The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 13 No. 20 - February 27, 2013


County looks to monitor rental agencies

HOLMES BEACH – Manatee County Commissioner Carol Whitmore told the Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce b oard last Wednesday that the county is interested in getting rid of rental agents who are not delivering on their promises.

The Anna Maria Island Sun reported two weeks ago that the Holmes Beach Police Department is looking for Mike Carlton, owner of Coastline Accommodations, for taking a woman’s deposit money for a place to stay on her vacation and then not having a place for her stay when she got to the Island. The woman told police she could not get Carlton to respond to her calls.

Whitmore said they had heard of another customer having a problem with a rental agency, Anna Maria Vacations. She said she talked with Linger Lodge co-owner, Tjet Martin, who had heard of other instances as well. Whitmore said once somebody gets here, it’s almost impossible to provide last minute accommodations.

“Last year, we had a bunch of emergency places to stay, but you know how crowded it is this year,” she said. “If you hear of any other problems, let me know.”


In other business news, Whitmore said the county is close to becoming the site for the world rowing championships.

“We have staff who just returned from Copenhagen where they followed the selection process,” she said.

“The awards will be presented in September in South Korea,” said County Administrator Ed Hunzeker, who also attended the meeting. “We have a staff of people aboard to keep our name out in front, and we are in the lead for the final award Nov. 5.”

Whitmore added there would be up to 42,000 attendees for the awards with 2,000 contestants.

“The Harvard Rowing Team was here recently to practice on the Manatee River,” she added. “We’re trying not to stress the Island with all these events and to spread them out.”

Hunzeker and Whitmore also talked about Feld Entertainment, producer of Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus, Disney on Ice and other productions, which has moved its headquarters to Manatee County. Feld bought the old Siemens building and is spending millions of dollars to refurbish it.

“They will employ 700 people when they get everyone here,” Hunzeker said.

The county has a new program to get input from everyone on how the county should grow over the next 30 years. He said there are three options: continue to expand the population into the suburbs, which he referred to as “urban sprawl”; grow the cities, which would obviously not include the cities on Anna Maria Island; and develop activity centers where the population could work and live to reduce the expense and time needed to commute. He said the program is available for the Chamber to use and he offered to have someone come out to present it.

City reopens the door

ANNA MARIA – The same city commission that slammed the door on building permits has reopened it for those who already had spent time and money on projects before the Feb. 7 moratorium was approved.

By a 3-2 vote, the commission named Building Official Bob Welch as the person who would determine what qualifies for an exemption from the permitting prohibition. Meanwhile, the panel continues to work on an ordinance for the moratorium, one that would buy the city some time as it seeks a way to control rentals in residential neighborhoods and out-of-scale large homes often used as rentals.

During a Thursday work session, Commissioner Gene Aubry said he would like to exempt those who were in the process of preparing for a permit.

“I’m not sure if the moratorium isn’t just putting people out of work,” he said.

Commissioner Chuck Webb respectfully disagreed.

“You have to cut things off while we identify problems we have to cure,” he said. “The problem with letting them in is I know there will be somebody who will manufacture something. The only exception I could make is when they file for a DEP (Department of Environmental Protection) exception west of the Coastal Construction Line.”

Commissioner Dale Woodland respectfully disagreed with Webb.

“I’m for the moratorium cutting it off,” he said. “I think it’s disingenuous for us to say people are dishonest.”

Woodland said he was for Welch deciding who would qualify for exemption, and Welch said if they reinstate that language, City Attorney Jim Dye and he could make it so they could decide. If those wanting to build disagree with Welch’s decision, they could go before the Planning and Zoning Board.

Welch said they had 15 homes in the pipeline, which represents about three year’s worth. He said some of those homes would not be built for a while, perhaps years. Welch said of the 15 houses being planned, 12 already have designs.

Commission Chairman John Quam asked Welch if he wants to exclude the 15 houses, and he said they were the only ones who approached him, although others may have been discouraged.

Webb said instituting the moratorium and finding a solution quickly is the only thing that can give relief to those who want to build houses.

“Looking around town, there is more construction going on in Anna Maria than I’ve ever seen,” Webb said.

Commissioner Nancy Yetter said the city should include everyone in the moratorium, none of “this wishy-washy stuff.”

Mayor SueLynn said she wants Welch to write down criteria for exemption before he looks at any requests. Quam got on board and the commission voted to reinstate language in the moratorium ordinance allowing exemptions.

Attorney Scott Rudacille said he has clients who are in the pipeline for a permit, and he would ask Welch to send them letters if he determines they qualify.

“I think we’re losing sight of the fact that this is a conversation about a moratorium, and a moratorium is a time-out to figure out what kind of an ordinance we need,” said resident Jill Morris. “Any time you draw a line in the sand, there will always be someone who feels left out.”

