The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 14 No. 17 - February 19, 2014


Renourishment to continue
Carol Whitmore

The dredge california takes sand from the dark
rectangular area in this photo
and pumps it up onto Anna Maria Island’s beaches.


BRADENTON BEACH – Somewhere near 15th Street South, the federally funded renourishment project is expected to end and a new project to recoat Coquina and Cortez public beaches will begin.

Because of last-minute talks with contractor Great Lakes Dredge and Dock, that changeover is expected to be more or less seamless.

Manatee County Natural Resources Director Charlie Hunsicker and Coastal Planning and Engineering Senior Vice President Rick Spadoni participated in negotiations since Great Lakes warned it might leave the area for another job and might not return. Great Lakes and the few remaining other contractors who do renourishments have been busy along the east coast thanks to Tropical Storm Debby and Hurricane Sandy, which produced winds and waves that scoured the beaches leaving them low on sand in many areas.

The first phase of the renourishment project this year is financed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and directed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The second phase will be financed by Florida and Manatee County. The county funds come from the bed tax driven by tourism.

Hunsicker and Spadoni addressed the Manatee Board of County Commissioners the day after the talks. Spadoni told the commissioners the county will save up to several million dollars on mobilization if Great Lakes stays to finish the entire job.

There had been some criticism of the fact that the second leg of the job did not go through the regular bid process, and Hunsicker said there was no assurance that Great Lakes would get the bid, and if they didn’t, the county would have to pay mobilization expenses to get another contractor in.

The cost for keeping Great Lakes appears to be expensive. The second leg was expected to cost $3 million, but that cost has gone up to $5.1 million. Great Lakes will have 75 days to finish the job and should be done way before then, as long as the weather is good, according to Hunsicker.

After explaining the situation to the county commission, Commissioner Carol Whitmore moved to approve the money to finish the job. Commissioner John Chappie seconded the motion, and the commission voted unanimously for it.


Barefoot Tiki gets OK for food service

HOLMES BEACH – The food business may soon be booming at the Barefoot Tiki Bar and Café after commissioners approved a plan to screen the mobile kitchen to allow its use.

Owner Nicole Heslop previously was using a self-contained food trailer to prepare and serve food to customers. However, the city shut down the food trailer in December, and Heslop was told she must comply with a host of requirements for food preparation and outdoor dining.

Building Official Tom O’Brien told the board at last week’s work session that he had a “productive meeting” with Heslop and they came to an agreement.

“In Phase I, Nicole is to construct a screening enclosure for the mobile kitchen consistent with the architecture of the building,” O’Brien reported. “I think that will address the intent of the code.”

He said the other issue is the outdoor dining. He said Heslop has a permitted restaurant, but usually the outdoor dining is an accessory use to the restaurant. In this case the outdoor dining is the primary use.

Phase II

In Phase II of the agreement, city officials plan “to draft a special exception to enable an expansive outdoor entertainment venue which shall include stipulations ... ”

“For Nicole, time is of the essence,” Commissioner Jean Peelen stressed. I’m delighted with the remedy.”

Chair Judy Titsworth asked if the is enough parking, and O’Brien responded, “She alleges to have parking sufficient for enough parking for 100 persons. When we get the survey tomorrow, we’ll confirm that. She asserts they have 57 parking spaces.”

Titsworth and Commissioner David Zaccagnino said they are concerned about opening the door to other food trucks and carts in the city or on the beach.

Petruff said the Tiki Bar is in a C-3 zone and certain uses are allowed, but site plan review by the commission is required. For special exception uses, additional criteria must be met, and a site plan review also is required.

“Right now, we have mobile kitchens in the field for all the events,” Petruff pointed out. “Doing a special exception for Nicole will be a test case.

“It’s a good approach to work this out. For the long term, I would recommend a global change to the land development code.”

O’Brien said he wanted affirmation from the board, and commissioners gave their approval.

Fox medals in DAR awards
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story


From left, Kathy Doddridge, of the Manatee Chapter
of the Daughters of the American Revolution, award
recipient Suzi Fox, director of Anna Maria Island Turtle
Watch and Shorebird Monitoring, Manatee County
Commissioner John Chappie and Sharon Spry, regent
of the Manatee Chapter of the DAR.

BRADENTON – The Manatee Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution presented Suzi Fox with the DAR’s National Conservation Award and Medal as director of Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch and Shorebird Monitoring.

Kathy Doddridge of the DAR presented the awards on Friday morning at the American Legion Post, 2000 75th St. W., saying that Fox drew her into Turtle Watch as a volunteer with her enthusiasm.

