The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 13 No. 30 - May 15, 2013


Tree house heads for code board
Carol Whitmore

An estimated 10,000 people turn out for Food and
Wine on Pine in Anna Maria to sample some of
the area’s finest food and drink.

HOLMES BEACH – Building Official Tom O’Brien siad he has made his final decision on the tree house at Angelino’s Sea Resort – the case will be heard by the code enforcement board.

“Her own evidence shows she’s in violation,” O’Brien said last week.

Lynn Tran and Richard Hazen constructed the tree house on the beach in front of their resort in 2011. It came to the attention of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, which ordered it to be granted an after the fact permit or removed in April 2012.

After further correspondence, in December 2012, DEP officials asked for a letter stating that it complies with the city’s setbacks and zoning requirements. O’Brien said his office would not supply that letter because it is not in compliance.

In February, Tran and Hazen’s Attorney, David Levin, submitted an after the fact permit application for construction seaward of the coastal construction control line.

Again in a March letter, DEP officials said the application was incomplete and asked for a letter stating that it complies with the city’s setbacks and zoning requirements, as well as other documents.

Setbacks and dunes

In his report dated April 29, O’Brien wrote, “Ms. Tran presented a survey to Mr. David Greene (city building inspector) in late January which clearly indicated that the structure in question is only 30 feet landward of the erosion control line established by the state of Florida DEP.

“That survey clearly indicates that the tree house encroaches approximately 40 percent in the required setback. Mr. Greene advised Ms. Tran that we could not provide such a letter because the structure was in substantial violation of the land development code and that this structure would require a building permit.”

He pointed out that according to the city’s code, a variance cannot be granted for encroachment of the erosion control line.

In a May 10 memo, O’Brien noted, “The other equally significant violation is the destruction of the natural dune and the associated native landscape. That was specifically cited in the original warning letter from DEP dated Dec. 14, 2011.”

He said according to the code, the dune must be restored. He said a photo submitted with the engineering report in May 2012 shows the dune and a photo taken last week shows “the dune is pretty much gone. It is quite apparent that within the entire area of Angelino’s frontage, the natural dune has been graded into ‘ … pathways and viewing areas,’ as noted in the DEP’s warning letter.”

Interference with duties

O’Brien also made reference to a memo he sent to City Attorney Patricia Petruff on April 8 regarding elected officials interfering with his job, in which he said, “My great concern is that now Commissioner Zaccagnino has decided to intervene on behalf of the violators.”

He said this violates Florida statute, which states, “The building code administrator or building official shall faithfully perform these responsibilities (listed in the statute) without interference from any person.”

He said Tran’s e-mail campaign to get signatures on a petition to save the tree house also is interference and that “she needs to cease and desist and get her property into compliance.”

In the April 15 notice of violation, O’Brien said, “There is no remedy other than the complete demolition and removal of the violating structure.

‘It is the responsibility of the property owner to insure complained with all city ordinances. Failure to comply with the ordinances may result in referral to the code enforcement board for the city of Holmes Beach or the issuance of code compliance uniform citation.”

Administrator explains tax reduction plan

PALMETTO – Manatee County Administrator Ed Hunzeker met with city and county elected officials last week to explain his plan to reduce property taxes by up to 26 percent for city residents.

“It’s part of a program we started last year to look at the county budget and see if there’s different mix of revenue so we could wind up with property tax relief for the folks in the county,” Hunzeker explained at the Council of Governments meeting.

He said Manatee’s property tax rates are high in relation to others in the area, which puts it at a disadvantage when trying to recruit businesses. In addition, 60 percent of the cost of the government is borne by the county’s property taxpayers.

“We looked at the revenue side to see if we changed out the revenues, could we reduce the burden on property tax payers,” he continued. “We came up with a three-legged stool – a half cent sales tax for health care, realign the sheriff’s patrol costs and franchise fees.

“We spent about $24 million a year on community health care. The three biggest things we spend our money on are jail medical, Medicaid match and a portion of the uncompensated service the hospitals provide to people who show up in the emergency room.”

