The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 11 No. 37 - June 29, 2011



Harry Stoltzfus

Visitors relax on the front porch of The Olive Oil
Outpost on Pine Avenue.

ANNA MARIA - Since Pine Avenue Restoration completed its first two buildings in 2009, the street has evolved from a sparse collection of mostly real estate offices into a growing business district offering boutique shopping in a tranquil neighborhood setting.

"It has transformed the experience that people have when they come to Anna Maria," Micheal Coleman, of PAR, explained. "When our most recent set of buildings at 216/218 opened, it expanded the street, and it became a walking district. Now people have interesting things to see and do."

In addition to PAR's three sets of buildings, Lizzie Vann and Mike Thrasher have added the Historic Green Village, which includes the Village Café at Rosedale; the Sears Cottage, now Relish in Resourcefulness; and Thelma by the Sea. They also have renovated Beach Bums and the Anna Maria General Store and Deli.

The Studio at Gulf and Pine, an art and culture center, anchors the Gulf Drive end and the shops at Bayview Plaza, the street's only shopping area for many years, anchors the Bay Boulevard end. There the city pier juts out into the bay.

"The business owners are setting a standard for green, responsible development," Coleman declared. "It's the greenest downtown in America.

"You can forecast the benefits that accrue when you step into a vision. To be sitting on this porch having this conversation is realizing the dream."

How PAR began

"Pine Avenue has always been Anna Maria's main street," explained Ed Chiles, of PAR. "It languished for many years. The nexus for the revitalization is when we lost a critical business, the marina, and saw four houses built there.

"Mike and I got together and said we can't allow this to happen. We laid out our vision for historical design, green initiatives, native landscaping and boutique retail under residential that would reflect the character of the city."

Chiles said the pair secured 15 lots and went to the city with renderings showing that they wanted to do less than allowed and received approval. They are now completing their fourth set of buildings at 306/308 and have plans for 313 to begin in the fall and the final two at 208/210 for 2012.

"In a short amount of time, the street has blossomed beyond what I thought," Chiles continued. "I hoped others would follow, and the Thrashers have done that. I couldn't be more pleased.

"The people who are the heart and soul of the shops are so important and vital to our community. Small business is one of the most important threads that make up the fabric of a community."

Take a walk down the street from Gulf Drive to Bay Boulevard and discover what it has to offer.

The Studio at Gulf and Pine

Corner of Gulf Drive and Pine Avenue

The Studio welcomes artists, poets, musicians, performers and writers to exhibit their talents and exchange ideas. It presents lectures, classes and discussion groups from the Lifelong Learning Center, art exhibits, demonstrations and workshops, is equipped with a theater film projection room and offers rental space.

"I think that the bustling private enterprise now emerging on Anna Maria, along with our school, churches, Community Center and, of course, Publix, will encourage a more resident Island population," said owner Rhea Chiles.

"I am really pleased when folks tell me that the ambiance of The Studio was a factor in their decision to move to the Island."

The Studio is open from 1 to 5 p.m. on Friday and Saturday from June through September and from 1 to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday from October through May.

Pink and Navy, 216C

This shop offers upscale women's and men's clothing, furniture, art, home décor, jewelry, baby gifts and books. It also offers a humanitarian section that includes jewelry made by women in Uganda to help them rise out of poverty, and home décor by Stray Dog Designs that addresses critical needs such as housing and food.

Coming soon is Tom's Shoes, an organization that donates a pair of shoes to a needy child for every pair purchased. Tom's also will be offering eyewear to help fund eye care for those in need.

"It's been a great thing," owner Janae Rudacille said of the new businesses. "It's good for locals because they have places to go and places to bring their guests.

Pink & Navy is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

Bella by the Sea, 218C

Find women's apparel, including specialty boutique brands such as Nic and Zoe and Luna Luz, jewelry, vintage wicker, seagrass and bamboo handbags, gift items and industrial repurposed furniture at this shop. It features items from organizations that put women back into the work force.

"I chose to be here," owner Jo-Ann Lefner said. "I looked at many different places to open my store and there's no better place to be."

The shop is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5-ish p.m. and adds Sunday hours during season. Lefner said to watch for special events such as fashion shows and gift nights.

