The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 10 No. 40 - July 7, 2010


Fireworks fly despite the rain

AMISUN News Robbery Banker
Fireworks at Mar Vista Pub on Longboat Key ushered in the
holiday weekend. Fireworks at the BeachHouse in Bradenton Beach
on Saturday and at the Sandbar in Anna Maria on Sunday
completed the weekend.

Ed Chiles was relaxing Monday after a weekend of fireworks shows that were intertwined with rainstorms. The owner of the Mar Vista, BeachHouse and Sandbar restaurants pulled off a fireworks display each night at one of those establishments, sometimes starting just after the rain stopped and other times, ending just before the rain started.

“I’m so proud of all my staff and the professionals who pulled off three nights of dinners and fireworks – a hat trick as a tropical wave brought rain all three days,” he said Monday. “It’s funny, you get the anticipation before each show with your stomach in knots and then the exhilaration when it comes off perfectly.”

According to police, all three shows came off as planned with few problems from the crowds that came to the beach to watch the pyrotechnics. Chiles said last weekend was a landmark for him.

“I am celebrating 31 years on Anna Maria Island,” he said. “I bought the Sandbar on July 5, 1979.”

Chiles said last weekend’s final fireworks show was his 46th and if he pulls off three shows next year, it will bring the total to 49.

While the weekend was precarious for the fireworks, it was nice and cool for the other activities. The Privateers parade went well, despite a problem that allowed a bunch of non-parade traffic to get between the first two-thirds of the parade and the final third. After the parade ended, the Privateers headed for the Café on the Beach to pass out scholarship checks to students. This year, they handed out a total of $29,500.

As our visitors checked out of their rooms Monday, Ed Chiles was taking it easy, trying to rest his voice from a weekend of talking.

“It can rain all it wants now,” he said.

Mainsail unveils architect’s renderings

Buildings surround the marina in this architect's rendering
of the Mainsail development in Holmes Beach.

HOLMES BEACH – Joe Collier, president of Mainsail Development of Tampa, unveiled drawings by the architectural firm of Cooper, Johnson, Smith for the Mainsail Lodge and condos at 5325 Marina Drive.

“We should have construction drawings by early fall,” Collier said. “Our goal is to have the building permit before the end of the year.

“We have a nice amount of reservations – about eight. We’ll work on pricing over the next 30 to 45 days.”

He said the Mainsail marina complex would have 37 units. In addition, there is a 62-slip marina with boats and fishing guides and a lodge is planned.

“We have been sprucing up the trailer there and added boats and lifts,” he said.

Collier said the company has sold four units and is about to sell a fifth at the Beach Inn, its other Island condo complex at 101 66th Street. Units are being sold as a modified condo/hotel, and when the owner is not using a unit, it is a hotel rental.

The Mainsail Lodge and Marina, formerly the Tidemark Lodge and Marina, was begun by Nick Easterling in 2001. Easterling filed for bankruptcy in 2004 and in 2005, Reliance Realty Partners joined the project and the bankruptcy was resolved.

In May 2007 Reliance bought out Easterling, however, in June 2009 the banks foreclosed on the properties and they were purchased by Mainsail. In July 2009, Pine Avenue Restoration joined Mainsail as a limited partner in the project.

Citizens file petition on parking

ANNA MARIA — A group of residents, unhappy with the direction of discussions for handling parking on Pine Avenue, have filed an initiative petition.

“The public parking options recently proposed eliminate the on-site parking requirement and instead place the burden on the city for providing parking,” the petition states. “We, the undersigned, do not want city taxes, or the city rights-of-way used to create parking.”

The group is collecting the signatures of 15 percent of the registered voters, which amounts to 204 signatures.

They want to force the commission to either mandate that all parking in new development or redevelopment be provided on-site and that all ingress and egress from the business properties on Pine Avenue be by driveways with curb cuts.

“A committee of citizens in the city of Anna Maria has filed an unprecedented ballot initiative seeking to uphold land development regulations which will impact parking on Pine Avenue and neighboring side streets,” Judith Chable wrote in a press release.

Chable, Larry Albert, Charlie Daniel, Carl Pearman and Anna Maria DeAugustine comprise the five committee members required by the city charter.

Under the charter, an initiative petition committee can form to propose ordinances to the city commission.

If the commission fails to adopt the proposed ordinance, the “qualified voters may adopt or reject it at a city election.”

The group is opposed to a corridor plan under discussion that would treat Pine Avenue as a whole with parallel and angled parking on the street that could be used by businesses on the street to fulfill parking requirements. The parking under the corridor plan would be public parking, open to anyone.

City Commission Chair John Quam, Walkable Community Director Dan Burden and City Planner Alan Garrett walked the street last month and counted the potential for over 200 parking spaces.

The spaces would be installed as businesses are built along the street. New or redeveloping business could either pay for the new on-street parking spaces in front of their property or opt to have on-site parking.

