The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 13 No. 35 - June 19, 2013


Mainsail hearing set for Friday

HOLMES BEACH – City Attorney Patricia Petruff told commissioners that the special magistrate hearing on the Mainsail Development Company’s request for relief under the state’s private property rights act and the city’s dispute resolution procedure is set for Friday, June 21.

She said the hearing would be held in the activity room of CrossPointe Fellowship, 8605 Gulf Drive beginning at 9.m. The public is permitted to attend.

The hearing is the result of the commission’s decision to revoke the company’s site plan for its development near the corner of Gulf and Marina drives.

Petruff said the city’s representatives are Commissioner Judy Titsworth and the Mayor Carmel Monti. She said the other commissioners are welcome to attend but cautioned them not to sit together, not to talk to each other and not to speak.

“The hearing is the start of a negotiation for the special magistrate to get a greater understanding of what the issues are, whether or not there is any common ground, whether it can or can’t be mediated,” she explained.

“If he determines it cannot be mediated, he goes on to the second part on July 24. It will then be more of a hearing, and he will take evidence and listen to the public. Assuming it cannot be mediated, he would make a recommendation to this commission.”

She said if the commission and Mainsail owner accept the recommendation, it would be the end of the process. If one of them does not accept it, the case would probably proceed to litigation.

City strategy

Chair Jean Peelen asked if the city’s representatives could hold a shade meeting to decide their strategy. Shade meetings are conducted outside the Government in the Sunshine law when a party in a lawsuit is determining strategy.

“It is not litigation; it is mediation,” Petruff replied. “The special magistrate concurs that the whole concept of the statute is alternative dispute mediation.”

“That means we will have to discuss publically what we will accept,” Peelen pointed out.

Monti agreed with Peelen and said, “If we don’t have any perimeters and can’t speak for the group on what is and isn’t acceptable, it won’t be very fruitful.”

Petruff said the mediator could have sidebar sessions and take her and the two city representatives in a separate room for a discussion.

“If there’s a compromise, it will come here for a vote,” Commissioner David Zaccagnino said.

Petruff agreed and said, “The two designated liaisons do not have the power to make a final decision.”

Cortez Bridge survey shows extremes

BRADENTON BEACH – If attendees at a hearing on the future of the Cortez Bridge April 30 have their way, the 57-year old drawbridge would either be refurbished or replaced by a high-level, fixed span.

The results of that information-gathering meeting have been made public on the Florida Department of Transportation’s (FDOT) website on the bridge,

FDOT received almost 400 completed surveys before the meeting, which was held at Kirkwood Presbyterian Church in Bradenton, and got nearly 450 more responses through May 31. It also got 38 written comment sheets, letters and e-mails through the study website.

The results are:

• 51 percent favor further rehabilitation of Cortez Bridge;
• 43 percent favor replacement of the bridge.
Of those voting in favor of bridge replacement:
• 38 percent prefer a high-level fixed bridge;
• 19 percent would like a mid-level drawbridge;
• 33 percent prefer a low-level drawbridge;
• 04 percent favor another option.

Interests listed most often on returned surveys include roadway traffic, access to the mainland, storm/emergency evacuation and bridge replacement types.

Other survey answers

The survey asked how often people drive, bike or walk across the bridge. One percent said never, 43 percent said daily, 37 percent said weekly and 15 percent answered other.

The survey also asked if the respondents use the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway at the Cortez Bridge and 34 percent said yes, 60 percent said no. Of those who use it, 33 percent said never, 3 percent said daily, 18 percent said weekly and 25 percent said other.

The survey is part of an FDOT Project Development and Environment (PD&E) study on the future of the bridge. Engineers will take the survey result and put them with other information to figure out what to do with the bridge. Possibilities include refurbishing the bridge or replacing it with a tall, fixed-span, a medium height drawbridge or a low level drawbridge. Another option is to do nothing.

City to seek share of TDC funds

HOLMES BEACH – Commissioners said the Island cities should be receiving a share of the tourist tax to fund Island needs such as infrastructure.

The Tourist Development Council (TDC) makes recommendations to Manatee County Commissioners on the expenditure of tourist tax revenues.

