The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 13 No. 50 - October 9, 2013


Causeway turns pink
Carol Whitmore

The sidewalk along Manatee Avenue was lined with
women, many in pink, to march for an
end to breast cancer.


HOLMES BEACH – They came on foot and by bicycle Saturday morning to help in the fight against breast cancer. It was the Fourth Annual Causeway for the Cause Saturday morning and the sidewalk was lined with mostly women, of all ages, wearing pink with a determination to wipe out this killer of women and men.

There were high school students belonging to their schools’ Reinaunce clubs and wearing dark shirts that read “Think Pink.” Others wore pink T-shirts.

A few brought dogs with them and when they got to one of the three turnaround stations, there were dishes of water for the pets as well a bottled water for the human.

The course started at Manatee County Beach and there was a turnaround at the 1 1/2-mile mark so their march back to the start measured three miles. The same was true at 2 1/2 miles and 4 miles.

Organizer Jamie Walstad said there were fewer participants this year, maybe due to other events like the Coastal Cleanup that had a check-in station along the route.



Brace for a flood of rate increases
Carol Whitmore


It doesn’t take much rain to make Island streets
like this one flood, and flood insurance rates
are rushing to catch up to the risk.



If you’ve been paying subsidized flood insurance rates, prepare to be swept away by big rate hikes going into effect this month.

The Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012 requires phasing out subsidized flood insurance rates on several types of properties in high-risk zones like Anna Maria Island.

Property owners who may not even know that they are paying artificially low, subsidized rates will be required to pay full risk rates immediately, which could mean triple digit percentage increases.

Those who will see the highest increases are owners of properties not covered by flood insurance as of July 6, 2012, when the act was passed; owners of properties purchased after July 6, 2012; and property owners whose flood insurance policies have lapsed, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

Other property owners will see their rates increase 25 percent a year until they reach the rates that accurately reflect their risk – owners of properties consisting of one to four residences that have sustained severe repetitive flood losses; commercial properties; and properties with flood claims that exceed the fair market value of the property.

Rates for subsidized non-primary residences (those that are not owner-occupied at least 80 percent of the year), such as vacation homes and vacation rentals, began increasing 25 percent annually on Jan. 1.

Policyholders who do not pay subsidized rates or who own primary residences also could have rate increases of 25 percent, but those increases will not necessarily be recurring.

Residential property owners without mortgages have the option to cancel their flood policies unless their homeowner or condominium associations require flood insurance, but FEMA requires those with mortgages to carry flood insurance if they are in a flood zone. The increases could hit condo owners twice – for their personal unit policies and their association policies, paid through association dues.

Flood program under water

The new law was designed to make FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program financially stable after its funds were drained paying for losses from hurricanes that devastated Louisiana, New Jersey and other states.

But it may have the opposite effect, Bradenton Beach Building Official Steve Gilbert said.

Rising rates will make it more attractive to pay cash for properties and avoid mortgage bank requirements for flood insurance, funneling even less money to FEMA, he said.

Another probable consequence of the rate increases is that “old Florida” ground floor cottages and bungalows will be torn down and replaced with buildings higher than existing elevated buildings on the Island in anticipation of new flood maps expected soon, he said, adding that height restrictions on the Island may become an issue if the new maps require buildings to be built higher.

If Congress doesn’t act to stop the increases, families who have had homes on Anna Maria Island for generations may find themselves having to sell, fueling the trend of residents leaving the Island and making way for more wealthy vacation rental investors, Gilbert said.

The rising rates likely will change the demographics of the Island, Manatee County Commissioner and Island resident John Chappie agreed, expressing frustration at the federal government shutdown, which coincided with the rate increases.

Florida officials including Gov. Rick Scott and Sen. Bill Nelson, and even the co-sponsor of the law, California Rep. Maxine Waters, have demanded relief from Congress, but the federal government shutdown has hindered progress. A lawsuit also was filed last week in federal court by Mississippi’s insurance commissioner asking to delay the rate increases.

Both FEMA and Nelson’s office phones were answered by voice mail messages last week apologizing for being unstaffed due to furloughs.

