The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 13 No. 42 - August 14, 2013


Traffic team thinks outside the box

HOLMES BEACH – In their first meeting, members of the city’s Committee on Traffic Congestion and Parking discussed a myriad of ideas from a bridge toll to a parking garage to address the problem created by increased traffic to the Island.

“I have gotten ideas from different people, and I thought we’d discuss those,” Chair Dick Motzer told the group.

He said member Peggi Davenport, who was unable to attend the meeting, suggested using bank and church lots for overflow parking on weekends. However, Chief Bill Tokajer said members of St. Bernard’s Church have complained about vandalism and people abusing their lot.

Members said the city could consider paying for signs, installing a donation box or helping with resurfacing the parking lot. Motzer said he would ask Commissioner David Zaccagnino, a committee member, to talk to church officials.

Motzer said another suggestion he received is to eliminate parking on the south side of Manatee Avenue leading to the public beach due to safety reasons. Parking on the north side already has been eliminated. Tokajer said if they plan to continue to allow it, it should be marked for angle parking only.

Parking permit and meters

Mayor Carmel Monti, who was participating by phone, said he has discussed with the other two Island mayors a parking program similar to what is used in Key West with designated parking for residents, visitors and workers. He also talked to the county about a parking structure at the public beach, which he said would raise revenue.

The group discussed erecting a sign at the public beach when the lot is full, parking permits and parking meters.

“Who would issue the permits? Motzer asked. “It would make a mess for city hall. For residents’ permits, how many would you have per household? And then how many would you have for rentals?”

Tokajer said there are companies the city could contract with to issue permits, and said the department is inspecting rental properties to make sure they have enough parking. Monti said he plans to meet with a representative of a company that makes parking machines.

Motzer asked Tokajer about increased enforcement of the laws, and Tokajer responded, “We have increased our traffic and parking tickets tremendously. In April, we had 66 and in May we had 225 and in July we had 140.”


Monti asked members if they should consider a tollbooth, and they said yes.

“It’s worth considering as long as it’s done properly,” Tokajer said. “It should be done very similar to other beach communities where it’s all done by a Sun Pass type of thing so there is no stoppage of traffic.”

Tokajer said the first step is to ask if the state would allow it, and Monti said he plans to discuss it with Gov. Rick Scott.

“I don’t think the tourists will mind paying for the beautiful beaches that we have if we do it right,” Monti said. “I think it’s fair to the citizens that if we put a toll or parking fee in place, it helps offset whatever we could use it for, such as beach renourishment or beautification.”

Motzer said if there were a toll, it would have to be on all three bridges.

Other ideas members discussed included a park and ride from 75th Street in Bradenton and making Marina Drive one-way north and Gulf Drive one-way south,

Motzer said the committee also is seeking positive suggestions from residents on resolving the problem. Send suggestions to Island Congestion Committee, 5801 Marina Dr. Holmes Beach, FL 34217, or e-mail to

The group's next meeting is set for Monday, Aug. 19, at 1:30 p.m.

Split decision on Long Bar
Carol Whitmore


Cortez-based charter fishing operator Captain Kathe Fannon
speaks against the proposal at the Manatee County
Commission meeting.


The Aug. 6 Manatee County Commission decision to unanimously deny text amendment changes to the county comprehensive plan sat well with Long Bar Pointe opponents. But many still expressed concern about the commission’s approval of a mixed-use designation for the coastal property along El Conquistador Parkway.

As the special land use meeting came to an end, former county commissioner Joe McClash was among the first to share his views on the decision, saying, “It’s encouraging that the board voted down the text amendments, which would have destroyed the environmental policies we’ve worked so hard as a community to protect. I still have concerns with the change to mixed-use because it intensifies the use of land adjacent to Sarasota Bay. It would have been better not to change it to mixed-use.”

Later in the week, Cortez resident and former County Commissioner Jane von Hahmann said, “We protected the county’s comp plan from an invasive single developer request and the county maintained its environmental protections.”

Looking ahead, von Hahmann said, “It’s the first step, but it does allow the developers to move forward and work on a true plan and not a conceptual thing like they were throwing around the other night. We will have to stay engaged during every step of this development. We have to stay vigilant and watch this thing as it moves through the process. A poorly designed mixed-use project could still have an impact on the bay and the village.”

In regard to the 60-day extension provided by Mother Nature when Tropical Storm Andrea shortened the June meeting at which this issue was originally scheduled for discussion, von Hahmann said, “I think it gave us, the citizens, the opportunity to become more organized. I have no clue where the commission would have gone on June 6.”

