The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 13 No. 22 - March 13, 2013


Summer storms might hasten renourishment

A planned renourishment set for 2015 may come this year thanks to Debby and Sandy.

That’s the word from Manatee County Natural Resources Director Charlie Hunsicker after a trip to Washington to talk with the National Shore and Beach Preservation Association and federal officials.

Hunsicker said the Coast Guard has been clued in on federal funds available for beaches damaged by Tropical Storm Debby in June and Hurricane Sandy in October.

“We received a letter from Jacksonville that our project is up for consideration for funding,” Hunsicker said. “We were told that authorities saw our proposal, and it is being considered for emergency funding and that may include the rest of the project.”

The county project originally scheduled for 2015 would have covered beaches from north of Coquina Beach to just north of the Sandbar restaurant in Anna Maria, approximately the same dimensions of the original federally funded project. Beaches south and north of that were beefed up last year in a small-scale renourishment.

It is Hunsicker’s plan to have the entire Island in good shape after the 2015 project, so all of it could be renourished approximately every 10 years or as needed, if it suffers storm damage. The 2015 project has been in the budget for several years, and Hunsicker said that’s a plus because the feds will consider projects already planned first.

As for budget cuts from sequestration, Hunsicker said it would cut 5 percent from the renourishment budget, an amount the county and state could make up.

He said the state is willing to fast track the permitting for the renourishment project if the federal funds come.

“Our continuing work was a factor in getting approval,” he said. “For partners that don’t have much prep work done, the wait for permits and money would be longer.

Hunsicker said the county would get the sand from the same borrow area it used last year, an area north of the Island near the busy channel from Tampa Bay and the Manatee River.

Hunsicker said this project would also include rebuilding all three groins at Coquina and Cortez beaches.

“They will be rebuilt in the same footprints, and all three of the would be done in this project,” he said.

Earlier speculation was that the county would only rebuild two of the structures.

He also said as soon as officials know for sure, they will come to the Island cities to explain their plans.

Commission: Do you want a pier?

HOLMES BEACH – After Manatee County Commissioner Carol Whitmore said there may be money to rebuild the city’s pier at Manatee Public Beach, commissioners said they are not sure the community wants it.

“There was a lot of passion about it when it was taken down and a commitment from county commissioners,” Chair Jean Peelen said. “That didn’t happen, and I really don’t know whether the community wants the pier built back.

“We’re not talking about rebuilding it the way it was because we’re not allowed to do that. Studies show it didn’t serve the purpose as a groin, and if we wanted to have one, it would be a high one.”

Commissioner Judy Titsworth said it would be a “huge object sitting out in the water, not a flat piece of concrete that surfers jumped off. Everyone who has talked to me said they like it a lot better without it. It’s up to the citizens.”

Mayor Carmel Monti said he wants to conduct a survey on whether people want a pier or a city center and added, “I hear a lot of people say they don’t think the pier is a good idea.”

Peelen said she wants a "clean vote on the pier" and does not want to bring the city center into the discussion.

Commissioners Pat Morton and David Zaccagnino said they are hearing the same thing as Monti and Titsworth.

“A lot to people say it looks nice without that obstruction out there,” Zaccagnino said “Back then they asked if we wanted a 300-foot pier or a 500-foot pier, and we said we wanted what it was with a T-end. Then they came back with a monstrosity. I think it’s a pipe dream and I’d rather ask for the check.”

Peelen asked residents to call commissioners and give their opinions on whether to rebuild the pier.

Board recommends moratorium time limit

ANNA MARIA – After much discussion, the planning and zoning board has recommended the moratorium on new building permits, adding only a 90-day limit, but they discussed and dismissed other changes.

With all board members present, P&Z Chair Tyom Turner recommended the 90-day limit, but board member Carol Carter said she had a problem with the section that allows property owners who have already spent money on a project to get a permit.

There was talk about the height restriction, which lowers the allowable height of a home from 37 to 27 feet, but Turner said that would be up to the commission, which will hold hearings on that and other details as they work out changes to the building code. The moratorium ordinance as presented only held up permits for homes taller than 27 feet.