Consumers should contact their insurance agents for information on how to lower premiums.

Changes in the wind

Changes in wind insurance coverage also loom large.

State-run Citizens Property Insurance, which provides wind insurance to Floridians who cannot purchase insurance in the open market, is set to notify policyholders by Tuesday, Nov. 5 whether their policies may be cancelled, according to spokesman Michael Peltier.

Policyholders will have 30 days to decide whether to buy insurance from a private company or remain with Citizens, he said, adding that Citizens has more than 17,000 policyholders on the Island.

Renourishment set for December

While Bing Crosby sang of a white Christmas, Anna Maria Island will have its own version – new white sand along its beaches.

Manatee County Natural Resources Director Charlie Hunsicker unveiled the timing of the project at the Manatee Council of Governments meeting at the Bradenton Area Convention Center on Tuesday, Oct. 1.

Hunsicker, who said earlier that the county was seeking bids for the project, said Great Lakes Dredge and Dock was the low bidder for the two projects that will cover all the beaches on the Island. Great Lakes was the original renourishment company in the initial 1992 project and came back again 10 years later. The dredge used in those projects was the Illinois, a 220-foot-long barge that cuts into the seabed, sucks the sand up and propels it to the shore through a pipeline.

Hunsicker said he originally had said the renourishment would be performed in 2015 or 2016, but the federal government moved up the clock.

The availability for funds for the federal part of the projects was made possible by Hurricane Sandy, which was the deadliest and most destructive hurricane of the 2012 season and the second costliest hurricane in U.S. history. When it combined with another weather front in the Northeastern United States, the government nicknamed it “Superstorm Sandy.”

Hunsicker said the government responded to Sandy by awarding $130 million to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for Florida.

“Our project is expected to run from December through June of next year,” Hunsicker said. “It will cover beaches from Anna Maria to Longboat Pass when we piggyback the county’s project in the southern portion onto the federally funded project along the north. That will save us the $5 million or so for mobilization, in other words for them to show up.”

Hunsicker said the $20 million project would include funds for rebuilding the three groins that are decaying along Coquina Beach.

“I will be meeting with the city governments separately to explain the project,” he said. “I’ll have a full report in November.”

Hunsicker said after the project, the beaches would be equipped to handle future storms.

“This will give us 10 more years,” he said, “and if a storm hits during that time, the feds will come back in and do it again.”

Hunsicker said the county is also trying to reach a permanent agreement to dredge Longboat Pass on a regular basis and use the sand for both Longboat Key and Anna Maria Island projects.

“We’re looking to codify sand sharing between the two,” he said.

In addition, Hunsicker reported on efforts to build a replacement pier at Manatee County Beach.

“We are still studying the pier replacement,” he said. “The county has a high pier permit, but we’re still studying it.”

The county tore down the original pier a few years ago without plans or money for a replacement.


‘Reel’ friends move to help fire victims

ANNA MARIA – The manager of the Rod and Reel restaurant wants to move forward following a fire Monday morning, Sept. 30. Dave Cochran said he is waiting for insurance to pay for the damage from the fire before he starts to rebuild.

The fire started in the ground floor kitchen area, according to West Manatee Fire Rescue Fire Inspector Jim Davis, who said it appears the fire spread into the second floor area. He said the fire got inside the exterior walls, which made it extra difficult to find and extinguish.

Cochran said he did not have a dollar estimate of the damage nor did he know how long it would take to repair the popular eatery.

Meanwhile All Island Denominations and some local businesses are working to help the kitchen and wait staff members who are out of work until the restaurant reopens.

Roser Church Pastor Gary Batey has committed resources that the church group has set aside to help the needy.

“We’ve already begun to give out groceries,” he said. “We are set up to meet their specific needs as they need it.”

Batey said they can offer help paying their rent for a short period of time. He said he knows the timing of the fire was especially bad.

“It came at a time of the year when they are just trying to see it through to season,” he said. “It will be hard on them if there is a delay in starting up again.”

