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Vol. 17 No. 7 - November 30, 2016


Planning board to limit bedrooms, habitable space

BRADENTON BEACH – The Planning and Zoning Board has forwarded its recommended vacation rental regulations to the City Commission and is now setting its sights on limiting the size, shape and configuration of vacation rentals built in the future.

The board members discussed some of these concepts during the three-hour meeting that took place on Monday, Nov. 21. The board will resume these discussions at 12:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 30.

At the request of board member Jim Lynch, Nov. 30 meeting will also include discussion on the possibility of recommending the city commission adopt an eight-person occupancy limit for vacation rentals permitted and built after the current six-month building moratorium expires.

During the Nov. 21 meeting, the board engaged in preliminary discussion on a number of possible amendments to the land development code (LDC), working from a list of suggestions created by board member Reed Mapes, with assistance provided by City Planner Alan Garrett.

Many of the proposed measures are aimed at limiting and reducing the number of bedrooms allowed.

In reference to the citizen-initiated building moratorium recently approved by city voters, Mapes said, “There were 590 voters in the city who cared enough to vote, and of those 590, 444 voted for the referendum. That’s a 75 plus percent number of the voters of our city who said they wanted only four bedroom houses in the community.

"Now that’s not necessarily what the referendum was – it was to not let anybody build more than that now – but I take that personally as saying that the people in this community don’t want more than four bedrooms.”

Mapes is suggesting that new residential structures be limited to four bedrooms, with a possible exception granted to those who sign a binding agreement that says the property cannot be used as a vacation rental. Board Chair John Burns questioned whether this would subject the city to Bert Harris claims due to the devaluation of a property’s worth if limited to four bedrooms.

Revisiting a previously discussed proposal, Mapes reiterated his support for a minimum bedroom size of 120 square feet, which in theory would help limit the number of bedrooms that could be built.

Mapes advocated for a bedroom area ratio that would limit the percentage of a new home that could be used for bedrooms and a floor area ratio that would limit the total habitable area of all floors of a structure and mandate that no more than 33 percent of the habitable space could be located on the higher living level. He also suggested reducing the number of residential units allowed per acre.

It was noted that some of these changes could result in existing properties becoming non-conforming, which would then limit the ability to redevelop properties in a city where redevelopment far outweighs new development on vacant land.

Mapes suggested that all parking surfaces be pervious pavers or something similar, and not grass, gravel or shell. Burns countered by pointing out that he and many others bought their properties in part because they were not located in deed restricted communities. He said making these types of changes to the parking requirements would subject property owners to deed restricted community-like provisions.

No final recommendations were made during the Nov. 21 meeting, and these discussions are expected to continue into December as well. Public input is allowed at planning board meetings and potentially impacted property owners are encouraged to share their opinions on the potential LDC amendments being discussed. The planning board meetings take place at city hall.

Kidney donation: a life changing experience
Carol Whitmore


From left, Foster Yates and Chris Culhane share a moment.


“Chris saved my life; it’s a miracle,” Foster Yates said of his friend, Chris Culhane, who gave Yates a kidney in a life changing operation in September.

Yates was on the transplant list and in dialysis three days a week for five hours a day, when Culhane offered his kidney to save Yates’ life. After extensive testing and receiving approval from the transplant committee at Piedmont Hospital in Atlanta, the pair traveled there for surgery in September.

“Foster’s family was there for the surgery, and I met some of them for the first time,” Culhane recalled. “The surgery took a couple of hours, and afterward we were in recovery rooms next to each other.

“Then I heard yelling and someone said, ‘He’s coding.’ His heart had stopped, but the doctors revived him. When he got out of intensive care, he came to my room and we were able to visit.”

His girlfriend, Amy Agramonte, who was with him the whole time, said, “This is one really incredible show of humanity. It was amazing to witness.”

Leaving the hospital

After leaving the hospital, Culhane was able to take in an Atlanta Braves game before heading to Agramonte’s Miami home for a week to recover. Then it was back to work as facilities manager at The Center of Anna Maria Island.

