The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 13 No. 23 - March 20, 2013


AMI goes green
Carol Whitmore

Judy and Marion Duncan wear their best green in their
emerald golf cart during Sunday’s St. Patrick’s Day parade
on Anna Maria Island. See more photos on Page 38.

HOLMES BEACH – The whole Island was Irish last Sunday as thousands of green-clad revelers took to the nightclubs and restaurants for some corned beef and green beer, enjoyed the moderate weather at the Sham Rockin’ the Island Fest at city hall field and watched the elephant, camels and humans march and drive through the streets for a parade.

Event organizer Cindy Thompson put together the inaugural festival with proceeds going to the Anna Maria Island Community Center. It raised $7,622 before expenses, according to Interim Executive Director Scott Dell.

Thompson put the festival together in six weeks and she said they learned some things.

“You don’t want to run too late on a Sunday evening after a St. Patrick’s Day weekend,” she said. “I scheduled the headline band from 8 to 10 p.m., and by then, there were very few people left in the audience.”

She said next year she will schedule the headliner from 6 to 8 p.m. and end the festival then.

“I think in the future, we might hold this on Saturday, before everyone burns out with celebrating,” she said. “We might have the bulk of the events after the parade.”

The parade began at Eat Here and went up Marina Drive past the festival. By then, the attendees and others lined the street in a scene that looked like the Macy’s Parade in New York City.

Thompson said there was one bright spot.

“We did extra well in the kids area,” she said. “Next year, we’ll have more of a carnival theme and we might put the kids area over by the baseball field where it will have more room.”

The kids’ area this year included a very busy bounce house and an artist, Junior Pena, doing face painting.

Thompson said it was tough finding vendors for this event.

“When we contacted the regular, most of them were already booked because it is season and St. Patrick’s Day,” she said. “We were lucky to have the ones we had.”

Still, she feels this could become a big event every year and it mwill continue to benefit the the Community Center.

“It was a successful event and a great marriage for next year,” she said.

Island Catholics enthused by new Pope

HOLMES BEACH – Island Catholics offered prayers at morning Mass on Thursday at St. Bernard Catholic Church for the new Pope, Francis I, the day after his election in Vatican City.

Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina, the 266th leader of the Roman Catholic Church, took the name of St. Francis of Assisi, known for renouncing his wealthy inheritance for extreme poverty. The saint also is the patron saint of animals and the environment.

“We are looking forward to his leadership to deepen our relationship with Christ and serve our neighbors,” said Father Michael Mullen, pastor of St. Bernard, adding that the choice of the Cardinals will be especially meaningful to Latin Americans.

“I think it is exciting that the Church has taken another historic turn electing the first Latin American ope,” agreed Cortez businesswoman Jane von Hahmann. “As I read about our new pope, it is also wonderful to see he appears to be a simple man, a true shepherd of his flock, the people of the Church. He is a servant of the church. I understand he doesn’t welcome all the pomp and circumstance, though it may be required of him. I look forward to faithfully taking part in this new chapter of the Catholic Church.”

Bergoglio’s selection will be meaningful to Hispanics worldwide, predicted Holmes Beach Commissioner David Zaccagnino.

“I was pretty inspired,” said Zaccagnino, who was educated at a Jesuit school in Tampa. Pope Francis is the first pope from the Jesuit order, which carries a reputation of intellectual distinction.

“He’s the first from the Americas and may be more progressive,” he said.

“I couldn’t be happier with the choice the Cardinals made,” Bradenton Beach Commissioner Jan Vosburgh said. “He is a very spiritual, humble and highly educated man and will do a wonderful job for all Christians...not only us Catholics. I know a lot of prayers were answered and this choice was God-inspired.”

“I don’t know how we got so lucky to have a Jesuit,” said Fran Manere, who visits the Island annually with her husband, Bob, whose home church is St. Francis of Assisi in Weston, Conn.

“I wish he was younger so we would have him longer,” she said, adding that the selection of a Latin American pope breaks the church out of the European mold.

“It’s nice to see somebody out of Europe,” agreed Sandy Haas-Martens, a St. Bernard parishioner and former Holmes Beach commissioner and Tourist Development Council member. She added that she hopes he would have the foresight to resign as Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI did if his age and health become an issue.

“I think his simplistic mannerisms and reserved form was just beautiful,” said Debra Ibasfalean, of the Florida Institute for Saltwater Heritage in Cortez.

“He’s what the church needed and what the world needs, a touch of sanity,” St. Bernard parishioner Louise Stecconi said.

Born to Italian immigrants and raised in Buenos Aires, Francis’ first act as pope was to ask the faithful to pray for Benedict XVI, who resigned last month.

