The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 12 No. 26 - April 11, 2012


An Island Easter
Carol Whitmore

Kids dash for eggs Saturday at the Sandbar's annual
Easter egg hunt. TOM VAUGHT | SUN

Great weather brought out the crowds to enjoy a weekend of Easter events on the Island. On Saturday, a record number of kids and parents flocked to the Sandbar in Anna Maria for the Easter egg hunt and then paraded down Pine Avenue for Easter activities including an egg roll, face painting, photos with the Easter bunny and a Easter bonnet contest. Chuck Caudill provided DJ services, and stores offered special treats. In Holmes Beach, people enjoyed an art and craft show to benefit the butterfly garden. On Sunday, the Easter Sunrise Service, sponsored by the Kiwanis Club of Anna Maria Island, drew a record crowd according to Kiwanis members. Each church will receive more than $950 from the offering.





City seeking cell tower contractor

BRADENTON BEACH – After years of discussing whether to allow cell phone towers in the city and where, the city commission is asking for proposals.

The commission approved a request for proposals (RFP) at its regular meeting on Thursday, April 5, after making a change suggested by a former commissioner who sat in the audience.

"If there is a lot of opposition to putting up a cell phone tower, you might change the RFP to reflect alternatives," former commissioner Janie Robertson said during the public comment portion of the meeting. "You might want to take out the word "tower" in the RFP because that ties you to that concept. You might want to consider using (the term) "telecommunications device" in case somebody comes along with something instead of a tower."

Later, as the commissioners were preparing to vote, City Attorney Ricinda Perry said she could change the wording to eliminate the concept of a tower. The commissioners agreed and voted unanimously to have staff send out the RFP.

In other action, the commissioners approved the first reading and public hearing of a new newsrack ordinance that sets forth locations of multi-unit newsracks on public property. The newsracks would be erected and serviced with the help of the Tampa Bay Times, formerly the St. Petersburg Times. Before the vote during public comment, a couple of residents suggested they not place a unit at 12th Street South.

"There's a sharp turn there and they could cause an accident," said Justin Landon. "It's a narrow area and people park in front of them."

Beth Little mirrored Landon's comments about safety and said placing the newsrack unit on 12th doesn't make sense because there are no condos on that street. She suggested newsracks at Ninth Street South or at Coquina Beach would be able to fulfill the needs. The commissioners voted unanimously for the ordinance after learning the locations spelled out are not part of the new law and they could skip 12th Street South if they liked.

The commissioners also extended a contract with ZNS to finish work on the Land Development Code. They also voted to add three trees at Herb Dolan Park to a list of other trees being trimmed. Residents took up a collection to pay for the trimming.

Tamer hurricane season forecast

Scientists at the Colorado State University are welcoming back an old friend – El Nino.

The weather anomaly associated with cooler ocean temperatures has returned, according to Philip J. Klotzbach, research scientist, and William M. Gray, Professor Emeritus of Atmosphere Science at CSU.

Their hurricane forecast, released Wednesday, April 4, includes a new extended-range early April statistical prediction scheme that uses 29 years of past data. The prediction is based on the cooler tropical Atlantic Ocean and the developing El Nino wind pattern, which generally inhibits tropical storms from becoming hurricanes by allowing upper atmospheric winds to shear the tops off the storms.

Their report predicts 10 named storms, storms that become tropical and get a name from the National Weather Service, as compared to the median number of 12 storms during 1981-2010; 40 named storm days, days where a named storm is blowing somewhere in the area, compared to the median 60.1; four hurricanes compared with 6.5 median; 16 hurricane days, days when a hurricane exists in the area, compared with 21.3; two major hurricanes, which is the median number; three major hurricane days, where a category three and higher storm exists, compared with the median 3.9; 70 percent accumulated cyclone energy, the total amount of energy being produced through cyclonic action, compared with 92 percent; and 75 percent net tropical cyclone activity compared with 103 percent median, which means the amount of tropical cyclone activity for the season is predicted to be 75 percent of normal, as measured from 1981 through 2010.

They predict a 42 percent probability of at least one major (Category 3 to 5) hurricane making landfall anywhere on the United State coast compared with an average 52 percent. The prediction for such a storm hitting the coast of Florida is 24 percent, compared to 31 percent average.

The report does have a reminder for Floridians, "Coastal residents are reminded that it only takes one hurricane making landfall to make it an active season for them, and they need to prepare the same for every season, regardless of how much activity is predicted."