Code board to stay in Holmes Beach

HOLMES BEACH – The code board is once again safe to hear cases after commissioners rebuffed a suggestion to scrap the board in favor of a special magistrate system.

Anna Maria last year adopted the special magistrate system to replace its code enforcement board. The magistrate conducts a hearing to decide whether a property owner who has been cited is in violation of the city’s code and to determine appropriate action.

Opening the discussion, Commissioner Marvin Grossman asked if having a magistrate would require two attorneys, as does a code enforcement board hearing. City Attorney Patricia Petruff said no because the magistrate is a judge and doesn’t need legal assistance.

“A lot of people say the code board is connected with people on the Island,” Commissioner Pat Morton said. “A special master is not connected with the citizens.”

Chair Jean Peelen said in past code board meetings, two members had to recuse themselves due to conflicts of interest.

“We’re past the days of talking about the neighbor who won’t cut his tree,” she said. “People with expertise on the code board have connections with the industry that shows up in front of it.

“Why put our citizens in that situation when we could have a magistrate who could hear both sides of the issue and make a legal decision?”

Neighbor or stranger

Commissioner Judy Titsworth pointed out that “some people might have problem fining their neighbors, but sometimes it’s nice that it is local citizens.”

Peelen said she would like to review the last 10 code board cases, and that she has heard that the fines the board issues were low.

“What we should be striving for is the most objective method,” Mayor Carmel Monti noted.

Grossman said that having served on the board, he has mixed feelings, but he is concerned about future issues that may come to the board.

Commissioner David Zaccagnino said he is opposed to a special magistrate, and the city has enough applicants to serve on the board and added, “Having your neighbor and understanding issues is better than having a heavy hand.”

Andy Sheridan, a code board member, said he’s not sure commissioners understand how the code board works and explained, “Seven individuals sit as a jury on a case as opposed to one magistrate making a decision. People know they’ll be judged by members of the community.”

He said the cases are serious, and fines range from $250 to $500 per day.

“We also look at it as our neighbors,” he continued. “Is there something we can do to make that person come into compliance and not have to pay an enormous fine? The whole idea of the board is compliance, not slap them with a big fine.”

Don Schroder, the code board’s chair, asked commissioners, “Why should we be any more adverse to people coming to us than you? You sit in judgment as well as we do. Allow us to do our civic duty.”

Beach smoking ban moves through Legislature

A Senate committee voted unanimously last week to move forward a bill that would give local governments the power to ban smoking on public beaches.

Senate Bill 258 would authorize municipalities and counties to restrict outdoor smoking on property they own or control, including beaches, playgrounds, parks, sports and recreation areas and entrances to public indoor workplaces and outdoor areas of those workplaces.

Law enforcement officers could issue citations to violators under the bill, approved 10-0 by the Senate Regulated Industries Committee. A $100 fine could be imposed for first offenses.

A similar bill, HB 439, has idled in the House of Representatives since January.

Opponents of the bills, primarily from the cigarette and restaurant industries, say the law could affect their investments.

The Legislature enacted the Florida Clean Indoor Air Act in 1985. Since 2003, smoking has been banned in indoor workplaces in Florida.

A Sarasota County ordinance banning smoking on beaches was overturned last year as unenforceable when a county judge ruled that it is the Legislature’s sole prerogative to regulate smoking.

Local beach cleanups sponsored by Keep Manatee Beautiful typically net more cigarette butts than any other type of trash on the beaches.

Merchant makes way for water shuttle

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


BRADENTON BEACH – The Bridgetender Inn will allow the new Anna Maria Island Water Shuttle service to dock at one of its docks, bringing visitors to Bridge Street, members of the Bridge Street Merchants learned last week.

A boat is scheduled to be moved this week to make room for the shuttle, according to Bridgetender manager Sue Shinka, who said the restaurant made the change to avoid asking customers to move their boats for the shuttle.

The Island Pearl, and a new addition to the shuttle fleet, the M/V Minnow, named after the little boat in “Gilligan’s Island,” will dock at the restaurant at the foot of Bridge Street until the city of Bradenton Beach has completed repairs on the floating dock adjacent to the Bridge Street Pier, shuttle owner Tracey Dell said.

The second boat has just been added to the new service, which provides trips for $5 one way and $10 all day between the Island, Bradenton, Palmetto and other destinations, he said, adding that both boats also can be rented for excursions.

“We remain hopeful the city will be able to resolve the remaining issues with the public float repair in the near future,” he wrote the merchants group.