Chair Jean Peelen said Island officials have been focusing their efforts on how the TDC spends its money, but it is the county commission that determines where the money is spent. She said they should focus their efforts on the county commission.

“We’re missing our target,” she said. “What if we say we are saturated here with traffic and tourists, our motels are full, our quality of life is going down, our infrastructure needs help, what ever it is and request that the county commission cut 25 percent of the money it gives to the TDC for advertising the area and give it to support the Island?”

Mayor Carmel Monti said he has been on a fact-finding mission to determine who controls the tourist tax money and how the TDC spends it.

“I would like to get with the other mayors and come up with a list of things we need,” he said. “Fifty percent of the tourist tax money, or $4 million, comes from the three Island cities and Longboat Key.”

“The more we collect in bed tax, the more advertising they can do,” Commissioner Judy Titsworth said. “It’s ridiculous.”

However, Peelen pointed out, “The TDC is one of the best working, most efficient groups around, and they’ve done what they’ve been asked to do and they’ve done it really well.”


New Anna Maria commissioner chosen
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

tom vaught | sun

Anna Maria City Clerk Alice Baird gives the oath of office
to City Commissioner Doug Copeland.

ANNA MARIA – Longtime resident and Planning and Zoning Board member Doug Copeland was chosen to finish the term of former Commission Chair John Quam, who resigned after purchasing a house in northwest Bradenton.

The commission did not have to choose between Copeland and P&Z member Carol Carter, who also qualified because she took herself out of the running at the city commission work session on Thursday, June 13. She cited Copeland’s “vast experience” with the board in making him qualified, “to work doggedly in the spirit of the comprehensive plan to assure the future for us and everybody else,” she said.

“There has been an incredible change in the village, not to my liking,” Carter said. “I believe we’re at a crossroad.”

Carter said she would run for a full term in the November election. Copeland will serve until November, and he also can choose to run in the November election. This is Copeland’s first time as a city commissioner.

Copeland served twice on the city's planning and zoning board for a total 20 years. He was asked why he volunteered to finish Quam's term.

"I think my knowledge of the city's codes and the workings of city government means I will have a shorter learning curve," he said.

Copeland said the work recently done to control the wrong kind of growth in the city was a good step.

"I think the LAR (living area ratio) will go along way to control the size of homes," he said.

Copeland, a Master Gardener, said he has a goal while in office.

"I would like to try to develop the master plan for Gulf Park, and I also would like to get a decision on the future of the six lots," he said, referring to the property bought on Pine Avenue near North Bay Drive.

The commission has come up with several plans for the property, which has served as the site for Bayfest for many years. Plans including a parking lot and a passive park have been brought up in the past. Commissioner Gene Aubry, an architect, has drawn up plans before, and he is currently working on a design for Pine Avenue, which is the heart of the city's commercial district.

Copeland would not speculate about whether he would run for a full term when his appointment ends.

City Clerk Alice Baird swore in Copeland, and he assumed Quam’s seat with a placard that said 5th Commissioner. The commission then voted Copeland as vice chair of the elected group.

In other action, the city commission heard no public comments during the first reading and hearing of the ordinance that contains all the changes to the city charter after a citizens' committee went through the document and agreed on changes.

Newly hired Anna Maria Island Community Center Executive Director Dawn Stiles addressed the commission, saying she is doing a needs assessment now to see if the Center is doing a good job addressing the needs of the young, families and the elderly.

Manatee County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Paul Davis showed a video recorded on Anna Maria to explain the Island patrol. The video explained the concept of community policing. He also told the commissioners that there have been two burglaries in the city since he took ove,r and residents need to be aware of what goes on at night and call for a deputy when they see something suspicious. He said in one case, a neighbor said he heard dogs barking, but did not investigate.

“If you see, hear or smell something suspicious, call 911 or the local number, 708-8899,” he said.

Residents weigh in on amplified music


The Barefoot Tiki Hut across the street from city
hall has been the subject of numerous letters and e-mails.

HOLMES BEACH – The city has received numerous e-mails and letters regarding permitting amplified music outdoors, especially with regard to the Barefoot Tiki Bar across the street from city hall.