Anna Maria General Store and Deli, 307

Groceries, including Greenleaf cheeses, Tyler's ice cream, Mixon fruit juices, organic items and an extensive wine selection, are available for shoppers. In addition, the deli features delights prepared by Chef Vincenzo such as meatballs and rice balls, as well as quiches, sandwiches made to order and homemade salads.

A selection of cakes, pies and other treats made locally by Hometown Desserts and fresh baked Tuscan bread are available daily. Whole desserts can be ordered.

Clerk Sue Peterson said the new additions on the street "are fantastic and bring cohesiveness."

Owned by the Thrashers, the store is open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. weekdays, until 10 p.m. on Saturdays and 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sundays.

Lor-Ell's Front Porch Salon, 317C

Owner Loretta Hopps offers haircuts, color, perms, highlights and lowlights in this cheery salon, which is open from Tuesday through Saturday from 10:30 a.m. until the last customer is served.

Hopps, who had a salon on the street for many years, before moving to the new location in 2009, said, "It's 100 percent better. There are people walking up and down the street looking at the shops and people sitting on the porches. It's been wonderful for business."

Island Podiatry, 317C

Dr. Clare Starrett offers medical and surgical foot care at this location on Monday, Wednesday and Friday by appointment. She has X-ray equipment on premises. Starrrett's podiatry practice has been located on Pine Avenue in another location since 1994, and she moved it into the PAR building in 2009.

"It's been great with all the improvements," she said. "What PAR and Lizzie have done is fantastic."

Emerson's Studio Store, 317C

Artist Emerson Quillin sells his original art, published cartoon prints and custom art. In addition, he licenses illustrations to companies to put on their products that include greeting cards, cocktail napkins, apparel, serving trays, ceramic mugs aprons and art stamps, all available in the store.

"It's made Pine Avenue a destination," said Emerson's wife, Claire. "There's great shopping and places to eat and drink. I love the porches on the shops because people can sit out front."

The store is open Monday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Flip Flop Shop, 315C

Mike and Susan Brinson operate this shop next door to their Island Accommodations business. It features totes, rugs, jewelry, tumblers, towels, beach gear and, of course, flip flops. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

"We love all the new shops on the street," Susan said. "It's a whole new area on the Island to shop and eat. Everyone that comes into the shop says, 'We love what's happening here and what you're doing.'"

Timeless Treasures, 315C

Tammy Anazalone shares space with the Flip Flop Shop and specializes in reclaimed painted vintage furniture in beach house cottage and shabby chic coastal styles. You also will find books by local authors, linens, jewelry and other gift items. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

The Island Cabana, 403C

Nancy Lee carries unique gifts, home décor, resort wear, totes, handbags jewelry and baby items and is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

Lee said the street has become a destination, but kept its charm and noted, "More people are walking and greet people on their porches as they go by. It's like a neighborhood now, and tourists comment on how friendly we are."

Island Concierge Service, 401C

Susanne Arbanas offers visitor information and assistance in marketing and networking to local business owners. She is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and every third Friday at 5:30 p.m., a porch party attracts people for raffle prizes, food and live music.

Future plans include a co-op for local retail providers, artists and musicians, and Arbanas explained, "It gives people an opportunity to be on the street if they can't afford to rent a storefront and a presence on our website."

The Olive Oil Outpost, 401C

Kelly Kary caters to cooks with a wide selection of olive oil, olives, tapenade, pesto, herbs, spices, pasta, vinegar, salt, seasoning, cheese and more. Summer hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and hours during season are 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.

Kary, whose original store was in Sarasota, said she was enticed to move to Pine Avenue by Chiles and Coleman and explained, "I came up here a couple of weeks in a row and watched the people and the traffic.

"I knew I'd be the only one for awhile but I could see the vision, that it was going to be something good. I see something that was sleepy is awake now. It has good momentum."

Beach Bums, 427

Lauren Sato and Diane Havelka took over this renovated business from the Thrashers and rent eco-friendly transportation – bicycles kayaks, street legal electric golf carts, electric bicycles and battery-powered scooters. They also rent baby equipment, provide guided kayak tours and sell beach supplies, gifts, souvenirs, T-shirts, jewelry and toys.