In other business:

• The group elected its board of directors for the upcoming year; president, Julie Kirkwood; vice president, Adam Jenkins; secretary, Amanda Escobio; and treasurer, Jacob Spooner.

• The group created subcommittees to work on event planning, including revitalizing Thirsty Thursday into a family event.

City calls for new cell tower ordinance

BRADENTON BEACH – A new cell tower ordinance is being drafted after the city severed its relationship with Monroe Telecom Associates, hired to draft the city’s cell tower ordinance.

City attorney Ricinda Perry told commissioners that the split was amicable. Commissioners had previously authorized her to terminate negotiations on the consulting contract if Monroe did not agree to drop terms including those that allowed the company to exclusively collect fees from cell tower applicants and do work without the city’s prior authorization.

The commission should have a new request for proposal to consider at its next meeting on Thursday, March 7, she said.

State of the city

Mayor John Shaughnessy gave a state of the city report, applauding city departments for their work over the past year.

The administration department has tackled “daunting tasks,” he said, including recordkeeping and the annual audit. The planning department has done an “excellent job” of ensuring compliance with city ordinances, land development codes and FEMA regulations and has improved its permitting process and added a part-time planner, he said. The public works department has done more with less after losing employees when the sanitation department was outsourced, and the police department continues to work with other law enforcement agencies to protect lives and property, he said.

While the city is in good shape financially, taxes were raised “out of necessity,” Shaughnessy said, explaining that money was not set aside in previous years, and “it’s catch up time.”

In other business:

• A public hearing on Michael Hynds’ application to build a restaurant/retail development at 119 Bridge St. was postponed until Thursday, March 7, at 7 p.m. because two of the five commissioners were absent.
• The commission passed an ordinance revising the city’s waste management procedures to allow the city to revoke or suspend a business tax receipt, building permit or development approval for delinquent accounts and revising collection and lien proceedings for delinquent accounts.
• The mayor announced that a new noise ordinance is being drafted.
• The commission voted against a citizens’ request to install a speed bump on Eleventh Street, replacing one that was not reinstalled after the street was resurfaced. Police can patrol the area for speeders, Commissioner Ric Gatehouse said. All the roads should be surveyed at budget time before choosing one street for speed bumps, Vice Mayor Ed Straight added.
• Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce President Mary Ann Brockman was appointed to the city’s Scenic Waves Committee.
• A special event permit was approved for the First Annual Walk a Mile in Their Shoes Family Fun Walk on Coquina Beach on Saturday, April 20.
• The city plans to purchase a digital recording system, upgrading from a cassette recording system.

Fleischer named Holmes Beach Officer of Year


Officer Joshua Fleischer has been named Officer of the Year for the Holmes Beach Police Department. Interim Chief Dale Stephenson made the announcement Friday.

“On Nov. 8, 2012, Fleischer responded to a medical call relating to an overdose,” Stephenson wrote in the nomination. “He was the first to arrive and found a young adult male unconscious in the bed turning blue.”

The officer started emergency resuscitation measures, hooked up an automatic external defibrillator (AED) and cleared the patient’s airways He learned that there was a pulse and the AED was not needed. EMS arrived to treat the patient.

“Officer Fleischer did a great job as first responder in this case until medical help arrived, “Stephenson continued. “We are very proud of the example set in this case and know that due to his prior training with AED, he felt comfortable in its use.”

Officers chosen by each department will honored at dinner by the Manatee One Hundred Club on May 16.

New sign to welcome visitors

A proposed new welcome sign to Bradenton Beach
would be placed at Cortez Road and Gulf Drive.


BRADENTON BEACH – A new Bradenton Beach welcome sign is being considered at the northeast corner of the intersection of Cortez Road and Gulf Drive to welcome visitors to Anna Maria Island.

Police Lt. John Cosby presented a sign design at the Bradenton Beach Capital Improvement Program meeting last week, advising adding the city’s seal and other logos, including Waterfronts Florida, to the sign, which would cost $635.

The Florida Department of Transportation must first approve the design before the city commission can act.

Comments included removing “Florida” from the sign as self-evident, adding the year the city was incorporated, 1952, and adding another plank with more information.

The committee also is looking into adding landscaping and sidewalks at the intersection.

In other business:

• The committee plans to apply to Manatee County for funding the county received from its BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill claim to use at John Chappie Park for walkways, benches and sea turtle education signs.

• Resident and former commissioner Janie Robertson suggested that the commission consider requiring people to personally make requests to be on the agenda rather than allowing them to approach staff and have staff make presentations on their behalf, which does not allow the public to see the issue on an agenda prior to the meeting. She also advised against public/private partnerships to enhance sand dunes, like one recently announced with hotelier David Teitelbaum, favoring using FEMA or BP claim funds instead of private funds.

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