The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 12 No. 38 - July 4, 2012


Officials ponder beaches’ future
Carol Whitmore

No, it’s not an oil spill. State conservation officials say
it’s a combination of tannic acid and several types of
algae blooms that colored waters on the bayside
of Anna Maria Island on Wednesday after Tropical Storm
Debby passed. Though considered harmless, the combination
could lower the oxygen in the water, which officials
said could produce fish kills. If you see a fish kill,
call 800-636-0511.

BRADENTON BEACH – The sand that was washed away from Coquina Beach by Tropical Storm Debby might end up on shores of Holmes Beach or Anna Maria, according to Manatee County Natural Resources Director Charlie Hunsicker. That means the southern beaches of Anna Maria Island will be more vulnerable to erosion than many would deem comfortable. The federal government might have a solution, but the question is, “how soon?”

A renourishment project takes a long time to initiate with mounds of paperwork and permit applications.

“If we got approval for an emergency project,” Hunsicker said, “it would be at least a year before you would actually see new sand on the beach.”

Hunsicker took storm assessment specialists from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for tours of the beach Saturday and Monday. While the specialists did not want to talk, Hunsicker said the beaches to the south are battered, but the beaches are still strong to the north.

“We lost two to three feet in beach depth and from 20 to 40 feet of width,” he said. “Most of the heavy erosion was on the beaches south of 30th Street.”

Hunsicker estimated the damage to Coquina Beach alone was $2.3 million.

The FEMA officials were taking stock of the beaches from Venice to Tarpon Point, and if they find a need, they might recommend an emergency renourishment. Over the weekend, Florida Governor Rick Scott requested a state of emergency proclamation from President Obama, which would pave the way for the FEMA renourishment. Relief would come directly to the counties.

“A FEMA renourishment would only apply to beaches that were renourished with federal funds,” Hunsicker said. “That would apply to Coquina Beach, which was done in April of last year.”

That renourishment covered areas in Bradenton Beach and Anna Maria that had not been included in the original project in 1992 or the subsequent one in 2002.

Manatee County already has a renourishment project planned for 2014 or 2015, and Hunsicker said an emergency project might be combined with the one already planned. If not, it would precede the planned project by about a year, he said.

In addition to removing sand from the beaches, the storm leveled a lot of sand dunes, which worked to slow down the incoming water and protect the roads and property on the Island. Hunsicker said new dunes would be a part of an emergency renourishment.

The renourishment projects of the past 20 years have placed some three million cubic yards on the Island’s beaches, according to Hunsicker, and while a lot of it is gone, there is a larger supply in the waters and sandbars offshore.

Another phenomenon following the storm is the existence of dark water offshore in Tampa Bay. That water has a large amount of tannic acid, the result of decaying vegetation.

“That’s what happens when the wind blows a lot of leaves and plant life into the water,” Hunsicker said.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Research Institute reports that part of the discoloration is due to algae blooms.

AMI Art League to reopen for classes

HOLMES BEACH – The Anna Maria Island Art League, which closed May 11, apparently is poised to reopen.

In a surprise announcement on Friday, Art League Board President Laura McGeary sent out an e-mail saying classes would resume in July.

“We never really closed,” McGeary said when contacted. “We’re making adjustments. We have no set hours at this point, but when we have a regular schedule, we’ll let you know.”

The Art League closed when Executive Director Christina Reginelli put a sign on the door stating “Closed until further notice,” and left the organization because she was not being paid. Seven members of the 10-member board of directors resigned the same week following an emergency meeting.

McGeary countered that it was not closed, but rather was on vacation and claimed there were financial difficulties. However, when three board members and two former directors spoke out asking where the money went, McGeary did not respond. Nor did she respond to requests from this newspaper for copies of financial records.

McGeary then asked for donations from the public of $25, $50 and $100 or more in order to reopen the organization, and on Friday she said, “We got sufficient donations to keep operating.”

She said the organization has six new board members, but is not ready to release their names. She also said she has put out a call to artists to apply to participate in the annual Winterfest Festival of Fine Arts and Crafts on Dec. 8 and 9.