J&J Graphics owner Joan Carter has printed a number of T-shirts that took the ad for the eatery and rewrote it to include fire-related words. For instance, she put “scorched” in front of “jalapeño poppers,” “charred” instead of “blackened” grouper, the pier “smokin' ” hot dog, “extra hot" chicken wings, “roasted” instead of “fried” oysters and “seared” crab sandwich. Underneath, it says, “Reel help for friends.”

The Chiles Group has offered to hire some of the workers until the pier reopens.

The Island Flea Market is also getting on board. They will hold fundraisers on Sundays from 1 to 4 p.m. for the Rod and Reel staff.

Neighbors concerned about boathouse


This structure at 60 North Shore Drive may be the
last boathouse allowed in the city of Anna Maria.

ANNA MARIA – A house being built at 60 North Shore by Beach to Bay Construction raised eyebrows when workers started constructing a roof to go over a boat slip.

The home formerly on that lot had been used as a rental; Beach to Bay bought it, razed it and built the house that is nearly finished now.

According to Anna Maria City Planner Alan Garrett, the builder got a permit to build a boathouse shortly before the city banned them. Garrett said the structure wouldn’t have solid walls, only a solid roof, which would be safer in high winds. Building Official Bob Welch was on vacation last week and will look at it this week.

City Commissioner Chuck Webb said he has a problem with the building meeting setback requirements and whether they can build over the water.

“It looks like they own part of the canal through a quitclaim deed,” he said. “Quitclaim deeds only say, ‘I’ll sell you what I own,’ but the previous owner may not have had legal possession of that part of the canal. They need to do a full title search.”

Webb said he feels people should keep their eyes open.

“When they see something going wrong, they need to report it to the city,” he said. “If they have any problems with noise or anything else with renters, they also need to contact the city.”

Lots along Magnolia sold


This is the front elevation of a home that will be
built at 207 Magnolia. Other homes along the block
will be identical, according to the Anna Maria
Building Department.


ANNA MARIA – A long-time local family has sold five of the few undeveloped lots to a buyer known for developing rental houses.

The five lots, at 207 to 215 Magnolia Avenue, are located behind the old IGA, the commercial building that houses Ginny and Jane E’s, Body & Sol Spa, Island Yoga Space, Snips Hair Design and Island Yoga Space. The IGA building was not a part of the sale.

The lots belonged to Marie Franklin, John Cagnina and other relatives of the late Ernie Cagnina, who served as mayor of Anna Maria in the 1970s and ‘80s.

The developer, Beach to Bay Construction, has already filed plans for the homes with the city and reportedly wants to put down foundations as soon as possible, although Mayor SueLynn said she’s concerned about the land’s history of flooding. She said she would like to require the new owner to make provisions to make sure the stormwater does not run into the street during a storm.

“What’s going to happen when they block off a large space on those lots with foundations that can’t absorb the water,” she asked.

Only one of the lots has a structure on it now, an old wooden home that would have to be razed for one of the new homes.

The house plans show a lot size of 5,742 square feet and a footprint of 2,153 square feet for 37 percent of coverage. There would be room for four cars in the ground-level garage; the first liveable level would have three bedrooms and two bathrooms and decks on two sides; and the top level would have two bedrooms and two bathrooms. There is also a deck outside one of the bedrooms. The total amount of space under air conditioning is 2,265 square feet.

Anna Maria Building Official Bob Welch was on vacation last week and unavailable for comment.

Governments urged to sign resolutions

Anna Maria Mayor SueLynn and Holmes Beach City Commissioner Jean Peelen urged all of the governmental entities in Manatee County to pass a resolution that would return to cities the right to pass legislation that would affect rental properties within their boundaries.

The two Island women spoke last week at the Manatee County Council of Governments meeting at the Bradenton Area Convention Center. They said efforts to get a handle on out-of-control development of rental properties in their cities have stalled due to a piece of legislation passed in 2011. The law states: “A local law, ordinance, or regulation may not restrict the use of vacation rentals, prohibit vacation rentals or regulate vacation rentals based solely on their classification, use or occupancy.”

Peelen told the representatives from Manatee County and its cities and other governmental entities that the legislation has allowed developers to “bust neighborhoods” and build huge rental homes in residential communities.

