The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 14 No. 4 - November 20, 2013


INUNDATED New flood insurance rules leave public awash in confusion and skyrocketing rates
Carol Whitmore


A trickle of concern about rising flood insurance rates has turned into a torrent of Congressional bills and a court challenge seeking to delay, modify or abolish the law responsible.

The Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act phases out subsidized flood insurance rates to make the National Flood Insurance Program more financially sound.

The consumer outcry about the steep rate hikes it has caused prompted Florida Gov. Rick Scott and Attorney General Pam Bondi to file a brief in support of a Mississippi lawsuit against the law, stating in part:

“Florida’s citizens are particularly vulnerable to the harsh effects of FEMA’s arbitrary implementation of Biggert-Waters, in light of the large number of Florida properties insured by the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). Already, the premium quotes received by Florida policyholders are so high that many homes have become unaffordable, leaving homeowners to choose between foreclosure and sale to escape the crushing financial burden imposed by the NFIP rate increases. In many instances, however, sale is not a viable option because the new exorbitant premiums render the properties unaffordable to potential buyers.

This cycle has already begun to have a deleterious effect on the real estate markets and economy of the State of Florida.”

Outside the court system, Congress is working to undo what it did by passing Biggert-Waters.

The proposed Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act would postpone flood insurance rate increases required by Biggert-Waters on some, but not all, properties for about four years while FEMA develops a more affordable plan. It would also require FEMA to prove its mapping methods are sound.

Florida legislation has been proposed to allow insurers to create alternatives to NFIP policies during the delay, if the federal act is passed.

Another proposal in Congress, the Homeowners Flood Insurance Relief Act, would phase in rate increases over 10 years and allow homeowners to pay premiums on a monthly basis.

The Flood Insurance Premium Relief Act of 2013 would delay hikes for one year.

Other pending bills in Congress include The Responsible Implementation of Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2013 and the Flood Victim Premium Relief Act of 2013.


State to conclude Morris inquiry

The 12th Judicial Circuit State Attorney’s Office in Manatee County will announce its findings this week on the Sheena Morris case, a spokeswoman said Monday.

Morris’ body was found hanging from her dog’s leash in a Bradenton Beach hotel room shower on New Year’s Day 2009, after hotel guests called 911 during an argument between Morris and her fiancé, Joe Genoese.

Bradenton Beach Police Det. Lenard Diaz determined that her death was a suicide, but Morris’ mother, Kelly Osborn, rejected the conclusion, implicating Genoese.

Citing what she called inconsistencies including how her daughter got into the shower with sandy feet without leaving any sand on the shower floor, Osborn requested that the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) review the case, and took the case nationwide with television appearances on 20/20 and the Dr. Phil Show.

Genoese took and failed a lie detector test on the Dr. Phil Show, and maintained his innocence in Morris’ death both on that program and the subsequent 20/20 investigative program.

Bradenton Beach Police Chief Sam Speciale continues to support his officer’s conclusion of suicide, and has expressed sympathy for the victim’s mother and family.

The FDLE reviewed the case and forwarded the results to the State Attorney’s Office for a decision on filing criminal charges.

Spring bags fourth in World Food Competition
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story


Andrea Spring and Sam Major begin preparing
deserts entries in the World Food Competition.


Local pastry chef Andrea Spring, along with her assistant Sam Major, captured two, top-10 finishes last week at the 2nd Annual World Food Competition in Las Vegas, Nevada.

The two bakers represented the Sandbar Restaurant in the intense, highly competitive contest and came away with a fourth place and a ninth place.

More than 350 chefs, cooks and expert bakers from around the world went to “Sin City” to compete for more than $60,000 in prize money, major recognition and bragging rights.

Spring and Major competed in the desserts category going toe to toe against 26 other competitors. There were two parts to the first day of competition. For the begin ning of the first day, Spring made what she has dubbed the ‘Sandbar Crunch’, a combination of macadamia, pineapple and coconut infused with rum in a flaky homemade crust.

The second part of the first day of competition was the wild card round, in which cookies had to be used as an ingredient and the competitors had to make the cookies they were to use. They could either enter the cookies as their submission for the competition or create something else, such as a pie or cake, using the cookies they made.

Spring created a Kahlua Amaretto Pot de Crème, which is a coffee flavored custard ideal for dipping. She then created three different cookies to dip in the Kahlua Crème concoction. The three cookies were a Peanut Butter Crème, a Brownie Pillow, which is a brownie nestled inside a sugar cookie, and a Molasses cookie with tangerine icing.

Results were tallied after this first day and Spring and Major took a very respectable 4th place in the dessert category.

The second day was even more intense. Spring and Major had to go to the grocery store to get supplies. On the way there they received a phone call telling them their assigned competition time had been moved up. They only had about a half hour to get back to the competition. Frantic, Spring and Major made it back just to find out the time had changed again and they were not late. But they were not able to get the supplies they needed so they just had to wing it.

