The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 10 No. 38 - June 23, 2010


Pine Ave. parking plan clears hurdle

ANNA MARIA — After months of sometimes testy discussions, the city commission and the planning and zoning board have finally reached consensus about how the parking for the Pine Avenue business district should be handled.

“It may not be perfect, but thank heavens we’re finally doing something,” said Randall Stover, the chairman of the planning and zoning board.

With only City Commissioner Harry Stoltzfus dissenting, the combined boards voted to move ahead with a plan that considers Pine Avenue as a whole, with some parallel and some angled on-street public parking on Pine and 90-degree head-in parking on the side streets that about Pine.

“We changed the focus of our comp plan,” Stoltzfus said. “I think this focus is on making a commercial district, to giving Anna Maria a working retail district.”

Stoltzfus said that’s not the focus of the comprehensive plan.

“This is a quantum leap from the comp plan,” he added.

Commissioner Jo Ann Mattick disagreed.

“Our comp plan says that we need a thriving central business district,” she said. “We are supposed to support businesses in the residential/office/retail district. It’s no quantum leap to say we want to be supportive of businesses.”

Commissioner Dale Woodland, in an effort to keep the discussion moving along, reminded everyone that they were just discussing a concept for the parking.

“We have plenty of time to criticize this, but let’s get back on track,” he suggested.

Woodland also reminded commissioners about what traffic and community expert Dan Burden said about the on street public parking concept in general.

“I thought Dan Burden recommended that we have back-in parking,” Woodland commented.

“We were not sure Anna Maria was ready to tackle that at the same time,” City Planner Alan Garrett said, bringing some laughter to the commission chambers.

Large spaces

Under the concept that has been approved, there will be parallel parking with spaces that are 25 feet long and eight feet wide.

“With that length, people can just pull in and pull out without much maneuvering,” Commission Chair John Quam noted.

Quam, Garrett and Burden walked the entire street a couple of weeks ago and assessed that the concept would work out with 205 parking spaces.

The concept would remove the requirement for on-site parking as businesses are developed along Pine Avenue.

It was agreed that the old requirements were a sort of strip mall plan that was resulting in a lot of wasted space and too much impervious surface.

The newly approved concept also has a provision for much more green space – some of it with cross walk islands that give pedestrians a chance to gather under shade and give them good visibility as they cross from one side of the street to the other.

“There will be no backing across sidewalks with this plan,” Quam stated.

The commission chair has consistently said that this has been his major concern about parking along Pine Avenue. This plan and this plan satisfied his concern, he said.

Wide sidewalks

As the business district develops, a six-foot wide sidewalk will emerge, which will provide space for pedestrians and bicyclists alike.

Tom Turner, a P&Z board member, wanted to make the requirements of the new plan retroactive so that the existing businesses would be required to place sidewalks between their businesses and the parking.

But City Attorney Jim Dye said that couldn’t legally be done.

Pine Avenue Restoration Managing Partner Micheal Coleman said he and his partners have said they’d do that anyway.

“When this is made into law, we’ve said all along that we’ll do whatever it takes to comply with the new rules, even if we aren’t required to,” he said.

Some fears were expressed that with the on-site parking requirements lifted, developers would build larger structures, but Garrett reminded board members that the setback and lot coverage requirements would take care of that.

The on-street parking concept now goes to the planning and zoning board where the details will be thrashed out and then brought to the full commission as a recommendation. Quam noted that he wants the plan to come before the commission by the end of July.

The final authority rests with the city commission.

Father Harry says farewell to Island

A farewell reception for Church of the Annunciation’s
Father Harry Parsell, who is retiring after serving the
parish for seven years, will be held Sunday, June 27,
from 4 to 6 p.m. in the church’s parish hall in Holmes Beach.

HOLMES BEACH — Father Harry Parsell will be leaving the Episcopal Church of the Annunciation in much better shape after seven years as its priest. “We’re going to miss him terribly,” said Joan Oster, a member of the vestry.

Oster was co-chair of the search committee that called Fr. Harry to Annunciation.

“It was a very long process, because the church was in such bad shape,” she said. “Over the seven years he’s been here, Fr. Harry has done wonders for us.”

Senior Warden Dick Hussey agreed.

“We’ve been so fortunate to have him,” Hussey said. “He helped us put our physical plant in shape, our finances are in order, we have some young families and a Sunday school with children and grandchildren, we have an education program and our membership has grown.”