The corridor plan also includes shady areas, green spaces, crosswalks and wider sidewalks to satisfy ADA requirements and provide space for pedestrians, bicycles, Segways and other uses.

The city commission and the planning and zoning board had reached consensus on the corridor plan, but some residents remained vehemently against it.

Chable said, “The committee, a group of Anna Maria residents who felt it was time that the citizens had the chance to have a real say in the direction our city is headed, released this statement, ‘It recently became apparent that the legislative process of our city’s government was not addressing the interests of the majority of the voters who wish to see our comprehensive plan and land development regulations enforced and upheld.’ ”

Anyone who wants to sign the petition can call Chable at 778-1242.

Recall petitions: Round two

AMISUN News Robbery Banker
The recall committee turned in the second round of petitions
to City Clerk Alice Baird. Recall Chair Bob Carter hands Baird
$26.10 to pay the dime required to check each of the
261 signatures on the petitions.

ANNA MARIA — The second round of petitions to recall City Commissioner Harry Stoltzfus are now in the hands of the Manatee County Supervisor of Elections.

City Clerk Alice Baird received the 261 petitions on Friday, July 2, from Recall Committee Chair Bob Carter.

“It’s been a difficult job,” Carter said. “A lot of people who signed the first petition are out of town, and we had a lot of people who were too intimidated to sign, but we think they’ll vote for recall.”

Baird delivered the petitions to the elections office Friday afternoon along with the $26.10 the committee collected. It costs a dime to verify each signature.

“I’m glad this part’s finished,” Carter said.

The committee needed to collect the signatures of 15 percent of the registered voters, or 204 signatures.

“We have 247, which is 30 percent more than we need,” Carter said.

He added that that gives the committee some wiggle room in case some of the signatures don’t verify. A big problem during the first round was that people don’t always accurately note their birth date.

The supervisor of elections now has 30 days to verify the signatures, and if at least 204 are cleared, the city clerk then will notify Stoltzfus, who can either resign or stand for the recall election.

“We’re hoping that if it comes to a recall election, the city can piggyback on the August primary,” Carter said. “That way, it won’t cost the city anything except the printing of the recall ballot.

“If the recall happens, we think we’ll be successful,” Carter said. “He (Stoltzfus) was elected by 472 votes, and we think there are far more than that who will vote to recall him once they have the safety and anonymity of the ballot.”

Once the first round of recall petitions became public record, there were widespread reports that people who had signed the petition received threatening phone calls. Carter and other members of the committee said they encountered many people who said they supported the recall effort but were afraid to sign the petition for fear of retaliation.

The second round of signatures included a defensive statement by Stoltzfus as is required under the city charter and state statute.

Carter, who hasn’t been active in city affairs before, said that the Stoltzfus e-mails that revealed the embattled commissioner had offered to sue Anna Maria if his name could be concealed, felt that the time had come to step forward.

In other e-mails, Stoltzfus remarked that he would like to take a bulldozer to the Pine Avenue Restoration projects on Pine Avenue.

After the first petition was cleared by the elections office, Stoltzfus and Richard Harrison, his attorney, asked the courts to rule that the petition was too vague for Stoltzfus to mount an effective defense. They asked for an expedited hearing before Circuit Court Judge Edward Nicholas.

Nicholas denied the motion for an expedited hearing, saying that motion was premature, that there was time to argue the case when and if the second set of petitions was verified and before the recall election itself.

Harrison and Stoltzfus appealed that denial to the District Court of Appeals.

Carter said he fully expects there will be a hearing on the legality of the petitions before Judge Nicholas, and his committee has hired an attorney to represent them.

County works to save Twin Piers
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

A surfer waits for a wave produced by Hurricane Alex
last weekend at Twin Piers in Bradenton Beach.

BRADENTON BEACH – The Florida Department of Environmental Protection is leaning favorably towards saving the popular Twin Piers surf spot, a county official said.

Surfers, anglers, divers and state and county officials have the same goal in mind for different reasons – the three crumbling erosion control groins, including two that form Twin Piers, make for good waves, fishing and snorkeling, and protect both the shoreline and Gulf Drive from erosion.

A DEP official has expressed interest in saving the structures, which are subject to removal in the 2014 beach renourishment project, said Charlie Hunsicker, Manatee County’s Natural Resources director.

“It’s a new positive direction,” he said, but is not a sure thing until the state agency makes a commitment to the county, which is applying for approval now.

The county is considering using permeable groins, which allow some sand to flow through, like mangrove roots, which build the beach on the side facing prevailing currents while keeping it from being eroded from the other side, a weakness of solid groins. DEP recently approved permeable groins for the town of Longboat Key.

If the state requires the county to do a model of its reconstruction plan, it could cost $400,000, Hunsicker said, adding that the project cost could exceed $1.2 million.

Surfer Todd Dalton said that he hopes the northernmost and the middle piers are saved, as the southernmost pier is too shallow for surfing. Others hope that authorities don’t move the no surfing zone farther north after they rebuild the piers.