He said $9 million of that cost comes from the proceeds of the sale of the hospital 29 years ago, which is in a health care fund, and the remainder comes from general revenue. However, the health care fund will be depleted in 2015.

Funding health care

He said the sales tax would generate $23 million and be used to replace the general revenues in the health care fund. He pointed out that everyone, not just property owners, would pay the sales tax.

The second part of the plan would be to move the Sheriff’s Office patrol costs from all county residents to only residents of unincorporated county. The cities would no longer pay for these patrol costs.

The millage rate for property owners in the cities would be reduced by .4305 due to the sales tax and by 1.2054 by eliminating the Sheriff’s Office patrol costs.

The third part of the plan is to charge franchise fees in the unincorporated county, which would not affect city residents, who already pay franchise fees to their local governments.

“The net result of all these proposed changes would be property tax decrease of up to 26 percent in the cities and up to 13 percent in the unincorporated areas,” he said. “We reduce the burden of property tax payers from 60 percent to 50 percent.”

Another issue on the special election ballot is tax abatement for businesses that expand or relocate to Manatee County.

“Every other county on the west coast of Florida has the ability to provide businesses when they want to expand or move into the county the opportunity to request some form of tax abatement for all or some of their property taxes for up to 10 years,” he explained.

He called it another tool in the “economic development tool chest” for the county.

The county will seek voter approval on the sales tax and tax abatement in a special election on June 18.

Sweet 16 for The Sun

Eight members of the Anna Maria Island Sun staff have been named as finalists for 16 awards in the 2012 Florida Press Association Better Weekly Newspaper Contest:

Rusty Chinnis: Outdoor and Recreation

Pat Copeland: Feature Story, Profile; Arts, Entertainment and Review; Local Government Reporting

Maggie Field: Feature Photo

Mike Field, Ricardo Fonseca: General Excellence; Overall Graphic Design

Cindy Lane: Editorial; Feature Story, Profile; Environmental; Feature Photo; Photos in a Series; Portfolio Photography

Troy Morgan: Spot News Photo

Tom Vaught: Feature Story, Non-Profile; Spot News Photo

Awards will be announced on Thursday, July 18, at the Florida Press Association/Florida Society of News Editors annual convention in Orlando.


Saturday is Snooks Adams Kids’ Day

Life on the Island was much slower in 1954. Not a lot of people lived here, there were few homes, little air conditioning and nature walkers had to take shotguns along for snakes and other dangerous creatures.

That’s why Holmes Beach Police Chief Snooks Adams loaded a group of boys on his Jeep and drove them out to the beach during the early days of the summer break from school for a day of fun in the sun.

The kids had a ball and they did it all again the next summer.

Now 59 years later, Snooks has passed on, but his legend is still with us, thanks to the Anna Maria Island Privateers, who took over Snooks Adams Kids’ Day, and this year it comes on Saturday, May 18, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Bayfront Park in Anna Maria.

Today the girls are allowed to join the boys and the celebration occurs around a gazebo where pizza and hot dogs will be served to the kids for free and their parents for a donation. Admission is free.

There will be fun activities on the beach, a treasure hunt in the sand a pirate dress-up contest for boys and girls and tall tales from the high seas Privateer Marco, and his sidekick, Polo.

Kids can expect a fun time and with the Privateers around, they might get a set of beads or two.

If you’re new to the Island or live on the mainland, you might appreciate this event that honors a part of Island history that many remember. In fact, many of the parents of the kids that will be there were kids themselves the first time they attended a Snooks Adams Kids’ Day on the beach.

The Privateers are a not-for-profit group who raise money for kids' scholarships and activities. They sponsor many events during the year including Fourth of July and a Christmas parades. For more information, visit their website at

Relay offers hope

Cancer survivors take the first lap at Relay for Life on Friday,
marching to “The Eye of the Tiger.”

BRADENTON BEACH – There were tears on the track and smiles.

Some were crying for lost loved ones; some were smiling, recalling personal victories small and large.

