The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 12 No. 20 - February 29, 2012


Casino Night
Carol Whitmore

Tom Vaught | Sun
Rose Pearson deals as Tom Sanger, Chet Schweitzer and
Greg LaPensee play.

HOLMES BEACH – It was a great time at the Rotary Club of Anna Maria Island Casino Night at St. Bernard Church last Saturday, and a lot of people lost money for a great cause.

At press time, there was no official count of the proceeds from this event, which is usually the club's top fund raiser, but if success is measured in other ways, it was a lot of fun and things went well.

The activities center at the church held several gaming tables and a full row of slot machines along the back of the massive room. Items for the silent auction were lined up on tables in front of the stage, and the big items, including the motorcycle, were on display near the entrance.

Standout Entertainment provided the disc jockey and music, and there was plenty of Sinatra and music from singers who regularly played Las Vegas.

At one of the tables, Tricia Knoedl and Mary Jongetjes were celebrating a streak of good luck.

"We're having a great time," Jongetjes said.

"We keep winning."

The two had never been to Casino night before, but John Pretherton, who ran the game, said they were doing well..

Greg LaPensee, Chet Schweitzer and Tom Sanger, all from LaPensee Plumbing, were playing blackjack as Rose Pearson dealt.

"This is great fun," LaPensee said.

LaPensee Plumbing was a major sponsor of the event along with Duncan Real Estate, Harrington House, and SteamDesigns. Standout Entertainment and The Anna Maria Island Sun also donated to the event.

There were two couples from Skaneateles, N.Y. Bill and Mary Stevens and Peg and Lee Bennett chose Casino night because the Bennetts belong to their local Rotary Club.

"We're having a great time on Anna Maria Island," one of them said. "Thanks to the paper, we found out about this. We wouldn't be here if we hand not read The Sun."

The Harley Davidson was the star of the live auction. Mike Northfield made a starting bid and displayed the motorcycle to the audience, but nobody upped his bid, and he is now waiting for warmer weather so he can ride his Harley.

Roseanne Creed, wife of long-time Rotary member Tom Creed, cast the winning bid on the one-week Las Vegas vacation.

If success is measured by how many people were smiling last Saturday, then this was a success. If the profits are up there, then the Rotary Club will have more to spend on charitable ventures both on and off the Island.

Building moratorium agreed on
Carol Whitmore

Workers begin work on the seawall at 60 North
Shore Drive where a house was torn down recently.

ANNA MARIA – Commissioners wasted no time in responding to residents' concerns and on Thursday put a stop on all new residential construction and remodeling. However, the move won't include mixed use residential in the ROR (residential, office, retail) district.

"This is an administrative stop," Mayor Mike Selby explained. "A moratorium would have to come in the form of an ordinance.

"We're not trying to put people out of work or run the tourists off, but maintain our quality of life. We need to calm down and take a step back."

The commission's decision is the result of neighbors' complaints regarding a house at the corner of Hardin Avenue and North Shore Drive that was demolished, with three new homes being proposed for the property.

"We are writing to request that the city commission find a way to postpone this development for a few weeks to take time to evaluate our current building code, ordinances and regulations before permits are issued to build three mega rental homes in a row like the ones folks in Holmes Beach now have that were built by the same developer," Kirk and Lori Gyson, of Hardin Avenue, said in a letter to the mayor and commissioners.

In another letter, Marsha and Howard Bard, also of Hardin Avenue, echoed the same concerns.

"I think this is a very important issue, and we need to speak about it," Selby stressed.

Building Official Bob Welch said the owner of the three lots is MEK LLC, and Commissioner SueLynn asked if it's the same company that is building the large duplexes in Homes Beach.

"It's hard to say," Welch replied, and Chair Chuck Webb added, "They set up a new LLC for each project."

Webb said a home now being constructed on Maple Avenue has five bedrooms and is only 2,000 square feet.

"The floor plan is identical to the one causing problems in Holmes Beach. It's all bedrooms," he pointed out. The concern is that we're going to get three of those types of structures built at 60 North Shore."

Call for a moratorium

Commissioner Dale Woodland was the first to call for a moratorium so the commission could "address the issue of putting a motel on a residential lot."

Webb said he searched the code and found some provisions that might be applicable to vacation rentals. One was the definition of a hotel/motel as a structure that provides three or more lodging units that are rented to the public. He said a bedroom is a lodging unit.

Commissioner Jo Ann Mattick objected and said, "They don't rent out bedrooms. They rent houses. I don't see how you could pin them down on that."

Webb persisted, "If you have a structure with three or more lodging units and you're renting it out, it's a motel."

However, City Attorney Jim Dye pointed out, "Seasonal rentals and summer rentals have been around Anna Maria for a long, long time. If you suddenly say it should have been illegal all along, but we're just now getting around to it, that may be tough to enforce."