Talk turned again to the exemption clause and board member Carl Pearman said it is unfair to put Building Official Bob Welch in the position of deciding if an applicant is eligible for exemption to the moratorium. Pearman said they should delete the exemption clause, number 3-B, and light a fire under the city commission to finish its work on the size of houses

Board member Micheal Coleman said they were not there to pass legislation, they were there to make recommendations to a city commission that has approved ideas at one meeting and taken them out at the next.

“This is a flawed document but we should keep 3B for those who have seen the ping pong ball go both ways,” he said.

Lou Ann Wilson agreed.

“We’re wasting time and money and holding up these people, and they have attorneys,” she said.

Coleman agreed it definitely needs a time frame but tonight they need to send a message, get it done.

The board voted 5-to-3 to recommend passing the moratorium ordinance with the 90-day limit. Coleman and Pearman both voted no.

St. Patrick's parade, new festival this Sunday

HOLMES BEACH – It all began in 14 years ago, when Beach Bistro owner Sean Murphy decided there was a need to do more to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day than just drinking green beer. He loaded up some kids in a lawn trailer, and armed with a permit from the city and a boom box, drove down the middle of Gulf Drive.

Now the parade is part of the Island lore, and Murphy boasts it’s the largest St. Patrick’s Day parade south and east of Savannah, Ga. In fact, he says, it might be the only St. Patrick’s Day parade south and east of Savannah.

Murphy said Judy the elephant will again be marching in the parade on Sunday, March 17, and everyone is invited to participate. In the past, the parade has boasted marching bands, pipe bands, musicians and colorful floats, as well as wee folk dressed as leprechauns.

Participants are asked to get to the staging area at Holmes Beach City Hall, 5801 Marina Drive, at 2 p.m The parade will leave city hall at 4 p.m. and proceed to Palm Drive and 78th Street.

Before and after the parade, you can join the fun at Sham Rockin’ the Island Festival, organized by Cindy Thompson, Lindsay Weaver and Aris Thompson for the Anna Maria Island Community Center, and held at the Holmes Beach City Hall field from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Come out early to shop and browse the various arts and crafts and retail vendors offering a wide variety of art, jewelry, wood products, clothing, cigars, candles, beauty and body products, beads, crystals, pet and light up toys and more.

There will be a kid’s area featuring a bounce house, a corn hole game, football and soccer games, face painting, children’s art activities including open-ended and themed project art and the movie, “Peter Pan” from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Since its a school night, the kid’s area will close at 8 p.m.

Bring an appetite because there will be food from The Waterfront restaurant, T & L Barbecue, Corky’s Hot Dogs, Philly’s Finest, Tyler’s Ice Cream and others.

Live music will be on tap during the event and includes Chris Grumley at 11 a.m. as DJ and emcee all day, Rick Quimby at noon, Scott Pritchard at 1:15p.m., Irish Dancers from the parade at 2:30 p.m., the Sarasota Pipe Band at 3 p.m., Chris Grumley DJ from 4 to 6 p.m. during the parade, Cortni Wash at 6 p.m., Jimi Gee’s All Star Band at 7 p.m. and Kettle of Fish from 8 to 10 p.m. ROC Productions will handle the sound system.

Sham Rockin’ is sponsored by the Anna Maria Island Sun as media sponsor; Begley Shell Service as event sponsor; Agnelli Pool and Spas as cup sponsor; Bullseye Indoor Pistol Range, Wash Family construction and Swordfish Grille as music sponsors; Thompson Academy as kids movie sponsor; AMI Fitness as children’s area sponsor; and SteamDesigns, Blue Marlin Grille, Swordfish GrillDon Meilner and Son Construction and Superior Screening as keg sponsors.

As well as support from the Murphy family and restaurants, Eat Here and Beach Bistro, the parade is sponored by Darcie Duncan Real Estate, the Pittsburgh Pirates, Shawn Kaleta and his family, and a local parade enthusiast, who wishes to remain anonymous.

Springfest has sprung

Visitors flocked to the 25th Annual Springfest Festival of Fine Arts and Fine Crafts last weekend at the Holmes Beach City Hall field, enjoying original artwork by more than 80 artists and live music from four bands. The event, along with its winter version, Winterfest, is a fundraiser for the Anna Maria Art Island League, which funds scholarships, art programs and art exhibits on the Island.