She also shared her view that the 6,000-plus petition signatures gathered between June and August surely got the attention of commissioners.

Echoing comments made by von Hahmann, Cortez-based charter fishing operator Captain Kathe Fannon said, “I realize we won the battle, but trust me, we have not won the war yet. However, I am gearing up and restocking.”

Holmes Beach City Commissioner Marvin Grossman said, “After spending 13 hours at the convention center meeting, the commissions’ vote was a start. I left the meeting feeling frustrated knowing that we must be very diligent and not let our guard down protecting a very environmentally sensitive site.”

Bayshore Gardens resident and Bay Life Preservers activist Terri Wonder said, “The only three commissioners who really understood the message sent to them by 6,300 people were DiSabatino, Chappie, and Gallen. They were the only ones who voted ‘no’ to both developer requests. These commissioners do not have a perfect record, but I think it’s fair to give them the benefit of the doubt regarding future developers’ requests and they need to be supported in their future political goals.”

Cortez resident and Save Our Bay activist Joe Kane said, “I was disappointed that Commissioner Whitmore voted for the next step without seeing more details – as commissioners Chappie, DiSabatino and Gallen courageously demanded.”

Addressing public response to the decision, Commissioner Carol Whitmore said, “We got tons of e-mails thanking us for stopping the marina, including quite a few from the Island.”

Whitmore said “only two or three” of the emails she saw were of a critical nature.

One note, sent by Anna Maria residents Judy and Bill Chable, said, “Thank you for listening to the residents of our district. Many times here on the Island we feel we are invisible. This time our voices were heard. Thank you so much.”

Board deadlocks on Pine Avenue parking

ANNA MARIA – As soon shoppers hit Pine Avenue, they start searching for shops and parking spaces, and sometimes the shops outnumber the spaces.

In an effort to bring some order to the fray, the city commission wants to define parking and walking spaces but when the city’s planning an zoning board (P&Z) heard proposed changes to an ordinance to help make those areas safer last week, they could not reach agreement on whether to endorse them.

The changes include an opportunity for a property owner to deviate from approved site plans by seeking a resolution from the city commission.

Other changes include taking out a requirement that parking spaces be located entirely on the business’ property.

Former Pine Avenue developer and P&Z member Micheal Coleman said the purpose of the change is to move sidewalks between the parking spaces and the stores and to make them wide enough to handle pedestrians, bicyclists and other traffic like baby buggies and wheelchairs.

“The right of way is a dead zone,” he said. “It is tying up space for pedestrians who want to use the pathway.”

P&Z member Lou Ellen Wilson said she uses the right of way space behind the parking space to get her car going in the right direction so she doesn’t have to back out into traffic.

Anna Maria Building Official Bob Welch said the ordinance would allow the city to implement a master plan for Pine Avenue, the city’s main commercial district.

P&Z member Mike Pescitelli asked how much the plan would increase the width of the sidewalks, and Welch said it would double it in areas where there is room. Coleman said it would lead to more people and fewer cars along the roadway. He said it would make Pine Avenue more pedestrian friendly.

P&Z Chair Tom Turner said he thinks the plan would make the area more congested.

P&Z member Carl Pearman said the ordinance in question would require 90-degree parking, which many criticized because it requires drivers to back out into traffic when they leave. Welch said it is already mandated by an earlier ordinance.

Sidewalks in question

In the section of the ordinance that spells out sidewalks and pedestrian facilities, the proposed ordinance calls for sidewalks to be at least five feet wide and constructed to meet the city’s standards for accessibility codes. The director of public works will approve materials used in the construction of the sidewalks like the 250-sand that is said to stand up when used by bicyclists and people in wheelchairs while remaining permeable enough to slow flooding and absorb stormwater without silting over time and losing its permeability.

The ordinance would strike out permeable concrete for sidewalks, and Welch explained, “Permeable concrete silts over after a lot of use. The fact that I would only find four contractors who work with it should say something.”

Using 250 sand for a 10-foot-wide sidewalk did not set well with some of the board members. Wilson said she did not think bicyclists would want to use it.

Turner said he is not opposed to the wider sidewalk, but he is to the 90-degree parking.

“We need to get a professional transportation planner, somebody from off the Island, to come in and look at this concept,” he said. “This old man doesn’t get out and walk much anymore. As far as I’m concerned, let’s go back to parallel parking on both sides of the street.”

Welch said he would add some more sidewalk choices before returning the ordinance to the city commission.

When Coleman moved to accept the changes, Wilson, Margaret Chapman and Turner voted no. Pescitelli, Pearman and Coleman voted for it. Carol Carter was absent with an excuse, creating a tie, which meant members would not recommend passage of the ordinance by the city commission.

