The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 14 No. 24 - April 9, 2014


Residents vent over rezone plan
Carol Whitmore


This conceptual design by Emily Anne Smith,
of Designs of Significance, shows Lizzie Lus
Island Retreat with offices below and two residential units above.


HOLMES BEACH – Residents opposed to a request for a zoning change at 214 54th Street vented their feelings at last week’s meeting of the planning commission.

“The ultimate end result is that is would be setting a terrible precedent and would have a very negative impact on the residential neighborhood,” Dick Motzer stressed, receiving applause for summing up the sentiment of the group.

However, the meeting almost didn’t take place after planning commissioners learned that they didn’t receive Planner Bill Brisson’s staff reports on the rezone and comprehensive plan amend ment until the meeting.

Member Barbara Hines asked for a half hour recess to read the reports, but Monica Simpson, agent for the applicant, Lizzie Lus Island Retreat, said she had asked for a continuance of the meeting in order to review Brisson’s comments and possibly revise the request.

There were arguments for proceeding with the public hearing because many residents had come to speak and arguments for granting the continuance.

“Don’t try and understand a complex situation in 30 minutes,” Brisson advised.

Chair Sue Normand said board members could open a public hearing, take testimony from Brisson, Simpson and residents, then continue the hearing to a date certain when they could discuss the issues and make a decision. They voted to do so.

Comprehensive plan amendment

Brisson said the subject property is at 214 54th Street, across the street from Island Lumber and contains two residential units and a CPA office. The applicant is seeking to change the future land use designation from medium density residential, R-2, to the most intense commercial, C-3, and to extend the mixed use overlay to include the property.

“Mixed use allows for residential above commercial and that property could have two residential units above the commercial use or four or five resort housing units above commercial,” Brisson explained.

He said while the applicant is seeking two residential units over commercial, any future owner could change that to resort housing units.

“We did not envision extending mixed use to residential,” he continued. “Our recommendation is to deny the change and the expansion of the overlay district. My thought is that it’s the wrong use.”

Simpson said she wished the board had her amended application because “you do not have the benefit of seeing the big picture. It would show you what the owners are proposing.

“There is a structure there with two residential units and historically, for many years, it had a CPA office. Basically, there’s not a huge change in the land use, and it gives us the opportunity to create a buffer between C-3 and R-2.

Residents speak

Motzer said the language in the application stating the project would offer much needed office space, is “flowery language to cover this attempt to encroach into a residential neighborhood and change this area to commercial zoning.”

He also took issue with the implication that there was a business on the property for many years, pointing out that it was a home occupation and subject to strict rules, including no traffic to the home, no signage and no employees.

He said the structure would be a large two-story building with 15 parking spaces next to residential property and would cause more congestion and traffic problems in the area.

“I urge you to reject this deceptive submission and keep it a residential area to try and maintain what is left of the character of the Island,” he concluded.

“Please stop what could be a future commercial takeover of Holmes Boulevard. If the applicant wanted commercial property, they should have bought commercial property.”

“We have the right to enjoy our property and not have somebody intrude next door with a business,” resident David Philips said.

Resident Nancy Deal said she has a major concern with increased traffic and the encroachment of commercial into residential.

“We make our decision based on the evidence and whether it’s compatible with the comprehensive plan,” Normand explained to the group. “We go by the rules and make a recommendation to the city commission.”

The board the opened the public hearing on the rezone request with similar results and voted to continue both requests to Wednesday, May 21, at 7 p.m.


Noise rules cause a commotion

BRADENTON BEACH – Two weeks after unanimously approving a new noise ordinance, Bradenton Beach Mayor Bill Shearon and Vice Mayor Janie Robertson are among those having second thoughts.

On Thursday night, commissioners unanimously agreed to reconsider the noise ordinance, beginning with the Tuesday, April 15, commission workshop that will begin at 1 p.m. The new commission workshop format will allow commissioners and staff time to discuss potential revisions to the ordinance, but does provide for public input.

No changes can be made to the ordinance without the public being given the opportunity to speak at a future regular commission meeting.