He begins his official leadership role of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics on March 19.

Complaints mount about rental agency

HOLMES BEACH – The curious case of Michael Carleton, owner of Coastline Vacation Rentals, continues. At least five more reports were filed of people renting vacation properties through Carleton and not getting the unit they rented.

In addition, one of the complainants reported that Carleton told him he had declared bankruptcy.

Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce President Mary Ann Brockman said they received three complaints on Monday this week and one of those complainants said that Carleton said he had filed bankruptcy.

Holmes Beach Police Detective Sgt. Brian Hall said he had received more reports from victims and had also heard that Carleton had filed bankruptcy.

According to recent Holmes Beach Police reports, vacationers from Marion, Massachusetts, paid more than $5,600 to Carleton in October 2012 to rent a home for the month of March. They said Carleton called them on Feb. 20 saying the property was unavailable due to a leak in a swimming pool. Carleton also advised he was in Ohio for his mother’s funeral. Hall talked with the property owner who said there was a slight leak in the pool, but it was not severe enough to render the property unusable. The owner also said the property was already rented for the time period in which Carleton rented the place to the Massachusetts residents.

In another police report dated March 4, a New Jersey man said he had rented a unit through Carleton and paid the full rent up front before Carleton called him and told him the unit was double-booked. He said he got all but $700 back from Carleton. Hall told him to stay in contact with Carleton and continue to try to get his money back.

Hall has been investigating Carleton after receiving numerous complaints from people who rented units and found them unavailable, sometimes after they got to the Island.

Brockman said she is sending complaints about Carleton to Hall’s office for investigation. She also said people who aren’t familiar with this area should call the Chamber to find a good rental agent. She said Carleton belonged to the Chamber at one time, but when he tried to renew, she told him the Chamber and he were not a good fit.

Yard, bulk regulations in flux

ANNA MARIA – If there is one certain about the city commission’s attempts to control the size and scale of new buildings, it’s the uncertainty of the results.

For the third time, city commissioners delayed a final decision on what percentage of the lot size to which a structure may be built.

This time, they had a draft ordinance to look at. It included defining the living area as air-conditioned space, and it set the limit of the living area ratio (LAR) at 40 percent up to 8,000 square feet of lot plus two percent for the lot size above that number. It also set the maximum impervious surface on the lot, not including the building coverage, at five percent and the minimum open space at five percent.

The commission had problems with portions of the ordinance including the smaller LAR for lots above 8,000 feet.

Commission Chair John Quam said he wanted to take out the two-percent LAR above 8,000 square feet while Commissioners Chuck Webb and Nancy Yetter wanted to limit the overall size of the homes no matter what the size of the lot, which prompted Commissioner Gene Aubry to disagree.

“Somewhere we came up with 40 percent, but if you have a huge lot, would you like to put this little egg on it?” he asked. “What is the possibility of someone combining six lots and building a huge house?”

Webb said he would not discount it.

Commissioner Dale Woodland noted one house on Mangrove is so large, it looks like a hospital and another lot on South Bay Boulevard could have a 16,000 square foot home on it under the current limits.

“I don’t want us to do something so unreasonable that property owners would have to split their lots to do what they want,” Woodland said.

City Planner Alan Garrett said under the proposed limits, the owner of a 15,000 square foot lot could split it in half and build two 3,000 square-foot houses.

Aubrey said they are just trying to preserve the city of Anna Maria.

“The reality is, if you have people out there doing what they want, you’re going to get what we have today,” he said. “I think arbitrarily throwing numbers at people is not getting it done.”

Attorney Scott Rudacille, who represents what he calls a varying number of potential homeowners depending on what the commission is suggesting, said restrictions on home size on large lots would not correct the perceived problem.

“I don’t remember big homes on big lots being the problem,” he said. “Point-four (forty percent of the lot size) is a really low number. I don’t know where that number came from.”

Pine Avenue redeveloper Micheal Coleman said the commission has a track record of passing that goes against what they want.

“Our number-one problem is ground level homes being demolished and replaced with FEMA boxes,” he said.

John Cagnina, who has raised the possibility that the city would be liable for damages under the Bert Harris Act, which defines taking the use of one’s property by a government entity as a liability, said he feels his rights would be infringed by the proposed size limits.

Planning and Zoning Board Chair Tom Turner said they are no closer to having what they wanted as they were two months ago when they began work on the limits. He suggested they start over.

Before voting to accept or reject the first reading, Aubry said they started out suggesting 45 percent for the LAR and now they are at 40 percent. He said they need to agree on a limit and stick with it.