The challenge this day was to use a Dole fruit in their creation. Spring decided to use Dole cherries to create a Chocolate Mousse Cake with cherries marinated in amaretto with a rum vanilla infusion. The cake was three layers of mousse cake separated with one layer of chocolate rum mousse and a layer of cherry amaretto mousse all covered with chocolate ganache then garnished with chocolate piping, chocolate lightning bolts and chocolate covered cherries.

“These rounds of competition were, by far, the hardest rounds of any competition I have ever done,” Spring said. “The short amount of time we had for each part of the competition was a major factor.

“I also think I might have been a little bit over zealous with my competitive spirit,” she added. “I wanted to show how I could do something with a high degree of difficulty in a short period of time. Next time, I probably won’t try to do something so time consuming and so difficult. Even though I was very pleased with where we placed, I think we would have ranked higher if we would have kept things simpler.”

On the final day of the competition when the winners were announced Spring ended up placing ninth out of the 10 dessert category finalists.

Spring and Major were both happy to represent the Sandbar at this event.

“We are so grateful that (Sandbar owner) Ed Chiles has given us this opportunity,” she said. “The entire Sandbar staff has been so supportive and encouraging with everyone wishing us success at the competition.”

Said Chiles: “We are extremely proud of Andrea and Sam and how well they did at this level of competition. We are talking about the World Food Competition. To be able to place 4th and 9th at a competition this tough is a win. We look forward to trying all of Andrea’s creations at the Sandbar and invite everyone to join us by ordering from our dessert menu.”


BeachHouse renovation moves forward


The BeachHouse remains open while undergoing renovations.

BRADENTON BEACH – The city’s Planning and Zoning Board has unanimously granted conditional approval to the BeachHouse to add a double decker open air dining area to the Gulf front side of the restaurant.

The conditions are that the restaurant must definitively identify its seating capacity and submit parking schematics that adequately document the number of corresponding parking spaces.

Work is already underway, since the Bradenton Beach City Commission approved a temporary use permit in September to set up trailers and tents to serve as restrooms and the kitchen during the renovation.

“The big change is the new deck along the back,” said architect Barron Schimberg, of Schimberg Architectural Group of Sarasota, adding that the roof covers the entire deck, “giving everyone a chance to sit under a covered area.”

The design features louvered walls along the back of the deck intended to provide noise abatement for neighbors, he said.

Three staircases, a straight one in the center of the deck and a spiral staircase on each end, in addition to an elevator, will provide access to the second floor, he said.

Other changes include new siding, wood shutters, a reconfigured main entrance, adding a sign to the southeast corner of the building and adding turtle-compliant lighting, he said.

Parking questions

The board focused on required parking for the project.

The restaurant will not increase the number of seats from its present 525, City Planner Alan Garrett said, adding that the city does not require additional parking spaces for outdoor dining if it is not more than 50 percent of the restaurant’s use.

The 525 seats are being redistributed with 100 seats upstairs and fewer seats on the inside, Schimberg said, adding that the outside deck currently seats 150.

Board member John Burns questioned a discrepancy between the 525 seats in the request, the restaurant’s business tax receipt, filed with the city, which states the seating capacity as 632, and the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation’s records, which reflect 512 seats.

If the lowest number is correct, the city would conclude that the restaurant could decrease the number of its parking spaces, he said.

Project engineer Lynn Burnett said she would investigate and reconcile the three numbers.

Restaurant owner, the Chiles Group, completed a sand valet parking lot on the beach south of the restaurant in April; a lawsuit is pending against the city over the lot, alleging that the city commission’s approval was inconsistent with the city’s comprehensive plan, which prohibits parking on land designated for preservation.

Newly-elected Mayor Bill Shearon withdrew as a plaintiff in the lawsuit prior to taking the oath of office on Monday.

Neighbor’s concerns

Neighboring resident Mary Mohr, of 303 and 305 Highland Ave., told the board that the BeachHouse expansion would “take away 95 percent of my view of the Gulf of Mexico” and add to traffic congestion in the neighborhood.

The music from the restaurant patio already can be heard at her property, she said.

“I thought the city would protect my quiet enjoyment,” Mohr said, adding that the city “seems to be creating a Coney Island culture, not the beach town where I bought property."

The Planning and Zoning Board “is a very important committee with the responsibility to protect the long-term interests of the taxpayers in Bradenton Beach,” she said.

Garrett told the board that the project is not in conflict with the city’s land development code and is not increasing the number of seats, “so there's no additional trip generation,” he said.

A proposed noise ordinance months in the making is expected to be considered by the commission by the end of the year.

Carleton arrested on state charge

HOLMES BEACH – An Island real estate agent under investigation for his professional practices was arrested Tuesday, Nov. 12, for acting as a real estate broker without a license.