SueLynn said they should focus on a moratorium for now, and Dye said that recognizing a problem, but not having a solution, is enough to justify a moratorium.

They agreed that a moratorium would include all residential structures and all remodeling that would increase livable space or bedrooms in R-1 and ROR.

Public comment

Micheal Coleman said he has an approved site plan for 210 Pine Ave., but not a building permit and asked that ROR be excluded.

"There's a way to handle this without hitting a fly with a howitzer," he stressed. "Look how many people would be affected by shutting down all residential construction.

"We don't want the issue that Holmes Beach has. We're talking about one developer. Don't punish all the people for one problem. Narrowly focus the solution."

Webb said his intent is for the moratorium to be as narrow as possible, but Woodland insisted that ROR be included.

"I laud you for what you're doing," resident Maureen McCormick said. "It's about keeping this a residential town that has rentals. Make it livable for those of us who do pay the taxes."

Resident Beverly Battle said it's not just the residents who don't want the huge rentals. It's also the visitors who don't to be next door to them.

"As president of NEMO (North End Merchants' Association), I suggested that you not include the ROR district," Tina Fusaro said. "I don't think there's a problem there."

Mattick suggested that they keep ROR in the moratorium, but exclude mixed use. Welch agreed and said he has no permits for residential construction on his desk at the present time.

Last dance: Jack says 'Toodle-dooo'

It's always sad to have to say goodbye to those we love - and even to some we've never known or heard of. But now I've gotta do it.

According to the "masculine degeneration" that I'm now going through, one of its features is macular degeneration, aka dimming of the eyeballs. Ergo, it is no longer possible for me to read or write, so today I gotta call "Senior Prom" quits. It's been 11 years and five months since we first showed up in the newborn Sun on Sept. 27, 2000.

My vital signs are all functioning normally—temperature, blood pressure, blood sugar (diabetes) under control with pills. My major problem besides my eyes is my legs, which have become so wobbly that I am wheelchaired everywhere now. Since my late AMI days, they've been treated for peripheral neuropathy, which numbs them and makes them tingle.

Plus my two hip replacements, one about 15 years ago (lefty) and the other (righty) in the early 2000s. They are prolly wearing out about now like a pair of old brake linings. So it's prolly time the old gams ran out on me, as they are wont to do.

Recent news that the last two nifty guys on my best friends list have passed on was tough. Johnce was 95; George 98. We'd been friends since the 1940s.

OK, I've been whining enough. Time now to say thank you a lotta folks who have helped me make my column so much fun to produce. To my jolly daughter Judy, who has translated my awful scribblings into clear e-mails to The Sun since March 2007. And before Judy, in Holmes Beach, next door neighbor, Sylvia Price, whose busy computer was always available to send my stuff.

Speaking of neighbors, hi there, Janice Oakes, across the street, a wonderful person; and Terry and Jen Ericson, friendly folk in the other half of our duplex on 57th Street.

I've everlastingly grateful to all of you deareaders who over the years have telephoned, written, given me column ideas, sent funny books and cards and other good stuff. Take this expression in a letter, one of several from J.B. Van Beuren of Terico, "I picture you, Jack, with a smile on your face when you're writing your columns!" You know what, J.B.? You're absolutely right! It was always fun, even away from A.M.I.

Relatives and close friends have formed the nucleus, such as it is, of the Senior Prom Fan Club. Y'all know who you are! I must thank Jill Rodd, of Richmond, N.H.; June and Ralph Cobb, of Saratoga Springs, N.Y.; Jeanie and Lane Akers, of Purdys, N.Y.; Gabrielle Potscher, of Austria; and Molly Birenbaum of Guilford, Conn., whose letter was so wonderfully appropriate in explaining her enjoyment for precisely what Senior Prom was designed to do.

Listen, "Thank you so much for all your columns over the years. They were always fun, funny, and very clever. We've learned a lot of stuff, too. We live in Connecticut and are lucky enough to spend winters in Anna Maria. When in Conn., we keep in touch with Island life by receiving The Sun, our newspaper of choice because it contains your columns. Thanks again for all those great words and smiles."

I've saved the best fan story for last. A nifty couple who live in Perrysburg (near Toledo), Ohio, spend winter months in Holmes Beach at White Sands Beach Resort. They subscribe to The Sun yearound, so they won't miss a column. They made phone calls, wrote me letters, and (joy to the world), for the past two Octobers they have driven the 740 miles to Keene – a two-day trip – to have lunch and spend a joyous afternoon with me schmoozing.

"Duke" and Betty Haas have become good friends, staying in touch via letters. Duke is the garage door king of America, so if you need a new one, get a Haas! They're two of the nicest people I know.

Well, now it's time to turn off the lights and shut the door. Don't think it hasn't been fun!

Adios, adieu, au revoir, aloha, aufweidersehn, so long, goodbye. Toodle-doooo….