"Many of our guests say they are pleased with how the businesses are increasing, but we are keeping the small town atmosphere," Havelka said. "Families love to come here because they feel safe, and it's like living in a neighborhood."

Summer hours are 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. During season, they are open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.

Village Café at Rosedale, 503

Stop by for organic fair trade coffee, pastries, soups and salads from 7 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. daily at this café owned by the Thrashers. Watch for a new menu, including vegetarian and gluten free items, and special events such as game nights on Wednesdays after 6 p.m., movie nights on Fridays, presentations, BBQs on the deck and live music.

"We are pleased to restore the important historic cottages of the old Anna Maria and make them open to locals and visitors alike," Vann Thrasher said. "We see it as a good thing that we link our history to tomorrow's green technology and make Pine Avenue a great place to be."

"We're working hard to ID the values we've set for ourselves – to give back to the community, use green technology and sustain ourselves within the local economy," Manager Lydia Beljan added.

Relish in Resourcefulness, 505

Find vintage clothing, upcycled jewelry and clothing and reclaimed designer clothing at this eclectic store owned by Rhonda Grote. Hours are 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday and Monday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday, 1 to 6:30 p.m. Wednesday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday through Saturday.

"What's happening it's a positive thing because its high quality businesses from fashion forward to hand crafted," Grote pointed out. "The locals are supporting us until the tourists discover us.

"Every Wednesday from 5 to 6:30, I have a gal pal party with drinks, treats and a special discount. It's fun to have a place to bring your girlfriends."

Bayview Plaza

Pine Avenue and South Bay Boulevard

Two Sides of Nature, owned by David LaBell is at one end of the plaza and offers women's clothing in bright happy colors, purses and jewelry from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily.

Chapae owner Pat Slusser stocks men's, women's and children's clothing, jewelry, hats, glasses, handbags, greeting cards, scarves and gift items and is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. She said she is happy with the new shops on the street because "competition is good; it brings more people to the street."

Reagan Paige carries women's apparel, sportswear and accessories in a boutique setting from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.

"I'm glad they're here," owner Eric Flodberg said of the new shops. "It brings more people because there's a wider variety to choose from."

He said the boardwalk under construction at the city pier "is a huge plus. It luxury tropical look will help draw more people here."

Stop by Two Scoops for breakfast fare, sandwiches, drinks, ice cream treats, candy and snacks from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and until 10 on Friday and Saturday. LaBell also owns this store.

A third store owned by LaBell is Two Sides of Nature at the other end of the plaza. It carries gift items, clothing, sandals, beach and kitchen items, glasses, totes and caps. Hours are 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily.

City pier, 100 South Bay Blvd.

The historic city pier turned 100 years old this year, and is one of the most popular destinations in the state. It appeals to residents and tourists as a fishing spot, a dining destination or a beautiful place to take a leisurely stroll.

The restaurant offers lunch and dinner with happy hour and early bird specials Monday through Friday from 3 to 6 p.m. It is open from 11a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and until 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday with live music starting at 6 p.m. Friday through Sunday, weather permitting.

Fishing is free when you purchase anything at the restaurant or bait shop. The bait shop is open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and until 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday. The bait shop has frozen bait, tackle and seasonally live bait.

Parade, fireworks to highlight Island 4th
Carol Whitmore


The Fourth of July comes on a Monday this year, and there will be two days of celebration including a parade and fireworks on the beach.

The Chiles Group of restaurants provides the fireworks starting with the Mar Vista Dockside restaurant's Boom Boom on the Bay on the northern end of Longboat Key on Saturday, July 2. Come by boat (look for ICW #39) or car (760 Broadway St.). Diners can order off the menu and enjoy full bar offerings. Fireworks start after dark. Reserve a spot for $25 per person by calling 941-383-2391 or e-mail

The fireworks move two miles north on Sunday, July 3, to the BeachHouse restaurant, 200 Gulf Drive N. in Bradenton Beach, for its 18th Annual Fireworks Extravaganza. Diners can watch from the expansive deck on the beach, but VIP party package holders will enjoy a dinner buffet of appetizers, entrees and desserts and specialty cocktails, beer and wine. J. Rinell will provide music and those with the party package will enjoy the fireworks from a tent erected on the beach. To reserve for the VIP package, call 779-2222.