As for Father Harry, his next step is retirement.

“I’ve been in the priesthood for the past 30 years,” he said. “A lot of those years were as a sole priest in a parish. When you are the only priest, you’re on call all the time, and I’m ready to retire.”

Father Harry’s immediate plans are to take his vacation and then a month-long sabbatical with an official retirement date of Aug. 31.

He said he feels that he’s leaving Annunciation in good shape.

“The parish is stabilized now,” he said. “The finances, the spiritual state of the congregation and the personal lives of most of our members are good.”

Mission statement

Father Harry said one of the accomplishments that has meant the most to him was the creation of a mission statement:

“The Church of the Annunciation is a joyful, welcoming community, worshipping God, nurturing one another and reaching out to all with love.”

The priest said that when he first came to the Island church, the perception in the community was that it was an older, closed congregation that didn’t necessarily welcome change or new members.

Now, on the church sign, the words, “All are welcome here” appears at the top, and the sign at the exit to the parking lot says, “Come again soon.”

The membership of the church has grown during Father Harry’s seven years.

“It’s a church like others in resort communities,” he noted. “Our membership swells during the season. We have double or triple the number of people at services, and then we are quieter during the summer.”

The sense of community that’s been built between the winter and the year-round residents is something that the church has worked on.

“Our winter members are very active in the church and in the community, and our regular members are like a family,” he said.


Annunciation has also taken an active part with other churches on the Island in All Island Denominations, which is the kind of outreach that Fr. Harry said he especially likes.

Father Harry told the search committee that called him to the church seven years ago, that he would commit to stay for seven years, and then he would be moving on.

“I feel it’s the right time for me to leave,” he said. “Sometimes priests stay too long and things can get stagnant.”

As for his next step, the priest said he’s still thinking and praying about it. Perhaps he’ll serve as a relief priest.

“That would mean that when a priest is ill or on vacation, I’d step in and conduct the services,” he said.

But nothing is definite for Father Harry as yet.

The search committee, with many of the same people who called Father Harry to Annunciation seven years ago, is actively searching for his replacement.

“We’ve narrowed the list down to seven people, and we’ll be interviewing them over the next several weeks,” Oster said. “The process won’t take as long this time, because the parish is in good shape.”

A farewell reception to honor Father Harry will be held Sunday, June 27, from 4 to 6 p.m. in the parish hall.

Locals hear oil discussion

AMISUN News Robbery Banker
Florida gubernatorial candidate Lawton “Bud” Chiles III,
son of the late Florida Gov. Lawton M. Chiles and brother
of Anna Maria Island’s Ed Chiles of the Chiles Group of
restaurants, discussed his opposition to oil drilling with
Anna Maria Island residents on Thursday night after a community
meeting on the oil spill. He officially declared his candidacy on Friday.

ANNA MARIA – With oil from the Deepwater Horizon rig more than 350 miles from Manatee County, hundreds attended a meeting last week organized by new conservation group, Keep OFF (Oil Free Forever) Manatee, whose leader, Mike Shannon, manages the BeachHouse restaurant in Bradenton Beach.

If oil reaches Anna Maria Island, “We will have a life-changing event on our hands,” he told an audience of fishermen, artists, hoteliers, surfers, business owners, conservationists and other residents.

The impact

Manatee County officials have been briefed by Florida Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Mike Sole that the spill undoubtedly will cause impacts to the local area due to its magnitude, county emergency management chief Laurie Feagans told the group.

“We have already been impacted,” State Rep. Bill Galvano said, with visitors delaying or canceling vacations due to the spill. “Perception is reality.”

Alaska tourism still suffers from perceptions stemming from the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill, said Elliott Falcione, who will take over this month as director of the Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, which is tracking local oil-related hotel cancellations.

Advertising dollars are being redirected to the Florida Panhandle, Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi to attract people to southwest Florida beaches, said Marianne Brockman of the Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce.

“The beaches are clean. Business is good,” said Ed Chiles, a Manatee County Tourist Development Council member who operates the BeachHouse, Sandbar and Mar Vista waterfront restaurants. His brother, Florida gubernatorial candidate Lawton “Bud” Chiles III, spoke to residents after the meeting but did not address the group.