Emotions and hopes were high at the Relay for Life on Friday and Saturday at Coquina Beach. The theme was Superheroes – Saving the World, One Cure at a Time.

Relayers heard the inspirational story of Chelsea Sears, a cancer survivor and a recipient of an American Cancer Society scholarship, at the opening ceremonies.

As a four-year-old, Sears said she was diagnosed with leukemia, and doctors told her family not to expect her to live, but she surprised them with “the miracle of waiting out the storm, and the miracle of a child’s heart,” she said to loud applause.

Cancer survivors then took the first lap around the relay track to the song “Eye of the Tiger,” followed by caregivers of cancer patients, who walked to “Lean on Me.” Then they enjoyed dinner catered by the Anna Maria Oyster Bar with dessert served by Off Stage Ladies of the Island Players.

At dark on Friday night, luminarias were lit in memory of cancer victims. Participants then walked laps around the track until midday Saturday.

The event raised $40,838 for the American Cancer Society, which uses the money for cancer research, early detection and prevention education, advocacy efforts and patient services.

The top fundraising teams were MSA Student Council, $1,033; Pretty In Pink, $1,847; Publix, $2,557; Team SeaRenity, $2,644; War On Cancer, $3,513; Red’s Gator Walkers, $3,816; Just Friends, $3,706; Shiny Fish, $3,970; and Laps For Lil’, $11,437.

Individuals who raised $1,000 or more were Beryl Love, $1,005; Claudia Wiseman, $1,185; Lisa Henderson, $1,807; Amanda Escobio, $2,644; Kimberly Bard, $3,676; Lindy Gilbert, $3,970; and Emily Gross, $5,784.

The goal was $42,000; the teams have until Aug. 31 to raise the additional $1,162 to meet their goal. If you would like to give to the American Cancer Society for the Anna Maria Island Relay for Life, visit or call Alyson Kerwin at 941-328-3775.

Sponsors were LaPensee Plumbing, Miller Electric, Horizon Realty, Florida Homes Health, S2Timing and In Memory of Sam and Ann Samulski.

Blood drive coming up

HOLMES BEACH – It’s almost time to roll up your sleeve and give in more ways than one.

The 13th Annual Island Blood Drive will again be held inside the cool confines of the St. Bernard Catholic Church activity center at 248 S. Harbor Drive on Saturday and Sunday, June 1 and 2, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The first 250 donors get a free T-shirt but more than that, everyone gets to choose which charity of combination of charities gets a $100 donation from an anonymous donor.

This year’s recipients are the Anna Maria Island Community Center, the Anna Maria Island Privateers, West Manatee Fire Rescue Auxiliary and Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation, Inc.

Donors must:

• Be at least 16 years old;
• Weigh at least 110 pounds;
• Have not had hepatitis after their 11th birthday;
• Feel well the day of donation;
• Not be pregnant within the past six weeks;
• Not had a transfusion within the last 12 months.

As if providing blood to those in need isn’t enough, doctors say blood donations might help cancer patients. According to Germán F. Leparc, M.D., chief medical officer of Oneblood, Inc., says blood transfusions are helping cancer patients deal with other treatments.

“Blood transfusion support of cancer patients under treatment has made many of the new treatments possible,” he said. “Bone marrow transplants to treat leukemias, lymphomas and malignancies that have spread to the bone marrow require transfusions for weeks, or sometimes months, until the donated tissue successfully engrafts.”

LeParc says that chemotherapy, a first line of treatment for many types of cancer, has significant toxic effects on the bone marrow tissue that is the source of our blood cells. That is why many cancer patients are able to undergo aggressive chemotherapy treatments only if they can be supported with blood transfusions – red blood cells to relieve anemia and bleeding and platelets to stop the blood loss that may result from the low platelet counts commonly associated with chemotherapy.

Sponsors include the Anna Maria Island Sun, The Bradenton Herald, One Blood, Domino’s Pizza, the BeachHouse restaurant and Tropicana.

