The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 13 No. 38 - July 17, 2013


City considers changing police coverage

ANNA MARIA – Faced with a bill of more than a half-million dollars, the city commission is now rethinking who it should pay to keep the peace.

Mayor SueLynn had some good news on the subject at last Thursday’s commission meeting, She said the bill is $55,000 less this year because there arer newer deputies who make less than the veterans. However, Commissioner Gene Aubry said there might be a better way.

“Holmes Beach built a police force that’s way too large,” he said. “We’re very, very concerned about money and what we can do and just because it’s the way we’ve done it for years doesn’t mean much; it’s a new day. We need to talk about this.”

SueLynn said she talked about having Holmes Beach take over law enforcement in Anna Maria with Mayor Carmel Monti, but he was busy installing a new police chief and they dropped the subject at that point.

“Recently, Mayor Monti called and asked if I was still interested in that, and I told him I wanted to see how the new police chief does,” she said. “I’m more interested in consolidating other services.”

Aubry said even though some laws are different in Anna Maria, the officers are still trained to uphold the law.

Commissioner Chuck Webb said in the past, they determined there was no cost savings for the city. He did say that Holmes Beach police are now doing some code enforcement, something the Sheriff’s Office can’t do, and he recommended they explore it further.

“I’m pleased that the new offer is $55,000 less,” said Commissioner Doug Copeland. “If we find out we could work with Holmes Beach, we could always void the agreement.”

Commissioner Nancy Yetter said she was pleased with the way the Sheriff’s Office deputies performed during the Fourth of July.

“I made a few calls and they were handled professionally,” she said.

Copeland said Sgt Paul Davis, who heads the contingency in Anna Maria, was a “breath of fresh air.”

The commissioners agreed to ask SueLynn to follow up with her counterpart in Holmes Beach.

Parking garage proposed

HOLMES BEACH – When Mayor Carmel Monti proposed building a parking garage at Manatee Public Beach, Commissioner Judy Titsworth reacted swiftly.

“The day we have a parking garage in our city is the day I’m packing up and leaving,” she declared to applause from the audience.

Monti made the suggestion during a discussion of Island congestion that was brought to a head by gridlock during the July 4 holiday.

“We need to think out of the box to come up with suggestions and ideas to deal with it – car parking, bridge traffic, street parking,” Monti said.

“The poor citizens are bearing the brunt of the visitors. We need tourism, but we don’t need the tail wagging the dog.”

He said there are only 400 parking spaces at the public beach and proposed that “we do a very elegant nice parking structure, very well designed, well landscaped that has retail operations.”

In a recent memo, he said the parking garage could also have a bike station for people to rent bikes, retail shops on the ground floor and a farmer’s market on the top floor. He said it could be up to three stories tall.

“We could probably put a 1,000 cars in there,” he continued. “Once people are in there, they can use other modes of transportation to get around the Island.

“We not only raise revenue to do things we want to do, but we take care of the congestion by getting people out of their cars into a spot we can control.”

Other ideas

Titsworth continued her protest and said, “I don’t want to sell our soul to make money off the tourists. I want to decrease the parking. I want to make it not as inviting here.”

Chair Jean Peelen said the reason to build the parking garage is to keep the cars off the streets, but added, “I shrink at the idea of a parking garage also. I’m for Island wide restrictions on parking.”

She said she favors having buses bring people from park and ride lots at 75th Street in Bradenton, plus steep parking fines and fees.

Titsworth said they could have permit parking for residents and their guests.

Commissioner Marvin Grossman said he is concerned about how to limit parking in neighborhoods without jeopardizing beach renourishment funding, which is dependent on providing a certain number of parking spaces for the public.

Resident Dick Motzer suggested forming a committee of residents to come up with suggestions, and resident Carol Sustek suggested a sign on the Causeway stating the Island is full.

Police Chief Bill Tokajer recommended increasing the parking fine from $20 to $50 and the late fee from $5 to $15 as another way to address the problem, and commissioners agreed.

Tuesday comments

The subject also was discussed at the commission’s meeting on July 9. At that time, when Peelen said she favored charging for parking at the public beach and permit parking on residential streets, Commissioner Zaccagnino objected.