Garrett suggested they hold a workshop and have the planning and zoning board look at what LAR percentage to select. Webb wanted to address their goals at the next work meeting on Thursday, March 21, at 6 p.m. The rest if the commissioners agreed.

Twentieth Tour of Homes a treat

The “Fish and Ships” home of Lee and Linda Butts on the
Intracoastal Waterway features fountains sprinkling water into the pool.

The homes on the 20th Annual Anna Maria Island Tour of Homes on Saturday highlighted Key Royale and spotlighted a few of the varied styles of Island living, from bungalow to modern, leaving visitors with decorating ideas for their own homes.

Multi-hued Acacia wood floors are the main design feature in the home of Bill and Sue Bokos, 682 Key Royale Drive, Holmes Beach, accented by furniture painted the same color as the walls, but distressed to reveal raw wood underneath. The effect of the similar tones is calming.

“I would love to be invited as a guest to this house,” said part-time resident Marty Brewer, visiting with her husband, Jay.

At “Fish and Ships,” the home of Lee and Linda Butts, 625 Key Royale Drive, Holmes Beach, visitor Alicia Dettling, of Minnesota, liked the boat lanterns hanging over the kitchen counter, suspended from ship’s wheels in the ceiling. Ships also are cut into the eaves outside on the patio, and many cabinet door pulls are anchors.

Visitor Cheri Griffin, of Bradenton, liked the celery green and dark brown rattan master bedroom, reminiscent of Hawaii. Others liked a shower with glass block on two sides, letting in light from outdoors.

High ceilings are the featured attraction at the home of Walter and Jarlath Warren, 531 Key Royale Drive, Holmes Beach, along with a marble and granite spa in the master suite. Views to a wide canal are everywhere, including from the large pool, which features a waterslide.

High, pickled wainscoting lines the walls of the home of Dave and Kerri Welch, 533 69th Street, Holmes Beach, where visitors noted the unique counter backsplash tile duplicated underneath the bar.

A bright, coral laundry room, not the only one on the tour, featured an ironing board hidden in a cabinet – an idea pulled from early last century.

The chartreuse bedroom color was less popular, but the cutout medicine cabinets, tiled with backsplash tile and left doorless, were a hit, as were the Adirondack chairs in the shallow end of the pool.

The home of Graham and Hazel Hanson, 107 Elm Ave., Anna Maria, is a slender house built on a sliver of Gulf front land, with shiny, white porcelain floors, white walls, mirrors, glass balcony railings and other reflective surfaces to make the narrow home look larger.

“It’s too modern for me,” one visitor said, but others liked the clean surfaces and especially the master closet window with a view of the Gulf.

Proceeds from the event benefit youth programs at the Anna Maria Island Community Center.

The event sponsor was Beach to Bay Construction; boutique sponsor: Duncan Real Estate; quilt sponsor: Green Real Estate; tour photographer: Jack Elka Photography; media sponsors: Anna Maria Island Sun, Bradenton Herald, Islander.

Duplex ordinance connects with commission

HOLMES BEACH – An ordinance to eliminate the underground connections for duplexes was approved on first reading after planning commissioners said it complied with the comprehensive plan.

Duplexes will be required to share a common roof and be joined by a party wall. However, the ordinance includes a grandfather clause for those who have built one half of a duplex when the connecting footer was allowed or where a building permit has already been issued or if one half is destroyed in a fire.

Commissioner David Zaccagnino was the lone dissenter to the ordinance. He said it began as a fire safety issue, but then pointed out that the fire chief said it was not as long as they are built correctly.

However, he did maintain that it would limit landscaping and tree coverage.

"When you have two separate units, they are landscaped nicer and look homier. A major component of our vision plan is design features and architectural style.

"If we make everything look homogenous by forcing builders to make these big boxy structures, we’re going to take away that component.”

He said that the living area ratio would eliminate the bigger houses and that duplexes that are connected by a party wall “will be rentals forever. We’re sealing their fate. People will buy them specifically to rent them out.”

He also said a builder had told him that he could find a way around the ordinance, prompting Mayor Carmel Monti to ask for the name of the builder.

Others weigh in

Manatee County Commissioner Carol Whitmore urged commissioners to allow some latitude in design “so they won’t all look like boxes. I’m just trying to make it look like the Island – quaint.”

Commissioners Pat Morton and Judy Titsworth said the ordinance was long overdue, and Commissioner Marvin Grossman provoked laughter when he said to Zaccagnino, “Strangely, some of the things you said made sense.”