Business is not so good in Cortez, where fishing areas closed due to oil have pushed commercial fishermen into shallow water, said Karen Bell of A.P. Bell Fish Co., which put 25,000 pounds of grouper on ice this month due to mistaken perceptions that Florida seafood is unsafe.

Florida must fight to get its fair share of the $20 billion that BP has set aside for economic loss claims, Galvano said, adding that the state does not receive the oil royalties that other affected Gulf coast states are paid by oil companies.

“We need to make sure that what has occurred ends the debate on oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico,” Galvano said to applause.

The science

Depending on the estimates, the spill already may have surpassed the worst in history, said Dr. Richard H. Pierce, director of the Center for Ecotoxicology at Mote Marine Laboratory.

While the light crude oil is not the dirtiest in the world, it is toxic to marine life, and chemical dispersants make it even more toxic, but hypothetically for a shorter period of time, he said, adding, “It’s a close call” whether or not to use the chemicals.

While naturally-occurring bacteria can consume dispersed oil, it needs oxygen to do so, which may be compromised by the chemicals or the oil plumes below the surface, he said.

The spill is so large, it could destroy a whole class of a species, such as shrimp, by killing off its larvae, he said.

While the loop current continues to keep the oil away from our area, it could change direction at any time, he said.

The plan

The county’s distance from the oil should mitigate its local effects, said Charlie Hunsicker, director of the county’s natural resources department and the military-style unified command structure put in place after the April 20 spill. Participants include the health department, marine rescue, Port Manatee, the tourism agency, economic development council, animal services and parks department.

The nine weeks since the rig began gushing oil into the Gulf of Mexico have given local officials time to learn from the mistakes of other coastal counties to the north.

“We’re going to take the fight to the oil,” Hunsicker said.

The U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and commercial fishermen are searching for oil along area coastlines by air and sea, and officials will establish a trigger point, such as when oil reaches 100 miles from shore, to begin putting the area contingency plan into place.

The plan was first used in 1993 after a three-way tanker crash in Tampa Bay spilled 330,000 gallons of oil, Hunsicker said, adding that Pinellas County is still seeing the effects of that spill.

The plan will activate workers to lay boom to divert liquid oil away from estuaries and mangroves such as Grassy Point and Leffis Key on Anna Maria Island and onto sandy Island beaches, where it will be easier to clean up, he said, adding that tar balls will be unavoidable, but removable.

Meanwhile, residents can monitor the county’s Web site for updates, contact their elected officials about their feelings about oil drilling, register to volunteer, be on the lookout for oil sightings and begin documenting economic loss claims.

However, some things cannot be put right with money, he said.

“I’m not so sure we can put a dollar value on the birth of a brown pelican or the hatchling making it to the sea,” he said. “There’s no compensation for the loss of the web of life.”

Drilling protest Saturday

Hands Across the Sand II will be held at Manatee public beach on Saturday, June 26 at noon to protest oil drilling.

Participants are asked to dress in black and join hands for 15 minutes, and should use approved beach accesses and parking, avoid bird and sea turtle nests, and be courteous and respectful to those who disagree.

The first statewide protest on Feb. 13 was aimed at efforts by the Florida Legislature and the U.S. Congress to lift the ban on oil drilling in Florida waters. Since the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded off Louisiana, the event has gone international.

Challengers file in three local races

The months before Election Day, Nov. 2, could get interesting in three local races in which all the incumbents are facing challengers.

Democrat Sundae Lynn Knight has filed to run against at large Manatee County Commissioner Carol Whitmore, a Republican.

Whitmore is a long-time Holmes Beach resident. She is a registered nurse and certified risk manager. She served as a Holmes Beach Commissioner from 1991 to 1998 and as mayor from 1998 to 2006. She was elected to the county commission in 2006.

Knight, a resident of Bradenton, has a degree in civil engineering from the University of Central Florida. She is employed by Sarasota County as a road and bridge engineer and specialist for traffic operations and land development services and serves on the development review committee.

Holmes Beach City Commission

In Holmes Beach, Jean Peelan is running against incumbent Commissioners John Monetti and Sandy Haas-Martens. Mayor Rich Bohnenberger is unopposed. Seats are two years and go to the two candidates who get the most votes.

Sandy Haas-Martens has served on the commission since 1998 and is currently commission chair. Prior to that, she served on the Anna Maria Fire District Commission from 1992 to 1998. She retired in 1995 as vice president and branch manager of First of America Bank.