The Privateers start the celebration on Independence Day on Monday with their parade, which starts at Coquina Beach in Bradenton Beach at 10 a.m. and ends up at Bayfront Park in Anna Maria. The public is invited to participate. Because of the length of the parade, no walkers will be allowed. Vehicles and floats should be decorated for the holiday, and no political entries will be allowed.

All vehicles must be staged by 9:30 a.m., so arrive early. You must fill out an application. There is no charge to be in the parade. For more information, call Tim "Hammer" Thompson at 941-780-1668 or e-mail: You can also get an application at their website:

After the parade, they will move the show to the Anna Maria Island Beach Café at Manatee County Public Beach to present the winners of their scholarships this year. Lunch will be available at the café.

The final fireworks show comes Monday night at the Sandbar restaurant, 100 Spring Ave., Anna Maria. There will be a special VIP party under the pavilion. Tables of eight are available for $1,000 and include an upscale buffet, complimentary Sandbar specialty drinks, beer and wine, plus a great spot to watch the fireworks. There are only 100 seats available, so book early. Only complete tables of eight will be sold.

Restaurant seating is on a first come, first served basis. Valet parking will be available all day. For more information and VIP table purchase, contact Patti McKee, special events director at 778-8709 or All firework shows are weather permitting, and there are no refunds for inclement weather.

For those who like to shoot their own fireworks on the beach, it is illegal. Manatee County and the Island cities have renewed their commitment to upholding the ban, so be forewarned.

The Manatee County Sheriff's Office will beef up its patrol in Anna Maria, and deputies will be available for any problems on the beach. The Holmes Beach and Bradenton Beach police departments also will have reserve officers to help enforce the law and direct traffic.

People are encouraged to use the free trolley to get to a good vantage point. The trolleys will run until there are no people waiting at trolley stops, according to Manatee County Area Transit.

Shark fishing defended

Captain Bill Goldschmidt, of Cortez, speaks at the FWC hearing
last week, saying he opposes adding more species of sharks to
the list of those that cannot be fished.


SARASOTA – Whenever the government considers new fishing regulations, it draws anglers faster than baitfish to a chum block. After hearing testimony at a Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission (FWC) hearing on more restrictions on shark fishing, it is evident the fishermen don't want to deal with any more rules than they have now.

A group of about a dozen anglers gathered at a hearing room in downtown Sarasota last Thursday, June 23, and they all voiced anger over expanding the list of endangered or vulnerable species of sharks. The FWC wants to include hammerheads, except for bonnetheads, and tiger sharks to the list of fish illegal to harvest. They also took comment on requiring shark fishermen to use circle hooks and to restrict chumming from the shore.

Captain Bill Goldschmidt, of Cortez, who wrote "Sharkman of Cortez," staged a protest outside the Terrace Building before the hearing, and was the first speaker.

"There is a clear agenda to prohibit shark fishing in this country," he said. "They are using scare tactics by saying sharks are becoming endangered."

Goldschmidt said sharks are plentiful and many are immune to becoming extinct.

"I'm well aware of species vulnerability to offshore fishing, but not migratory fish," he said. "Animal lovers out there just don't want any animals killed."

Goldschmidt said a group of shark fishermen are putting together a report for the government, which they will use as the basis of a lawsuit to prevent adding more species to the list of taboo sharks. He said the idea that there are fewer sharks out there than before is misleading.

"Tournaments show that there are sharks out there," he said. "They find three bull sharks to every black tip and two hammerheads to every black tip."

Sean Paxton also spoke of the anti-fishing agenda and he spoke of the use of circle hooks.

"I feel they work, but I would not mandate them at this time," he said. "You need more study. It would be a wet blanket to force them on fishermen."

His brother, Brooks, spoke about prohibiting chumming, the practice of throwing out fish parts to attract sharks.

"Rarely, if ever, is that done," he said, referring to chumming from shore. "It doesn't make sense because the tide can wash it out to sea. It's better when it's done from a boat."

Robert Lugiewicz, who manages a tackle shop, said there is no question that large sharks are on a decline, but he took issue with the round hooks.

"My issue is the lack of education on how to remove them," he said. "Circle hooks need to be removed because they can damage the fish.

"It does more damage in the shark's stomach," Lugiewicz added. ""If you remove it incorrectly, you can damage a shark's mouths and jaws bad."

