BRADENTON BEACH – The city commission has conditionally approved a two-month trial period for a new outdoor market at the Gulf Drive Café on Sundays.
Bradenton Beach commissioners voted 3-1 on Thursday to allow a 60-day trial period for the market if the city's police chief agrees in writing to provide two officers to patrol the event.
The Beach Market would be open on Sundays from Dec. 4 through Jan. 31 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. If it passes the trial period, it would operate through the end of April.
The Holmes Beach Commission voted 5-0 last month against allowing a flea market in front of the Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce each Sunday from November through April. The Holmes Beach market was proposed by Nancy Ambrose, who organized the Bridge Street market in Bradenton Beach. Ambrose said she is in discussions with the Gulf Drive Café about working on the Beach Market, which would feature many of the same vendors as the proposed Holmes Beach market.
The Bridge Street Merchants are "strongly opposed" to the Beach Market, president Jo Ann Meilner told the board, citing comments from members concerned that it will compete with the established Sunday market on Bridge Street.
The Bridge Street Merchants are working with the newly-formed Holmes Beach Merchants and the North End Merchants Organization (NEMO) in Anna Maria to avoid scheduling conflicting events, said Caryn Hodge, vice president of the Bridge Street Merchants, adding that the Beach Market should do the same.
Competition is good for everyone, Gulf Drive Café Manager Peter Barreda said.
"I don't think that we have a right to legislate against free enterprise," Commissioner Gay Breuhler said.
"We help bring business to local businesses," said Val Gratias of Island Jewels, who worked at the Bridge Street Market and hopes to work at the Beach Market.
Residents at the Imperial House, across Gulf Drive from the site, are concerned about traffic and noise, resident Jane Robertson said.
"I'm pro-business, however, I think it's unfair to residents" who will be disturbed every Sunday as vendors set up and take down their displays, said Commissioner Jan Vosburgh, who voted against the event.
After a tie vote on allowing the market left the issue stalled, newly-installed Bradenton Beach Mayor John Shaughnessy expressed concern that alcohol served at the Gulf Drive Café restaurant and tiki bar would make its way onto the beach and the street, where it is prohibited.
Vendors would not serve alcohol, but the Gulf Drive Café will serve it on its private property, he said, adding that he misunderstood the permit application, which indicated that no alcohol would be served at the event.
"We do everything in our power to keep them from leaving the property," Barreda said, but acknowledged that no one can guarantee it won't happen.
City Attorney Ricinda Perry urged the commission to consider the effect that alcohol and increased traffic could have on the city's liability, and suggested providing two police officers to patrol the event.
The commission voted to approve the event for 60 days on the condition that Police Chief Sam Speciale agree in writing to provide two officers at the event.
In other business, the commission:
• Approved Shaughnessy's nomination of Ed Straight for vice mayor;
• Postponed a discussion on newsracks until Jan. 5 at 7 p.m.;
• Approved the first reading of an ordinance preempting local firearms regulations to state law;
• Approved the first reading of an ordinance establishing hours of operation for municipal parking lots and prohibiting commercial vehicles in municipal lots;
• Approved the first reading of an ordinance prohibiting parking on the right of way within 100 feet of street ends;
• Postponed the discussion on tenting the Tingley Library until Dec. 1 at 7 p.m.;
• Approved a banner for the Strongman Contest at the Beach House Restaurant on Dec. 4;
• Approved a banner for the annual Manatee County Hazardous Waste/E-scrap Collection on Jan. 28;
• Cancelled the Dec. 15 commission meeting.
Commissioners learned that Vosburgh is working with public works to determine whether Australian pines pose a safety hazard on evacuation routes. Straight suggested considering all tree species. Shaughnessy said he is opposed to removing trees that are not diseased, and that the budget contains no money for removal.
The also approved the clearing of trees and landscaping in the Avenue B alley between 23rd and 24th Streets North. Residents have until Dec. 1 to remove anything they wish to keep.
The Manatee County Commission voted to amend the county's tourist development tax ordinance on Monday, prioritizing how funds are spent.
The 5 percent tourist development tax, imposed on hotels, motels, condominiums and other accommodations rented for six months or less, is the funding source for the county's $3.9 million tourism budget for 2012-13.
Twenty percent of the funds are allocated for beach renourishment, according to Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau Director Elliott Falcione. Under the amended ordinance, the rest of the funds are prioritized as follows:
1. Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau;
2. Manatee Convention Center;
3. City of Bradenton (Pittsburgh Pirates);
4. South Florida Museum;
5. Reserves for contingencies/opportunities.
The amended ordinance consolidates multiple plans for each of the five pennies the tax produces, Assistant County Attorney Bill Clegg said.
The Manatee County Tourist Development Council unanimously recommended the plan.
Manatee County commissioners raised the tourist tax from four to five percent in 2009.