Fox is thorough, dedicated, conscientious, fair-minded, attentive to residents, businesses and visitors alike, is a skilled negotiator, and is inspiring, Doddridge said, enumerating her many accomplishments with Turtle Watch, including creating turtle lighting laws, facilitating beach renourishment, creating education programs and adding shorebird monitoring to the group’s responsibilities.

“It’s such an honor,” said Fox, who has served as Turtle Watch director since 1996, crediting her success to her mother, both in her upbringing and the fact that Turtle Watch filled a void for Fox after her mother’s death.

The mission of the group is to protect the Island’s waters and its creatures and balance that with the interests of people, she said, briefing the group on the 28-year history of Turtle Watch.

She recalled her first job as a volunteer, “holding the umbrella for the men” as they worked on the beach, and recounted the development of its educational programs and how recordkeeping of Anna Maria Island’s sea turtles has improved since it began in 1982 with 45 nests counted.

Last year was the biggest crop of hatchlings ever, with 370 nests, she said, crediting beach renourishment with the increase in nesting. In all, Turtle Watch claims 259,443 hatchlings have made it to the sea from the Island since recordkeeping began.

Fox thanked Manatee County Commissioner John Chappie for helping her pass the Island’s first turtle lighting ordinance when he was mayor of Bradenton Beach. She also congratulated her 90 volunteers for their dedication and assistance in creating educational beach talks.

“I love my life today,” she said.

Cortez festival best ever

cindy lane | sun

Nathan Meschelle, of Bradenton Beach, demonstrates
netmaking at Cortez Bait and Seafood.

The historic fishing village of Cortez played host to about 25,000 people last weekend who were drawn to the 32nd Annual Cortez Commercial Fishing Festival to enjoy maritime history, seafood, art and music.

The Florida Institute for Saltwater Heritage (FISH) presented awards to Shannon Perkins for her artwork depicting the slogan of this year’s T-shirt, “Wishin’ I was Fishin.’ ” They also presented a Pioneer Award to Mercedes Campbell, community service awards to Mark Green for manning the FISH website and Rocky von Hahmann for festival assistance, and to the late Sam Bell, of the Cortez Village Historical Society, accepted by his wife, Kaye Bell.

FISH uses festival proceeds to expand and restore the FISH Preserve east of the village on Sarasota Bay.

- Cindy Lane

Mayor takes steps to clear streets

ANNA MARIA – Mayor SueLynn has taken steps to help residents who have to avoid construction vehicles in the street to get around.

The mayor sent out a notice to contractors and construction workers that Manatee County Sheriff’s Office deputies are issuing warnings on any vehicle that is parked facing the wrong direction and with tires on the pavement.

City law requires vehicles to be parked off the pavement and facing the same direction as the traffic flow and SueLynn said she has received a number of complaints from residents who have to dodge trucks and trailers parked on the streets in the residential areas.

According to the note, those warnings will be replaced by $30 tickets to anyone violating the parking laws, whether all day or just for a short time. The only exception will be large, oversized vehicles delivering materials or equipment to a site that temporarily must park in a manner that partially obstructs the street and flow of traffic, according to the notice.

If anyone wants to discuss this policy, they may call the mayor at 708-6130, ext. 21.

At a work session Thursday night, Feb. 13, the city commission discussed the problem of construction workers damaging city property in the rights of way. SueLynn said she wanted the city to develop a construction-staging plan.

Commission Dale Woodland said contractors should pay for any damages, but Building Official Bob Welch said the rights of way they have will change in the future.

“We have swales along some of the streets and we might want to replace a regular right of way with a swale,” he said. “We might want to use 250 mix sand instead of sidewalks.”

SueLynn said it might be a good idea to take pictures of the rights of way before a construction project begins.

Commission Chair Chuck Webb said he wants the city to withhold future building permits to builders who don’t fix their damages but City Attorney Jim Dye said it would be better to withhold the certificate of occupancy. That way the homeowner would not be able to move in and would apply pressure on the builder to fix the problem.

The commission agreed to discuss the subject further at another work session.

Mayor finds fault with e-mails

ANNA MARIA – Mayor SueLynn says an e-mail being circulated in the vacation rental business is stirring up trouble.

While SueLynn and Holmes Beach City Commission Jean Peelen have been successful in getting the state legislature to consider repealing the ban on regulating only rentals, the e-mail circulated by Joe Varner, of Anna Maria Vacations, in Holmes Beach is full of misleading comments.