The location of the reconstructed piers will be determined according to where they can best protect Gulf Drive, Hunsicker said.

“We will seek permits to rebuild all three and then work to obtain full funding,” he said. “Community support for full funding would be welcome.”

“We need to rally the troops and get some fund raising going on,” wrote surfer Russ D. on the Gulf Coast Surf Board Web site.

“I ‘heart’ twin piers, and if they tore it down that would be too bad,” wrote John Rudell on the site.

“I appreciate that surfers are willing to help raise money,” Hunsicker said, crediting the surfing community with persuading the Manatee County Commission of the importance of rebuilding the site. “I hope we won’t have to hold our hand out.”

Truck stops just short of disaster
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

The delivery truck's cab went through the guardrail while
the trailer kept it from going off the bridge.

BRADENTON BEACH – A delivery truck ran into an oncoming car on the Cortez Bridge on Tuesday, June 29, and then crashed through the concrete guardrail forcing officials to close the bridge to traffic for more than two hours while a tow truck pulled the vehicle back to safety.

The truck driver, 32-year-old George Gonzales, of Brandon, told paramedics that he did not know how the accident occurred.

“I was driving on the bridge and the next thing I saw was the sky and the water,” he said.

Gonzales was delivering supplies to the Publix store in Holmes Beach.

The driver of the vehicle that the truck hit, Brady Quick, 43, of Bradenton Beach, was on his way to Venice for some kite surfing. His late model Volkswagen was heavily damaged. He suffered soft tissue injuries and shoulder and chest soreness. Neither driver required medical attention. Quick said he remembers seeing the truck head for his car and he had nowhere to go.

The incident occurred at 11:23 a.m. and the bridge was reopened around 1:40 p.m. The sight of the truck’s cab dangling out over the bay attracted a number of boaters, who were directed to stay back by the U.S. Coast Guard, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office. Bradenton Beach police and sheriff’s deputies helped divert traffic from the bridge.

County asks for building permit
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

Pilings are in the ground for the new Manatee County
Marine Rescue Headquarters south of Leffis Key but the county
needs permits to continue the project.

BRADENTON BEACH – As workers finish the pilings that will hold the new $1.5 million marine rescue headquarters, the county still has an obstacle between those pilings and finishing the building. They need permits.

Darin Cushing, the county project manager for the project, appeared before the Bradenton Beach City Commission last Thursday evening, asking them to consider some fiscal relief from the permit fees and to get the permits soon, as they will need them for mandatory construction inspections.

In a letter to the city, Cushing said that they had come to an agreement with former mayor Michael Pierce to look into permit fee relief. He said that Bradenton Beach Building Official Steve Gilbert had allowed them to start work on the pilings without a permit. Cushing said that Gilbert told him that he would need to seek permission from the city commission to cut or eliminate the permit fees.

“We are close to moving into the next phase of our work and as we are hoping to move pretty rapidly with the project, the building permit issue must be resolved in order to stay on track,” Cushing’s letter stated. “We were hoping at the very least that we could get the permit conditionally released, such that no CO (certificate of occupancy) could be issued until fees are either paid or officially waived, or until some kind of an agreement is in place.”

Cushing said that when they reach agreement on a fee structure, it would take two to three weeks to get a check issued.

“I’m sure we can work out something,” Mayor Bob Bartelt said.

The commission took no action on Thursday because the issue had not been advertised on the agenda, as required by the Sunshine law.

NEMO adds to holiday celebration
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

SUN PHOTO/TOM VAUGHT These bright-eyed volunteers spent
their early Monday morning picking up "apres-fireworks" trash
on the beaches of Anna Maria after assembling at Ginny's and
Jane E's. Other groups gathered at Roser Memorial Community
Church and at CrossPointe Fellowship.

ANNA MARIA – The North End Merchants Organization (NEMO) put its touch on the Fourth of July celebration with positive results. Thanks to the small, American-made, America

n flags planted in the ground near the right of way, the Privateers’ parade looked a little more patriotic, and thanks to the volunteers who gathered Monday morning, the beaches looked a little cleaner.

The flags were purchased by the Anna Maria business group, which was formed to connect the businesses with the public and to help celebrate the city pier’s centennial.

Group President Barbara Sato distributed the flags to member businesses to plant in the ground the morning of the parade. After the parade, members picked them up to give back to Sato for future projects.

Nearly two dozen members and volunteers showed up at Ginny’s and Jane E’s to work out a plan to clean up the post-fireworks beach. There were three districts: Pine Avenue from the bay to the beach, which was fairly clean when they got there. They ended up joining the group from Ginny’s and Jane E’s to scour the beach south to Willow, where the third group from CrossPointe Fellowship worked south to the city limit.

There were a lot of spent fireworks on the beach, but most of the big stuff had already been removed either from people on the beach Sunday night or good people who came out earlier than the NEMO people, who started at 7:30 a.m.

One of those on the beach was Sue George, who along with her family, joined the volunteers.

Unusual finds included discarded cigarettes and clothing.

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