The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 13 No. 15 - January 23, 2013


Board back to two pools on duplex lots

HOLMES BEACH – Reversing a previous decision after getting input from their planner, commissioners agreed to continue to allow each half of a duplex to have its own swimming pool.

“We agree with comments made by (Manatee) County Commissioner Carol Whitmore regarding the fact that such a regulation may tend to make two-family structures less attractive to those who wish to reside in the city on a permanent or semi-permanent basis and, therefore, may result in encouraging two-family units to be used primarily for short-term rentals purposes. We also believe that developers will find a way around the regulation,” City Planner Bill Brisson said in a memo.

Commissioner Judy Titsworth, who has spearheaded the effort for one pool, agreed with Brisson and said, “We’re trying to get residents back.”

She asked if they could have different setbacks for new and existing homes.

“I think that would be problematic,” City Attorney Patricia Petruff replied. “What is the rational nexus? In October, the commission agreed that a 5-foot setback for pools is adequate.

“To now say for ground level, existing duplexes we’ll only require 5, but for homes built according to FEMA regulations, we’ll require 10. I’m not seeing how to justify the difference.”

Back to the issue

Chair Jean Peelen pointed out that they are addressing the issue of one or two pools, not setbacks, and that a 10-foot setback could eliminate the possibility of a pool on a 50 by 100-foot lot.

“Especially in the R-2 district, most ground level homes are non-conforming,” Commissioner David Zaccagnino added. “If they want to put in a pool and doing renovations and have to meet the 10-foot setbacks, they’re more likely to tear down the house and build up.”

Titsworth said she also wants to limit single-family lots to one pool. She said a neighbor with a large lot demolished a ground-level home and built two homes, each with a pool, because he didn’t have enough frontage to subdivide the lot.

“I get that you don’t like what happened next door, but I don’t know that we can do that,” Petruff replied. “What they did was legal in accordance with our current code.

“If you don’t like the idea of having more than one house on a lot, just take away the ability to to that. Don’t try to go around it with the swimming pool and take way their right to build accessory structures.”

Zaccagnino said the problem is in the R-2 district, not the others, and Titsworth agreed to limit her motion to R-2.

Pervious or impervious?

Commissioner Marvin Grossman said he has a problem with an owner filling the yard with pool and deck so there is no landscaping, and he favors a 10-foot setback to allow for more landscaping. He also questioned whether pools should be counted as pervious surface.

Petruff said pools are exempt from the 40 percent impervious surface that is allowed on a lot because they collect stormwater.

“It wouldn’t make sense to require them to be counted as coverage in R-2, but not in the other districts,” Petruff pointed out. “The LAR will reduce the footprint of the house, leaving more land for accessory structures.

“If you change lot coverage and setbacks, you’re piling on a lot of impacts. Before you do that, you need to have an understanding of what it will do to your basic duplex lot.”

She said at some point, they will “hit a tipping point and be inundated with Bert Harris lawsuits, where people will say we have unfairly burdened their property.”

According to the Bert Harris Act, “When a specific action of a governmental entity has inordinately burdened an existing use of real property or a vested right to a specific use of real property, the property owner of that real property is entitled to relief, which may include compensation for the actual loss to the fair market value of the real property caused by the action of government, as provided in this section.”

Getting the facts

“Why are we here? Because of pools, because of noise, because of drainage?” Zaccagnino asked. “We’re adding another expensive, new law that won’t accomplish the end result and will affect everybody in the city.”

Petruff agreed and said, “You’re talking about this issue in a vacuum. You don’t have the facts you need to make an informed decision.

“You don’t know how many houses you have in a particular situation with respect to setbacks. If you enact a new law, you may cause a severe problem.”

Peelen stressed that they only are considering duplex lots, and Petruff asked if they change the setback to 10 feet, how could they justify that it’s 5 feet everywhere else?

“If we’re regulating pools, then what’s good for a pool in R-2 is good for a pool in R-1,” Petruff said. “If we’re regulating something else, let’s be honest about what we’re regulating.”

Mayor Carmel Monti agreed with Petruff and suggested they keep the setback at 5 feet until they can evaluate the impacts of changing it.

Peelen instructed Petruff to ‘do it,” prompting Petruff to quip, “Lucky for me there’s nothing to do.”

Mainsail public hearing set for Feb.12

HOLMES BEACH – Despite objections from two board members, city commissioners set a public hearing for Feb. 12 on the site plan for the Mainsail development at the corner of Gulf and Marina drives.