Events scheduled

The Art League, 5312 Holmes Boulevard, Holmes Beach, has scheduled the following classes, workshops and events:
• Get a haircut with hairdresser Chris Galanopoulos at Headquarters salon on Tuesdays, July 3, 17, 24 and 31, from 2 to 5 p.m. All proceeds go to the Art League. Call Headquarters at 941-778-2586 or stop by at 5376 Gulf Drive, Homes Beach.
• Meet local artists who are offering affordable art to benefit the Art League on Saturdays, July 14 and 21, from 3:30 to 8 p.m. Artists who want to participate can call the Art League.
• Attend free lectures by James Corwin Johnson Photography on Wednesday, Aug. 1, on Introduction to Digital Photography and Thursday, Aug. 2, on Outdoor Adventure Photography, both from 6 to 8 p.m. Sign up at
• Attend a floor cloth workshop with Deeana Atkinson on Friday, July 13, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. with a lunch break. The cost is $45 for members and $60 for non-members.
• Attend digital photography boot camp with James Corwin Johnson Photography, Friday through Sunday, July 13 to 15. One class is $60, one day is $200 and three days are $300. Add $10 for any class that uses a model. Hours vary each day. For details, go to or e-mail:
Workshops registration dates are Saturdays July 7 and 14 from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and Sundays, July 8 and 21, from 1 to 5 p.m.

For more information, call the Art League at 941-778-2099 or e-mail

Debby carves, shifts shoreline
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

Boulders, seawalls and stairways long covered by
sand in Bradenton Beach were exposed by Debby.

Tropical Storm Debby gnawed away at some of Anna Maria Island’s Gulf beaches for three days last week, taking with her large chunks of protective sand dunes on the southern end of the Island but but adding sand on the northern half.

When the water finally receded on Wednesday, June 27, rocks and rusted pieces of pipeline from previous beach renourishment projects littered a shelly, flat Gulf shoreline pocked with uncharacteristic eddies flowing out into the Gulf.

They stepped around toppled benches, broken fences and unearthed seawalls, boulders and stairways that had not been seen in decades up and down the beach.

T.S. Debby also exposed markers used in the Island’s first beach renourishment in the early 1990s, when the erosion was considered an emergency.

But other stretches of beach gained sand, some of them in huge amounts. The sandbar just north of the Sandbar restaurant, usually only partially exposed at low tide, was practically turned into a new Island and drew large numbers of beachgoers happy to see the Island's own Brigadoon reappear.

Soggy mess

The Gulf beaches were not the only parts of the Island impacted by the storm.

On the bayside, flood waters pushed seaweed and debris high onto lawns and into streets, and days of soaking rain left drainage ditches overflowing and streets floodingk throughout.

“The drains are designed to hold water until it can filter down into the ground, but with the heavy rains and high tides, there was nowhere for it to go,” Holmes Beach Mayor Rich Bohnenberger said, adding that some homes had water in their garages and a few had water in their living areas.

Side streets all over the city were flooded, stranding people in their homes, including the city’s new treasurer trainee, Lori Hill, who had to be picked up for work by a city truck, Bohnenberger said.

The city’s public works crew worked on Sunday marking flooded roads, and the city remained open on Monday, unlike the other two Island cities, he said.

Waste Management missed picking up trash on some streets because of flooding, city Code Enforcement Officer Dave Forbes said, adding that people should bundle or containerize their landscaping debris.

A woman suffered minor injuries after stepping on protruding rebar from the remnants of the pier at Manatee Beach, which Debby exposed, Forbes said, adding that the public works crew covered it up.

At the Bali Hai resort, 6900 Gulf Drive in Holmes Beach, visitors in ground floor, beachfront units were moved into another building as a precaution, owner Al Bouziane said, adding that the property was not damaged, and no one cancelled their trips or left early.

“A lot of them, that’s the first time they’ve ever seen a tropical storm,” he said.

There was minor flooding at Coconuts Beach Resort, 100 73rd St. in Holmes Beach, said Mary Ann Brockman, president of the Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce, adding, “I think it was a wake up call for all of us.”

Open for business

When the storms began, visitors called to ask if bridges were open, if the Island was closed and if there was an evacuation ordered, she said, adding that some visitors undoubtedly postponed their trips, although she heard of only one cancellation.