Lugiewicz said that circle hooks can cost as much as $25, so anglers would be anxious to remove them to use again, no matter how badly it mauls the shark.

Frank Hammema, a long-time fisherman, took issue with those hooks used for catch and release tournaments, which the government might mandate instead of catch and cook tournaments.

"If you catch a shark with that hook, it's probably going to die," he said. "With a catch and release tournament, you're guaranteeing that it will also go to waste."

He said circle hooks are designed to be a catch and kill hook.

As for chumming from shore, Hammema repeated earlier comments about the wisdom of doing so.

"If someone is doing it, they're not too bright because it doesn't work," he said. "All the fish guts in the world won't make sharks eat humans unless they flash their little white feet at them."

There are final hearings scheduled by phone. Call 850-487-0554 to register for phone-in workshops on Thursday, July 7, or Tuesday, July 12, from 6 to 8 p.m.

Elizabeth Moss passes
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

Elizabeth Pierce Moss

ANNA MARIA – Long time resident Elizabeth Pierce Moss, 93, passed away Saturday, June 25, in her home surrounded by family.

"Elizabeth was one of the first Island residents I met when I arrived in 1956," Carolyne Norwood recalled. "Our friendship grew over the years. It was a privilege to call Elizabeth my dearest friend."

"Everyone loved Elizabeth. She enjoyed a good time, dressing in old-fashioned dresses, walking briskly on the beach at sunset."

Elizabeth was born Aug. 23, 1917, in Bartow, Fla., and first came to the Island in 1921, when she was 4 years old. In 1943, her family bought their house at the beach end of Willow Avenue.

She earned her bachelor's degree at Florida State College for Women, which later became Florida State University, and her master's degree at FSU.

In 1954, she left her job teaching Spanish at Bartow High School and moved to the Island, where she taught at the new Anna Maria Elementary School in Holmes Beach.

"Elizabeth loved to talk about the fourth-grade class she taught," Norwood said. "Several years ago she had a reunion at her home with many of those students. She told them 'that was my very best class.'"

She met her husband, Gene, while teaching, and they married in 1956. They lived in Elizabeth's family home and had twins, Ed and Jim, in 1958 and Elizabeth in 1964.

Elizabeth took many walks with her children and grandchildren, teaching them about the birds, plants and shells of her beloved Island. Most importantly, she instilled in them the importance of family and commitment in marriage.

Elizabeth served as assistant city clerk of Anna Maria during Mayor Ernie Cagnina's years in office and was a member of the DAR and the League of Women Voters.

For more than 50 years, she was active in Roser Memorial Community Church, where she taught Sunday school, served on boards and committees, was the church historian and served as a Stephen Minister.

Always energetic and physically active, Elizabeth loved all types of dancing. The international folk dancing that the Mosses did with their daughter Beth had an early influence in her decision to become an international missionary.

She was a charter member of the Anna Maria Island Historical Society and active in its many events through the years. She wrote a series of notebooks, "Footprints in the Sand," about some of the Island's early residents.

"She had so many stories and anecdotes about the early residents on the Island, and she loved to share them with visitors when she gave tours in the museum," recalled Betty Yanger, former executive director of the Historical Society.

Another good friend, Ginger Havens, who walked regularly with Elizabeth in recent years, fondly remembers her energy, youthfulness and love of gardening. Terry Smith, who also walked regularly with Elizabeth, remembers her remarkable ability to remain upright, active and keep a positive attitude in her final years.

Long-time Island resident Margaret Chapman and fellow volunteer at the Historical Society enjoyed not only playing bridge with her, but also the many Moss holiday family picnics. Her words express the thoughts of all of her friends and family, "She was a great friend and will be sorely missed."

In 2003, the Mosses were named the city's Citizens of the Year, and in 2004, they were named The Sun's Persons of the Year. Gene passed away in 2006.

Elizabeth recently served a grand marshal of the Anna Maria City Pier Centennial Parade along with Norwood and Chapman.

She is survived by her three children: Jim Moss, Ed Moss, and Beth Moss Waters, nine grandchildren: Ryan, David, Brent, Amy, Jonathan, Matthew, Greg, Melanie, and Alyssa, and one great-grandchild: Mason.