When Chair Jen Peelen announced that the developers of the Mainsail property would make a presentation on their plans at a work session on Feb.7, Commissioner Judy Titsworth objected.

“I thought we decided on a public hearing,” Titsworth said. “I wanted to make sure we’re advertising it so the residents can come.

“Not that I want to put a stop to Mainsail, but because it’s been 12 years, and I think it’s time for a public hearing.”

Commissioner Marvin Grossman said people would read about it in the Island newspapers and added, “Advertising it in the Bradenton Herald won’t bring any more people.

“We could still have a public hearing if we decide its necessary after we hear what their plans are,” Peelen said.

Commissioner David Zaccagnino agreed.

“This should have been done five years ago,” Titsworth persisted. “The original resolution did not hold them to anything. We owe it to our residents.”

Public hearing vs. work session

Mayor Carmel Monti asked City Attorney Patricia Petruff the difference between a public hearing and a work session.

“The purpose of a public hearing is to provide due process to the applicant in order to have the ability to amend or revoke that site plan,” Petruff explained. “It is a formal meeting and at the end, you can take action or not.

“At the work session, you can hear all the same information, but you can take no action. You can’t do it at the next meeting either. They have to submit something formally for you to take action on.”

Peelen pointed out that the development has had three owners over 12 years and that there also has been an economic depression and added, “I have confidence in the some of the people involved and that they want to do it right. The neighborly thing is to tell them to come in and tell us their plans.”

The consensus was to set the public hearing for Feb. 12 with Peelen and Zaccagnino dissenting. Peelen said the Mainsail developers also are welcome to make a presentation at the work session.

Mainsail presentation

After learning about the public hearing, Mainsail President Joe Collier said he still plans to bring his whole team to the Island to make a presentation at the work session.

“After that, they’ll have a much better understanding of the project and the details,” he said. “They’ll have all the information they need. Let’s roll up our sleeves and work together to make this a great entry point for the city.”

He said he also would return for the public hearing if necessary.

The project includes 37 condo/hotel units and town houses, a main lodge building with a 100-seat restaurant and a 60-slip marina.

The Mainsail Lodge and Marina, formerly the Tidemark Lodge and Marina, was begun by Nick Easterling in 2001. However, Easterling filed for bankruptcy in 2004.

In 2005, Reliance Realty Partners joined the project and the bankruptcy was resolved. In May 2007 Reliance bought out Easterling. However, in June 2009 the banks foreclosed on the properties, and they were purchased by Mainsail.

New head deputy on duty
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

tom vaught | sun
Sergeant Paul Davis has taken over the Anna Maria
substation of the Manatee County Sheriff's
Office at city hall.

ANNA MARIA – The Manatee County Sheriff’s Office has installed a new sergeant at its office in Anna Maria and he’s excited to be on the "beach beat."

Sgt. Paul Davis is a 21-year veteran of law enforcement and has been with the sheriff’s office for 18 years. He says he’s familiar with Anna Maria Island, and he loves it here.

“I come out whenever I get the chance,” he said. “I love to scuba dive and surf.”

David also said his in-laws used to own a home on the Island so he’s familiar with where things are. He also said he is a member of the Manatee Sunrise Kiwanis Club, the Knights of Columbus and the Hernando DeSoto Historic Society. He said someone in the Island Kiwanis Club has already invited him to one of their Saturday morning meetings at Anna Maria Island Beach Café.

He said he would be busy getting acquainted with residents and business owners over the next few weeks.

Davis replaces Sgt. Dave Turner, who headed the Anna Maria office for five years. Turner had been at odds over his deputies enforcing the noise ordinance, saying he did not want his men performing code enforcement duties. They did write up complaints, however, when they found a homeowner or renter making noise after hours.

Mayor SueLynn, who was not notified about Turner’s replacement, said she hoped communications would improve with the Sheriff’s Office out here.

Meanwhile, Davis said he is increasing patrols where three automobiles were stolen recently.

“We want to nip this in the bud,” he said. “So far we’ve had three car thefts, and we had none in 2012. I want to make sure there are no more this year and next year."

Fire district responds to fire safety issues
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

These duplexes on 50th Street near the AMI Elementary
School, are built extremely close toghther.


HOLMES BEACH – The fire district has no jurisdiction to inspect single- and two-family homes for fire safety, West Manatee Fire Chief Andy Price told city commissioners at a recent work session.

