Anna Maria: The Year in Review

Anna Maria: The Year in Review
The Reimagining Pine Avenue sidewalk installations are expected to take place in 2023. - Joe Hendricks | Sun

ANNA MARIA – Reimagining Pine Avenue, Mote Marine, food trucks and noise violations were among the top new stories in Anna Maria in 2022.

Projects

Mayor Dan Murphy and the city commission spent much time in 2022 discussing the pending Reimaging Pine Avenue safety improvements planned to include new sidewalks along both sides of the street, new and improved crosswalks and possibly some new streetlights. The safety improvements to be made in 2023 will be partially funded by a $1.28 million state appropriation received in 2022. In September, the commission decided not to pursue a project-related roundabout and delivery truck turnaround at end of Pine Avenue near the trolley stop and the city pier.

Anna Maria: The Year in Review
Mote Marine’s educational outreach center is expected to open in late March. – Mote Marine | Submitted

In April, the commission granted Mote Marine Laboratory a lease extension to complete the long-delayed installation of an educational outreach center on the city pier that was originally expected to open in March 2022. The extension gives Mote Marine until March 2023 to complete the interior buildout and exhibit installation in the city-owned pier building. According to Murphy, that work is now underway.

Adopted in September, the city’s $11.4 million 2022-23 fiscal year budget maintained the existing 2.05 millage rate and included $1.75 million for stormwater and drainage improvements and maintenance and $799,000 for street paving.

Issues & actions

In July, the mayor, commission and city attorney began working on a proposed ordinance intended to establish a designated food truck zone that would limit where food trucks can operate in Anna Maria in response to a state law enacted in 2020 that prevents local governments from prohibiting food truck operations.

Anna Maria: The Year in Review
This map illustrates the proposed, and later rejected, designated food truck zone. – City of Anna Maria | Submitted

In August, Murphy proposed, and the commission supported, locating the food truck zone at the far end of Bayfront Park, near the Hibiscus Street and North Shore Drive intersection. Due to concerns voiced by the public, the commission and the mayor, the proposed food truck ordinance was rejected and discussions have not yet resumed.

In May, at the city’s request, Special Magistrate Gerald Buhr deemed a vacation rental home at 313 Magnolia Ave. to be a public nuisance because three noise violation citations were to guests staying there during a 12-month period. In June, the city filed a lawsuit against the Mangoes on Magnolia LLC ownership group seeking a court ruling that would prohibit the home from being operated as a short-term vacation rental for one year.

Several legal filings have ensued, but a hearing before Manatee County Circuit Court Judge Edward Nicholas has not yet been scheduled.

Anna Maria: The Year in Review
Guests staying at this vacation rental home at 313 Magnolia Ave. received three noise violation citations in a 12-month period. – Joe Hendricks | Sun

In July, Buhr deemed a vacation rental home at 205 South Bay Blvd. to be a public nuisance due to three noise violation citations being issued to guests staying there within in a 12-month period. The property is owned by Shawn Kaleta’s Beach to Bay Investments LLC and managed by his AMI Locals real estate firm. A $313 lien was later placed on the property for the administrative fees and costs incurred by the city. Kaleta’s legal team is appealing the special magistrate’s ruling.

Also in July, the commission authorized the issuance of building permits for the construction of a new beachfront home on a previously vacant lot at 105 Elm Ave. The commission authorization was contingent on property owner Fedora Campbell providing additional drainage elements at her expense and FDEP reviewing the proposed plans, both of which occurred.

Anna Maria: The Year in Review
The vacant beachfront lot in the foreground is now being developed. The existing home in the background was recently sold. – Joe Hendricks | Sun

At the time, Wendy and Robert Jordan owned the adjacent home at 107 Elm and opposed the permitting request because the construction of Campbell’s new home seaward of their home would obstruct their view of the beach. The Jordans’ opposition efforts included the Preserve AMI publicity campaign launched in 2021. The Jordans purchased their home in 2021 for $4 million and in December sold it to the Ohio-based DePalma Corporation for $4.15 million, according to the warranty deed.

Politics

In 2022, the city of Anna Maria and lobbyist Chip Case led the statewide efforts to defeat the Florida legislature’s annual attempt to preempt vacation rental regulation to the state and take away the city’s ability to regulate vacation rentals at the local level. Those efforts were aided by citizen participation and the city-owned Home Rule Florida website. In August, the mayor and commission decided to switch lobbyists and entered into a contract with the Tallahassee-based Corcoran Partners lobbying firm for the 2023 legislative session that begins March 7.

Running unopposed in the November election, Murphy and incumbent city commissioners Deanie Sebring and Mark Short earned additional two-year terms in office. In December, the commission selected Short to serve as the new commission chair for the coming year. On Dec. 15, longtime commissioner Carol Carter vacated the remaining 10 months of her two-year commission term because she and her husband, Bob, relocated to Sarasota County. The commission will appoint her successor on Jan. 26.

Passings

On Aug. 1, longtime Anna Maria resident and former Anna Maria Elementary School Principal Jack Dietrich passed away at the age of 92.

Anna Maria: The Year in Review
Jack Dietrich passed away in August. – Joe Hendricks | Sun

On Aug. 14. Anna Maria resident, businessman and Pine Avenue Restoration co-founder Mike Coleman passed away at the age of 74.

Anna Maria: The Year in Review
Mike Coleman passed away in August. – Joe Hendricks | Sun

Special events

In May, the city hosted its annual Memorial Day Patriotic Symphony Salute at City Pier Park. In October, the city’s seasonal farmers market resumed weekly operations. Around that time, the city-sponsored Movies in the Park film screenings resumed.

In November, the city hosted its annual “Old Soldiers & Sailors” Veterans Day parade post-parade recognition ceremony. In December, the city hosted its annual Holiday Bright Lights decorating contest and Santa Stops event at City Pier Park, followed that evening by the merchant-sponsored Holiday of Treasures open house along Pine Avenue.

Hurricanes

In late September, Hurricane Ian left many Anna Maria residents and businesses without electrical and water service for varied lengths of time, but the physical damage was mostly limited to downed trees, downed power lines, downed fences and downed street signs. In November, Hurricane Nicole had no significant impact in Anna Maria.

Anna Maria: The Year in Review
Hurricane Ian toppled street signs in Anna Maria. – Joe Hendricks | Sun

Arrivals & Departures

In January, Building Official David Gilson departed after accepting a similar position with the city of New Port Richey. In May, he reversed course and returned as the city’s building official.

High school graduate Destin Gollamudi served as the city’s summer intern before heading to Gainesville in August to start his freshman year of college at the University of Florida.

In July, Public Works Manager Dean Jones departed after accepting a position with the city of Bradenton’s Public Works Department. Ryan Wieland was promoted from within to serve as Jones’ successor.

Anna Maria: The Year in Review
Ryan Wieland became the new Public Works Department Manager in 2022. – City of Anna Maria | Submitted

In August, City Planner Chad Minor departed after accepting the city planner’s job in Holmes Beach. After relocating from Texas, Ashley Austin succeeded Minor in Anna Maria.

Anna Maria: The Year in Review
Ashley Austin became the new city planner in 2022. – Joe Hendricks | Sun

In November, Deputy Patrick Manning left the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office’s Anna Maria Unit and was reassigned to the Manatee County Judicial Center in downtown Bradenton en route to his anticipated retirement.

In December, Administrative Assistant Kristin Olsen left the city’s employment for personal reasons.