A memorial service will be held at Roser Memorial Community Church on Friday, July 1, at 4 p.m. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be sent to Meals on Wheels or Manasota Buds (

Some information for this story was provided by the Moss family.

AMI real estate still strong

The Anna Maria Island market continues to be one of those few pockets of positive real estate news around the country, according to Alan Galletto, an agent with Island Real Estate using figures compiled from the Manatee County Multiple Listing Service.

"When I hear the macro real estate news in the media there is a total disconnect from what's happening here on the Island," he wrote in his latest newsletter.

Galletto reported that sales for May 2011 continue to be strong with 33 properties sold (15 single-family, 15 condominiums, zero duplexes and three lots) up 14 percent over May, 2010 at 29 (20 single-family, seven condos, one duplex and one lot). Of the 33 sales in May 24 percent (eight) were distressed, the same percentage as in May 2010.

May 31, 2011, year-to-date sales were 160 (76 single-family, 68 condos, six duplexes and 10 lots) still up 20 percent over May 31, 2010, at 133 (80 single-family, 37 condos, 10 duplexes and six lots).

Of the May 31, 2011, year-to-date sales of 160 only 13 percent (22) were distressed compared to the May 31, 2010, sales of 133, when 26 percent (34) were distressed.

Properties under contract continue to be strong at 61 (32 single-family, 24 condos, two duplexes and three lots) with 40 percent (25) of them distressed properties.

The inventory continues to move downward with 452 properties currently for sale (222 single-family, 146 condos, 36 duplexes and 48 lots) and only five percent of them distressed (seven single-family, 12 condos, four duplexes and one lot). The inventory is down more than 100 since June of last year and the lowest it's been since 2005.

"These are all good signs of a healthy market on the island," Galletto concluded.

County approves Segway use
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

Julie Kirkwood, manager of Segs by the Sea said
the beauty of the beach helps draw customers to her business.

BRADENTON BEACH – It is early morning at the Coquina Beach Trail, and the joggers, walkers and bicyclists pass each other smiling or saying hello.

The scenario is typical for this ever-popular trail that offers beach views for those who travel it and soon, people on Segways will be allowed to join them – legally.

The Manatee County Board of Commissioners voted last week to allow Segways alone or in groups on the trail and in the parking lot of Coquina Beach, but not Leffis Key, for a trial period of six months. If nothing drastic happens, they will likely make it permanent.

The commissioners argued over how fast the devices could go at Coquina and finally agreed to set it at 12 miles per hour. According to the Segway website, the top speed of every model is 12.5 mph.

The result was approval of a policy for the Manatee County Parks and Recreation Department to follow. When asked if police or lifeguards would ticket speeders, Commissioner Joe McClash said no, since the speed limit would have no ordinance to allow tickets.

Before the vote, Commissioner John Chappie, who was mayor of Bradenton Beach when the city and county combined to build the Coquina Beach Trail, said he had talked with current mayor Bob Bartelt and he reported Bartelt was happy with the Segways on the trail.

This action negates county efforts to find a Segway rental franchise that would have exclusive rights to rent them at the beach. They had chosen Segs by the Sea to negotiate a contract and that company moved from the old Anna Maria Post Office building to a space on Bridge Street, to be near Coquina. Now, any Segway rental agency will be able to conduct tours as long it registers with the parks and recreation department.

Segs by the Sea Manager Julie Kirkwood said she is glad the county commission didn't vote to ban them from the trail, but she did voice disappointment that they wasted money and time working on a franchise agreement.

"We moved here because of the franchise situation, and now we're glad we did," she said. "Prior to the talks, we had looked at this area, and we were glad we moved into this location because we have a nice, big porch to display our rentals and to educate renters on how to ride them."

She said the beauty of the beach helps draw customers to her business, which is the closest Segway rental operation to the trail.

"They want to see the water and the beach," she said. "The other day, a dolphin came out of the water as the group watched, and our guide joked that that was going to cost extra."

Kirkwood said their experience in Bradenton Beach has been safer than in Anna Maria.

"We're finding people are following our instructions more," she said. "People are touring more with the Segways, too."

Segs by the Beach can be reached by calling 209-5970.