“It has not solved the problem in Clearwater or Ft. Myers Beach or Sanibel,” he said. “If you charge for parking at the public beach, we’re not going to get the money. I like the idea of park and ride and a water taxi.”

He said the city should not jeopardize its beach renourishment funding, should enforce parking regulations and seek help for the police chief in doing so.

“All we get to police the beach is $10,000,” he stressed, and Commissioner Pat Morton added, “The chief is out there being active and taking care of the job. We need to get the money to back this up.”

Titsworth agreed with Zaccagnino regarding the beach renourishment funding and added, “We advertise, advertise, advertise,” she declared. “We’re our own worst enemy. Stop the advertising.

“We’re not going to get a ton of people taking the free trolley because we’re spoiled. We want our coolers, our beach chairs and our air conditioned ride.”

Peelen said people come to the Island because it is the only free beach in the area.

“We have the best beaches, and if people want to come to them, they should pay for it, not the residents.” Monti agreed.

Resident Pam Leckie stressed that long time residents are leaving the Island and asked, “What will happen to our churches, our school, the people that make a community? The city needs to find out what the city has control over and use that to bring sanity back.”

Mainsail decision delayed

HOLMES BEACH – A decision on what’s acceptable to commissioners regarding the Mainsail development has been delayed until the building official and fire marshal can review proposed changes to the site plan.

At last week’s commission meeting, City Attorney Patricia Petruff said issues that arose during a recent mediation include parking, the Sunrise Lane access, use of the marina, the height of buildings and setbacks.

The Mainsail Development Company requested the mediation, conducted by a special magistrate, after the city commission revoked the company’s site plan for its development near the corner of Marina and Gulf drives.

Petruff said Mainsail representatives agreed to design changes including decreasing the number of units; lowering the height of the building on the spit or eliminating it and agreed to present an onionskin overlay detailing the changes.

“What needs to happen, whether tonight or when you get that onionskin overlay, is that there needs to be an open and frank discussion about what you will find acceptable to settle this matter or it’s not going to settle,” she stressed.

She said the city’s portion of the special magistrate fee is approximately $3,000 and the follow-up mediation would not be scheduled until the overlay is presented to commissioners.

Mainsail changes

Petruff presented an e-mail from Mainsail attorney Robert Lincoln in which he said that Mainsail is working to:

• Remove Building A on the spit from the plan;
• Reduce the size and footprint of Building D, near Sunrise Lane;
• Accommodate all parking on site;
• Eliminate the need for emergency access on Sunrise Lane, a private road.

“If emergency access to Sunrise Lane is unavoidable, Mainsail is willing to limit and control such access through the use of electronic gates under the control of first responders (fire and emergency personnel), with prohibitions against non-emergency use,” Lincoln said.

Neighbors have opposed the development’s plan to use Sunrise Lane for emergency access, and one neighbor, Dan Howe, has threatened to sue if the commission allows its use.

“ … Mr. Howe and his attorney are flat out wrong in their assertion that Mainsail does not have the right to use Sunrise Lane for such purposes under the various private road agreements,” Lincoln asserted in the e-mail and added, “Any action by the commission to deprive Mainsail of its rights to use Sunrise Lane would be actionable … ”

However, Petruff pointed out, “Whether Mainsail has the right to use Sunrise Lane is a private matter between Sunrise owners and Mainsail.”

Commission comments

Commissioner Judy Titsworth asked if the city should spend any more money on mediation until the Sunrise Lane issue is settled.

She said she was unhappy that Mainsail had not produced the onionskin drawing for this meeting and noted, “The mayor said the staff has not looked at the onionskin drawing, but they’re not voting on this, commissioners are.”

Mayor Carmel Monti responded, “Without Tom (Building Official Tom O’Brien) and the fire marshal’s input, we don’t have a full deck of cards. Having the onionskin was not set in stone.

“This shows they are doing the right thing with respect to Sunrise Lane. They may have a way to avoid it. I think they’re acting it very good faith, and we should try and work with them.”