John Monetti has served as a commissioner since 2006 and served on the planning commission for four years prior to becoming a commissioner. He is general manager of the Columbia restaurant on St Armands Circle and has a master’s degree in management.

Jean Peelan is a retired federal government lawyer. She currently models for Disney and the Home Shopping Network, has co-authored two books and is the founder of the Anna Maria Island Chapter of Dining for Women, which raises money for international women’s causes.

West Manatee Fire Commission

Three commissioners in the West Manatee Fire & Rescue District Commission are up for re-election. Scott Ricci is challenging incumbent Mike Mulyck for Seat 2, Mike Carlton is running against incumbent Larry Tyler for Seat 3 and Mondher Kobrosly has filed against incumbent John Rigney for Seat 4. All seats are four years.

Mulyck, a retired risk manager for a telecommunications company in the Midwest, was a volunteer firefighter there for 18 years. He and his wife moved to Anna Maria in 1998. He was appointed to fill vacancies on the fire commission, then was elected to the board in 2002 and has served the past eight years.

Scott Ricci built a cable TV system for five towns in New Hampshire in the 1980s and served as a volunteer firefighter for 10 years and fire commissioner for five years. He and his wife moved to Holmes Beach in 1994. He and his father built the Woodlands Golf Course in 1994 and sold it in 2005. He is retired.

Tyler was director of human resources for the city of Beloit, Wis., for 10 years and for Freemen Shoe Corporation for 15 years. He and his wife moved to Bradenton and opened Tyler’s Ice Cream in Cortez in 1984. They sold it in 1996. He is retired and has served on the fire commission since 1996.

Carlton is owner of Coastline Accommodations and Realtors, a property management company in Holmes Beach. He is part owner of Central Ohio Communications Group, which has broadcast and cell towers. He and his wife have lived on and off the Island for nine years.

Rigney, of Holmes Beach, retired as a lieutenant with the Longboat Key Fire Department after more than 20 years of service. He and his wife have two sons who are firefighters in the district. He has served on the fire commission since 2002.

Kobrosly moved to Holmes Beach in 1996. In 1999, he began purchasing businesses in the city. He currently owns Time Saver Food and Wine Store, Jessie’s Island Store and D Coy Ducks. He lives in Bradenton.

Four qualify for three seats

BRADENTON BEACH – It looks like there will be one race for a city commission seat in the November election.

Two people qualified last week to run for the Ward 4 seat that was vacated a month ago when Mayor Michael Pierce resigned to attend to family matters and Commissioner and Vice Mayor Bob Bartelt became mayor. Jan Vosburgh, who was appointed to the seat after Bartelt became mayor, qualified as did Mike Harrington, a resident who came to city hall the day before qualifying ended to ask for a four-way stop at the intersection of First Street North and Church Street.

Vosburgh had never held an elected seat until now, but had served twice on the city’s charter review board and on the board of adjustment. Vosburgh moved to Bradenton Beach 8 1/2 years ago when her husband died, She was a businesswoman when they lived in Utah and served on the local Chamber of Commerce and economic development organization. Her goal is to keep Bradenton Beach a beautiful place to live and visit.

“Every day, I wake up and say, ‘Oh my God, I live here,’” she said. “I am awed by the beauty of the beach, the birds and animals and the people here.”

Harrington, a former Michigan law officer, moved to Florida 26 years ago looking for a place to retire. He spent nine years in facility and condo management after his law enforcement career.

He and his wife built a house on Whitfield Estates near the airport but moved to Bradenton Beach 2 1/2 years ago. He served on the city’s mooring committee but resigned when other things came up. He said they have found paradise.

“My concern is having things stay the way they have been,” he said.

Meanwhile, Ed Straight, who runs Wildlife Rescue and Education, Inc., with his wife, Gail, qualified for the Ward 2 seat, which was held for the past year by Bob Connors, who was appointed to that seat by Pierce, when Bill Shearon resigned to run against Pierce. Straight is a newcomer to city hall, but not to the area.

A native of St. Petersburg, Straight worked for an ambulance company there at a time when private ambulance services could not survive. He saw the writing on the wall and when he learned that Manatee County was going to start its own service – one of the first three government owned services in Florida – he became involved. Eventually, he became chief of the emergency management services and chief of the 911 service, and after he retired, he got involved with Wildlife Rescue. Now he’s ready to get involved with the city where there were no paved streets and everyone was on a septic system when he first moved there.