In lieu of not being allowed to speak at Tuesday’s workshop, Shearon encourages the public to share their opinions via e-mail or written correspondence.

Seeking definition

Last week, it was brought to Shearon’s attention that the definition of “receiving land” creates a potential loophole favorable to those who support stricter volume limits.

Questions have arisen as to whether a noise complaint can be filed by a cell phone caller standing just outside the property line of a local establishment, with the caller’s location serving as the point of complaint.

Thursday afternoon, Shearon asked Building Official Steve Gilbert and City Planner Alan Garrett for additional clarification.

Responding by e-mail, Gilbert quoted the ordinance: “Measurements shall be made at the receiving land, approximately five feet above ground…an additional reference measurement shall be taken at the location of the complaint.”

He then wrote, “The first reference is fairly clear, taking the sound level measurements at the receiving land, which I would interpret to mean the property where the person making the complaint resides.

“The second reference now appears ambiguous due to revisions made to the ordinance during the public hearings. The original text of the ordinance placed the location of sound measurement at the property line from which the noise was being produced.

“One could make the argument that the receiving land could be across the street or on the sidewalk. However, the intent was to refer to the residence or business of the person making the complaint,” Gilbert concluded.

Garrett offered a slightly different interpretation.

“By definition, receiving land is not specified as a platted lot or parcel, so it does not have to be a place where someone resides. I agree that the receiving land can be a sidewalk.”

Police Chief Sam Speciale said he has no issues with the point of complaint being somewhere other than the caller’s residence, but the caller would have to remain at the site of the complaint until the responding officer arrives.

Seeking clarification

Having been alerted to the possibility of the noise ordinance being discussed at Thursday’s meeting, Drift In manager Doreen Flynn and Bridge Street Merchants Association representative Amanda Escobio addressed commissioners during general public input. When Flynn asked for clarification on the receiving land definition, Shearon said the commission could not engage in that discussion.

“I’ve received a lot of complaints and there are a lot issues, but it’s not on the agenda tonight. This commission voted for the ordinance as it was written, so it’s an ordinance as of this day, but please stay tuned,” he said.

Escobio reminded the commission that the merchants association requested more time be spent studying the ordinance before it was adopted at the March 20 meeting.

“With all due respect, it was the commission that insisted on voting that day, so I’m wondering, as are a lot of people in this room, why there’s now something to be determined. Now it seems like there’s been some backroom conversation that makes your constituents very uncomfortable,” she said.

Attorney speaks

City Attorney Ricinda Perry addressed the noise ordinance later in the meeting, while giving her regular report.

“I received calls from two elected officials who had concerns about the adoption of the noise ordinance. The commission has the right to make a motion to reconsider any formal action that was taken at our last meeting,” she said.

Robertson then moved to reopen the issue, Shearon agreed and the commission approved the measure.

Perry then weighed in on the receiving land debate.

“There is ambiguity, but I believe the intent of this commission was not to literally have someone sitting in a restaurant and calling in a complaint. I believe the commission’s intent was that if you’re sitting in your home or rental unit, and it’s noisy, you could call from that location and have it investigated,” she said.

Perry said a business owner cited for a noise violation has the right to appeal the citation.

“If I were the business owner who was being brought forward and challenging the citation, I would look strongly at the legislative intent of what this commission was actually trying to pass into law,” she concluded.

At least two local business owners have already contacted their attorneys about potential legal challenges.

Affaire live auction packages will delight

ANNA MARIA – Be prepared to bid on a fabulous selection of live auction packages at An Island Affaire’s "Just Another Day in Paradise” on Saturday, April 12, at the Island Community Center, 407 Magnolia Ave., Anna Maria.

Packages at this annual dinner fund-raiser feature everything from trips to tropical island destinations to sumptuous dining to the ultimate baseball experience. A sampling of them include:

• Enjoy a one-week stay on the beautiful Hawaiian island of Kauai. This Poipu Point oceanfront two-bedroom two-bath villa offers spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean, a huge pool, sandy beach, maid service and more. From the large balcony you may see humpback whales during migrating season.