Commissioner Marvin Grossman continued to express concern about Mainsail’s lease with Wells Fargo for parking and also said, “They should get a title policy insuring their access to Sunrise Lane.”

Titsworth agreed with Grossman and said, “They told me they have a lease but they haven’t provided it.

What is enough?

Chair Jean Peelen suggested that commissioners postpone advising their mediation representatives until they are able to study the onionskin drawing. Monti and Titsworth are their representatives.

Commissioner Pat Morton said he was discouraged that the onionskin was not available and said, “It was advertised that they would have the onionskin and they should have had it.”

“Our fire person and our building person are not here,” stressed Peelen and Monti agreed and added, “They did do what they said and they did follow through.

“I have to agree with Ms. Petruff. We need to know what’s acceptable to go back into that next session otherwise it will be another waste of time. You’re saying this is not enough. What is enough?”

Zaccagnino added, “We need to stop the moving target and decide what we will accept. Sunrise Lane is a private matter and parking has nothing to do with this.

“We can’t keep stringing them along or they’ll give up and sue. Believe me, a lawsuit will be a lot more expensive than mediation.”

At Thursday’s work session, Petruff reported she spoke with Lincoln and Special Magistrate Steve Seibert and that the next scheduled dates for continuing the hearing were too soon. She said she hoped the commission could discuss what they will accept regarding the changes in the site plan at their meeting on July 23 or work session on July 25.

“Once we get feedback from you, we can have a follow-up session with the special magistrate hopefully in in August,” she said.

“Either we will resolve it or not, and he (Seibert) can finish his part of it, which is to either to accept whatever we work out or if the parties don’t reach consensus, then he will make his report.”


Developer addresses Long Bar Pointe questions
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story


Developer Carlos Beruffl explains
his proposed project.

CORTEZ – More than 150 people filled Fishmermen’s Hall in Cortez on Thursday, July 11, to participate in a town hall meeting with Long Bar Pointe developer Carlos Beruff.

Hosted by the Save Our Bay group, the meeting provided the public an opportunity to question Beruff about the development he and Larry Lieberman have proposed for coastal farmland located along El Conquistador Parkway in Bradenton.

The proposal calls for a marina, a hotel, a conference center, office and retail space and more than 3,000 residential units to be built over a 20-year period. Critics fear the construction of a marina would result in the destruction of coastal mangroves and cite the marina as the plan’s most troubling component.

In 2004, Manatee County commissioners approved a 1,657-unit residential project for Lieberman, who owned the property at the time – an approval that protects the mangroves in exchange for additional building height allowances.

Beruff, who purchased the property in 2012, needs additional concessions from county commissioners in order to secure the mixed-use zoning designation needed to move forward with his plan – concessions that would come in the form of amendments to the comprehensive plan that governs land use in Manatee County.

The 463-acre property is currently zoned R-9 and allows for nine dwelling units per gross acre, whereas mixed-use is the most intensive zoning designation allowed.

The matter will likely be decided at the Tuesday, Aug. 6, county commission meeting taking place at 1:30 p.m. at the Bradenton Area Convention Center in Palmetto, formerly known as the Manatee Civic Center.

Holmes Beach City Commissioner David Zaccagnino moderated the discussion and expressed hope that the feedback garnered would encourage developers to modify their plan.

Mangrove removal

The first audience question pertained to mangrove removal and dredging; Beruff said the project would require the removal of 225 linear feet of shoreline mangroves (linear meaning a line from point A to point B).

Former County Commissioner Jane von Hahmann told those sitting near her that she recalls 2004 commission discussions about the mangrove forest extending 200 to 600 feet inland in some areas, which, in theory, could equate to between 45,000 and 135,000 square feet of mangrove removal.

The audience groaned when Beruff said the marina would require dredging a 2,100-foot channel approximately 60 feet wide and 5 feet deep into Sarasota Bay, raising concerns about sea grass destruction and muddying the bay with silt.

Although the Traffic Impact Analysis submitted to the county lists a 300-birth marina and a 300-room hotel as part of the maximum intended use for the property, Beruff said his intent is to build an 80-slip boat basin and a 250-room hotel with funding from Bain Capital.

