The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 12 No. 25 - April 4, 2012


Preservation posed as rental solution

HOLMES BEACH – While city officials have declined requests from beleaguered residents to stop new vacation rental development with a building moratorium, one resident has proposed a new idea – a moratorium on demolitions.

Too many historic homes are being razed and redeveloped as big box rentals, Holmes Beach resident Terry Parker told commissioners last week.

"There's an extraordinary number of buildings coming down in a short period of time," said Parker, a self-described architect, planner, construction manager and development investor, who serves on a city committee created to solve rental problems like noise, trash, parking and overcrowding.

About 20 percent of residents left Anna Maria Island in the first 10 years of this century, according to the 2010 census, he said, adding that many of their older homes have been replaced with big vacation rentals built or bought by out-of-town investors.

"Northern investors build big houses because they need big houses up north," where several months of the year, it's too cold to enjoy the outdoors, he said. They decide to build big before they understand that in Florida, people don't need as much indoor space because they spend more time outdoors, he said.

"It's a shame to lose local residents," he said. "It's not the same place. What makes Anna Maria Island special is disappearing."


The most common historic preservation strategy is creating a historic district, a process that could take two years, according to Linda Molto of the Cortez Village Historical Society, which established a historic district in nearby Cortez.

In the case of Holmes Beach, it's probably too late for a historic district, Parker said, explaining, "On almost every block there is already a big duplex."

Adding historic buildings to the National Register of Historic Places is another option, but many homes could be sold and demolished in the meantime, he said.

However, with a demolition moratorium, the city could address historic homes one by one, as owners apply for permits to demolish and redevelop. Every house that is 50 years old or older could be subject to the city's scrutiny, he said, and those that are deemed historic may be denied demolition permits.

"We need to come up with legislation to preserve the soul of this community," Parker said.

The impending sale of the historic home of Hugh Holmes, the city's namesake, is a prime example of such a home, said Mary Buonagura, a member of another city committee addressing rental problems, adding, "If we don't talk about it, we can't save it."

Opportunities lost

"People don't think there's any history here, but there is a history worth saving," Parker said, citing the "baseball" houses in Anna Maria, a lost opportunity for preservation.

Warren Spahn, a Baseball Hall of Famer who pitched for the Milwaukee Braves, gave the baseball treatment to a cluster of homes where Braves ballplayers stayed during spring training in Bradenton, where the club trained from 1953 to 1962. Each house sported a sign, like The Mound, Home Plate, Infield, Outfield, Shortstop, Catcher's Mitt and The Diamond.

With a demolition moratorium, the neighborhood of historic ranch homes could have been preserved and marketed by a clever rental agent as a local attraction, rather than being demolished and replaced with huge homes, Parker said.

The Holmes Beach Commission may address the suggestion at its Tuesday, April 10, commission meeting at 7 p.m., when commissioners, each in charge of a rental committee, are expected to give their final committee reports.

Three Holmes Beach commissioners, Sandra Haas-Martens, John Monetti and David Zaccagnino, have repeatedly turned down residents' requests for a building moratorium, asking for time for the committees to work out solutions to rental problems. Commissioner Jean Peelen has repeatedly requested a moratorium, while Commission Pat Morton has said he is willing to discuss it.

"It's going to take a long time to get the apparatus in place to keep places from being demolished," Parker said. "But I don't know if there's any time left."

Board approves erosion plan

The Manatee County Board of Commissioners has approved an erosion control plan for north Longboat Key after changing some plans in response to criticism from County Commissioner Joe McClash, even though the improvements did not satisfy him enough to vote for it. The vote for it was six to one.

At a meeting last week, Manatee County Natural Resources Department Director Charlie Hunsicker and Coastal Planning and Engineering specialist Rick Spadoni presented the amended plan, which was prepared with several goals:

• Erosion control of Coquina Beach near Longboat Pass by reconstructing an existing jetty at the beach;

• Construction of a new jetty on the north side of Longboat Key to work with the Coquina jetty to control erosion;

• Construction of two perpendicular, semi-permeable adjustable groins on the northern end of Longboat Pass;

• Periodic maintenance dredging of Longboat Pass at four to six year intervals within its alignment to keep it from drifting to the south.