Finally, attorney Jeremy Anderson, of the law firm Lobeck and Hanson, sent a letter to the commission calling for Coleman to recuse himself and after the vote, Coleman said he was no longer a developer in the project and his vote would not make a difference in his income. He also talked about the work they were doing on the board and in the city commission.

“Our little town has a future,” he said. “Other towns are planning for the future and we need to make sure life is good for our seniors.”


Murder trial set for next year
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

file photo

William Cumber at a court appearance following the
disappearance of Sabine Musil-Buehler.

A docket sounding has been set for April 1, 2014 with a trial period reserved for April 14 through 21, 2014, in the second degree murder trial of William Cumber, who is accused of causing the death of Haley’s Motel co-owner Sabine Musil-Buehler.

That means certain deadlines have been set in the trial, including April 11, 2014, for scheduling the trial and an April 4, 2014, deadline for a negotiated plea. A docket sounding is a date when both sides come together to see if there is going to be a trial during the announced trial date.

Cumber was charged with second-degree murder after the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office finished its investigation of Musil-Buehler’s disappearance. Cumber told investigators he was probably the last person to see her alive.

Musil-Buehler was last seen Nov. 5, 2008. Her estranged husband, Tom Buehler, filed a missing persons report after the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office arrested Robert Corona who was driving her car. He told authorities she had given him the car, but later admitted he had stolen it from the parking lot of the Gator Lounge.

The deputy who made the stop went to 208 B Magnolia Ave. in Anna Maria and spoke with Cumber, who had been living at the address with Musil-Buehler. He said they had an argument over him continuing to smoke and she left Nov. 5. At that time, the deputy reported a strong smell of bleach in the apartment.

The probable cause affidavit for the murder charge states there was no record of activity in Musil-Buehler’s finances and no record of her going to Germany, her native country. The affidavit says Musil-Buehler is presumed dead.

The affidavit also says Cumber lied about his whereabouts earlier on Nov. 5. Authorities report earlier in the day Musil-Buehler and Cumber had an argument at the dentist’s office.

In addition, evidence in the house, gathered after it was vacated by Cumber, revealed blood belonging to Musil-Buehler and some blood belonging to Cumber.

Evidence shows somebody tried to clean the blood.

The affidavit also says, “Cumber made several incriminating statements that only the person responsible in Sabine’s death would have knowledge of.”

After Musil-Buehler disappeared, Cumber had to move out when the rent came due. Before that, there was a fire at Haley’s Motel. The cause of the fire has never been determined.

Musil-Buehler met Cumber while he was in prison serving time for setting a girlfriend’s house on fire. That was when they made plans to be together after Cumber was paroled. After the fire, Cumber left town and was caught out of the area, a violation of his parole. He was tried, convicted and sentenced to 13 years in prison.

An employee of Haley’s Motel said he talked with Musil-Buehler and she said she was planning to leave Cumber because of the on-again, off-again nature of the relationship.

The Manatee County Sheriff’s Office searched for clues in July 2011 on the beach near Gulf Boulevard, not far from where Musil-Buehler and Cumber shared the apartment, after a cell phone and a purse belonging to Musil-Buehler were found off Willow Avenue on the beach.

Detective John Kenney, the former head of the Sheriff’s Office Anna Maria substation, came out of retirement to handle a rash of murders, and he also headed the search and the investigation of Musil-Buehler’s disappearance.

Bring your socks to 2013 bowling tourney


Chris Smargisso holds up two of the three trophies
he won at the 2012 tournament.

We’ve already checked. You can’t bowl in flip-flops, and you’ll have to wear socks.

But if you want to party with the rest of the Island while raising money for the Anna Maria Island Community Center, you’ll have to wear bowling shoes and socks with them, and shoe rental comes with the $25 entry fee.

What a party it was last year and everybody’s ready for the 23rd Annual O’Conner Bowling Challenge at AMF Lanes, 4208 Cortez Road W., Bradenton, again on Saturday, Aug. 24. Sign in starts at 5 p.m., and bowling starts at 6 p.m.

Register now at Duffy’s Tavern.

Pre-registration is a must in order to guarantee a lane, and you never know if they’ll be sold out before you get there.

Once again, Mike and Katie O’Connor are handling the event after the previous generation, uncle Billy and dad George, set the stage. They promise a fun time, lots of raffles and another chance to humiliate yourself in front of your friends. Of course if you’re really brave, they have an award for the lowest game and series.