Chair Jean Peelen said commissioners have been concerned about the separation of duplexes built on one lot and joined by a common foundation.

Price said the fire district has been concerned about such homes for many years, but does not inspect them because they are exempted by Florida Statute.

“We approached the Island cities and made a presentation to the Coalition of Barrier Island Elected Officials in 2008 because we did not see any relevant separation,” he explained.

“They are large and take up the majority of the lot space. We have limited access and in some cases, we can’t get a ladder truck in there.”

He said he told officials at the time that the only way to protect such homes is with sprinkler systems. He said the fire district tried to initiate a voluntary residential fire sprinkler program, but it faltered due to the economic downturn.

“We don’t know what kind of fire separation is in those homes, but there are fire safety standards in the building code,” he said, adding that it is the responsibility of the building departments to enforce those codes.

“The fire district’s primary responsibility is life safety, and that’s what their code talks about,” Interim Building Inspector Tom O’Brien added. “It doesn’t talk about details of construction. That’s in the building code.”

Commission questions

Commissioner Marvin Grossman asked if they should require sprinklers.

“You could look at a sprinkler ordinance,” Price replied. “It allows you to reduce some of the other requirements, and the cost has come down, so they are readily affordable.”

Mayor Carmel Monti asked about retrofitting existing structures, and Price said that would be too difficult to enforce.

Commissioner Pat Morton asked about the safety of six- to eight-bedroom homes in the event the occupants must evacuate due to a fire.

Price said it could create a very tense situation because people are scared, they can’t see because of the smoke and they are unfamiliar with the layout of the building. He said having smoke detectors is extremely important.

Commissioner David Zaccagnino asked if it is possible to have homes inspected.

“Only if there’s a true life safety hazard,” Price responded, adding that the fire district does offer complimentary home safety inspections if invited by the owner.

Commissioner Judy Titsworth suggested that if a rental home does not meet the code the city could deny a rental license.

“The issues of the ones permitted is pretty well under control,” O’Brien said. “We’re getting a remedy to this problem.”

Monti said he had confidence in the building department.

Resident Terry Parker said the rental homes are violation of the code because they are not residential, adding, “One fire in a stairwell in one of these buildings will kill everybody. You have moral and financial responsibility.”

In other business, Titsworth suggested that the city should put an occupancy rating on a rental home’s business tax receipt, but Morton said it would be impossible to police. Monti said he would discuss the issue with the deputy clerk.

“You can’t regulate everything,” Zaccagnino protested.

Holmes Beach Building Department to move

The Holmes Beach Public Works Department building
is a free-standing building between the skate park
and West Manatee Fire Station 1.


HOLMES BEACH – Mayor Carmel Monti announced at last week’s work session that the building department would be moved out of city hall and into the public works building.

The public works building is a free-standing building between the skate park and West Manatee Fire Station 1. It was built in 2011 with money from the gas tax.

“It is being done for a variety of reasons,” he said. “One is to create more room and more efficiencies. For example, we’re using the conference room to lay out all the paperwork for building inspections, so we don’t have a conference room to use. It also will create office space for the commissioners (in city hall).”

He also said he would be evaluating the use of the city hall field and the events that have been held there over the past few years.

“Our intension is not to stop the music,” he said. “They canceled. Our intension is to utilize the park in the best way as possible for non-profits and so on.

“We need to get the facts first, figure out what it is that we’re dealing with and put together a plan to generate good community will and give back to the non-profit organizations.”

Two weeks ago, Cindy Thompson, who sponsored Concerts in the Park to benefit local non-profit groups, said she would no longer sponsor them after Monti decided to charge all users, including non-profits, the $250 special event fee for use of the field.

“The transition in the building and police departments is going very well,” Monti continued. “My compliments to Tom (Interim Building Inspector Tom O’Brien). He is doing a stellar job under a lot of pressure.

“Dale (Interim Police Chief Dale Stephenson) is also is doing an excellent job. He put together a plan the other day to show what he plans on doing for the next year if he is chosen to be the full time police chief.”

He said he would be moving Code Enforcement Officer David Forbes from the building department to the police department.

Cumber hearing postponed

file photo
William Cumber at a court hearing in 2009.


The man accused or murdering Haley’s Motel owner Sabine Musil-Buehler will have to wait for the next step in his second-degree murder trial.