There will be snacks and refreshments at the blood drive for donors. Be sure to eat something before coming and bring some ID with you. You can schedule your appointment online at - Use code MTFF0 (M-T-F-F-zero). For more information or to sign up, call 1-800-682-5663.

Spectacular auction packages at An Island Affaire

tom vaught

The Florida Department of Transportation used maps,
charts and pictures as visual aids to help members of
the public attending the hearing understand the choices
for the future of the Cortez Bridge.


ANNA MARIA – A bevy of spectacular live auction packages awaits bidders at An Island Affaire, the Island Community Center’s annual diner auction fundraiser, on Saturday, May 18, at the Island Community Center, 407 Magnolia Ave., Anna Maria.

Packages feature everything from exciting trips to delightful gourmet dining to sports experiences. A sampling of them includes:

• A 48 Volt IQ model, four-passenger, tuxedo golf cart valued at $4,000;

• A trip to the British Virgin Islands to stay in Mainsail’s Scrub Island Resort for five days and four nights;

• A five-course dinner for 10 at Euphemia Haye prepared by Chef Ray Arpke;

• An evening with the Tampa Bay Lightning with dinner for four, a pre-game tour to the team bench to watch player warm ups and four tickets to the game in the VIP corporate hospitality suite, plus a parking pass for the 2013-14 season;

• Tickets to see Justin Timberlake and Jay Z live in concert in Atlanta on Dec. 17 with a three-night stay in a two-bedroom condo and concert gifts;

• A one-week stay in Marigot Bay, St. Lucia, West Indies in the Caribbean;

• A five-course diner at the Sandbar for eight;

• A trip for two to see the Orlando Magic including a tour of the Amway Center Arena; a post-game photo on Center Court; two lower bowl, terrace level seats to the game; two club level passes and a fan package.

Affaire raffles

Drawings for two raffles will be held at the Affaire. Lucky ticketholders can win:

• An elegant black diamond pendant offered by Bridge Street Jewelers. Tickets are $50 each or three for $100 at the Community Center;

• An iPack including an iPhone 5 and iPad 4 sponsored by Anna Maria Island Resorts. Tickets are $5 each, three for $10 or seven for $20 at the Community Center, Sandbar restaurant, 100 Spring Ave. and Pink and Navy, 216C Pine Ave., all in Anna Maria; and Air and Energy, 3018 Avenue C, Hurricane Hank’s restaurant, 5346 Gulf Drive, Duffy’s Tavern, 5808 Marina Drive and True Value Hardware, 5324 Marina Drive, all in Holmes Beach.

The Affaire begins with a champagne reception, an open bar and a selection of hors d’oeuvres at 6 p.m.; followed by a dinner catered by Harry’s Continental Kitchens with a dessert bar; and then live and silent auctions and surprise entertainment.

Individual tickets are $175, and tables of eight or 10 are available. For tickets, contact Sharen Pittman at or 941-778-1908, ext. 9203.

Burglary suspect arrested

Holmes Beach Police responded to a burglary Sunday at the Mainsail boat dock on Marina Drive in reference to a burglary of fishing boats. According to a police department press release, numerous coolers, fishing nets and custom anchors were stolen off those vessels. Police photographed footprints left by the suspect on the decks and they also discovered the burglars entered the first boat from the water.

The release said that later in the day, Sgt. Mike Pilato was informed by dispatch that one of the victims was told his stolen items had been seen at a small island east of Key Royale known as Gilligan’s Island. Pilato responded to Mainsail and rode with the victim out to the Island and they saw Roger Alan Darling, 39, of Bradenton, in an unregistered boat with the stolen equipment. Some of the equipment was onshore at a makeshift campsite. Pilato asked Darling about the property and Darling said he knew it was stolen but he did not steal it. Pilato took him into custody and the other victims came out to the scene to identify their equipment.

Darling and the stolen property were transported to the Holmes Beach 63rd Street boat ramp. Darling was transported to the Manatee County Jail on charges of possession of stolen property, a third degree felony.

Officer T. Knoll, with Florida Wildlife Commission, and Longboat Key Police Marine Officer D. Silvero responded to assist.

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