The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 12 No. 19 - February 22, 2012


Having the time of their lives
Carol Whitmore

The girls reach for the stars as they boogie on.

A lot of young ladies at Anna Maria Elementary School had their first date on Wednesday, Feb. 15, at the school's first Father-Daughter Valentine's Day Dance. Around 200 people attended, and they lined up to go backstage to have their pictures taken. Those pictures are on pages 41-43 and will be available for downloading at

Board to decide where to allow cell towers

ANNA MARIA – During a discussion of a new cell tower ordinance, commissioners said they want to hear from the public on where a cell tower should be allowed in the city.

According to the draft ordinance, they are only allowed on government property or in areas zoned for commercial or industrial development. But because of other restrictions, City Attorney Jim Dye said the only location that meets all the requirements is Galati's spoil island, but it is in the wrong land use category "You need to write the requirements," Dye said. "It's a policy decision the commission has to work its way through."

In a work session last week, Dye reviewed some specifics of the ordinance that he developed with consultant Rusty Monroe, of the Center for Municipal Solutions.

"It creates a conditional use permitting system for wireless facilities with a hierarchy of preferred sites," Dye explained. "It is heavily dependent on need based analysis.

"Local government has the ability to site towers but can't be so restrictive that it acts as a barrier. The consultant approach is to have the applicant prove the need. It there a hole in your coverage that this facility will fill?"

Dye said height is a big issue, and the draft ordinance limits the height of a tower to 60 feet unless the applicant can prove the need for additional height.

Commission questions

Chair Chuck Webb asked about a fall zone, and Dye said that hasn't been determined yet, but in the city's current ordinance it is 110 percent of the height.

"There's not many properties in the city where there's a radius of 66 feet," Dye noted. "You need to look at whether that's workable because the city is almost built out."

Commissioner Dale Woodland asked if the city should impose a moratorium until commissioners approve the new ordinance. Dye said they could tell applicants that the ordinance in in flux, and that the law commissioners will use to make their decisions is the one the applicants should follow.

Woodland asked about the city's 37-foot height limit, and Dye said only cell towers are allowed to exceed that limit.

'There's nothing in here about revenue," Woodland said.

"That's an issue between the landlord and tenant rather than the regulator and regulatee," Dye responded.

Commissioner John Quam asked if the city could limit the number of towers, and Dye said that's why the need-based analysis is in the ordinance.

"There's an economic incentive for an operator to allow others on the tower, and a new applicant would have prove that what's already in place can't cover the gap," Dye explained.

Providers give input

Mayor Mike Selby said there had been some discussion about eliminating the fall zone requirement because "based on Rusty's experience, the failures are because of the engineering of the foundation. Maybe that's where you need to beef up this ordinance."

Kevin Barile, of Ridan Industries, a company that owns and operates communications towers, agreed and said he has been developing towers for 15 years.

"I've been involved in over 350 to 400 cell towers," he said. "I agree 100 percent with Rusty that the tower failures that I'm familiar with have been because of the foundation.

"Not so much because of the design but because of the construction. The contractor didn't go down far enough or didn't use the proper size rebar."

He added that towers also have many safety factors built into them.

Jim Eatrides, of Alpha Omega Communication, who works with Barile, said the company has entered into a lease with the Community Center for a cell tower and will be preparing an application.

"If you limit a tower to 60 feet, you'll need a bunch of towers," he stressed. "Radio waves do not travel freely through vegetation or structures. You need some height so you can reach the user.

"You need to allow some flexibility in your ordinance so you can end up with a solution that meets the needs of the carriers and the users."

He said they picked the Community Center because it is the right location. He also pointed out that the tower in Holmes Beach is a monopole, but what his company is proposing for the Community Center is a unipole, which is similar to a flagpole.

Webb said the issue with the Community Center is whether it can lease the space to the tower company. Eatrides said Center officials plan to submit a letter requesting to sublease.

Commissioners agreed to continue the discussion at the March 8 work session.

Festival's 30th a smash

Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

Festival-goers look over the tasty seafood at this
year's Cortez Commercial Fishing Festival as
the figurehead on the Privateer's ship seems to take
in all the great aromas.

The 30th Annual Cortez Commercial Fishing Festival drew record crowds – more than 20,000 people – to the historic fishing village last weekend to enjoy seafood, fish stories, arts and crafts, live music and displays at the Florida Maritime Museum.

Proceeds from the festival are used to enlarge and restore the 95-acre FISH Preserve on the Cortez waterfront.