While amplified music is not allowed for outdoor dining, the city allows all day amplified rock music in the city hall park. Commissioners recently realized how inconsistent the city is with regard to its noise ordinance and agreed to completely overhaul it.

Excerpts of some of the letters and e-mails are as follows:

“In our opinion, the Tiki Bar, in particular, has been an asset to the Island for residents, visitors and families. Not only do they provide entertainment in a comfortable, relaxing island venue, but they attract a clientele that is respectful and appreciative of an opportunity to enjoy music and refreshment and enjoy the outdoor ambiance of our island.” Sue and Bruce Christenson

“I am in favor of removing this ordinance to help promote our local businesses and tourism community.” Gy Yatros

“If I call in a noise complaint, I’m told they can be as loud as they want until 10 p.m. Yet the city wants to close Island Flea Tiki Bar for being too loud? Let’ keep the noise where it’s appropriate: out of the residential zones and in the commercial zone.” Laurel Nevans

Let the music play

“Please don’t make an error and take this venue (the Tiki Bar) from the hundreds of us that love the amplified music and great food. Let the music play.” Terry and Sandi Davidson

“Live music at Island establishments is an important part of the Island experience for locals and visitors.” Diana Daley

“They (Tiki Bar owners) have been scrupulous in their efforts to keep the music to a respectful volume and a respectful hour and wish to work with you in creating a fair and balanced ordinance that benefits everyone.” Rene Bannigan

“The Barefoot Tiki Bar is a unique and creative venue that compliments our tropical and artistic community. And I am happy that they have created an atmosphere that can be enjoyed by all ages. It would be shame for another music venue fall victim to an unreasonable and outdated noise ordinance.” Lisa Varano

At last week’s commission meeting, Commissioner Judy Titsworth said, “It’s been very nice since the last meeting with Nicole’s Tiki Bar. I haven’t heard a peep.”

Commissioner Marvin Grossman added, “I think they are doing a better job. My neighbor plays there, and he’s one they are allowing to use it because he promises to keep the decibels down.”

Mayor Carmel Monti said he and Chief Bill Tokajer are looking at ordinances from similar-sized communities and are finalizing a new noise ordinance.

Tree house petition accepted

HOLMES BEACH – Commissioners accepted an initiative petition from Richard Hazen and Lynn Tran regarding their proposed ordinance approving the tree house structure at 103 29th St., which the city has declared illegal.

The initiative process is provided for in the city’s charter and gives voters the power to propose ordinances to the city commission. Any five qualified voters can begin initiative proceedings by filing with the city clerk and forming a petitioner’s committee.

Tree house petitioners’ committee members are Tran, Hazen, Gilbert Lucas and Vic and Kathy Caserta. The petitioners’ committee is responsible for circulating the petition and filing it in the proper form.

The petition must be signed by 10 percent of the qualified voters registered to vote at the last city election. There were 3,323 qualified voters in the last city election, so the petition must have 332 signatures.

Commissioner David Zaccagnino asked City Attorney Jim Dye about the process and the cost of putting the ordinance on the ballot.

“It’s a multi-step process,” Dye replied. “First the committee has to get the requisite number of signatures to bring the proposed ordinance to the commission. The commission has the first opportunity to pass the ordinance. If it is not passed, then it goes to an election.”

Zaccagnino asked if they have to hold a special election or if they can put it on the November ballot.

“The charter requires the referendum to be held within 90 days after the commission determines it is not going to pass the ordinance,” Dye responded.

“If the regular election falls within that 90 days, you can have it on the ballot. If it doesn’t fit on the regular ballot, the charter requires the city to hold a special election.”

Tree house code board hearing postponed

HOLMES BEACH – The Code Enforcement Board hearing on Lynn Tran and Richard Hazen’s tree house has been postponed.

The city’s building official Tom O’Brien has ruled that the tree house at 103 39th St. is a structure that requires a building permit, in addition to other violations. It was slated to go before the code enforcement board on June 20.

On Monday, June 10, Tran and Hazen’s attorney David Levin filed a motion to dismiss the code board hearing for denial of due process.