Beruff contends the channel would be less destructive to the bay than 57 private docks measuring 660 feet in length, which he claims is allowed under the current zoning.

Von Hahmann said Beruff has the right to request the docks, but county commissioners are not obligated or likely to approve his request, a statement supported by former County Commissioner Joe McClash.

McClash reminded Beruff that the developer has the ability to slow down the approval process and suggested that he host a community work session and consider “compromising on some of the issues” in order to lessen opposition.

Earlier that day, McClash told meeting organizer Joe Kane he would consider running against County Commissioner Carol Whitmore if she supports Long Bar Pointe and runs unopposed in 2014.


Cortez resident Plum Taylor said, “We’re all fishing families. Long Bar will affect the fishing of this village more than anything you can imagine.”

In response to Taylor’s comments, Beruff said, “How would you feel if we could show you that we would improve the bay? Just imagine that somehow you could be convinced that the bay would be improved; how would feel?”

Taylor said, “I don’t think you can do it”

Speaking “on behalf of charter fishing captains,” part-time fishing guide Matt Bower argued that Beruff’s claim is based on input from paid consultants.

“What if we could prove to you what you are doing is going to harm the bay, would you change your mind?” he asked Beruff.

Beruff deflected the question, saying his staff would not be the ones issuing the permits and that permits of this nature require approval from six different agencies.

Cortez historian Mary Fulford Green said, “As you’re going to build a town, we are concerned that you will destroy our town. If you destroy our ‘kitchen’ – we call it that because that’s where our food comes from – you destroy Cortez. The commercial fishing industry is a multi-million dollar operation.”

Karen Bell, manager of the A.P. Bell Fish Co. in Cortez said, “I think you have a right to do something, but dredging through the sea grass is not the right thing and cutting the mangroves out is not the right thing. Do something that minimizes what happens to the bay.”

Addressing traffic concerns, Holmes Beach Mayor Carmel Monti said, “The people that are going to go to your resort are going to want to go to the beaches. It’s going to add to the congestion and to a situation where it is going to be untenable for the people who live on the Island.”

Saturday boat brigade to highlight Long Bar Pointe concerns

CORTEZ - On Saturday, July 20, the area near mile marker 17 in Sarasota Bay will become a floating protest of the proposed Long Bar Pointe development that threatens the coastline along El Conquistador Parkway east of Cortez.

Taking place from 2 to 4 p.m., the civic-minded boat brigade is the brainchild of Bayshore Gardens residents Terri Wonder and Suzanna Young, members of the Bay Life Preservers group that is actively opposing the mixed-use project proposed by Manatee developers Carlos Beruff and Larry Lieberman.

Wonder said 25 boats have already committed to the flotilla and local boaters are encouraged to join the event as it unfolds Saturday afternoon.

Volunteers will monitor VHF marine radio channels 16 and 72 to provide additional information to interested parties as they approach the scene of the protest.

“This is a very well thought out well planned event,” Wonder said, noting that volunteer patrol boats will cruise the flotilla perimeter to prevent disruption of submerged sea grasses and periodic reminders will be sent via radio reminding boaters to be mindful of the wake created by their vessels.

In addition to creating additional awareness of this issue, the boat brigade will provide citizens and members of the media with a first-hand look at the mangrove forests jeopardized by the Long Bar Pointe proposal.

“We know how passionate people are about this problem,” Wonder said, explaining that the goal is to defeat the Long Bar Pointe proposal and changes to Manatee County’s Comprehensive Plan that dictate how specific types of properties are developed.

“This plan will affect people profoundly in many different ways,

and it needs to be stopped. If this plan is ratified you’ve opened the floodgate to other developers who hold large tracts of land in Manatee County. We need to stop this before it becomes a county-wide problem.”

She went on to say, “This would change the character of the bay.”

In regard to the local charter fishing industry, Wonder said, “If this project is approved, it would destroy their fishing haven.”

As for those who fish the bay for recreational purposes with family members, Wonder said, “Our children and our children’s children will never enjoy the informal education of fishing that is part of the bay if they alter marine and human ecology of the area.”