The Florida Institute for Saltwater Heritage (FISH) recognized these partners during the festival with awards:

Partnership Award: Sara Kane, Sarasota Bay Estuary Program;

Business Partnership Award: Diane Rosensweig, Sheda Ecology Associates;

Volunteer Service Award: Bill and Meriam Baum, Marshall Fisher, Mark Caputo, Don Beavis and friends from Holiday Cove;

Longevity Award: John Videodisc.

Mainsail stays the course
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

Cindy Lane | Sun
A model of Mainsail Lodge and Marina at the former
Tidemark site in Holmes Beach shows plans for the
development, which may break ground this fall.

HOLMES BEACH – Mainsail Lodge and Marina has been riding out the economic doldrums, but is still on course with plans for a 40-unit condo hotel with a 50-slip marina and a 120-seat restaurant, according to the company.

Anna Maria Island real estate is recovering faster than other areas in Florida, said Joe Collier, president of Tampa-based Mainsail Lodging and Development, projecting a possible fall start date for construction.

"We're getting close," he said. "Things have improved. Short sales have purged out of the marketplace and we're starting to see new construction."

Mainsail also is considering building two new units just east of the Beach Inn, a 12-unit resort on the Gulf side of the Island, which could precede construction at the lodge.

The concept is that lodge guests will have access to the beach at Beach Inn and Beach Inn guests will be able to keep their boats at the marina, he said.

The lodge is designed as a vacation resort, with seasonal – but not year-round – residences allowed. Units will range from 900 to 1,700 square feet and will be priced between $350,000 and $750,000, he said.

The marina, which already has pilings installed by the previous owners, will have 50 slips, including six boatlifts, and will be able to accommodate 40- to 50-foot vessels, he said, adding that a pool, meeting space and health club will round out the amenities.

It will not be a timeshare, as the previous developer, Tidemark, envisioned, he said. Mainsail purchased the property out of foreclosure when Tidemark failed.

Mainsail also operates a conference center hotel in Tampa and a resort, Scrub Island, in the British Virgin Islands.

City rejects liquor permit request

BRADENTON BEACH – After hearing from the police chief that the department might get stretched too far if the city allows the Coquina concession stand to sell liquor, the city commission voted down a request for a conditional permit.

The request came from United Park Service (UPS), the company that the county hired to run concessions at the stand at Coquina and Manatee County public beaches. In making the request, UPS co-owner Alan Kahana updated the commission on the refurbishment of the stand at Coquina. He pointed out they were already selling beer and wine at the Manatee County Public Beach outlet with no problems.

Manatee County Parks and Recreation Director Cindy Turner talked about UPS bringing in Nature's Academy to clean up the beaches and educate people about the environment there.

Police Chief Sam Speciale said, however, Manatee County Public Beach is a different animal from Coquina.

"Coquina is south of the city," he said. "We would have to take care of it like we take care of the bars."

Speciale reminded the commissioners the county pays the city to patrol Coquina and Cortez beaches, but problems so far south of town would stretch the force's ability to respond in a timely fashion. He also said he doesn't want Coquina Beach to get the reputation of having drunks there in light of the large number of families that frequent that beach.

"My main problem is security," he said. "I would have to use Longboat Key police to respond in some instances."

Speciale said the Bradenton Beach police patrol the park from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Turner responded by saying the parks department had worked closely with the police before, and they would be willing to do so again.

After hearing the testimony, the city commission voted unanimously against a motion to accept the request.

In other action, the commissioners agreed to let City Attorney Ricinda Perry enlist a second special master to back up Harold Youmans, who might be unavailable for a while because of personal issues.

They voted to lower the minimum bid for the city's two garbage trucks because they had received no bids. The trucks are for sale because the city now uses Waste Pro for trash removal.

They also approved putting out a request for bids for a cellular phone tower near the public works department shop.

Beach Bistro to host St. Patrick's Day Parade

The Beach Bistro will host the Fifteenth Annual St. Patrick's Day Parade on Sunday, March 8, starting at 4 p.m., beginning at Eat Here, on the corner of Gulf Drive and Marina Drive, and ending Palm Drive and 79t Street around 5:30 p.m.

Those who want to participate are welcome. It's free. This parade attracts upwards of 15,000 spectators with its music and marching. In the past, World War II veterans were parade marshals but this year, Judy the elephant and her companion, Mr. Bones, will be the feature presentation.

According to Beach Bistro owner Sean Murphy, the annual parade had an auspicious beginning – in a bar.