Fox wins Blue Dolphin award
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

Suzi Fox was honored with a Blue Dolphin Award
presented by Manatee County Commissioner
Michael Gallen at the Sarasota Bay Awards.
Kim Dyer | submitted

BRADENTON BEACH – Suzi Fox, director of Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch and Shorebird Monitoring, is one of the award recipients in the inaugural Sarasota Bay Awards, presented April 4 by the Sarasota Bay Estuary Program (SBEP).

The awards program honors individuals and groups that are champions of Sarasota Bay in Manatee and Sarasota counties. More than 140 guests attended the ceremony at the Powel Crosley Estate, including community and environmental organization leaders.

Fox received a Blue Dolphin Award for Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch and Shorebird Monitoring, a not-for-profit group that has protected sea turtles and their habitat for more than three decades, and recently expanded its mission to shorebirds. Under Fox's direction, the group also runs educational environmental programs for adults and children.

Manatee County Commissioner Michael Gallen presented the award.

Other recipients were Charles Edwards, volunteer with the Citizens Advisory Committee, Jack Merriam, retired environmental manager with Sarasota County, Martha B. King Middle School student environmental club, a supporter of the Bay Guardians volunteer program, and Raindrops Cisterns, a local business focusing on rainwater harvesting and water storage solutions.

The Sarasota Bay Estuary Program is dedicated to restoring Sarasota Bay by improving water quality, increasing habitat and enhancing the natural resources of the area for public use and enjoyment. Sarasota Bay is one of 28 estuaries in the U.S. named by the U.S. Congress as an estuary of national significance.

SBEP partners include Sarasota County, Manatee County, city of Sarasota, city of Bradenton, town of Longboat Key, Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Southwest Florida Water Management District, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Pier team readies for project
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

The Bridge Street Pier will get new pilings and decking when
the city refurbishes the popular tourist attraction in the future.

BRADENTON BEACH – The Pier Team, consisting of most of the city's department heads and chaired by Police Chief Sam Speciale, was formed to keep current on happenings at the Bridge Street Pier shortly after the city completed a rebuild of the restaurant with the addition of a bait shop and a possible harbor master's office plus new bathrooms and a public shower.

Now that the city is planning on reconstructing the rest of the pier, the team is concentrating on that project.

At its monthly meeting on Thursday, April 5, Speciale showed members a notebook that already had cost information on new pilings from Duncan Dock and Seawall and said that the notebook would be updated regularly and stored at Bradenton Beach Public Works. He also had some good news about the cost and financing of the job.

"Duncan said those prices are still good on their estimate and that they might come in less than that amount because construction expenses are going down," Public Works Director Tom Woodard said.

"We also found out that we might have more money to spend than we expected, which means we would not have to leave out the T-end of the pier," added City Clerk Nora Idso.

Speciale said at the previous month's meeting that due to a shortage of funds, they might not be able to include the T-end at the far end of the pier in the refurbishment project.

Idso told the group they would need to go before the Community Redevelopment Agency to have them request that they start the job, since the finances are coming from the CRA fund.

The reconstruction includes pilings and decking plus electrical along the pier. There are 151 pilings under the pier that they want to replace.

The group will meet again May 4 and on the first Thursday of every month unless they find the need to meet more often.

DEP says pier beach has too much sand
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

Visitors flock to the new beach at the Anna Maria
City Pier created from sand dredged from Key Royale Pass.


ANNA MARIA – It might be difficult to find someone who thinks a beach has too much sand, but that has happened to the city.

The city placed sand dredged from Key Royale Pass on both sides of the city pier in February, making a large beach where there hasn't been one for many, many years. However, officials from Florida's Department of Environmental Protection said it exceeds the footprint allowed in the city's permit.

"Someone complained that there was too much sand. DEP officials came here and measured it, and it exceeded our permit," Mayor Mike Selby confirmed.

"We've asked WCIND (West Coast Inland Navigational District) to determine how much sand was actually placed at the pier," Public Works Director George McKay added. "About 30 feet has been lost to erosion so far."

Now city and state officials are trying to come up with a solution. DEP officials said in a meeting with McKay that they would not require the excess sand to be removed, but that it is a violation.

"Two of our options include paying a fine or filling in a channel illegally dredged by a homeowner in Key Royale," Selby said.