Spadoni said their plans would assure boater access for Longboat Pass, which sometimes fills in to restrict travel, especially on Beer Can Island.

After hearing Spadoni, McClash recommended shifting the channel more to the south, which Spadoni felt would cause a problem. He said that Longboat Key would be phasing in groins to control erosion and that their plan still needed approval from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.

Longboat Key Town Manager Dave Bullock said his town's plan is to build the least invasive groin structures they can.

"This is a highly eroded area and you cannot place sand there without an anchor so the sand won't all go away," he said. "We're asking you (Manatee County) for your assistance as we move forward with this project."

McClash had warned in a letter that he felt using groins to control erosion on one beach would cause problems at other beaches up or down the coast. Spadoni answered his concern saying the groins installed at Longboat would be adjustable and the county would be keeping an eye on it and make adjustments as needed.

After more discussion, the commission took a vote and McClash was still not satisfied, as he became the lone dissenting vote.

Easter services available to all

Easter celebrates the new beginnings associated with spring along with the resurrection of Christ, and the Island's churches will hold special Good Friday and Easter services.

The big one is the non-denominational sunrise service, sponsored by the Kiwanis Club of Anna Maria Island, Easter morning at 6:30 a.m. Officials from all of the Island's churches will conduct the service and those attending need to bring blankets or chairs to sit on. The free trolley system begins operation at 6 a.m., and taking a trolley will save you a lot of waiting with your engine running after the service. An offering will be taken and the money donated will be split among the Island churches.

The Island church services are as follows:

• CrossPointe Fellowship (Baptist), 8605 Gulf Drive, Holmes Beach, 778-0719, will hold a Good Friday Service at 7 p.m. and two Easter morning services at 9 a.m. (contemporary) and 10:15 a.m. (traditional).

• The Episcopal Church of the Annunciation, 4408 Gulf Drive, Holmes Beach, 778-1638, holds a Good Friday service at noon focusing on Jesus' Seven Last Words. The Easter morning observance begins with a Rite I service at 7:30 a.m., followed by Rite II Festival Eucharist services with choir and organ at 9 and 11 a.m.

• Gloria Dei Lutheran Church, 6608 Marina Drive, Holmes Beach, 778-1813, has Good Friday services at noon and 7 p.m. with Festival Worships at 8 and 10:30 a.m. and a Fellowship Brunch between the services.

• Roser Memorial Community Church (non denominational), 512 Pine Ave., Anna Maria, 778-0414, offers a Good Friday service at noon and Easter services at 9 and 11 a.m. with Adult Sunday School at 10 a.m.

• St. Bernard Catholic Church, 248 S. Harbor Drive, Holmes Beach, 778-4769, hosts the Passion and Veneration of the Cross at 3 p.m. and Stations of the Cross at 6 p.m. on Good Friday. It will have Masses at 8 and 10 a.m. on Easter Sunday with an Easter egg hunt after the 10 a.m. Mass.

Easter events at Sandbar and on Pine Avenue

The public is invited to the 26th Annual Sandbar Easter Egg Hunt on Saturday, April 7, at the Sandbar restaurant, 100 Spring Ave., Anna Maria, beginning at 9 a.m. with refreshments at 8:30 a.m. Children must bring their own basket.

After the hunt, the Easter Bunny will lead a parade down Pine Avenue for the Third Annual Easter Egg Roll and the Second Annual Easter Bonnet Contest from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. The bonnet contest will be at 11 a.m. at 315 Pine Ave.

The adult winner will receive a two-night stay at one of the Anna Maria Guest Houses, and the children's winner will have lunch and ice cream sundaes with three of their friends at the Sandbar.

There will be activities set up along Pine Avenue with lots of surprises for the children. Chris Grumley will provide music, and the Sandbar will provide snacks and refreshments.

The PAR shops also will be giving away prizes to parents holding a lucky number given to them when they come to the Easter Egg Roll. Each shop will have special treats set out for the parents and children.