• Take a trip to Tampa for 24 guests to enjoy a season game in the owner’s suite behind home plate courtesy of the Tampa Bay Rays. Your food and drinks will be covered by a $1,000 gift certificate from Centerplate Catering. The Community Center bus will offer round trip transportation.

• Rock on in Boston for a Fourth of July celebration for two with Bruno Mars live in concert on July 2 that includes official platinum seats 11 rows from the stage. Enjoy a four-day/three-night stay in Boston from July 2 through 5 and two round trip tickets on Southwest Airlines anywhere in the continental U.S. that it flies.

• Ten guests will dine with celebrity Chef Ray Arpke at Euphemia Haye on Longboat Key. Enjoy a five-course gourmet dinner for 10, including premium wines, tax and gratuity, in the private dining room.

• Art lovers will covet “Kissing Dolphins,” a signed 32 by 42-inch framed 1990 limited edition #328 of 650, by world famous artist Robert Wyland.

Donate for two drawings

Win a pink sapphire and diamond bracelet donated by Bridge Street Jewelers and appraised at $4,500. It is a 14k, white gold bangle containing two rows of Burmese pink sapphires accented on both sides by a row of diamonds.

Tickets are one for $25, three for $50 or seven for $100 and are available prior to the event in the Community Center lobby. You do not have to be present to win, and only 300 tickets are available.

You also can win a specially designed golf cart by Custom Carts of Sarasota and sponsored by Anna Maria Island Resorts and The Chiles Group of restaurants. Tickets are one for $10 or five for $20 and can be purchased at various Island locations and at the Community Center. You need not be present to win.

The Affaire includes a champagne reception, an open bar and hors d’oeuvres beginning at 6 p.m.; a dinner catered by Harry’s Continental Kitchens with a dessert bar; live and silent auctions and entertainment featuring singer Bertie Higgins.

Individual tickets are $175, and tables of eight or 10 are available. To attend the Pre-Affaire VIP party at 5 p.m., tickets are $250 per person. It includes entertainment, VIP seating and a private auction preview.

RSVP by April 10 to Wende Webb at or by calling 941-778-1908, ext. 9203.

Affaire’s importance stressed

“The Island Affaire gala is an extremely important fundraising event for the Anna Maria Island Community Center,” Assistant Executive Director Scott Dell stressed. “It provides much needed programs and services to over 3,500 individuals ages 4 to 92 – never turning anyone away for lack of resources.

“With almost 20 percent of its annual budget derived from the Affaire, its success is vital to the accomplishment of the Center’s mission. It is not too late to truly make a difference.”

Purchase a ticket to attend, donate an item to the auction or make a cash donation. According to last year’s audit, the Center gave away almost $300,000 in program scholarships to needy families.

Hancock Bank offers parking spots

HOLMES BEACH – Congestion committee Chair Carol Soustek reported success in working with Hancock Bank as an alternative parking site near the Manatee Public Beach for beachgoers to use.

“They are so nice to work with,” she said. “They are blowing me away with their cooperation. They have 22 spots and they want four ATM parking spots with signs.

They do not want anybody parking in the drive through or on the grass.”

She said the city would come in at 7 a.m. on Mondays for cleanup and that bank officials wanted only one trashcan. She said Hancock officials must sign the agreement, and it would be forwarded to the city commission for consideration

Soustek said Regions Bank wanted $4,000 to enter into a parking agreement and that the request was forwarded to the Manatee County Tourist Development Council through Manatee County Commissioner John Chappie.

Member Pam Leckie said the Regions Bank lot is filled with beachgoers’ vehicles on weekends, and Police Chief Bill Tokajer said it is private property, and there are no signs indicating that vehicles will be towed.

“If someone parks there and they don’t have permission, the bank is not liable,” he pointed out.

Not interested

The Episcopal Church of the Annunciation is not interested in offering parking, Soustek told the group, and she has not approached Wells Fargo Bank.