Wonder says removing the proposed marina from the plan would not alleviate her overall concerns about the proposed development. Her concerns include the potential high impact of a conference center, a hotel and large areas of impervious parking spaces that may impact the area’s ability to absorb rainwater and run off from nearby neighborhoods. More than half of the development site’s 463 acres are located in a coastal high hazard that is at greater risk from storm surge and flooding.

In addition to the boat brigade, the Bay Life Preservers are circulating an adverse impact petition for those who draw income from the bay and a general petition for opponents not suffering direct economic impact. The petitions will be presented to county commissioners on or prior to the Aug. 6 commission meeting when the developers’ comprehensive plan amendment requests will be heard. Petitions can be obtained via e-mail at


Commission reacts to mayor’s suggestions

ANNA MARIA – The city appeared to be more concerned with the speed limit than with lifeguards at their meeting Thursday night.

As the meeting wound down, they brought up Mayor SueLynn’s call for lowering the speed limit on Pine Avenue and Bay Boulevard up to the Humpback Bridge and the two streets east of Pine – Spring and Magnolia avenues from 25 mph to 15 mph.

The mayor made the suggestion in a letter she wrote and read before a previous meeting saying the city is losing its residential flavor as properties are sold and turned into short-term rental units.

City Attorney Jim Dye said the city cannot lower the speed to 15 mph, only 20. SueLynn asked why the Humpback Bridge had a 15 mph limit, and he replied that the question had not been raised before.

Commissioner Chuck Webb asked the reason for lowering the speed limit and SueLynn said Sgt. Paul Davis, head of the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office substation, suggested it for the high traffic areas plus Spring and Magnolia to prevent people from using them instead.

Commissioner Gene Aubry, who presented a design plan for Pine Avenue at a previous meeting, said if the street is done according to that plan, nobody would be able to do 15 mph anyway.

“The big deal is trying to get everyone in the right place,” he said. “Let’s get it right, and it will take care of itself. I think a lot of your concern would be taken care of after it is redesigned.”

Commissioner Nancy Yetter was against lowering the limit.

“In season, you’re lucky if they go 15,” she said. “All you would be doing is creating a bottleneck and road rage. Get the skateboards and surreys off the streets and that would make them safer.”

Commissioner Doug Copeland agreed about the pedal-driven surreys.

“A lot of people driving them are not in control,” he said.

Yetter said on Pine Avenue, skateboarders don’t have a lane to use. Aubry suggested painting lines to make bicycle lanes on the sides of the streets.

Commissioner Chuck Webb asked if the city had the authority to deal with the surreys, and Dye said they might not. The power might be with the state. He said he would check on it.

As time ran short for the meeting, commissioners brought up Aubry’s suggestion to add more lifeguards to the county’s staff and build more lifeguard towers. Aubry suggested the cities might come together to pay for more lifeguards. They decided to talk about it at a future meeting.

Before the meeting ended, resident Joe Paulk, who lives on Gulf Boulevard, talked about adding lifeguards,

“At the last meeting, we talked about quality of life and tourism but now we’re talking about the city paying for more lifeguards,” he said. “I would have a big problem with them putting up a tower in front of my house. I would ask you please to get some sort of committee together, take comments, have meetings and come back to you guys with specific recommendations about what to do about the quality of life and those issues.”

City ponders pier repairs

BRADENTON BEACH – The commission unanimously voted Thursday against repairing the city pier with two wood pilings prior to its scheduled renovation.

The new pilings would not be warrantied if Duncan Seawall, which gave a $3,200 bid for the repairs, was not hired to complete the renovation, according to Public Works Director Tom Woodard.

The pier remains partly closed due to storm damage and is tentatively scheduled for repairs to begin in about a month.

A request for proposals is expected to be issued soon to replace Rotten Ralph’s restaurant with a new tenant.

In other business:

• Telecommunications site – the city-owned site of a proposed telecommunications tower once contained buried gasoline tanks, and investigating for environmental contamination will cost about $30,000, the Commission learned. The gasoline tanks were used for city vehicles and were removed, but environmental issues may remain, according to city staff. City Attorney Ricinda Perry advised negotiating an agreement for reimbursement and postponing the issue until the next Commission meeting.