McKay said if the city were asked to fill in the illegal channel in Key Royale, the sand would come from dredging the Lake LaVista inlet, which is scheduled to occur in the near future. However, he said the city must make a best management plan and apply for permission to store the sand on the north side of the inlet.

McKay said DEP officials are determining how much sand would be needed for the Key Royale project and the city is determining the cost to move it.

Bridge rehab continues

Bridge and road work might slow you down some if you are planning on driving to or from Longboat Key during the nighttime.

The Florida Department of Transportation reports the contractor for the Longboat Pass Bridge refurbishment will be working on the bridge and its sidewalks during the day and night and the nighttime work between 10 p.m. and 6 p.m. might require some lane closures for no more than 15 minutes at a time. Flaggers will be used to control traffic at those times.

In addition, the sidewalk on the east side of the drawbridge will be closed, but pedestrians can use the west sidewalk.

For safety reasons, the area directly under the bridge on Greer Island is closed to pedestrians while construction activities are taking place. Weather permitting, this closure is expected to be in place for several weeks. During construction, the width of the travel lanes on the bridge is temporarily reduced from 12 feet to 10 feet.

The speed limit is reduced from 45 mph to 35 mph. Motorists are advised to obey the speed limit and exercise extreme caution for their own safety as well as the safety of the construction workers. This project is expected to be complete this spring.

Peelen suggests rental housing changes

HOLMES BEACH – To solve rental housing problems, the city should limit square footage, separate duplexes by at least 10 feet and make four other code changes, according to Commissioner Jean Peelen's building code committee.

The committee issued its recommendations in advance of the Tuesday, April 10, commission meeting at Holmes Beach City Hall, 5800 Marina Drive, at 7 p.m., when all commissioners are expected to make their final committee reports on the rental issue.

"I believe our recommendations will stop the giant house problem in its tracks and preserve our quaint, family-friendly neighborhoods," Peelen wrote in the report.

New, large rental houses that have drawn sharp criticism from residents in the past several months violate the city's vision plan and comprehensive plan, according to Peelen.

The vision plan calls Holmes Beach "a unique, environmentally sensitive beach community with a small town atmosphere comprised of low-rise, low-density, mixed income neighborhoods," she wrote, while the comp plan's goals include "that the residential/family character of the city of Holmes Beach is maintained and protected while recognizing the potential for economic benefit resulting from the tourist trade."

That character is being destroyed by new houses with multiple bedrooms, intended not for families but for large groups, according to the report.

"They are out-of-scale, incompatible with the neighborhoods, and certainly do not maintain the residential/family character of Holmes Beach as required by the comprehensive plan. The building codes work group realized that what allowed these giant duplex and even large capacity single family homes to be built was our land development plan… there is nothing in the plan that prohibited it from happening."

Peelen's committee, comprised of Jim Plath, Pam Leckie, Greg Ross, Barbara Marcheck and Terry Parker, made the following recommendations:

• Keep most current building requirements, including setbacks and height limits.

• The city has no limits about house size, and should add floor/area ratio (FAR) requirements for the R-1 district of .35 and for the R-2 district of .30, establishing how much floor space a house or duplex can have on a certain size lot. For example, in R-2, a single family lot must be at least 7,510 square feet. Adopting a FAR of .30, multiply the size of the lot by .30 to determine the maximum square footage of a house, which would be 2,253 square feet. When the city created its vision plan in 1992, the average FAR per house was .20, compared to new rentals at .50 to .73, according to the report.

• Create a requirement that duplex houses that are joined underground should be separated by at least 10 feet.

• Increase the current minimum size for a duplex lot from 8,712 square feet to 10,100 square feet.

• Require a pool setback of 10 feet from the water to the property line.

• Discourage the demolition of ground level houses, encouraging owners and builders to rehab at ground level by allowing variances from the setback requirements.

The recommendations would effectively limit construction of large rentals, especially duplexes, city public works Superintendent Joe Duennes said.

"The real thrust is to take away the hotel atmosphere from the R-2 community," he said, adding that the city commission could adopt the recommendations in its land development code without running afoul of the state building code.

Only about 20 lots would be affected by the requirement to increase minimum lot sizes for duplexes, he said.

The suggestion to allow variances to encourage rehab probably would not be allowed by FEMA, and could jeopardize the city's insurance rating, he said.

Holmes Beach City Attorney Patricia Petruff declined to comment on the recommendations.


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