“I would absolutely do it again,” Culhane said, “The need is so great,”

“It’s a pay it forward moment in the biggest way possible. He gave somebody life,” Agramonte added. “The reward is the closest thing we get to magic. There are two people bound for life in a special way.”

Yates spent four days in the hospital before heading to Tennessee to recover, and he said, “It took a few weeks to fully recover from the surgery but the real recovery process is for life.

“Every two weeks I go to Atlanta for a checkup. After six months, I go every month, and after a year, every six months.”

Yates said he now has a second chance on life and feels good about the future. He and his brother held a benefit for kidney transplant patients in Ameila Island in October and raised $2,500. He is currently planning to return to work.

“It is absolutely amazing; Chris saved my life,” he declared. “I feel like a totally different person. My life is great.”

Yates said he and Culhane keep in regular contact and check on each other. They and their families plan to meet in Bradenton for the Christmas holiday.

AMICCO Holiday concert features Handel’s Messiah

Internationally known vocalists will perform at the Anna Maria Island Concert Chorus & Orchestra’s holiday offering on Sunday, Dec. 11, at 2 p.m. at CrossPointe Fellowship, 8605 Gulf Drive, Holmes Beach. There have been “Messiah” sing-a-longs and performances of “Messiah” excerpts, but a performance of all of the great and memorable moments in the entire oratorio are rare in concert repertory.

AMICCO will perform Handel’s most famous oratorio that celebrates the birth, the life and the gift of Christ. Daniel Gerdes will perform “Comfort ye, comfort ye my people“ and “Ev’ry valley shall be exalted," and then the chorus follows immediately with “And the glory, the glory of the Lord.” With that you will be carried musically through this amazing work.

Soloists are:

• Daniel Gerdes, performing as tenor soloist. Gerdes, a native of Islip, N. Y., made his international debut as Paride in Gluck’s Paride ed Elena with Opera Piccola Bremen in Germany and has since performed both internationally and nationally including the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, the Merola Opera Program at San Francisco Opera, and with the New York City Opera.

• AMICCO soprano Joy Leitner takes the soprano lead in Messiah. She has performed extensively in the Opera Theatre, the Kentucky Opera, and as a soloist with the well-acclaimed Louisville Orchestra..

• Robyn Rocklein, mezzo soprano, alto, is known for her vibrant and flexible voice and has appeared as a soloist in England, Austria, Germany, and throughout the USA. Most recently hailed in the Orlando Sentinel for her "winningly devilish Carmen" who brought a "richness of tone in Carmen's arias.”

• Joseph Ryan, baritone, has performed with Central City Opera, Sarasota Opera, Opera Theatre of Lucca, Italy, the Cincinnati May Festival, and Cincinnati Opera. Credits include the Father in Hansel and Gretel (Opera Naples), Monterone in Rigoletto (St. Petersburg Opera), Mozart’s Requiem (Charlotte Symphony Orchestra), Brahms’ Liebeslieder Walzer (Encore Chamber Music Series), and an appearance with Opera Tampa’s Vocal Arts Festival in its concert of works by Carlisle Floyd, presented by the composer.

AMICCO also will present at this concert a composition of holiday songs arranged by Leonard Murphy made possible by a grant from the Woman’s Exchange, Inc.

Season tickets and single concert tickets are available at, by phone at 401- 812-2468, or at the Anna Maria Island Chamber, 5313 Gulf Drive, Holmes Beach and, if still available, at the door.

Maro seeks vacant seat


joe hendricks | SUN

Marilyn Maro has been attending city meetings
in order to gain a better understanding
of the city government and the issues
being dealt with.

BRADENTON BEACH – The agenda for the Thursday, Dec. 1, City Commission meeting calls for the appointment and swearing in of a new Ward 2 commissioner.

The sitting commission members must appoint someone to fill the seat vacated earlier this month by Ed Straight after he term-limited out of office. Mayor Bill Shearon and commissioners Ralph Cole, Jake Spooner and John Chappie will nominate and try to reach consensus on the next Ward 2 commissioner. They must also appoint one of the members to succeed Straight as vice-mayor.