“The law says if you don’t have provisions limiting what goes on in these neighborhoods with rentals, you can’t,” she said. “We want to repeal that law and we’re asking other governments to help support that repeal.”

SueLynn said Anna Maria does not have provisions to address rentals and she has met with members of our state delegation and found support, but she said the more governments that pass resolutions endorsing the repeal, the better. She said the prohibition is in the middle of a piece of legislation that has nothing to do with it.

Peelen said the law restricts cities’ rights to enact legislation within their borders, also known as home rule.

“I agree with you on home rule and the effect it’s having even in unincorporated Manatee County,” said Manatee County Commissioner Carol Whitmore, who is also the former mayor of Holmes Beach. “This is totally taking away home rule and it is something that needs to be tweaked.”

County Commissioner Michael Gallen said he wants to talk with Florida Sen. Bill Galvano to see if they could delete just the language pertaining to rentals.

When County Commission Chair Larry Bustle asked if there was a compromise they could reach, Peelen said no.

“Even if you could give the cities time to deal with it, it still takes away home rule,” she explained.

The two Island elected officials told the attendees that they had passed out a model resolution with their information packets that their governments could vote on. They got assurances that the resolution would be given to the county attorney for inclusion in a future meeting agenda.

Peelen said later that the city of Venice has passed the resolution.

Bayfest features wide array of music


Scott's Garage is one of the great local bands providing
music for this year's Bayfest. This band will play from 5:30
to 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 19 and there will be music
from 10 bands and individuals during the two-day
festival in Anna Maria.


ANNA MARIA – When the Bayfest celebration begins, so does the music, and there are several great local acts that will be playing and singing on the stage at the four lots on Friday, Oct. 18, from 5 to 10 p.m. and on Saturday, Oct. 19, from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Friday is generally a celebration of the end of the work week and it offers a chance to enjoy great shopping and food. After dinner, you might want to get out in the grass in front of the bandstand and dance.

DJ and performer Mike Sales will emcee Friday night and around 5:15 p.m., Dean Johanson plays until 6 p.m. Sales has a large collection of music and when he’s not spinning platters, he can pick up a guitar and sing. Johanson offers a wide array of songs from Led Zeppelin to Radiohead. The audience can sing along or not; dancing is optional.

Local favorite Steve Arvey, a/k/a Stone Crab Steve, plays from 6:15 to 7:30 p.m. He sings at the Bridgetender Inn and offers rock and roll trivia on Thursday evening. He has recorded 15 CDs and has toured the world.

KoKoRay and the Soul Providers finish the evening with rock and roll choices, jazz and standards that take advantage of KoKoRay's talent on horns and the guitar.

On Saturday, DJ and host Chris Grumley brings his talent to America from the United Kingdom. His glib patter and musical library will keep things going before, between and after performances.

Gulf Drive, featuring Bil Bowdish and Judy Lynn offering smooth sounds from the 1930s through today, will play from 10:15 to 11 a.m. They have been featured in fundraisers on the beach for the Anna Maria Island Community Chorus and Orchestra and they’re a crowd pleaser with Baby Boomers, who are still in abundance.

From 11:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m., Can’t Turn Left will entertain. Three locals, Olivia Ogles, Kevin Mendel and Ethan Bertrand, will fill the area with classic rock, blues and jazz.

Renegade takes the stage from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. for a big rock show from the 1970s to today. Great for those who remember Styx, Foreigner and .38 Special. Mike Sales and the Restless Native perform from 3 to 5 p.m. Sales shows his life-performance talents in addition to his DJ abilities.

Scott’s Garage performs from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. with a little bit of country and some rock and roll.

Shotgun Justice rounds out the schedule from 8 to 10 p.m. with classic rock, southern rock and country. You can tap your feet or you can get out in the field and dance the night away.

That’s the talent on the stage. In addition, there will be oldies from C.J. Lance at the car show and other tunes around the Anna Maria Island Historical Museum.

Take the trolley if you’re on the Island. If you drive from the mainland, you can park at CrossPointe Fellowship at the Anna Maria/Holmes Beach border and take the trolley. It’s free.

AMISUN ~ The Island's Award-Winning Newspaper