The Best of Show award went to local photographer Jay Canterbury for his abstract close range photos of found objects.

Awards of Distinction were earned by Marilyn Vaillencourt, jewelry; Mercy Odwori, mixed media; David Beadling, photography; Allen and Mumin Jacobsen, jewelry.

Awards of Merit were given to Richard Konefal, wood; Alice Legler, metal; Bonnie Reilly, fiber/paper; Denny Souers, photograph; Val West, mixed media.

Above, one of the photographs by Jay Canterbury,
who won the Springfest Best of Show.

New contract employee in Holmes Beach

HOLMES BEACH – Mayor Carmel Monti has hired Mary Buonagura as the city’s human resource specialist.

Monti made the announcement in a press release on March 6 stating, “Buonagura is charged with revising job descriptions for city staff, most of which have not been updated since 2005. She is also updating policy and procedure manuals, creating performance evaluations tools and reinstating grievance procedures and EEO representation for staff.”

Buonagura, who began work Monday, March 4, temporarily using Monti’s office, will be a contract employee. At the March 7 commission work session, Monti asked the commission “for your blessing on a recommendation to hire her with a contract as a 1099 employee for six months and then reevaluate at that time.”

Chair Jean Peelen asked if they should approve the mayor signing the contract, and City Attorney Patricia Petruff replied, “That’s how it usually works. You authorize the mayor to execute a contract.”

Peelen said they don’t have a contract yet, and Monti asked, “Isn’t that just for department heads?”

“According to our charter, the commission has to approve the hiring of department heads, but you are not hiring an employee,” Petruff explained. “It’s a contract and all contracts have to be approved by the commission.”

Peelen asked where in the budget was the money to pay Buonagura, and Monti said from three departments that are under budget.

Petruff said if commissioners were OK with the concept, she would bring a contract to the meeting on Tuesday, March 12. In a consensus, commissioners agreed to proceed.

Working with employees

Buonagura said what she is doing is “typical in private industry, the federal government or city government. It protects the employee by giving them structure.”

As a volunteer, Buonagura has been interviewing employees for several months to collect information and make recommendations to the mayor about the staff.

“A lot of these jobs haven’t been updated since 2005, yet they’re doing more and more,” Buonagura explained. “Look at how technology has changed since then.”

In addition, she said she has been tasked with working on special projects as directed by the mayor.

“I will be a contract employee, which means I could be done any

time,” she pointed out. “This is not a permanent job.”

In an e-mail to City Treasurer Lori Hill, Monti said he would pay Buonagura $2,500 per month, which he planned to take out of the budgeted salaries in three departments – administrative at $700, police at $800 and public works at $1,000. He said she would receive no benefits.

However, Hill pointed out, “Being on contract would mean she would not be included in our salaries section of the financials, but she would be classified under professional services. Salaries are only for those that get paid via payroll.”

Buonagura, a lifelong Island resident, attended Anna Maria Elementary School, Walker Junior High School and Manatee High School. She lives in the family home built by her father in the 1940s.

“Buonagura’s unique educational background and work experience bring to focus the need to form positive linkages between staff and residents and visitors to the city,” Monti wrote in the press release.

Buonagura has an MBA and a BA from the University of New Orleans and an MTS from Virginia Theological Seminary. She is currently a counselor, advocate and trainer/educator at Christ Episcopal Church Center for Spiritual Development.

Commission hones lot, yard and bulk regulations

ANNA MARIA – Working to gain control of new construction in the city, commissioners explored the legislative possibilities last Thursday.

They discussed whether to measure allowable volume for rooms under air or under roof, and City Planner Alan Garrett said under air is better and asked for discussion of the possibilities using the numbers he supplied. Those numbers portrayed several sets of circumstances from existing 30 percent of lot area for homes with one story over elevation and 40 percent coverage for homes that have two livable stories over elevation, as it is now, to a proposal allowing either 40 or 45 percent of lot area for both stories.

Commissioner Gene Aubry liked the proposal.

“It gives very adequate living space on a lot,” he said. “I think the goal is how do we preserve the look of Anna Maria. When I ran for office we suggested we look at land development regulations, and here we are, three years later, and we’re dealing with it and it’s only begun.”