As of Friday, Marilyn Maro was the only person to submit an application for the commission seat. Now in her early 70s, Maro has lived in Bradenton Beach and Ward 2 for nearly 19 years. She is a retired cosmetologist and cosmetology instructor, and she previously owned two salons in her former home state of Ohio.

Maro knows Shearon and Chappie, but she said she does not have close ties to them or any other current or former commission members.

“I want to be on the commission to give back to the community and give support where it’s needed. I want to represent the residents because they need to be heard, and their quality of life needs to be protected,” she said.

When asked what she would bring to the commission, she said, “Fairness and honesty. And I know what it’s like to own a business and be a teacher,” she said.

Maro’s application included several letters of reference, including one from Lynn Selander.

“I have known Marilyn for seven years as a neighbor on Avenue B. I have been impressed with Marilyn’s insight into our community problems and her willingness to reach out to neighbors to resolve these issues. Marilyn will represent the voters in our ward honorably and ensure that our voices are heard on the issues affecting our lives,” Selander wrote.

Maro has never served in public office or on any city boards or committees, but she has attended almost every City Commission, Planning and Zoning Board and Community Redevelopment Agency meeting in the past few months.

She cited the building moratorium, vacation rental regulations, management of the anchorage and flooding and drainage as issues she would like to help address.

If appointed Thursday night, Maro would then participate in the commission’s first formal discussion on the vacation rental regulations recommended by the Planning and Zoning Board.

“They just need to have a few rules so everybody’s on the same page,” Maro said.

She feels rental agents and owners could help by making guests aware of city regulations pertaining to noise, parking and the other quality of life issues.

“I don’t think the people coming here know what’s expected of them, but they’re in a neighborhood, not a hotel,” she said.

If appointed, Maro would participate in the decision on whether to accept the planning board’s recommended vacation rental occupancy limit of two persons per bedroom plus two additional guests, or follow the city of Anna Maria’s lead in seeking an eight-person occupancy limit on future construction.

When asked where she stands on that matter, Maro said, “I have to have more information. I don’t know how they’d really be able to enforce it. That’s a hard call.”

She was also asked whether she favors increased police enforcement or a managed mooring field to help address concerns about the unmanaged anchorage near the Historic Bridge Street Pier.

“I think they need both. They need a mooring field that is controlled, and they need the police to go out and check on things,” Maro said.

When asked where she stands on allowing medicinal marijuana dispensaries in Bradenton Beach, she said. “I’d rather really not see it in the city limits. I’d think it would be better off the Island.”

Former commissioner fined

joe hendricks | SUN

Former City Commissioner Janie Robertson has resolved
an elections complaint that was filed against her last year.

BRADENTON BEACH – The Florida Elections Commission has fined former Bradenton Beach City Commissioner Janie Robertson $75 for violations she committed during her unsuccessful bid for reelection in 2015.

In response to a complaint filed last year by former Mayor Jack Clarke, the Elections Commission, in August, notified Robertson that it had found probable cause to believe that she had violated Florida statute on four counts:

• Certifying that a campaign financial report was true, correct and complete when it was not;

• Failing to report a campaign contribution;

• Deliberately failing to include required information on her report.

• Falsely reporting information on her report.

The allegations pertained to a campaign mailing in which Robertson and mayoral candidate Bill Shearon mailed their separate campaign letters to city voters in the same shared envelopes. Robertson’s failure to report the shared mailing expenses on her campaign report were listed in the complaint Clarke filed after the November 2015 elections that resulted in a tied mayor’s race that was later settled in Shearon’s favor by cutting for the highest card.

Dated Oct. 21, 2016, the Election Committee’s final consent letter said Robertson agreed that she claimed the campaign report was true, correct and complete when it was not and that she failed to report a campaign contribution.

The consent order states that the violations may have been committed unknowingly, “but all elements of the violations can be proven by clear and convincing evidence.”

