The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 13 No. 11 - December 26, 2012


Moratorium clears hurdle

HOLMES BEACH – Commissioners approved on first reading a moratorium on issuing demolition permits and building permits for any work that exceeds the threshold for substantial improvement for all residential dwelling units in the R-2 district.

The moratorium, with an effective date of Dec. 25, will be in place for no more that six months, while commissioners consider code changes.

City Attorney Patricia Petruff explained that because Dec. 25 is a holiday, the ordinance would not go into effect until the end of the business day on Dec. 26.

One property owner spoke against the moratorium and one praised it.

Joe Kennedy, a former 20-year resident of the city, said he owns a waterfront lot in the R-2 district. He explained that the 1989 comprehensive plan increased the minimum lot size for a duplex, making making his lot too small for a duplex structure, and he could only build a single-family home.

“A moratorium that would include these particular R-2 properties (improved or vacant) is unwarranted and unjustified, since they can only have a single-family home built upon them or remain on them,” he said.

He pointed out that the problem duplexes that are connected were built legally within the code and said because some have maximized a loophole in the code does not justify a moratorium.

Minds made up

“We think your minds are already made up regardless of the negative impact your decision will have on those of us who are not part of the problem,” he said.

“You weren’t voted into office to hurt those property owners that have been placed in this position just because the city has not been able to keep those select few in check that seem to be the target of your actions.”

He asked them to exclude properties in the R-2 district that do not have sufficient land to build a duplex.

Resident Dave McKeever took the opposite view and stressed, “The November election was a referendum. The silent majority in Holmes Beach said enough is enough, that construction in the R-2 district is out of control and incompatible with the city’s vision.

“A handful of people have benefitted from building monstrosities that were deemed to be legal … They did so at the expense of their neighbors, who now deal with issues such as incessant noise, too many vehicle and trash pick-up problems.”

He said he sympathizes with those who may be hurt by the moratorium, but has “no sympathy for speculative carpetbaggers who hope to make a quick buck by building a rental McMansion …

“A moratorium of up to six months is more than reasonable in light of the potential damage this city faces from a very limited number of builders.”

The second reading will be Jan. 8.

Objectives established

Commissioners agreed on the following objectives to be accomplished before the moratorium can be lifted:

• Size of houses;
• Underground connection of duplexes;
• Number of pools per lot;
• Building department policy on docks;
• Building department policy on corner lots clarified in writing;
• Building department policy on elevator shafts clarified in writing;
• Independent appraisals.

Island survives ‘end of the world’

BRADENTON BEACH – Few on Bridge Street took the Mayan’s “end of the world” prediction seriously, but many decided to celebrate with friends and family just in case.

Thursday afternoon, Bradenton resident Anne Deans was making plans for her 50th Birthday on Friday.

“We’re planning on going fishing on the Bridge Street Pier and then carousing the Moose, The Drift In and the local eateries and drinkeries,” she said. “We figured we go out full swing.”

Barring cataclysm, Deans planned to be at the Bridge Street Market on Sunday, operating Philly Finest Bakers.

Thursday night, at Island Time Bar & Grill, C.C. Shuett and Sandy Terpening danced to the sounds of Shotgun Justice. “I’m not worried,” Terpening said between songs. “I have friends in Australia. It’s already tomorrow there and they emailed and said they were all right.”

Local fitness guru Steve Schewe said, tongue-in-cheek, “We know that this side of the earth will be hit with a solar flare that will stop all electricity and all engines from being able to run. People will have no water unless they have a well and we’ll have to survive off of rice and beans until the help arrives from the other side of the world.”

Schewe and Island Time owner Bill Herlihy toasted “the end” with a “Mayan Calendar” shot prepared by Herlihy’s daughter, Delanie.

“I came down to spend the evening with my daughter,” Herlihy said. “If it was going to end, I wanted to spend it with her and my wonderful patrons and employees.”

At 11:11 p.m., a hard rain pelted Bridge Street. At 11:15, the power failed and Bridge Street went dark for 30 seconds or so, giving pause to those experiencing world ending anxiety.

Sitting with loved ones at the Drift In, Donald White said, “I needed my family here just in case the world ended, so I flew my daughter, Nina, in from Berkley, California and my sister, Laura, from Michigan. Friday, I’m flying in my sister and nephew from San Francisco and my brother’s coming in from Pompano Beach.”

Standing outside with her friend Erica Darby, Courtney McGough said, “If it were to be the end of the world I’d be happy to spend it where I am, with my great friends. I’ve lived a good life and I have no regrets.”

A return visit to Bridge Street on Friday afternoon revealed that all was well, but the arrival of a cold front had cooled things off considerably.

Inside the Back Alley gift store, employee Adina Dicus said, “It looks like the end of the world,” in reference to the lack of shoppers.