"Fifteen years ago, a mayor walks into a bar (no, really); more specifically, the Bistro Bar. Two Irish men are there talking about the best way to celebrate St. Patty's Day. Like all great ideas hatched by Irish bar geniuses, they decided that throwing a parade was a very good idea – even if they only had two days in which to do it," Murphy wrote in his news release.

"I can get you a permit," The mayor offered.

"I've got a boat you can use," one patron volunteered.

"I've got three horses," said another.

Within two days, the first Beach Bistro St. Patrick's Day Parade was born, complete with floats, bagpipers, marching bands, horses, antique cars, an elephant named Judy and a camel named Omar.

Today, Omar is no longer a participant, but the elephant is still there, as are the marchers from all around the area, including marching bands and others.

Jazzfest draws huge crowd
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

tom vaught | sun
A large crowd gathered under the Sandbar
restaurant pavilion to listen to Ted Young,
Bil Bowdish and guest Koko Ray play and sing jazz.

ANNA MARCIA – The thought of listening to jazz on the beach apparently appealed to a lot of people on Thursday, Feb. 9, as more than 250 people showed up for Jazzfest on the Beach, a fund-raiser for the Anna Maria Island Concert Chorus and Orchestra (AMICCO).

The stars of the show were Gulf Drive Band, consisting of Bil Bowdish and Ted Young, with a guest appearance by a local favorite – blues, rock and jazz musician Koko Ray. The crowd reacted with gusto as the two headliners performed jazz favorites from the 1920s through the 1970s. Young plays keyboards and Bowdish plays clarinet and flute. They took advantage of the wine served in the pavilion of the Sandbar restaurant, where the concert occurred, during the break. After that, Koko Ray made his appearance blending well with the other two musicians. He and Bowdish sang together on some songs, and all three got solo rifts during the afternoon.

"This is fantastic," said AMICCO President Jeanie Pickwick as she looked at the crowd. "The weather could not have been better, and the music was phenomenal."

Nancy Ambrose, who serves as publicist for AMICCO, said she was amazed at the number of people in the crowd, although she was sorry that nobody danced through most of the performance.

Ironically, the three finished the mellow jazz concert with a rock hit from the past, "Old Time Rock and Roll," and a good percentage of the crowd got up and danced, rocking the pavilion and when the music stopped, they stood for a rowdy ovation.

One of the visitors was grateful to The Sun for running an ad and story previewing the event. The visitor said she and her husband had arrived on vacation a few days earlier, and they were happy to learn about Jazzfest and had an opportunity to attend.

Jazzfest was sponsored by the Sandbar, AMICCO, Gulf Drive Band and the Anna Maria Island Sun.

Provisions made for surplus mullet

File photo
Mullet fishermen hauled in a record catch this winter.

CORTEZ – Local leaders and fish processors are working together on a game plan to keep food fish from going to waste if another record mullet season occurs.

Last month, dead mullet washed up along local shorelines when net fishermen inundated with fish discarded less valuable male (white roe) mullet in favor of high-dollar female (red roe) mullet.

Residents and tourists complained to officials, wondering if red tide had killed the fish.

The Sun contacted five local food banks, including the Food Bank of Manatee, but all said they had no way to get the unwanted fish to the hungry due to lack of refrigerated trucks, freezers, staff or kitchens.

But while brainstorming with Manatee County Commission Chair Carol Whitmore, Holmes Beach Commission Chair David Zaccagnino, Florida Institute for Saltwater Heritage (FISH) board member John Stevely, FISH President Kim McVey of Cortez Bait and Seafood and Karen Bell of A.P. Bell Fish Co., Ellen Campbell of Food Bank of Manatee came up with a plan.

"We can send out an e-mail blast to the agencies we distribute to and tell them that on a certain day between this and this hour they can pick up the fish from the fish houses," she said.

The bank works with about 50 churches that can't process fish themselves, but could pass whole fish along to the hungry.

Fish houses would have to keep the fish on ice for up to 24 hours, she said, which may pose a problem in a busy mullet season like the one that ended this month, since Cortez fish houses had to stop buying fish more than once because freezers were full.

Another possibility is that the Manatee County Sheriff's Office could transport fish to the county jail for food or to use as fertilizer at the jail's farm, Whitmore said.

The food bank already uses e-mail blasts to let agencies know about surplus vegetables, Campbell said.

Fish don't keep as long as vegetables, McVey said. But years ago, she said, fish houses used to set out surplus fish in vats with ice, and people would find out by word of mouth and pick them up.

The fish houses buy white and red mullet, but when there are so many fish that freezer space grows short, fishermen sell the more expensive red mullet, she said.

Dumping dead fish is a violation of state law, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. There is no commercial limit on mullet.


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