Although she was running against Ralph Cole, who later won the Ward 3 commission seat Robertson held at the time, her campaign letter contained many negative statements about Clarke and expressions of support for Shearon, his mayoral challenger. In his complaint, Clarke also alleged that Robertson’s campaign letter contained false statements about him. The Elections Committee issued no findings on that allegation.

“Janie Robertson served four, non-consecutive, elected terms on the Bradenton Beach City Commission. There is no excuse for the malicious campaign she waged in 2015 without regard for Florida statutes regarding the election process,” Clarke said of the final findings he received last week.

“Her disregard for the statutes and regulations surrounding the election process are indicative of her overall attitude toward her responsibilities and the citizens she was sworn to serve. Voters should seriously consider the foregoing of any initiative or pronouncement that carries Janie Robertson’s name,” he added.

After receiving the notice of findings of probable cause earlier this year, Robertson scoffed at an investigative process that required the expenditure of time and resources by a state agency, but was expected to result in only a minimal fine.

CRA board expands

joe hendricks | SUN

AMOB restaurant owner John Horne discusses his desire to
serve on the city of Bradenton Beach’s CRA Committee. Shown
at a previous city meeting, Beachhouse restaurant owner
Ed Chiles will join John Horne as the new committee-appointed
CRA members.

BRADENTON BEACH – The Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) board will have four new members when it meets next.

One of the new members will be recently-elected City Commissioner John Chappie, who will join Mayor Bill Shearon and commissioners Ralph Cole and Jake Spooner on the board that acts as a related but separate entity from the city commission. The fifth seat will be filled by the commission-appointed Ward 2 commissioner – a seat that could be filled at this week’s city commission meeting.

The expanded board also will include two new non-elected members. During the Wednesday, Nov. 16 CRA meeting, the CRA board, that consisted of Shearon, Cole, Spooner and departing commissioners Jan Vosburgh and Ed Straight, appointed Anna Maria Oyster Bar owner John Horne and BeachHouse restaurant owner Ed Chiles to the board.

The appointment of two non-resident business owners came as a bit of a surprise, given that during previous CRA meetings it was suggested that one of the new committee members would be a resident of the CRA district that extends from the south side of the Cortez Bridge to Fifth Street South.

Pines Trailer Park resident and former city commission candidate Bill Vincent applied for the position, as did fellow Pines resident Thomas Burdy.

Planning and Zoning Board member Reed Mapes, business owner Walter Loos and Bridge Street Merchants Association executive director Jack Clarke also submitted applications.

Upon the advice of City Attorney Ricinda Perry, the committee agreed that Mapes should not be a dual office holder on both the planning board and the CRA board.

Shearon nominated Vincent and Spooner nominated Clarke, but neither received the support of a second CRA member. Cole nominated Chiles and Vosburgh nominated Horne.
Chiles will serve an abbreviated one-year term that will coincide with the mayor’s term that expires next November. Chiles will then be eligible for reappointment to two, four-year terms after that.

Horne will serve an initial four-year term and will be eligible for a reappointment to a second and final four-year term after that.

As he left city hall, Vincent said, “I’m glad Mr. Horne’s on there. I’m a little surprised with Mr. Chiles. It sure would have been nice to see a resident on there.”

Horne said, “I’m excited. I think we’re going to move forward in a good direction, and we’ve got some great projects in the pipeline. I want to read through the proposed projects, see what needs to be done and I want to see some progress.”

Via text message, Chiles said, “I am looking forward to working with John Horne and the members of the Bradenton Beach CRA board on issues that are critical to our business district and our community at large.”

The appointments received final confirmation at the following day’s city commission meeting.

When they meet again, the CRA board must appoint a new chair to replace Straight.

The CRA Committee determines how some of the tax revenues generated by commercial and residential properties located within the CRA district are spent. CRA funds can only be used to fund projects and cover expenses incurred in the CRA district.

Yacht Club hosting parade and toy drive

Cortez Yacht Club | Submitted

Golf cart owners are invited to participate in an alternative
to the annual boat parade that took place in past years.