Levin said the respondents were served with a notice of hearing on May 24, but it did not contain a notice of violation, which “results in a failure to sufficiently inform the respondents of the charges against them.” He said they must be given a reasonable time to prepare their response.

On June 13, the city hand delivered an amended notice of violation, which stated that the city has no record of any permits being applied for or issued for the construction of the tree house.

“Moreover, based on a survey of the property prepared by Leo Mills and Associates, dated April 27, 2013, the construction of the tree structure and portions of the other facilities at the property are partially located on the 29th Street North public right of way and in the platted alley located in Block 38 of the Ilexhurst subdivision,” the notice said.

Five days to fix

It further stated that the dune system in front of the structure has been removed, and listed violations of portions of four articles in the land development code.

The property owners have five business days in which to begin the formal process of removing the violations, said the notice. If the process does not begin, the matter will be referred to the Code enforcement board.

According to an e-mail from City Attorney Jim Dye, Tran and Hazen have until the close of business on June 20 to begin the process of removing the violation. If that doesn’t happen, they need 10 days’ notice of a hearing, which would be June 30.

In addition, on June 10, Dye responded to Levin’s requests to O’Brien for an official interpretation of the land development code.

“Section 2.2 of the city’s land development code governs official interpretations of the regulations or how a regulation may be applicable to a piece of property or project. This section is not an alternative to the code enforcement process.”

He said the section is intended for use “when there is a regulatory ambiguity or other uncertainty in which it would be helpful for the building official to provide an interpretation of the regulations.”

Dye said it is not applicable to the tree house because it is based on a pre-application process, in which they did not participate.

Group discusses cell phone tower offers

ANNA MARIA – Representatives of the three bidders for designing, installing and operating the city’s cell phone tower met with members of the cell tower committee on Monday, June 10, to discuss details and the three bidders’ answers to a set of questions sent to them.

The city is seeking a company that can design and build a cell phone tower in the parking lot of city hall. The winning bidder would also handle renting space on the tower to cell phone carriers.

The three bidders made similar financial offers for the right to build and operate the tower. F & L Towers would give the city a choice of $400,000 up front with no further revenue share or $350,000 up front plus 30 percent of all gross rents, net of $7,500 quarterly. It would sign a 10-year lease with four 10-year renewals for, for a total of 50 years. F & L’s principal owner, Stacy Frank, offered to build the type of tower the city wants with a rack system to hold equipment on the tower, atop an area that could be used to parking.

Vertex Development, LLC, would pay the city a one-time fee of $300,000, although it initially offered $24,000 annually, escalating at three percent with 25 percent of the fee beginning with the second carrier signing. It would sign a 35-year lease with five five-year renewals. It also would build a tower with a rack and under-tower parking.

Ridan Industries and Florida Tower Partners propose a lump sum of $400,000 with no revenue sharing or $350,000 up front with 30 percent of the quarterly gross revenues, less $7,500. It would sign a five-year contract with the city with nine successive five-year extensions. Ridan is currently under contract to build a cell phone tower near Bradenton Beach public works building.

At the meeting, committee member Tom Aposporos asked the three bidders if they would have to extend the height of a tower as they add carriers. F & L President Stacy Frank said it had one tower where it could add height.

“We are looking at 95 feet high as a minimum up to 150 feet,” said Jim Eatrides with Ridan Industries.

Jennifer Frost, with Vertex, said it is proposing 130 feet high to save money, and it could put up extensions for additional carriers.

Aposporos asked what the tower might look like, “Because that’s the gateway to city hall, and people would be looking at it.”

Eatrides said it would have a rack on the tower with parking below and a wall, which could be decorated with a mural, located there.

Aposporos said they don’t want the tower to look institutional.

As for the tower itself, Frank said the monopole is easier to maintain, and Eatrides said monopoles catch more attention.

“With a monopole, you have to send out a truck with a lift to work on it because there is no way to climb it,” he said.

Eatrides said it is looking at building the same type of tower it is designing in Bradenton Beach.

The group meets again at city hall on Wednesday, June 19, at 2:30 p.m.

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