Michael P. Carleton, 61, was taken into custody in the morning and immediately bonded out. The Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation, Division of Real Estate ordered the arrest. A complaint filed by Bruce Nelson, of Massachusetts, caused the investigation.

Carleton has been the subject of allegations that he took money from prospective vacationers as down payment for a room or rental house and told them shortly before they were due to come to the Island that the room would be unavailable. Carleton allegedly would take a long time to return the customers’ money, if at all. Detective Sgt. Brian Hall said the Holmes Beach Police Department had received more than 60 complaints from customers and he turned over his investigation May 1 to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the U.S. Department of Justice.

His real estate license was revoked by the state March 7 after he put money from a customer into a business account of his, not an escrow account.

Carleton has been sued by two former customers and another has pressed charges. The Manatee County Tax Collector has also filed legal action to collect bed tax money for short term rentals that were not paid to the county.

Tampa-based postal inspector Alexandra Papageorge is investigating the cases against Carleton and she said she hopes to have a presentation to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the near future.

Vacation rental project denied

BRADENTON BEACH – The Planning and Zoning Board has unanimously denied a request to add vacation rentals at 114 Third St. S. in back of a proposed 60-seat open air restaurant and four-store retail project at 119 Bridge St.

The denial is a recommendation that will be considered by the city commission, which approved developer Michael Hynds’ proposed restaurant/retail project as a planned unit development in May after previously denying it based on parking concerns.

Matt Morris, the project’s engineer, requested adding vacation rental condominium units on the second floor at 114 Third St. S. with parking spaces underneath for renters and employees.

Hynds had previously proposed using the site for parking spaces for the retail project.

Parking spaces are not required for open air dining seats, but one space is required for each of the four retail shops, said City Planner Alan Garrett, adding that the city also requires that the developer provide a shuttle cart and loading area.

When asked about potential noise impacts from the parking area, Morris responded that it would not be an enclosed garage.

The Third Street property, on the north side of the street, is zoned commercial, with residential on the south side, Garrett said.

The request also included setback variances on three sides and a plan to reorient the restaurant to front Bridge Street instead of facing west.

Board members agreed that the request increased the intensity of the project and would exacerbate parking problems if approved, and found that the project “will not be compatible with the purpose of the district, will not comply with all elements of the comprehensive plan,” and “will result in substantial economic or other impacts on other properties,” among other findings.

The city’s lack of parking requirements for open air dining is a recurring theme in Bradenton Beach, and “may need to be tweaked,” board member John Burns said, suggesting that it be brought up at the next meeting, Wednesday, Dec. 11, at 3 p.m. at city hall, to agree on a recommendation to make to the city commission.

Trolleys to roll on holiday




The Anna Maria Island Trolley and the Beach Express to and from the Island will continue normal routes on Thursday and Friday, Nov. 28 and 29. The connecting Longboat Key Trolley will be suspended on Thursday, Nov. 28, and will resume operation on Friday, Nov. 29. Manatee County Area Transit (MCAT) announced the regular mainland route and the Handi Bus service will not operate on Thursday but will resume operation Friday.

In addition, the county’s passive parks, preserves and beaches will be open during the Thanksgiving holiday.





Churches serve on Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is the time for giving thanks for all we have and those who are on vacation here will be looking for a place to worship. Some of the Island’s churches will be offering services on Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 28, and all of them will be participating in the All Island Denominations service on Sunday, Nov. 24, at 7 p.m. at the Episcopal Church of the Annunciation. A choir made up of all the churches will provide music and the Rt. Rev. Michael Garrison, retired Bishop of New York, now a local resident, will lead the service. There will be a reception following the service. Everyone is invited to attend.

Roser Memorial Community Church will also be serving a dinner for those who don’t want to cook but want to share a meal will friends and family. That meal starts at 2 p.m. and you need to make reservations by calling the church at 941-778-0414 during regular business hours. If your plans change, please notify the church so they can serve someone else.

Here’s a rundown of the schedules.

• CrossPointe Fellowship, 8605 Gulf Drive, Anna Maria, 941-778-0719, t no service is planned.
• Episcopal Church of the Annunciation, 4408 Gulf Drive, Holmes Beach, 941-778-1638. No services Thursday.
• Gloria Dei Lutheran Church, 6608 Marina Drive, Holmes Beach, 941-778-1813, will have a Thanksgiving worship at 9:30 a.m.
• Harvey Memorial Community Church, 300 Church St., Bradenton Beach, 941-779-1912. No Thanksgiving day services reported.
• Roser Memorial Community Church, 312 Pine Ave., Anna Maria, 941-778-0414, is having a 10 a.m. service as well as the 2 p.m. Thanksgiving dinner.
• St. Bernard Catholic Church, 248 S. Harbor Drive, Holmes Beach, 941-778-4769, will have a Thanksgiving Mass at 8:30 a.m. Attendees are asked to bring a can of food for the food bank.

AMISUN ~ The Island's Award-Winning Newspaper