After the challenge, everyone reconvenes at the Anna Maria Oyster Bar at 6696 Cortez Road W. for the after-party with awards and raffle drawings, including one for a big-screen television donated by the Anna Maria Island Sun.

Mike O’Connor has inherited his father’s and uncle’s amazing ability to keep the audience in stitches by embarrassing their closest friends ands raffle winners. The show at the Oyster Bar after the tournament is better than late night TV, so why go home early?

Get on down to Duffy’s and after you finish that burger, slap some money down and reserve a spot in the off-Island event of the year.

For more information, call Sandee at 778-1908, ext. 9200, or e-mail

Vacations rentals damaged


The back window of an SUV and a second floor window
were damaged by a BB gun at a vacation rental in
Bradenton Beach, one of several rentals damaged last week.

Property damage at four Anna Maria Island vacation rentals was reported from Sunday, Aug. 4, through Tuesday, Aug. 6, according to police.

No injuries were reported, police said.

At 2310 Gulf Drive N. in Bradenton Beach, a second floor rental unit window and the rear window of an SUV were damaged on Tuesday night, Aug. 6, according to the Bradenton Beach Police Department. A BB was found in the window of a bedroom in the rental unit, which was occupied that night by a toddler, according to her parents.

A car window also was damaged nearby at Via Roma, 2408 Gulf Drive N., the same night, according to police.

The shooter probably was a kid or a group of kids having a last hurrah before school starts, Bradenton Beach Police Chief Sam Speciale said, adding that while BB guns are not illegal for kids to possess, some are equipped with CO2 cartridges that increase the velocity of a BB to the degree that it can penetrate a two-by-four piece of wood. Other models can be pumped by hand to increase the velocity, he said.

A vacation rental at 2819 Gulf Drive in Holmes Beach was shot into on Sunday, Aug. 4, according to Bob Chandonia, of Island Vacation Properties, which manages the rental.

Two nights later, on Tuesday, Aug. 6, a white Ford Expedition was damaged while parked at Sea Pirate Condos, 3303 Gulf Drive in Holmes Beach, Police Chief Bill Tokajer said, adding that officers on night patrol are on alert since the incidents.

Manatee County Sheriff’s Office deputies reported no similar crimes in Anna Maria.

Government cuts back hurricane prediction

More than two months into this year’s hurricane season and it has been a sleeper so far, but the U.S. is not out of the woods yet, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Although there have been four named storms so far, damage has been minimal because they haven’t hit the area, but the NOAA August prediction update says the peak of the season, from now to the end of October, has yet to come.

Gerry Bell, Ph.D., NOAA’s lead seasonal hurricane forecaster, said the forces that make it favorable for storm development have materialized, even though the latest storm in the Caribbean to form, Dorian, fell apart mainly due to wind shear earlier this month. Bell also said two of the four named storms so far have developed in the deep tropical Atlantic, which he said historically is an indicator of an active season ahead.

Like its first prediction, NOAA says there is a 70 percent chance for an above normal season, but it trimmed its prediction of named storms from 13-20 to 13-19; the number of hurricanes from 7-11 to 609; and the number of major (category 3 or higher) from 3-6 to 3-5.

The likelihood of La Nina winds developing has waned, which means wind shear won’t be present to prevent the storms from forming. Other factors are the lack of hurricanes through July, more variability in the wind patterns across the tropical Atlantic Ocean and slightly lower hurricane season model predictions.

But while that is a glimmer of hope for the season that ends Nov. 30, remember what Bradenton Beach Police Lt. and Safety Officer John Cosby said, “It only takes one storm to make it a bad season.”

Water notices in two areas


The affected area in Anna Maria is outlined in yellow.



The Manatee County Utilities Department has issued a precautionary boil water notice for customers on the north end of Anna Maria from Newton Lane to Crescent Drive from North Shore Drive to North Bay Boulevard on Wednesday, Aug. 14. Valve replacement is scheduled for that day and the water will be off from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Customers are advised that once service is restored, all water used for drinking or cooking should be boiled as a precaution. A rolling boil of one minute is sufficient or you can stock up on bottled water.

The notice will remain in effect until a bacteriological survey shows the water is safe, which is normally 24 to 48 hours.

The department also has issued a precautionary boil water notice for customers on 127th Street West to 128th Street West to Mariner’s Cove condos in Cortez, also on Wednesday, Aug. 14. The water will be shut off from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. for a cut in the line and residents will need to boil water up to 48 hours after service is restored.

Call 941-792-8811, ext. 5268, between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. or 941-747-4357 after 5 p.m. or on weekends.

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