City options: Tax hike, spending cuts

BRADENTON BEACH – Faced with a continued decline in income, the city commission met last Thursday to discuss how to deal with it. It has two choices at this point, a tax hike or more spending cuts, and to complicate things, it needs to spend some money to take care of some seawalls at bayside street ends that are dilapidated.

Mayor Bob Bartelt took note that nobody was in the audience except city department heads and news reporters, and he expressed hope that the public would get interested in the budget talks. This budget work session is unusual in that it starts the budget process early for the city. They planned it that way to give them enough time to explore all options.

City Clerk Nora Idso drew up the proposed budget for the next fiscal year, which starts Oct. 1 and runs through September of next year. She wanted the commissioners to know one thing about her effort.

"This is not my budget," she said emphatically. "I took the numbers that were available and put them onto paper."

Idso said that the income figures were all estimates from the county and she went down expenditures line by line to come up with spending estimates for next fiscal year. She also said there was a windfall stemming from three years ago.

"In 2008, we had a shortfall and we took $75,000 from reserves to cover it," she said. "We did not use it all and we still have $38,000 available."

The commissioners looked at a list of the city's bayside seawalls as Public Works Director Tom Woodard commented on their urgency. They decided seawalls at Sixth Street South, Seventh Street South and 13th Street South were most in need of replacement. Woodard estimated the three were a total of 75 feet long and going by earlier replacement estimates of $600 per linear foot, they figured they would need $90,000.

The budget estimate already was short $38,531, but Idso was able to add $20,000 because the cut in the county's interlocal agreement that pays the city to patrol the county-owned beaches was not as deep as they thought it would be.

The commissioners looked over expenditures and asked why some went up for next year and others did not, but one discovery might net the city a portion of that shortfall. Commissioner Gay Breuler found that income tax (FICA) figures had not been adjusted for some categories where they should have been reduced. Idso said she would work on that and bring new figures to the meeting they scheduled for Thursday, June 30, at 1 p.m.

Commission approves variance for café steps

ANNA MARIA – Commissioners approved a 35-foot variance for adding steps to the Village Café at Rosedale despite Chair Chuck Webb's position that the request violates the code.

According to the code, a non-conforming structure cannot be extended, increased or enlarged. Webb maintained that the steps are part of the structure.

The definition of a structure is "anything constructed or erected which is located 12 inches above the ground or attached to something located on the ground, exclusive of landscape materials."

Webb pointed out that the intent of the code is to eventually eliminate non-conformities. However, on June 7, the planning and zoning board recommended approval of the request.

Lynn Townsend Burnett, of LTA Engineers representing the Historic Green Village, presented historical photos of the steps at the original entrance on Pine Avenue.

She noted, "Part of the character of this project is that it is not only green, but it is also historic. We want to restore it as close to the original condition as possible."

Regarding Webb's position, Burnett said steps usually are not included as part of a structure when calculating square footage.

Preserving historic structures

"You said our goal is to get rid of non-conforming structures, but what we really want to do is keep these older homes," Commissioner Jo Ann Mattick said.

Webb said it's a policy decision for the commission to decide how to treat older non-conforming homes. He said the committee that is revising the land development regulations is considering the issue.

Planner Alan Garrett said the LDR committee members have realized that in order to maintain historic structures they must give owners more flexibility to improve and preserve the structures.

Burnett said the area of the structure is not increasing, and Commissioner Dale Woodland said he thought the code meant anything inside the walls.

"We're talking about one of the most historic structures on Anna Maria Island and taking it back to what it originally was," Commissioner Gene Aubry pointed out. "If you make judgments where you discourage what they're trying to do, that would be a shame."

Webb said while it is not a big issue, it does violate the code and noted, "You could get someone coming in with something you don't like and really want to stop, and they could come back to this and ask how am I different."

Garrett said he feels that each variance stands on its own and one should not be a precedent for another.

"We make subjective judgments based on what's in the best interest of the community," Micheal Coleman noted. "The right thing to do is have those stairs coming down like they always did."

Commissioners approved the variance by a vote of 4/0 with Aubry abstaining due to conflict of interest.

They also approved a site plan amendment for the Historic Green Village which contained three parts: to delete building B, add 14 offsite parking spaces at Roser Church and add voltaic panels over the parking lot at the Village.

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