• Kayak Jack – a request by Jack Glennon, of Kayak Jack, to rent kayaks and paddleboards at Gulf Drive Café, 900 Gulf Drive N., was rescheduled until Thursday, Aug. 1, at 7 p.m.

• BeachHouse lawsuit – Perry announced that Manatee Circuit Judge Janette Dunnigan has decided to assign the lawsuit challenging the BeachHouse’s use of the beach as a parking lot to Judge Diana Moreland due to Dunnigan’s acquaintance with restaurant owner Ed Chiles. Plaintiffs Jo Ann Meilner, Tjet Martin and Bill Shearon filed the suit in June 2012 against the city of Bradenton Beach, alleging that its development order allowing parking on the property is inconsistent with the city’s comprehensive plan.

• City hall landscaping – the commission approved a plan for a 100 percent native landscaping project at city hall designed by Woodard. The plan includes mulch, sand, shell and stone, he said, adding that the former plantings were either dead or overgrown.

• MPO reapportionment – the Commission unanimously approved a resolution to support the Sarasota/Manatee Metropolitan Planning Organization’s membership apportionment plan.

The plan provides that one additional member will be added to the MPO for each of the cities of Bradenton and North Port due to changes in population. The MPO had requested that local governments adopt resolutions of support for the plan.

• Noise ordinance – a draft of a proposed noise ordinance is expected to be completed soon, according to Mayor John Shaughnessy.


Mosquito spray to stay

HOLMES BEACH – Chris Lesser, assistant director of the Manatee County Mosquito Control District (MCD), said he was prepared to offer to stop aerial spraying missions over the city to kill mosquitos, if that’s what the city wanted.

However, commissioners said at last week’s work session that they were not willing to take that step, and Chair Jean Peelen stressed, “People say the mosquitos are horrendous right now. You cannot go outside.”

The issue was precipitated by a complaint from visitor a well as Mayor Carmel Monti’s concern about MCD’s use of Malathion and lack of notification when spraying.

“I’m not saying that we don’t want to spray any more, but I want to compile more research so we know exactly what we’re dealing with as opposed to allowing it to happen,” he said. “And if we allow it to happen we’ll be notified ahead of time.”

“I would not rather not make any changes without being properly educated,” Commissioner Judy Titsworth said, and Commissioner Marvin Grossman added that people want advance notice of the spraying.

Science-based approach

Lesser explained that MCD sets traps, monitors rainfall and performs other tasks to decide how to attack the problem and said, “It’ all science based with the best available technology.

“We don’t treat just any mosquitos. They have to be mosquitos that are a public health concern, that transmit diseases or bite people. We also do it because the public demands it, and it’s safe.

“In terms of modern pesticides, there’s not a product that’s more heavily regulated than insecticides that are used throughout the United States. At the rate mosquito control uses it, is it toxic? Gosh no. We have a hard enough time killing mosquitos.”

He said decisions on where to spray are made the last minute and missions are always in the evening at sunset or later. He said the pilot is a Blackhawk helicopter pilot and instructor.

Monti asked how much notice of aerial spraying the city could get, and Lesser said he could have it on MCD’s website by 3 p.m. any given day. Monti said the city could put notification on its website and the sign by Marina Drive.

Viruses always present

Titsworth asked if MCD has found viruses such as West Nile and encephalitis locally.

“We have West Nile in the county right now. We have found it in the sentinel chickens. All of those viruses are endemic. They are here all the time, all year ‘round.

“We also have mosquitos that are capable of transmitting those viruses from birds to humans. They’re here all the time. The purpose of mosquito control is to prevent disease transmission by keeping the nuisance population low.”

Monti said there was one case of West Nile virus in 2003 and Lesser concurred and pointed out, “West Nile virus was extremely active in Florida last year. We feel it’s not more active in Manatee County because of our aggressive program.”

Long time resident Carol Sustek said she enjoys watching the helicopter pilot, and the spray does not bother her. She remembered the days before air conditioning when “the screens turned black from mosquitos.”

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