The consensus was to continue with the route they are taking.

During public comment, John Cagnina said he doesn’t like what the commission is discussing. He said his family has been on the Island for years, and they own several properties. He feels having a law to tell them how big their house could be is a loss of value to those properties, in violation of the Burt Harris Act that allows people to sue if the city passes legislation that would cause them to incur a financial loss.

He wanted to hear from City Attorney Jim Dye and City Commissioner Chuck Webb, also an attorney, how the city would not be liable.

“The Bert Harris Act protects value,” said City Attorney Jim Dye. "As a general rule, the city is allowed uses within the city limits as long as it has a purpose and the city has a factually based purpose.”

Webb said he feels they are on the right track with no liability incurred.

Attorney Scott Rudacille, who said he represented several people wanting to build in the city, said when they talked about 40 percent living area ratio (LAR), they felt it was too small. He said when they raised it to 45 percent, some of them were agreeable to that.

After more talk, the commissioners agreed to have the building official work on an ordinance for 45 percent LAR. Welch said he would probably have it finished in time for their meeting this week.

Commissioners also agreed to an ordinance that would allow the city to tow vehicles illegally parked on private property. Dye said the current ordinance is more than 35 years old and as far as he knows, the city had never towed a car. Mayor SueLynn said she remembers when somebody parked in a home’s driveway, and the city had no power to have it towed. They agreed to look as a proposed ordinance.

The commissioner also talked about restricting parking on rights of way overnight. Welch said some cities prohibited it to keep people from driving to the beach and going out there overnight. Commissioner John Quam said such an ordinance would require signs to warn of the restriction. Webb wanted to restrict overnight parking and put a sign at the entrance to the city.

The commission authorized Welch and SueLynn to look into the issue.

Finally, the commission agreed to a first hearing of an ordinance that would adopt the county’s animal control law.

Landscaping project wilts

The Bradenton Beach Commission has decided not to
consider a proposed landscaping project for a barren stretch
of beach along Gulf Drive near the city’s Cortez Road gateway.


BRADENTON BEACH – A landscaping project for Bradenton Beach’s gateway area at Cortez Road and Gulf Drive, coordinated by Commissioner Gay Breuler, never made it to a vote last week.

Breuler, who said she was disappointed, had received permission from three condominium associations - Bridgeport, Imperial House and Gulf Watch - to plant native landscaping on their roadside beachfront across Gulf Drive from the condos, as specified in a draft contract between the condos and the city. Some of the landscaping, which would have been low enough to avoid interfering with motorists’ visibility, also would have been planted on the Florida Department of Transportation easement adjacent to the condo property.

Landscape designer Mike Miller, of Anna Maria-based Perfect Environs, suggested that a sand walking path could be incorporated into the landscape design to guide people over the dunes to the beach, and extend along Gulf Drive from the BeachHouse restaurant to the Gulf Drive Café.

The city had $2,600 in its budget earmarked for the gateway project, and Breuler said she expected to complete it for $2,000, suggesting that the fee for the city attorney to review the contract could come from the remainder. But her motion to approve the project died for lack of a second.

“I don’t like this project,” Mayor John Shaughnessy said, adding that the city would supply everything while the condo associations supplied nothing.

Spending public funds on private property is a bad precedent, Shaughnessy said, suggesting that the money be spent instead on city hall.

“I wish you had told me in advance,” Breuler said.

Commissioner Ric Gatehouse said he objected to the portion of the contract that would allow the condo associations to remove the landscaping from their property.

Gulf Watch Condominium Association Vice President Larry Matzen said that the condo owners have a right to change things on their own property.

Commissioner Jan Vosburgh thanked Breuler for her efforts, but expressed concern that pedestrians would trample the new landscaping.

After the decision, some condo officials discussed installing bollards along Gulf Drive to keep people from parking on their roadside property, Breuler said.

City officials are in the process of making improvements to the gateway area, and a new, low, horizontal Bradenton Beach welcome sign has been proposed for the northeast corner of the intersection of Cortez Road and Gulf Drive to welcome visitors to the Island. The existing vertical sign at the dead end of Cortez Road would be removed.

Event banners no longer will be allowed at dead end, and are not allowed elsewhere in the city, according to the city clerk’s office.

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