“We told them some roads would be hard to get through with the flooding,” but that the Island was open for business, she said.

Some visitors intent on getting in their beach time were greeted with less walkable beach and were forced to walk on seawalls and boulders. Still, they enjoyed themselves.

“It was a huge adventure,” said Julia O’Neill, visiting Bradenton Beach from Hershey, Pa. She and her husband, Steve, said they never considered leaving.

“It made the days that came after (Debby) that much better,” she said.

Boat collision

At the Bradenton Beach pier, life was not so easy. The 33-foot sailboat “Jammin’” broke loose from its moorings, giving its liveaboard owner, Slim Jim, and his friends, John, Bob, Scooby and Donny, the fight of their lives.

“The boat dragged anchor and was hung up on the pier,” where it smashed against the bumpers for several hours, he said. The struggle to free her was featured on The Weather Channel and You Tube.

“They risked life and limb,” he said, thanking Bradenton Beach Police Department Chief Sam Speciale for giving him permission to continue to work in the dangerous conditions. The city’s public works crew also came to his aid, he said.

When it was over, he lost about 300 books and some clothes, and had some repair work to do, but no one was hurt and “I didn’t lose my home,” he said. “I’m thankful for that.”

Cortez afloat

In Cortez, much of the waterfront and many side streets were underwater during the worst of the storm.

Florida Institute for Saltwater Heritage (FISH) President Kim McVey had to wait for the saltwater in the parking lot of Cortez Bait and Seafood to recede before driving her car home, she said.

The marina, protected by a bird island preserve, is a popular place for boaters to shelter their vessels. Damage was limited to some missing planks in the dock and seaweed and debris that washed ashore, she said.

At A.P. Bell Fish Co., some visiting fishermen were stranded during the storm, office manager Karen Bell said, adding that the business suffered only minor damage.

However, a Coast Guard boat broke free from its mooring and smashed into the Bell Fish seawall, a boat sank near the Sea Tow facility, and another boat sank in the channel off Coast Guard Station Cortez, she said.

Mayor weighs in on FAR

HOLMES BEACH – The Holmes Beach Commission’s attempt to regulate vacation rentals using a floor/area ratio (FAR) requirement could invalidate the city’s existing rental regulations under a state law passed last year, Mayor Rich Bohnenberger says.

In a memo to commissioners, the mayor expressed concern last week about their recent work session vote favoring FAR in the R-2 zoning district, where duplex vacation rentals are common.

Residents in the district have complained for months about overcrowding, noise, trash and other problems in the large, multi-bedroom duplexes.

The issue is scheduled for discussion at the commission’s Tuesday, July 10 meeting at 7 p.m. at city hall, 5801 Marina Drive.

The state Legislature passed a law last year prohibiting municipalities from creating or increasing restrictions on rental properties.

The fact that the FAR idea originated in a committee designed to suggest solutions to rental problems could trigger a challenge to the city code that limits rentals to seven-day and 30-day minimum stays in different zoning districts, he said. Commissioners have repeatedly referred to the FAR proposal as a solution to rental problems, the mayor said.

“They gave challengers every piece of ammunition they need to overturn us,” he added.

Bohnenberger suggested that the commission instead consider an amendment to the land development code specifying that R-2 district regulations require an on site parking space for each bedroom, and minimum room sizes for all living rooms and bedrooms, with an impact fee for more than three bedrooms.

“If we put our heads together and discuss the real issue I am sure the matter can be resolved without FAR,” he wrote, adding that the real issue is intensity of use.

“If the commission intends to proceed with FAR, then it should be a ballot issue since it will impact every property owner’s property rights and they should have an opportunity to cast their vote, not just three commissioners. If FAR is adopted without a referendum, I predict an endless train of litigation as our citizens slowly find out they were negatively impacted by FAR.”


The FAR proposal, which would establish how much floor space a house or duplex can have on certain lot sizes, was proposed by a committee headed by Commissioner Jean Peelen. The work session vote was 3-2 with Peelen, Pat Morton and David Zaccagnino favoring a FAR of 30 percent, and dissenters Sandra Haas-Martens and John Monetti voting for 61 percent.