Outside, Southern California resident Judy Penman stood on a Segway next to Segs By the Bay tour guide Joey Pushies. “We’re Segwaying, having drinks at Mar Vista, hanging out on the island and enjoying life,” Pushies said.

“I made sure I had a Bloody Mary just in case,” Penman added.

Sitting at the still busy Drift In with her friend Shari Urban, Nancy Moynihan said, “We were going for pancakes and wound up here. We never got the pancakes, but we had three Bloody Marys.”

Free hots dogs were provided by “Mickey and Michelle,” who earlier fed the homeless at Stillpoint House of Prayer, in Bradenton. After leaving Stillpoint, they stopped at Our Daily Bread and began handing out free food, only to be told they were on private property and had to leave.

Still frustrated, Mickey shook his head and said, “I could see the hunger in their eyes, but they wouldn’t let us stay, so we brought it here.”

Board discusses duplex connection

HOLMES BEACH – After considerable discussion and hearing new information, commissioners agreed to continue their discussion on underground connections for duplexes.

City Attorney Patricia Petruff said the underground connections, or footings, came about in the early 80s, when the city discovered that people were selling half duplexes.

“There is now in the zoning code a very clear statement that people can connect a duplex by an underground connection.

"You need to decide whether to keep it in the code or go back to the typical duplex where there is a party wall.”

“The footing is an atrocity. Eliminate it,” Commissioner Pat Morton declared.

Commissioner David Zaccagnino said he feels the LAR (living area ratio) that the commission agreed upon on Dec. 18 would accomplish the goal of eliminating big homes.

“I don’t want to eliminate looks and architectural style, which I think is better and adds green space,” he said of the separate duplex buildings connected underground.

Chair Jean Peelen agreed with Zaccagnino regarding the LAR and added, “It doesn’t matter if they are separated because they won’t be out of scale with the neighborhood.”

Two homes, one lot

Commissioner Judy Titsworth noted, “Just because its in R-2 doesn’t mean it has to be a duplex. They’re tearing down single-family homes because we’re allowing this footer thing. We’re allowing them to build two homes on undersized lots.”

However, Petruff disagreed and pointed out, “The lot has to be 8,712 square feet (to build a duplex).”

“Nowhere else could you build a single-family home on that size of a lot,” Titsworth responded. “They’re looking, feeling and acting like single-family homes.”

Interim Building Inspector Tom O’Brien said the real issue is the character of the duplexes being built and added, “Define what you want – what’s built on the lot will look like. If we want to allow people to build two separate structures on an R-2 lot, put a set of conditions on it.”

Planner Bill Brisson offered that they could change the amount of separation between the two duplexes.

“I’m still trying to make these two homes not so attractive to two different buyers,” Tistworth stressed. “I would love to get back to where it’s a one-owner duplex.”

Resident Carol Soustek said, “The only way to get rid of squeezing two houses on one lot is to go back to single houses.”

Maggie Plath agreed with Soustek and said the connected duplexes are increasing density.

Peelen told commissioners to consider all the comments for a future discussion.

City to limit size of homes

HOLMES BEACH – Big homes may be a thing of the past in this city after commissioners approve an ordinance establishing a LAR (living area ratio) of .34.

“I went online to see what houses would look like at that size, and there were some really nice looking homes,” Commissioner Marvin Grossman said.

According to the ordinance, LAR “expresses the relationship between the amount of air conditioned floor area, except garages, permitted in a residential dwelling unit and the area of the lot or parcel on which the residential dwelling unit stands.

“It is arrived at by dividing the total air conditioned floor area of all habitable floors in the dwelling unit by the square footage of land area associated with that dwelling unit.

“In the case of a duplex unit, two-family unit or multiple dwelling units on on lot or parcel, the amount of land associated with each dwelling unit shall be the total area of the lot divided by the number of dwelling units on the lot.”

With a LAR of .34, up to 2,533 square feet of living area would be permitted on a minimum 7,510 square-foot lot, and 1,481 square feet of living area would be allowed on each half of a 8,712 square foot duplex lot.

LAR does not include garages, unenclosed patios, balconies, porches or terraces.

Property owner Joe Kennedy asked if the LAR would be in effect on lots in the R-2 district that are too small for a duplex, and Chair Jean Peelen said yes.

The first reading of the ordinance is planned for Jan 8.

Island to star on TV

Larry Roberts, executive producer of, was in town recently to shoot various locations on the Island including Minnie’s, in Holmes Beach, The Back Porch, The Bridge Tender, Jose’s Real Cuban Food in Cortez and Trade Winds Resort in Bradenton Beach. At Minnie’s, Roberts mingles with the waitresses and customers, shooting video and asking questions. The restaurant was packed.

Each participating business will have its video featured on You Tube where the one with the most views will win a 30-second ad campaign on The Travel Channel. All of the videos will appear in programs on Lifetime Real Women.

tom vaught | sun
Larry Roberts records the service at Minnie’s
for a show that will run later on cable TV. The show
will highlight businesses on the Island, and
the business that gets the most “views” will
win a commercial on The Travel Channel.