“I’ve thought about getting more involved in the city, but was worried about making the time to do it,” he said. “I’ve always liked being in a position to have some pull about how things go.”

Bartelt also qualified to run for the mayor’s seat. He was appointed to fill that seat until the November 2011 election.

Bradenton Beach is the only that has wards. City commission candidate must live in the ward to which they aspire to represent, although all registered citizens vote for all the candidates on the ballot.

Drive to recall Commissioner Stoltzfus continues

ANNA MARIA — Efforts to collect enough signatures to mandate a recall election for Commissioner Harry Stoltzfus are going forward.

“We continue to collect signatures, including those of many people who did not sign the original petition,” said Bob Carter, the chairman of the Recall Stoltzfus Committee.

The group successfully completed the first phase in the recall process in which they collected the signatures of 247 registered voters, of which the Supervisor of Elections Office certified 214.

In that first round, the committee needed 10 percent or 136 certified signatures.

On this second phase, the committee needs 204 certified signatures or 15 percent of the registered voters.

The committee has until the end of July to collect the signatures.

The recall petition accuses Stoltzfus of malfeasance and misfeasance. It states that the commissioner used conduits or go-betweens to carry messages to and from other commissioners, which is prohibited under the Sunshine Laws.

The petition further states that based on e-mails released by the commissioner in response to a public records request, the commissioner clearly offered to help fund a lawsuit against the city if his name could be hidden.

Stoltzfus, in his defensive statement, denies that he has done anything wrong:

“The charges against me are a collection of nebulous, unsubstantiated falsehoods. Their vagueness makes a specific, directed response impossible.”

The recall group has dropped attempts to collect signatures at Bayview Plaza after someone complained to the postmaster that committee members were accosting people who just wanted to collect their mail – something Carter denies.

The postmaster said there could be no political or commercial activities on federal property.

After the complaints, Tom Breiter, who is the plaza manager, rescinded the permission he gave to the group to use the Plaza to collect signatures.

As the second phase of the petition drive, Stoltzfus and his attorney, Richard Harrison, have an appeal before the district court on a ruling by a lower court allowing the recall process to move forward.

Stoltzfus, through his attorney, wanted the recall process declared invalid, which the district court declined to do.

If there are at least 204 signatures certified, and if the courts allow the process to move forward, a recall election would be held.

Young pastor hopes to revive teen program
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

CrossPointe Fellowship youth pastor Brad Lowery is
helping plan a summer youth program for Island teens.

HOLMES BEACH – Seeking to rebuild its youth program, CrossPointe Fellowships welcomes youth pastor Brad Lowery for a summer internship.

For Lowery, 23, it was like coming home. He lived in Bradenton until the age of 7, then his family moved to Connecticut, then Virginia. He graduated from Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va., with a major in Biblical studies.

“Brother Bob (CrossPointe Pastor Bob Allen) baptized me when he was senior pastor at West Bradenton Baptist Church, and I was five years old,” Lowery recalled. “Our families have stayed in touch. He was a huge spiritual influence on my family.

“When I graduated, I sent my resume to him to critique, and he asked me to come down and rebuild the youth group here.”

“He has a vision and a passion for working with youths, and he has the desire to impact communities,” Allen said of Lowery.

He arrived Memorial Day weekend in time to participate in the luau, games and music on the beach and pizza party at the church that were planned to encourage youths to joint the group.

“I’m trying to reach out to as many students as possible,” he said. “I’m finding ways to network on the Island and get to know the students and their families.”

He said the church is trying to revive its Sunday school program and will offer it at 9 a.m. weekly for all ages. In addition, it will hold a Vacation Bible school from June 28 to July 2 from 9 a.m. to noon for kindergarteners to fifth-graders.

As for the youth group, Lowery said, “We’re still in the planning process and are putting together ideas We might do some theme parks, bowling, paint ball, horseback riding – make it something they can look forward to. Kids love to be active, and we’re trying to provide an avenue for that.

“I love to have fun with students and share the gospel with them. The point of taking them out and having a good time is so they can learn to trust you and the other adults. As they learn to trust us, we can invest in them spiritually.”

Youth group will meet on Wednesdays, and families and friends are also welcome.

Interested youths can contact Lowery by calling the church at 778-0719.

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