Varner’s e-mail says SueLynn, Anna Maria Commissioner Chuck Webb Peelen and Holmes Beach Mayor Carmel Monti have persuaded Florida Senator John Thrasher (Rep) to write a bill that would repeal the prohibition.

“That’s not true,” SueLynn said. “I have never met Senator Thrasher, although I am grateful for his support.”

Varner’s e-mail said if the ban is repealed, it would leave the door open to instituting a 30-day minimum stay for rental homes.

“Nine months ago, the city of Anna Maria, unannounced at a regular board meeting of commissioners and the mayor, vote change (sic) all rentals to a 30-day minimum and it passed unanimously,” Varner’s e-mail said. “Fortunately, their attorney stepped in and had them reverse this as it was illegal but if they gain the power to do so, well…”

SueLynn said that accusation is untrue.

“You can look that up in the meeting minutes,” she said. “We’re trying to find a balance between the rental industry and the quality of life on the Island and his e-mail is doing just the opposite.”

Dog park improvements detailed

Based on input from dog park users at a recent town hall meeting, Mayor Carmel Monti has decided on the following improvements:

• Extend the fence out to the bollards adjacent to the small dog park and replace the rotted uprights with aluminum pipe;

• Remove signs and poles in the small dog park to allow the dogs to run safely;

• Place pavers around the new small dog park structure and create a 4-foot-wide path to the gate;

• Adjust the fence on the ball park side to fit tightly to the ground to prevent little dogs from escaping the park;

• Create a memorial board for the park;

• Install canine drinking devices that will not stagnate or spread microorganisms harmful to dogs;

• Install netting for the fence at the ball park to catch balls that overtop the fence.

Donations earmarked for the dog park have been and will continue to be used for improvements and maintenance of the areas.

More objections raised in Mainsail agreement

HOLMES BEACH – For the fifth time since December, Mainsail’s settlement agreement with the city will be back to the city commission for approval on Feb. 25 after objections were raised at last week’s meeting.

Since the second of two mediation sessions in September, the company and commission have been refining the company’s plan to build guest units, a lodge and restaurant near the corner of Gulf and Marina drives.

The first objection came from Chair Judy Titsworth, who said the drawing showed Building E on the property line of the adjacent shopping center. She suggested delaying the vote until Mainsail officials modify the site plan “because I was uncomfortable having that as an exhibit showing it on the property line.”

City Attorney Patricia Petruff said she could add a sentence stating that there must be a 10-foot setback and a 5-foot buffer.

Titsworth said that the lodge formerly was two stories over parking, but is now three stories with no parking underneath. However, Mainsail Development Manager Brian Check said that the lodge has not changed since the mediation.

Sunrise Lane

West Manatee Fire Chief Andy Price told the board that after he and Deputy Fire Marshal Jim Davis inspected the site plan, they are satisfied with the company’s plan for a fire lane circling the parking lot near Sunrise Lane. It would be completely on Mainsail’s property, eliminating the use of Sunrise Lane for emergency access, which has been an issue with neighbors.

“If we’re OK with the fire access and if they made the lodge three stories, but it meets our height limits and number of units, why do we care?” asked Commissioner Jean Peelen.

“To keep you informed,” Titsworth replied.

Project neighbor Dan Howe said he had no objection to the current plans as long as there is no access from Sunrise Lane, but asked that language regarding the street be taken out of the agreement.

“The city has absolutely no jurisdiction over Sunrise Lane,” Howe stressed. “It is a private matter. This is something the city has no business meddling in.”

Petruff said she has no problem taking out the language, but Mainsail officials must agree. Commissioners Peelen, David Zaccagnino and Marvin Grossman agreed that it should be removed.

Deed language

Grossman asked why language regarding “Wachovia lease parcels” is in the agreement, and Petruff replied, “This is the legal description from their bill of sale. This is what they bought.”

“They never had a valid lease (with the bank),” Grossman protested. “How can we approve something they don’t own?”

“It’s part of their deed,” Petruff stressed. “If you have long term rights to a lease, it can be transferred. You don’t know what lease this might be talking about.”

Grossman and Zaccagnino urged the board to vote on the agreement, but Titsworth objected because Howe and another neighbor, Lance Spotts, had just gotten a copy of the site plan that night.

“I am concerned that there is a new exhibit B (site plan) given to the city yesterday,” Petruff pointed out. “There are other interested parties.

“We need to give all of them the benefit of having all the final documents. It’s in everyone’s best interest to continue it.”

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