Dog owner suffers bite wounds

HOLMES BEACH – A dog owner suffered wounds when another dog, a pit bull, attacked his dog at the dog park in the field north of city hall, according to a police report.

John McGuire, of Anna Maria, suffered wounds on Saturday, Dec. 15, around 12:40 p.m. after Lisa Horn, of Holmes Beach came to the park and her unleashed dog immediately approached his foxhound terrier Pomeranian mix and attacked it. McGuire tried to protect his dog, which he said was yelping from pain, but Horn’s pit bull bit him on the hand.

McGuire was able to break free of Horn’s dog, but his hand was bleeding profusely. He wrapped it to strop the bleeding. Horn put her dog on a leash, gave McGuire a business card and left the park. McGuire sought medical treatment and his wife took their dog to the vet.

The officer went to the dog park to find witnesses, but could find none although several people saw McGuire with his hand wrapped, going to the hospital. He then went to Horn’s house where she said her dog had attacked McGuire’s dog and then him. She said all her dog’s shots are up to date. He observed her dog, which was very aggressive toward him.

The officer contacted Manatee County Animal Control and an agent came out. He said he put an 11-day quarantine on Horn’s dog and advised the officer to call him if he sees Horn out with her dog.

Finally, a witness to the attack came forth, and he said Horn’s dog was completely out of control and did not listen to any commands. He said the attack on McGuire’s dog was completely unprovoked.

City recognizes Romine for service

pat copeland | sun
Retiring Holmes Beach Police Chief Jay Romine is
amused by a story being told by Manatee County
Commissioner Carol Whitmore, the city's former mayor.

HOLMES BEACH – The city said goodbye to Police Chief Jay Romine in a ceremony of recognition last week. Romine announced on Dec.7 that he would be retiring on Dec. 20.

“Thank you,” Romine said. “I wondered when this day would come, and all of a sudden it’s here. It’s been a great ride, and I had a wonderful time.

“This city has been very very good to me over the years, and we’ve been fortunate to have a stable consistent staff working for us and a lot of good elected officials.”

He said the average tenure of a police chief in the state is 2.5 years, and he has been fortunate to have 19 exceptional years as the city’s chief.

“I’ve been very blessed and it’s been very enriching for me and my family,” he continued. “I was fortunate to have mayors who entrusted the department to me and let me do my job. I’m very appreciative, very honored and looking forward to the next chapter.”

He recognized his wife, Jayne; his parents, Billy and Ida; his second in command, Lt. Dale Stephenson; and his brother in law, Gene Page, who got him interested in police work.

Romine thanked

Former Mayor and Manatee County Commissioner Carol Whitmore thanked Romine for making the department more professional.

“One time Jay and I were talking about her family history and when I told him my name, he about fell out of his chair,” she recalled, “because everybody in my family has been in jail but me.”

“You’re next on the list,” Romine quipped amid laughter from the audience.

Manatee County Commissioner John Chappie also offered his congratulations.

“I really appreciate the direction you’ve taken the police department,” City Commissioner David Zaccagnino said. “When you’re looking for a place to take root and raise a family, your biggest concern is that it’s a safe community. Because of your direction, we do have a safe community and a very responsive police department. When things happen in the world, you realize that.”

Mayor Carmel Monti thanked Romine for his service to the city and presented him with gift certificates from the Bass Pro Shop.

City waits for permits on pier renovation

BRADENTON BEACH – City officials are waiting for permission from federal agencies to replace pilings under the Bridge Street Pier and shorten the floating day dock. Both structures were damaged by storms this summer and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) has approved the pier project, but there is a delay, according to Building Official Steve Gilbert.

“We learned that FDEP no longer does Army Corps of Engineers reviews,” he said at a recent meeting of the Pier Team, adding that is slowing the city’s attempt to get a permit.

“As for FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency), we got word that they approved the dock project,” Gilbert said. “The bad news is we have to resubmit it as a mitigation project.”

Gilbert said that means the federal government would pay for 75 percent of the project, instead of 75 percent of 75 percent.

FEMA is paying for the majority of the floating dock because it was damaged by high waves as storms came through the area.

“Is this the result we have been waiting for,” asked City Commissioner Rick Gatehouse.

“Yes,” Gilbert said. “They also approved the Eighth Street dock.

The city agreed to let neighbors pay to replace that neighborhood dock.

Gilbert said FEMA no longer has a 30-day limit to approve or reject projects and the accompanying paper work could take longer than planned.

Gilbert predicted it could be April or May before they start on the pier.

“A lot of FEMA went north when (Hurricane) Sandy hit the Northeast United States.

For now, the floating dock is closed and the pier is open and looking a little better since the public works department cleaned and painted railings plus picnic tables and the swing at the end of the pier.

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