In addition, the School Board has declined a request to use the elementary school lot, and Soustek said she would ask city commissioners for help in approaching School Board members for reconsideration.

The group also discussed signage to direct drivers to the parking areas. Tokajer said it must meet code and they should check with Code Enforcement Officer Dave Forbes regarding placement and types of signs allowed.

Larry Chatt, of Island Real Estate, said his office is attempting to alleviate some congestion problems by working on offering remote check in and Sunday-to-Sunday check in as an alternative to Saturday-to-Saturday check in.

“It’s a challenge because if all of the rest of the 4,000 vacation rentals are Saturday to Saturday, we’re fighting an uphill battle,” he explained.

Soustek suggested the committee have a joint meeting with the real estate professionals.

Charges added to stabbing suspect

HOLMES BEACH – A man charged with attempted murder and aggravated assault in the stabbing of a woman March 15, faces more charges after the victim and her roommate found a homemade weapon in the suspect’s possessions. The crude device is not a gun, police said, but it can shoot ammunition with a limited range.

Andrew James Helderman, 23, has been charged with possession of a weapon and ammunition by a convicted felon. When questioned about the device in jail, he took the Fifth Amendment and refused to talk.

According to the police report, the victim, Nicole Sobr, discovered the device when she was trying to move her belongings out of the apartment she shared with the suspect and another male, Michael Fitzpatrick, on March 20, after she got out of the hospital. Sobr spoke with Holmes Beach police officer Steve Ogline later that day, after he stopped at the property to tell Sobr the tailgate of her Jeep was open.

Sobr said that before the stabbing occurred, Helderman had told her the device was a weapon that could shoot a bullet and had fired it once as a demonstration. Sobr and Fitzpatrick showed Ogline the weapon, which had a live shotgun shell in it, and Sobr then provided a signed affidavit about it.

Ogline called in the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office to check out the device and when they determined it could shoot, he talked to Helderman in jail. Helderman waived his rights and agreed to talk. He invoked his rights again when Ogline showed him a picture of the device with the shell in it.

Later, when Ogline found out Helderman was a convicted felon who had served six years in prison, although he could not determine the crime for which Helderman served time, he charged Helderman with possession of a weapon and ammunition by a convicted felon.

Easter fun in Anna Maria

The Easter Bunny will visit the Sandbar restaurant in Anna Maria on Saturday, April 19, starting at 9 a.m. for the 28th Annual Easter Egg Hunt, co-sponsored by The Anna Maria Island Sun. Refreshments will be served in the pavilion next to the restaurant starting at 8:30 a.m., followed by the egg hunt at 9 a.m. sharp. Kids will be separated into different age groups to hunt Easter eggs on the beach. Kids are urged to bring a bag for their eggs.

Following that, the Easter Bunny will lead a parade down Pine Avenue for the Fifth Annual Easter Egg Roll and the Fourth Annual Easter Bonnet Contest.

There will be plenty of fun for the family including face painting, egg painting and dyeing, complimentary pictures of the Easter Bunny from Dara Caudill of The Sandbar will provide refreshments including fresh squeezed orange juice, mimosas, quiche and ham biscuits. AMI Donuts will provide freshly made donut bites. Music will be provided by DJ Chuck Caudill. Everyone will receive a number that can be redeemed for prizes in participating shops along Pine Avenue, “The Greenest Little Main Street in America." The egg roll and bonnet contest event also is sponsored by PAR and the Anna Maria Island Sun newspaper. The roll will take place from 9:30 a.m. to noon.

Prizes for the best bonnet include a two-night stay at the Anna Maria Guest Houses for first prize, a Beach Bums golf cart rental for second prize and a Beach Bums kayak or tandem bike rental for third place. First prize for the best kid’s bonnet is a Sandbar lunch for the winner and three of his/her friends complete with hot fudge sundaes. Second prize for kids is a Surry bike rental from Beach Bums, third prize is a chocolate bunny. This is the 12th year The Sun newspaper has been a sponsor for the Sandbar Easter Egg Hunt. For more information on the Easter Egg Hunt and Easter Egg Roll, contact Tina Fusaro at 778-8710 or

Easter services scheduled

The churches of Anna Maria Island will be busy the Holy Week of Easter as they celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Here’s a rundown of their schedules.