The Anna Maria Island Sun and the Sandbar sponsor the Easter Egg Hunt and Pine Avenue Restoration and the Sandbar sponsor the egg roll and bonnet contest. For more information, call Tina Fusaro at 941-778-8710 or visit

Whitmore honored by Lightning
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story


Carol Whitmore has come a long way since she was living on her own at an early age.

She ran for Holmes Beach office in 1992 and served as city commissioner and mayor before winning a seat on the Manatee County Board of Commissioners and now she is the county’s first Tampa Bay Lightning Community Hero.

Whitmore learned about the honor recently, and it comes with a $50,000 award for three of her favorite non-profits.

Holmes Beach City Commissioner Jean Peelen wrote a grant for the award, and she learned a lot about Carol Whitmore, and she says she’s impressed.

“Carol came from a very difficult background with her parents and was on her own by the time she was 15,” Peelen said.

“She lived on neighbors’ couches and friends’ sofas and she worked to put herself through high school and nursing school. She could have ended up depressed with her own problems, but she rose above it.”

Peelen named Whitmore’s accomplishments and they included starting the local AIDS coalition and working for the homeless, she works one day a week with Home Health Services so she can experience how those who can’t afford home health care are served. She also assists her husband, Dr. Andre Renard, a plastic surgeon, in operating on people from the homeless shelter and she was instrumental in getting bus service free for the elderly and getting the free trolleys for the Island.

“It wasn’t easy to get her to talk about her past because she doesn’t seek attention,” Peelen said, “but we’re really excited about it.”

Whitmore said she would commit $40,000 of her award to the Manatee County Animal Network for ventilation for the cat area and for a dog run. The other $10,000 would be split between medical supplies, so her husband can continue to provide medical services to those who cannot afford it, and for baby food for the needy.

Whitmore said she was honored to receive the award, especially since she is the first Manatee County recipient. She received the award during a break in Monday’s Lightning and Washington Capitals game.

This was the last game of the season.

Elizabeth Frazier, communications specialist for the Tampa Bay Lightning Foundation, explained how the program began.

“This is the first season,” she said. “The owners committed $10 million to this program, and we honor one person at each of the 41 home games.

“The goal of the Community Hero Program is to tell a story about people who rise to serve their neighborhood or hometown,” she added. “We want each winner to be an inspiration to others.”

Outdoor dining ordinance considered

HOLMES BEACH – The Holmes Beach Commission is scheduled to consider a proposed ordinance on outdoor dining on Tuesday, April 10, at 7 p.m. at Holmes Beach City Hall, 5801 Marina Drive.

Prompted by Commissioner Pat Morton, the ordinance is designed to alleviate parking and noise problems at restaurants offering outdoor seating.

The ordinance would require a city permit for outdoor dining seats that would not be transferable to a new owner and would require a new permit if a restaurant owner wanted to increase the number of outdoor seats. Permits issued prior to Aug. 12, 2008, would be grandfathered.

Parking problems would be grounds for the revocation of a permit after a public hearing under the proposed ordinance.

Outdoor dining hours would be limited to 7-10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 7-11 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and no microphones, amplifiers or speakers would be allowed in the outdoor dining area.

The city does not tie the number of outdoor dining seats to the number of required parking spaces because it encourages diners to walk and bike to restaurants, Commissioner Sandra Haas-Martens said.

Business owner Birgit Sesterhenn, of The Island Florist, told the commission last month that customers and employees of the former Martini Bistro, 5337 Gulf Drive, have routinely blocked her parking area.

If passed, the new ordinance would not affect the restaurant, which since has reopened under new management as LOBSTAHS, unless it sought to increase the number of seats, changed hands again or presents continuing parking problems, according to City Attorney Patricia Petruff.

Restaurant manager Jeff Levey said that parking problems have been addressed with offsite parking.

Lifeguards here to help
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

The instructions above could save your life
if you find yourself in a rip current.

This week, The Sun launches Life Lines, a column by Lt. Collin Schmidt, one of the lifeguards who protects beachgoers at Manatee County and Coquina public beaches. He will share firsthand knowledge from the lifeguard towers about current beach conditions and offer safety tips so that beachgoers can have a great day at the beach.

