ANNA MARIA – David Youngs and Nate Solomon are the latest permanent residents to leave Anna Maria Island.
Last week, the married couple closed on their new home in The Villages in Central Florida. Tuesday, July 24, was their last day as Anna Maria residents. On Friday, they celebrated their new adventure with friends at D Coy Ducks in Holmes Beach.
“It’s really good to see everybody, and we appreciate it. We love the Island, and we’ll be back. We’ve already rented a place for next summer. We’re not leaving forever, and we’re only two hours away,” Youngs said.
“I feel loved, and I tend to think of it not as goodbye, but just until the next time,” Solomon said.
Anna Maria resident Jeff Hummel will miss his friends.
“Two great guys. They’re fun to be around, and they’re my best friends on the Island. They would do anything for you. They’re going to be missed, but they’re going to enjoy where they’re going, and we’re all going to go visit them,” Hummel said.
“I’ve known them since I moved here about five years ago, and they were some of the first people I met. We’ve always had a great time together,” said Anna Maria resident Charlie Trygg.
“We’re gonna miss them, and they’re welcome back anytime,” Paul Quinn said.
“These guys are the best. I’m really going to miss them,” said Holmes Beach resident Anita Dotterweich.
A new Village
“The Island is expensive and has become a tourist destination instead of a community. It’s a fun place to visit, but not to live,” Youngs said when speaking by phone from their new home last week before returning to the Island.
“We found a place that we like for a lot of the same reasons we like the Island: People are friendly, it’s pretty in a different way and there’s a lot to do.”
Youngs said their home on Willow Avenue was only on the market for two days.
“The Harllees, our neighbors down the street, bought it. This allows us to take a step toward being able to retire eventually because The Villages are more reasonably priced, and now we can float into retirement when we want with no debt,” Youngs said.
Youngs and Solomon own and operate DYNS Services, an information technology company they’ll continue operating from their new location while working toward retirement.
“We’re going to miss our friends. Darcie Duncan’s a great friend. Jeff Hummel is a great friend. Jana Samuels, our neighbor, saved my life when I almost drowned off Egmont Key. We’ve got a lot of friends, and we’ve had people in tears. I didn’t expect that,” Youngs said.
Solomon said he’d miss “the people, the views of the Gulf and the drinking.”
When asked what they’ll miss the least, they both said, “Tourists,” noting the proliferation of vacation rental homes factored heavily in their decision to move.
“We had one right next door. It was tiresome having different visitors every week,” Solomon said.
Youngs agreed and said vacation rentals are more restricted in The Villages, but still present.
“It’s hard to control. It’s an issue there like it is everywhere in Florida,” he said.
“They primarily have issues with rentals in the villas that are more compacted together than where we will be living,” Solomon said.
Youngs and Solomon have been a couple since 1992 and they married in 2015.
“Ken Jackson from Green Real Estate married us on the beach at Willow Avenue,” Youngs said, noting he’s aware of only one other married gay couple in Anna Maria.
“We are loved and accepted. Never did we feel discriminated against, and we very much felt a part of the community,” Youngs said.
“I never felt any discrimination or attitude toward us,” Solomon said.
“The Villages has quite a large and active gay community. There’s a Friday morning coffee group and several other events. There’s none of that on the Island or in Manatee County,” Youngs said.
Planning and Zoning
Anna Maria Mayor Dan Murphy recently told city commissioners Youngs was resigning from the Planning and Zoning Board.
“I want to thank David for his contributions to the city over the two and half years that he served,” Murphy said.
Youngs said he learned much about the city while serving as a board member.
“We spent two years reviewing the comprehensive plan, and I learned how important it is in being able to preserve the Island. The comp plan gives you a way to freeze in place a lot of the general oversight, including height restrictions,” Youngs said.
“I learned that with such a small voter base, it’s important to vote and be involved in local issues,” Solomon added.
Youngs said the family that founded The Villages 30 years ago still maintains a great deal of control, so there aren’t a lot of internal politics in those communities. But with a fast-growing population of more than 100,000 residents, The Villages constitutes a significant voting block that prompts frequent campaign stops from local, state and national politicians.
“We’re going to be involved in that,” Youngs said. “The Villages are going through a transition, and it’s not as Republican as it used to be. I looked at the voter rolls, and almost half are either Democratic or Independent.”