Love y'all.

(Jack is at The Woodward, 202 Court St., Keene, N.H. 03431; 603-352-5675.)

Island home sales remain good

Sales of homes for the first month of the year are up on Anna Maria Island, continuing a recent trend, according to Island Real Estate Broker Associate Alan Galletto.

The total sales for January 2012 were 28, broken into 13 single-family homes, 11 condominium units, two duplexes and two empty lots.

Galletto said there are two statistics that are promising: inventories are below normal, which is approximately 450 over the past 20 years, and sales are up over the 250 average. There were 412 properties for sale, as of the time Galletto's newsletter ( Statistics are gathered from the Multiple-Listing Service (, which lists homes and lots for sale by territory.

Within the sales inventory, there are 14 distressed properties. Of the 14 distressed properties five are in Bradenton Beach and nine are in Holmes Beach. Of the five in Bradenton Beach, three are short sales and two are bank owned. Of the nine in Holmes Beach, eight are short sales and one is bank owned. Distressed properties are those that have a mortgage that is higher than the home is worth.

Galletto also reported a rise in pending property sales from 45 in December 2011 to 60 in January 2012.

From a, pricing standpoint, Galletto reported 67 percent of the single family inventory is listed below $700,000 whereas 79 percent of the single family sales for the last 12 months have been below $700,000. Condos have 90 percent listed below $700,000 and 96 percent of the sales for the last 12 months are below $700,000. He said more sellers are reluctant now to take real low offers.

"Because of where the market is, I have been seeing more and more sellers pushing back on low ball buyers and holding to their price," he said. "I'm also seeing buyers losing deals because of multiple offers on property."

He summarized by saying if you're going to purchase property on the Island, sooner is better than later.

January 2011 Vs. January 2012 Stats On Anna Maria Island

# Sold 2011 #Sold 2012 Pending inventory
Homes 8 13 36 193
Condos 6 11 17 140
M/Family 1 2 4 28
Lots 1 2 3 51
Total 16 28 60 412

Feb 1, 2011 – Jan 31, 2012 12 Month Sales On Anna Maria Island

# Sold Distressed Avg. price sold Median price sold
Homes 179 19 $606,259 $495,000
Condos 131 32 $303,015 $251,500
Duplexes 17 6 $385,671 $376,500
Lots 25 3 $416,040 $400,000
Total 352 60

Feb 1, 2010 – Jan 31, 2011 12 Month Sales On Anna Maria Island

# Sold Distressed Avg. price sold Median price sold
Homes 187 46 $518,959 $465,000
Condos 96 34 $292,445 $239,950
Duplexes 24 11 $390,354 $357,500
Lots 15 2 $402,531 $360,000
Total 322 93

Sales 2002-2011

2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002
Homes 174 187 118 121 111 74 182 243 198 145
Condos 126 94 84 57 71 45 186 101 118 82
Duplx 16 23 10 26 10 15 53 70 31 33
Lots 24 15 12 7 7 4 17 21 7 12
Total 340 319 224 211 199 138 438 435 354 272

Source: Alan Galletto, Island Real Estate

Building booming on Perico
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

These recently completed buildings are part of Phase
1A, and prices range from $334,900 to $473,900.


PERICO – Sales have been so good at Harbor Isle, Minto Communities' development on Perico Island, that construction has been accelerated, said Bob Stevens, director of sales west/central Florida.

"We were building two buildings every other month and now we're building two a month," he explained. "Sales are fantastic.

"We sold 24 of 36 units and five residents have moved in. People love it. They get the vision of the community, the lifestyle and the location."

Residents Ron and Linda Pfaff moved into their unit on Jan. 1 from Mentor, Ohio, and are very pleased.

"We love it," Ron said. "It's more than we thought. I'm impressed with the way they follow up if there's any issue. I'm an electrical contractor so I know about satisfying customers.

"They use a street cleaner once a week to clean up any construction debris, and the construction teams are respectful of the people who live here."

Phase 1A and 1B

There will be 12 buildings with three units per building in Phase 1A for a total of 36 units. Buildings 11 and 12 were completed in December, Buildings 15 and 16 in February and Buildings 1 and 2 are under construction. Prices range from $334,900 to $473,900.

"Phase 1B will be buildings 17 through 32 and we'll be starting them this summer," Stevens continued. "We have names of 15 people ready to go to contract on them.

"There will be 96 coach house units in Phase A and B, and we are approved for a total of 686 units," Stevens said. "The current plan also calls for high-rise towers and mid-ride units."

He said the high-rise units would be in the rear facing Perico Bayou and the mid-ride units would be on the southwest portion of the property along Anna Maria Sound.

Beach club and marina

In addition, the swimming pool area and a hammock park with three hammocks have been completed. The swimming pool area includes an outdoor grill, restrooms, cabanas, a bar area, a fire pit, a boathouse and a kayak launch complete with kayaks.