CORTEZ – In lieu of the annual boat parade that has doubled as a holiday toy drive, the Cortez Yacht Club and the Swordfish Grill will instead host the inaugural Light It Up Toy Drive Holiday Parade on Saturday, Dec. 10.

Serving as a Toys for Tots toy drive, the parade will consist of decorated and lighted golf carts, while also providing an opportunity for decorated dinghies and small boats if there are any takers.

Parade participants are invited to travel the potential dual parade routes by land or by sea by meeting at Annie’s Bait & Tackle prior to the 5 p.m. parade start time. Annie’s is located at 4334 127th St W. in Cortez.

The land route will travel backroads from Annie’s, cross Cortez Road at 119th St. West, travel over to Tide Tables – singing Christmas carols along the way – and then over to the Swordfish Grill, where the after-party will take place. The Swordfish Grill is located at 4628 119th St. W. in Cortez.

Those who wish to participate by dinghy or small boat are asked to bring their decorated vessels and an unwrapped toy to the Annie’s dock prior to the 5 p.m. launch. The dinghies and boats will meet up with the golf carts at Tide Tables and then make their way to the Swordfish Grill.

Those who participate in either parade route will be given a raffle ticket for the drawings, and raffles that will take place at the Swordfish Grill, where you must be present to win. Raffle tickets also will be sold at the after-party.

Those who participate in the parade or attend the after-party that is open to everyone are asked to bring a new unwrapped toy or a donation in the form of a check to help prevent Manatee County children from going toy-less during the Christmas holidays. Representatives of the Marine Corps will arrive at the Swordfish Grill at around 8 p.m. to collect the toys.

“It’s all about the toys,” said event coordinator Laura Ritter, who in previous years helped organize the annual boat parade. Ritter said some folks had commented over the years that the boat parade route was too long, so that’s why they’re trying something new and different this year.

The new event was originally going to be called “Dinks and Drinks” in honor of the late Billy O’Connor, but it then evolved into Light It Up Toy Drive Holiday Parade instead.
The Toys for Tots toy drive will also continue well into December at various locations on and near Anna Maria Island, where new unwrapped toys can be donated. These locations are:

• Island Vacation Properties, 3001 Gulf Dr., Holmes Beach;

• Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce, 5313 Gulf Dr., Holmes Beach;

• Duffy’s Tavern, 5808 Marina Dr., Holmes Beach;

• Annie’s Bait & Tackle;

• The Swordfish Grill;

• Design 2000 Hair & Nails; Whitney Beach Plaza, 6840 Gulf of Mexico Dr., Longboat Key;

• Longboat Key Chamber of Commerce, Centre Shops 5390 Gulf of Mexico Dr., Longboat Key

For more information, visit the Cortez Yacht Club on Facebook or call 941-780-3547.

Political graffiti found in Holmes Beach

HBPD | submitted

This graffiti was written on a fence with a permanent marker.
All of the graffiti made mention of President-elect Donald Trump.


HOLMES BEACH – This year’s presidential election left a bad taste in the mouth of somebody who used it as an excuse to advertise feelings on other people’s property, according to Holmes Beach Police.

An officer on patrol found graffiti spray painted on the fence to the dumpster area at the Nautilus Condominiums, 7100 Gulf Drive, on Saturday, Nov. 12. The graffiti said “Trump KKK.” The manager, David Dahlquist, said it happened after he last inspected the fence at 5 p.m. on that date.

The officer found more graffiti at a rental property at 7005 Gulf Drive on a sign belonging to Sato Real Estate. It had “Trump” and a heart painted on it in purple permanent marker.

An inspection around the city found more Trump and racist graffiti on three power poles, two trolley stop benches and two street signs.

The racist remarks involved the KKK, deportation of Mexicans and Muslims and one said, “Die fag.”

Another location was on a fence at 201 69th St, a rental property managed by Island Real Estate.

One officer said it looked like a man and a woman painted the graffiti on other people’s property.

Holmes Beach Detective Sgt. Brian Hall said there are no new leads and if anyone has knowledge of the responsible parties should call him at the Holmes Beach Police Department at 941 778-COPS.

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