Easter weekend is approaching and spring break at the county beaches is in full swing. The lifeguards have been very busy. The guards at Coquina have been assisting swimmers away from the rock jetties – 13 swimmers in seven days.

We also have been responsible for a few family reunions. Mom and dad, you have to keep a close eye on the youngsters – they are excited and want to wander off and chase seagulls, or they may decide that they want to go for a walk at an inopportune moment with the wind at their back (for a lost child, wind at their back is the usual path of travel along the shoreline).

They can vanish in a hurry.

Upon arrival to the beach, have a plan with your children should they become disoriented and alone: Go to the lifeguard station.

The rip currents have been prevalent and we are doing everything we can to advise beachgoers of the currents using our flag system, which is displayed at the guarded county beaches.

We also responded to a medical call and a car accident last week.

The guards at Manatee Beach have been very busy as well. We ask that you keep in mind that there is no skim boarding within the park boundaries.

At Manatee Beach, the parking lot is busy and in close quarters, so keep an eye on the children, please.

Manatee Beach also offers two handicap wheelchairs that are saltwater friendly. They are free and may be used on a first come, first served basis between 9 a.m. and 4:45 p.m.

Remember to use sunblock before you arrive and again two to three hours into your visit. Be safe, and have a great day at the beach!

Holmes Beach to narrow focus on vacation rentals

HOLMES BEACH – Holmes Beach commissioners plan to make a final report on their committees' ideas to solve vacation rental problems on Tuesday, April 10 at 7 p.m. at Holmes Beach City Hall, 5801 Marina Drive.

The committees are wrapping up earlier than their end-of-April deadline, with ideas that include increasing code enforcement against renters, owners and rental agents; revoking business tax receipts for repeat code violators; increasing resort tax collection enforcement; restricting parking and preserving of historic buildings.

Commissioners created the committees in response to residents flooding city hall with complaints about noise, trash, parking and overcrowding caused by vacationers.

Rental housing has turned some residential neighborhoods into resort areas, ruining their quality of life, they say.

Commission Chair David Zaccagnino, the only commissioner who has been working independently without a committee, said he consulted with City Attorney Patricia Petruff about drafting an ordinance similar to some cities in the Florida Keys that would make it more difficult for property owners to rent without a rental agent.

Some rental agents in the city already have agreed to comply with a voluntary list of best practices suggested by rental agent Larry Chatt, a member of Commissioner John Monetti's committee.

At last week's commission meeting, resident Tom Sabow repeated a previous request by Commissioner Jean Peelen, asking that commissioners disclose whether they or their committee members have financial interests in rental duplexes.

City Attorney Patricia Petruff has said that committee members are not required to disclose financial interests.

Both Peelen and Commissioner Pat Morton said that none of their committee members have financial interests in rental duplexes.

More to come?

Commissioners should reconsider a limited building moratorium, Peelen said. Commissioners Monetti, Zaccagnino and Sandra Haas-Martens disagreed, with Zaccagnino noting that Anna Maria recently voted for a moratorium, but quickly rescinded it.

"Anna Maria does not have the issues we have," Peelen said, citing a Sun poll that showed 67 percent of the people answering the poll favored a moratorium.

Vacation rental problems could increase if the construction trend continues toward building multi-bedroom duplexes, residents fear.

The city has 50 buildable lots left that could hold the multi-bedroom duplexes at the core of the rental problem, Peelen said.

"I don't know how we ignore that we could have 100 more of these units," she said.

The city estimates about 50 duplex lots that could be redeveloped as 100 duplexes, about a dozen other lots with single family homes that could be redeveloped as duplexes and about five vacant lots.

A member of Peelen's committee, Terry Parker, is about 70 percent finished creating a database of buildable lots including lot size, number of bedrooms and baths and number of stories, he said, adding that so far, he has identified more than 100 residences that could be redeveloped as duplexes.

Zaccagnino had said at a previous meeting that builders had told him about 20 buildable lots remained in the city.

Peelen asked that the commission be informed of any new permit applications for residences with six or more bedrooms.


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