A beach club is planned on the west side facing Anna Maria Sound near the rear of the property. It will include a sandy beach, a fitness center, a snack bar, a pool and a kayak launch.

"The beach club will be done when we have more people to utilize it," Stevens explained.

Also a 119-slip marina with a full service restaurant, shops and outfitter store is planned for the area where the sales center is now located. There will be slips for residents as well as the public.

"The first phase of the marina project will be built in the next 12 months," Stevens said. "In the next 60 days, tiki huts will be constructed behind the sales center, followed by 50 boat slips and a ship's store. The rest will follow."

Audubon hosts birding class
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

Iinstructor Bob Dean discusses bird
identification details with course member Esther Robinson
at Sarasota Celery Fields during February field trip.


Thirty-four people from Manatee and Sarasota counties and as far as Rehoboth, Mass.; Cincinnati, Ohio; and Beaver, W.Va.; attended the 2012 Manatee County Audubon Society Beginning Bird Watching Course. They learned the art and science of bird watching, protection from exotic and invasive predators, environmental preservation and birding.

Instructors Nancy and Bob Dean, as well as seven additional field instructors, helped course members see 100 different bird species over the two eight-hour field trips. Included were male and female cinnamon teals, a duck of western states that strayed into the Sarasota Celery Fields apparently for the winter.

At Founders Pond on Fruitville Road, a female common goldeneye, another rare Florida sighting, was observed. On their own, several participants sought out other Florida rarities like the male fork-tailed flycatcher at the Cockroach Bay Preserve in Ruskin, as well as, the lark sparrow and purple sandpiper at Fort Desoto Park in Pinellas County, both of which have been observed regularly this year.

Gulf Drive Café to try again
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

Owners of the Gulf Drive Cafe will again seek a
permit for a Sunday outdoor market in this chickee hut..

BRADENTON BEACH – The last item on the agenda for Thursday night's city commission meeting is familiar. It reads, "Special event beach market at the Gulf Drive Café on Sundays from March 4 though the end of December 2012."

The café owners made two attempts to get a special events permit to hold the outdoor market twice before. The first time, the city gave them a permit for a couple of months to give them time to see how it went. As that permit expired, the city commission refused to approve an extension, citing public reaction to traffic disruption as police officers stopped traffic to allow customers to get from the parking lot on the east side of Gulf Drive to the chickee hut on the west side.

Gulf Drive Café manager Peter Barreda said they feel there is still public support for the market, which would operate at the same time as an outdoor market on Bridge Street.

"We feel people want it whether they come from town or from the Island," he said. "Very few people have told me they don't like it."

Barreda said they would continue their effort to follow the rules.

"Everything they wanted us to do we have done," he said. "We will continue to do so if we get approval."

The city commission meeting begins at 7 p.m. on Thursday, March 1, at city hall, 107 Gulf Drive N.

Board sets fees for use of six lots

ANNA MARIA – Although commissioners came to a consensus on fees for the use of the six lots at the corner of North Bay Boulevard and Pine Avenue, not all were in agreement.

Chair Chuck Webb suggested a fee of $500, and Commissioner John Quam countered with $750 per day for an event if alcohol is not served and $1,500 if alcohol is served.

"These affairs are making a lot of money," Quam stressed. "We should get our share. Think about the taxpayers who are paying $4 million for these lots."

Webb said he has no problem with alcohol being served, and the city has never had problems in the past.

'With this size fees, Bayfest couldn't afford it," Webb said. "Their profit margin is not that great. If we want to generate income, don't chase away the people who provide the income, or they'll just go somewhere else."

Quam said there is no other place, but Webb said they could go to Coquina Beach, and Commissioner Jo Ann Mattick said they could go to the Holmes Beach City Hall field.

Commissioner Dale Woodland agreed with Quam and said, "Bayfest is a great time, but it does have a big impact on our city and nearby residents. We don't want a lot of intense events."

Resident Tina Fusaro said Bayfest brings a lot of people who spend money into the city, and she thinks the Chamber, which sponsors Bayfest, would go elsewhere if the fees were too high.

She said that she felt the Chamber would show them the figures for what it made on Bayfest last year, and she would show them the figures for Food and Wine on Pine, the other event that plans to use the lots.

Mayor Mike Selby said he spoke with Holmes Beach Mayor Rich Bohnenberger, who said a lot of events that take place in the city hall field are by out-of-town promoters. Selby said they should give Island residents a break on the fees.

Building Official Bob Welch pointed out that event promoters pay a special event fee of $250 without alcohol and $500 with alcohol, which would be in addition to any fee charged for the use of the lots.

After some discussion, commissioners agreed on $500 and $1,000, and City Attorney Jim Dye said they could change it at any time.


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