave themselves 90 days to make a decision on whether to continue the effort, however, on Oct. 13, Cedar Hammock commissioners voted 4-1 to discontinue the effort citing problems reconciling the tax structure and the fact that many of their homeowners would pay more taxes that they do now.

"We were courted," Commissioner David Bishop pointed out. "They approached us. The chiefs did a great job. A lot of facts were presented. I was disappointed that it didn't go further. I'm surprised "

"I'm surprised how quickly it started and ended," Commissioner Randy Cooper said. "There were a lot of issues to work out. It shows how complicated it can be."

Price said the state is reviewing its special districts, and there are 1,600, of which 68 are fire districts.

In other business, Bishop suggested that they develop a comment card for people who want to speak at a meeting.

"They fill out what they want to speak about, but more importantly, they agree to the policies and decorum that we follow," Bishop said. "The last few meetings I've been to have been kind of rude. We can talk about issues and not personalities. In these days and times, we need to be civil."

The board directed Price to bring back a recommendation at the next meeting.

Center seeks Spanish teacher

The Anna Maria Island Community Center is seeking a Spanish teacher for its adult education program. The candidate must have experience in teaching conversational Spanish in a creative and interactive way that engages students to participate in a fun and educational atmosphere. Please e-mail resume to

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