“I think it very unusual for a mayor, who works for the commission, to issue such a statement after a vote on the topic,” Peelen wrote in an e-mail to the other commissioners. “This statement, along with being factually incorrect, is out of line for the mayor to issue.”

“I don’t work for the commission,” Bohnenberger responded in an interview on Thursday. “I always thought I worked for the citizens of Holmes Beach. They’re the legislators, I’m the administrator.”

The FAR proposal should have been studied by the city planner and the city planning commission, which would determine whether it is in compliance with the city’s comprehensive plan, he said.

“Then, after two public hearings, the commission can vote,” he said. “They put the cart before the horse.”

On the front lines

Many contractors were reluctant to discuss the FAR proposal, but two who responded to inquiries are leaning against it.

“I see how these guys are trying to cram these houses into these small lots and get all this footage by going up three floors,” said Darrin Wash, of Wash Family Construction. “Putting 6,000 square feet on one lot is ridiculous.”

But a 30 percent FAR requirement “is not going to change much of anything,” he said, suggesting that .35 would make a difference, allowing a reasonably large 1,800 square foot unit on each side of a duplex on a 50 by 100 lot.

“I’m not in favor of people using the whole lot for the house and putting big duplexes a few feet from each other, but I would hate to have something passed that takes people’s property rights,” said Hugh Holmes, of Holmes Construction.

The city should enforce its current zoning and codes to solve the problem, he said.

Permit denied

Doing just that, the city denied a building permit application last week for 303 68th St. to a contractor who has built large duplex vacation rentals, whose “blatant disregard for FEMA rules” could impact the city’s flood insurance discount, according to Bohnenberger.

“The application contained cost estimates and affidavits that were deemed questionable,” he wrote in a June 30 memo to commissioners. “We engaged an independent appraiser and cost estimator to review the package… The review found that the information provided was not convincing that the project could be built within the 50 percent rule,” which requires a building to be rebuilt as an elevated structure if a renovation is more than 50 percent of its value.

From now on, projects by “contractors that need closer scrutiny” will be inspected by city building officials, including the city’s former building official, John Fernandez, who has been retained to fill in where needed, according to the mayor.

“This action will not only protect our insurance rating, it will also level the playing field for all our other contractors that have been at a disadvantage because they would not try to bend the rules,” Bohnenberger wrote.

Still time to see some great fireworks displays

Catch the legal fireworks on the beach for two nights on Anna Maria Island. The BeachHouse restaurant, 200 Gulf Drive N., will launch the largest show of the three nights of fireworks on Tuesday, July 3. On Wednesday, July 4, the show moves to the Sandbar, 100 Spring Ave., in Anna Maria. Both shows start after sundown, weather permitting. Mar Vista, on Longboat Key, was home of the first fireworks display on Monday, July 2. Law enforcement officers remind everyone not to bring their own fireworks to the beach celebrations. Any fireworks that fly or explode are illegal in Manatee County and will be confiscated.

Don’t forget the Privateers’ Fourth of July Parade starting at Coquina Beach on Wednesday at 10 a.m. and going north to Bay Front Park in Anna Maria. After the parade, the Privateers will reassemble at the Island Beach Café in Holmes Beach, where they will distribute scholarships.

Jump in the turtle pool

BRADENTON BEACH – How many sea turtle nests will be laid this season?

If you guess right, you can win half of a 50/50 cash prize, with the other half benefiting Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch and Shorebird Monitoring.

The idea was hatched by Privateer-turned-D.J. Tim “Hammer” Thompson of WAMI-AM radio as he spoke with AMITW’s director, Suzi Fox, about this year’s turtle nesting season on his radio program, “Hammer in the Morning,” which airs from 7-10 a.m. Monday through Friday.

Turtles have been nesting so fast that Fox ran out of stakes to mark the nests, she told him; sea turtles laid more nests on Anna Maria Island in the first eight weeks of the 2012 season than they did during the entire 2011 season. Turtles usually nest from May 1 through the third week of July.

Once Fox determines that nesting is over, WAMI will count the votes and award the prize.