• CrossPointe Fellowship, 8605 Gulf Drive, Holmes Beach, 778-0719. There will be a service on Good Friday at 7 p.m. and an Easter Sunday service at 9 a.m.

• Episcopal Church of the Annunciation, 4408 Gulf Drive, Holmes Beach, 778-1638. Stations of the Cross at 5:30 p.m. on Monday through Wednesday, April 14-16; Eucharist and healing at 9:30 a.m. on Thursday, April 17; Maundy Thursday service at 7 p.m. includes foot washing, stripping of the altar and the vigil in the garden; the vigil in the garden continues on Friday, April 18, at 8 a.m. and there will be a Good Friday service at noon entitled Seven Last Words. On Easter Sunday, they will there will be a Eucharist Rite 1 with music at 7:30 p.m., at 9 a.m. Rite II with music, a 10:15 a.m. Easter egg hunt and an 11 a.m. Rite II with music.

• Gloria Dei Lutheran Church, 6608 Marina Drive, Holmes Beach, 6778-1813. There will be a Maundy Thursday service at 7 p.m. on April 17, a Good Friday service at noon and 7 p.m. and on Easter, services at 8 and 10:30 a.m. plus a brunch and Easter egg hunt at 9 a.m.

• Harvey Memorial Community Church, 300 Church Street, Bradenton Beach, 779-1912, will hold a service on Easter at 9:30 a.m.

• Roser Memorial Community Church, 512 Pine Ave., Anna Maria, 778-0414. will celebrate Palm Sunday April 13 at 9 and 11 a.m. in the Sanctuary. On Maundy Thursday, April 17, there will be a celebration of the Lord’s Supper with special music by flautist, Mary Deur, at 7 p.m. On Good Friday, there will be a service at noon. On Easter Sunday, there will be services at 9 and 11 a.m. in the Sanctuary.

• St. Bernard Catholic Church, 248 S. Harbor Drive, Holmes Beach, 778-4769. There will be Holy Week Masses Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday at 8:30 a.m. and morning prayer all week at 9:15 a.m.

On Holy Thursday, April 17, there will be a Mass of the Lord’s Supper at 7 p.m., an Altar of Reposition in the Chapel until 10 p.m. and a night prayer at 9:45 p.m. There will be no morning Mass on Good Friday, but there will be a Blessing of Easter Baskets at 10 a.m. and an Easter Vigil Mass at 8 p.m. On Easter Sunday, there will be Masses at 8:30 a.m. and 2 p.m., plus two at 10:30 a.m., one Mass in the church and one in the Parish Hall. Kids will be able to hunt for Easter eggs after the 10:30 Masses.

Easter Sunrise

Everyone is invited to Manatee Public Beach in Holmes Beach at 6:30 a.m. for the 50th All-Denominational Easter Sunrise Service, sponsored by the Kiwanis Club of Anna Maria Island. Representatives of all of the Island’s churches will be there to participate.

Rev. Sung Lee, of Roser Memorial Community Church, will deliver the invocation; Rev. Stephen King, of Harvey Memorial Community Church, will give the sermon entitled, “Good News;” Rev. Dee DeMontmollin, of The Episcopal Church of the Annunciation, and Rev. Rosemary Backer, of Gloria Dei Lutheran Church, will share Easter Scripture. Rev. Ed Moss of CrossPointe Fellowship will give the offertory prayer and Fr. Michael Mullen, of St. Bernard Catholic Church, will give the Benediction.

Daniel Paul Anzaldo accompanied by Drew Thomas will provide the music.

Bring a blanket or beach chair on which to sit. Dress appropriately for the weather, and if you can, take the trolley since the parking lot fills up early. The trolley begins running at 6 a.m. The Anna Maria Island Beach Café will be open at 6 a.m. for coffee and will be available for breakfast after the service.

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