Then Grossman continued. “One of the reasons a lot of those buildings are boxy is because people tried to squeeze as much on the land as possible. I agree100 percent that we should have some kind of special exceptions for architectural designs.”

Chair Jean Peelen agreed with the majority and pointed out, “This did not start as a fire issue. It started as an issue that developers were intent on making these look like two separate houses so people didn’t know they were duplexes and to make them more attractive to buy.

“I also have a feeling that we’re increasing not decreasing green space. The fact that someone can find their way around a law is not new or unusual, but it can never be a reason why we don’t do something that we should be doing.”

Prior to the vote, Zaccagnino said, “I really believe this is a worthless law.”

Injured officer recovering

Bradenton Beach Police officer Eric Hill wants everyone to know he’s recovering well from the injury he suffered March 2 when his patrol car collided with a stolen car being chased by officers and deputies in Holmes Beach.

Hill, whose injuries were first diagnosed as severe, is home recovering from a shattered right femur, knee and kneecap when his Ford Explorer hit a stolen Toyota Camry from North Carolina, driven by Jennifer Varner, who was treated for her injuries and jailed on a number of charges. His patrol car was towed to the police station where an insurance agent will likely total it. The two cars met head-on.

“I had a hip replacement recently and now this,” he said. “I have two rods in my leg with 16 screws.”

For now, Hill will be housebound as he has to keep his leg immobile. He said he would be working with a therapist to learn how to recover from his injury.

Hill said a lot of his injury came from the amount of equipment in his patrol car.

“I had my computer and radio,” he said. “The passenger’s side airbag was triggered and it pushed some of that equipment at me.”

Hill said he has gotten a lot of support from Bradenton residents and coworkers. His brother came down to help with things around the house, and Chief Sam Speciale has visited him.

“I am flattered,” he said. “I’ve gotten a ton of cards, and I’m moved by how much the community came together.”

Hill said his doctors told him he won’t heal fully, and he hopes he can remain with the police force.

“I started here when I was 19, and I don’t know anything else,” he said. “I took the job at Bradenton Beach because I grew up on the Island. I’m an Island boy.”

He also said although he had no chance to avoid the other car, he knows the accident stopped a desperate person.

“She was driving pretty fast through that shopping center while people were everywhere,” he said. “If hitting me stopped her from running into a crowd of people, it was worth it.”

And despite the pain, he said he would do it again to prevent a tragedy.

Board wants community input on vision plan

HOLMES BEACH – Commissioners began their review of the city’s community vision plan and want public input on possible revisions.

The vision plan, developed in 2002 after a series of community meetings, contains a vision statement, 11 community value statements and objectives and strategies to implement the value statements.

“The basic statements are reflected in our comprehensive plan,” Commissioner Marvin Grossman pointed out. “The value and vision statements go along with it. I don’t see many things that anybody could object to or what they would say.”

Chair Jean Peelen asked if they should incorporate the vision and value statements into the comprehensive plan.

City Attorney Patricia Petruff replied, “Yes. It should be the 20-year vision for the city.”

“These are the things we want for our city. We can get other people in the community to look at it and see if anything needs to be added or taken way,” Grossman suggested.

“Although this is a decade old, all of us here ran on these basic principles,” Mayor Camel Monti added. “I think we could confirm that most people would still feel this echoes their thoughts. It’s more important to implement and fine tune it than to reinvent it.”

Getting feedback

“There were already 75 people that did this (the vision plan was developed following three visioning sessions involving 75 citizens). Do we need more feedback?” Commissioner Judy Titsworth asked.

Peelen said it is 11 years old and “there may be additional things people want.”

Grossman suggested having a form at city hall that people could fill out, but Peelen said no one would know about it except people who come to meetings and she wants broader input.

Titsworth said if they want broader input they would have to hold the town meetings again, and Commissioner David Zaccagnino said that would be costly.

Commissioners agreed to leave it up to the mayor on how to get input from citizens. Monti decided to put a survey on the city’s website and also have it as hard copy available at city hall.

The survey includes the vision and community value statements, and citizens can agree or disagree with them and make suggestions for changes or additions. To access the survey online, go to and click on forms.

Return surveys to City clerk, 5801 Marina Drive, Holmes Beach, FL 34217. To get a hard copy, visit city hall from Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Petruff suggested that City Planner Bill Brisson also review the comprehensive plan and added, “There are a lot of things on the to do list that were required by state government that had to be in every comprehensive plan.

“It would be appropriate for Mr. Brisson to come back to the commission in a work session and walk through the comprehensive plan chapter by chapter and say what is no longer required.”

Petruff said they could then add or revise any policies, goals and statements and send it to the planning commission for review.

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