To participate, write down your name, e-mail address and phone number and your best guess on how many nests will be laid this season, and bring it to Thompson at WAMI-AM, 105 Bridge Street, with a $5 donation, Monday through Friday between 7-10 a.m.

They’ll date it and time stamp it, and whoever has the earliest right answer wins the 50/50. You can also drop it off at Zegway by the Bay, 3220 East Bay Drive in Holmes Beach, or hand it to Thompson, or the radio crew, Robert Herman, Casey Hoffman and Terry Hayes, if you bump into them around town.

Listen to WAMI radio at 1700 AM or online at

Animal cruelty suspect Baker Acted

tom vaught | sun
Emergency workers wheel Laurie Miles Pardee to
an ambulence. He was taken to an unknown
location after police Baker Acted him.

HOLMES BEACH – The man who was arrested for shooting a white egret and stomping it to death has been taken into custody again on a Baker Act request.

The Florida Department of Children and Families went to the home of 74-year-old Laurie Miles Pardee with Holmes Beach Police officers assisting on Thursday, June 28, around 11 a.m. along with a Manatee County ambulance. Two representatives from the Adult Protective Services unit of the Florida Department of Children and Families were present, but would not talk about the case. A spokesperson with the department could not provide any answers as to why Pardee was Baker Acted.

A Holmes Beach Police report shows that Pardee called them on Friday, June 22, to complain that the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officer who came to his house to give him a citation for killing a white egret stole his Rolex watch and a diamond ring. He wrote a sworn affidavit on the alleged theft, according to the report.

The police cars and ambulance in front of Pardee’s house drew neighbors, who knew nothing. One neighbor, who wanted to remain anonymous, said Pardee kept to himself and whenever a neighbor tried to speak with him, he would turn away.

Holmes Beach police charged Pardee with cruelty to animals and discharging a firearm in public, and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission charged him with unlawfully taking a migratory bird. Police also charged a woman living with Pardee, 75-year-old Joyce Parker, with tampering with evidence when she tried to hide the weapon Pardee used on the bird from police. She was also released on bail but she was not seen at the home on Thursday.

The reason behind the Baker Act is not known. The act allows officials to take custody of a person for an involuntary examination. It can be initiated by judges, law enforcement officials, physicians or mental health professionals, as well as non-professionals, as long as there is evidence that the subject has a mental illness (as defined in the Baker Act) or is a harm to self, harm to others, or self neglectful (as defined in the Baker Act).

Examinations may last up to 72 hours after a person is deemed medically stable. At that point, the person might be released, committed or volunteer for treatment.

Pardee and Parker both face arraignment on Friday, July 13, at 9 a.m. in judge Edward Nicholas’s courtroom.

City board brainstorms rental ideas

ANNA MARIA – Commissioners continued to seek ways to address problems created by high intensity use of rental properties.

Chair Chuck Webb said recently there were 19 vehicles parked along Magnolia Avenue from people renting two houses, and the city needs to find ways to regulate problem vacation rentals.

Commissioner SueLynn said one man who complained about a vacation rental had his vehicle vandalized and received threats.

“We still have a long way to go,” she stressed. “Anything we can do to manage the problem will help.”

“What can we enforce now?” Webb asked.

Building Official Bob Welch said they could enforce the noise ordinance through the citation system, which begins July 1.

Webb felt the city could do something with the use regulations in R-1 and R-2, which do not state that vacation rentals are a permitted use. He said while traditional vacation rentals have been allowed in the city, the intensity in recent years has increased dramatically.

“It’s a type of rental we haven’t seen before,” he pointed out. “How do we allow people to use their property reasonably? To me it’s a special exception process with specific restrictions – the number of people allowed, the number of cars allowed and things like that.”

Commissioner SueLynn suggested banning parking in the right of way, and Welch said that could jeopardize their beach renourishment funding.

“What if somebody has a party?” Commissioner John Quam asked.

SueLynn said people could get special parking permits.

“I think everybody would be up in arms,” Webb replied, and SueLynn countered, “We can’t please everybody. We have to take some drastic measures.”

Webb suggested limiting parking in the right of way to a certain number of vehicles, Quam suggested banning parking in the right of way after a certain hour and Micheal Coleman suggested limiting parking in the right of way to those with residential permits.

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