Judge Thomas Krug agreed to delay a case management hearing for William Cumber until April 17 at 9 a.m. Cumber’s court-appointed attorney, Carolyn Schlemmer, had asked for a delay until May after she received 600 pages of discovery from the prosecution. She said she needed time to read and respond to the discovery. Cumber has waived his right to a speedy trial after pleading not guilty to the charge last Oct. 17.

Assistant State Attorney Art Brown agreed to postpone the hearing, but said he felt a five-month delay would be too long.

Cumber was charged with second-degree murder almost four years after Musil-Beuhler disappeared Nov. 4, 2008. She had been living with Cumber after separating from her husband, Tom Buehler, and after Cumber got out of prison for an arson conviction.

After she disappeared, police considered Cumber a person of interest and several efforts were made to find her body on the beach, but it has never been found.

Cumber told everyone Musil-Beuhler left the apartment they shared after arguing about his cigarette smoking. Two days later, her car was found after they stopped the driver, Robert Corona, who at first said she had given him the car, but later recanted that story and admitted he stole the car from the parking lot of a nightclub in Bradenton. Corona was convicted Aug. 10, 2009, and is still in prison.

Meanwhile, Cumber was convicted of parole violation in 2009 and was in prison when the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office decided to charge him in her disappearance. If convicted of murder, Cumber could get sentenced to life in prison.

Island to get water shuttle



The Anna Maria Island Water Shuttle service begins regular operation on Monday, Feb. 4, and will operate on Mondays and Tuesdays, with passengers riding for free on Mondays. Owner Tracey Dell said they hope to increase that to three or more days in the height of season.

Dell also operates the Kathleen D, a charter catamaran, from the pier at the Twin Dolphin in downtown Bradenton. It plies the waters in the Manatee River and around the Island. The shuttle service will be provided via the Island Pearl, which holds up to 49 passengers. It currently offers sunset cruises, dolphin watches, history tour, Egmont Key excursions and Sarasota day trips, according to the website at

The service is tentatively scheduled to stop at the Bridge Street Pier, the Mainsail Marina in Holmes Beach, the Seafood Shack in Cortez and the Mar Vista in Longboat Key. On Tuesdays, the fee is $5 per person or $10 round-trip.

Dell said they would have more information as their inaugural operating day nears. For more information, call 941-780-8010.

Red tide causing problems

Most of the coughing you hear on – and even off – the beach these days is not from this year’s severe flu season, it’s from red tide.

Karenia brevis, Florida’s aquatic red tide, was found in background to low levels off Anna Maria Island and Longboat Pass last Friday, causing fish kills and respiratory irritation, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC).

Recent satellite images show the bloom extending alongshore and offshore of southern Manatee County and to the south.

Red tide was detected at increased levels along Sarasota County beaches to the south, and westerly winds blew it closer to shore late last week, according to FWC; onshore winds make the effects worse, while offshore winds can help blow the airborne particles back out to sea.

A Bradenton Beach visitor walking to the beach noticed the trademark catch in the throat three blocks away and began to cough on Friday. Red tide can cause temporary coughing, sneezing, scratchy throat and teary eyes; people with asthma or other chronic respiratory impairments may have more severe and permanent symptoms.

Red tide has respiratory effects on some people as far inland as five miles, and in susceptible people, can continue to have effects even after they leave the affected area, according to research by Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota.

Mote’s Beach Conditions Report showed beachgoers at Coquina Beach reporting respiratory irritation caused by red tide's airborne toxins blowing ashore last week.

Mote also is studying the effects on red tide of an organism that lives in the Gulf of Mexico called amoebophrya, according to Sandy Gilbert of START (Solutions To Avoid Red Tide). The dinoflagellate has been observed clinging to red tide cells, and Mote is studying whether it impedes or preys on red tide in any way, he said.

Red tide also contaminates shellfish and kills fish. The current red tide may not be responsible for all of the dead fish on area beaches, however, commercial mullet fishermen sometimes dump dead males overboard in their quest for females carrying eggs, or roe, a high-priced delicacy in Asian markets. Mullet season is at its height, especially during cold fronts such as the one that hit the Island last Thursday and Friday.

Last winter, the dumping practice erroneously caused people to believe red tide was blooming in the Gulf.

Manatee County beach cleaners are removing the dead fish, tides allowing, officials said.

For up to date red tide information, visit or call 941-BEACHES (232-2437). Report fish kills to 1-800-636-0511 or at To check for closures of shellfish harvest beds due to red tide, visit

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