The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 15 No. 7 - December 10, 2014


Attorney: City can deny short-term rentals

ANNA MARIA – Attorney David Levin has sent the city an opinion saying he feels the city already has the authority to regulate and even prohibit short-term vacation rentals of single-family, detached dwellings.

According to Levin, the city already had ordinances in place governing such rentals before the state passed a law on June 1, 2011, “preempting local government prohibition and regulation of vacation rentals.” He said the state prohibition does not apply to any local law, ordinance or regulation adopted on or before June 1, 2011.

The city hired Levin to give an opinion on whether the city can regulate rental houses and whether the city’s zoning code prohibited short-term rentals of homes within the residential neighborhoods.

Levin first went after the state definition of vacation rentals. Florida statute defines a vacation rental as “any unit or group of units in a condominium or cooperative, or any individually or collectively owned single-family, two-family, three-family our four-family house or dwelling unit (that is also) a transient public lodging establishment that is not a timeshare project.”

Levin singled out the use of the word “dwelling” in further defining rental housing. For instance, defining a transient public lodging establishment means “any unit, group of units, dwelling, building or group of buildings within a single complex of buildings which is rented to guests more than three times in a single calendar year for periods of less than 30 days or one calendar month, whichever is less, or which is advertised or held out to the public as a place regularly rented to guests.”

In defining non-transient public lodging establishments, the law also uses the word dwellings. Levin wrote that the law excludes from the definition of a public lodging establishment any single-family home, dwelling house or dwelling unit that is rented for at least 30 days.

Under the ordinance in effect on June 1, 2011, specific uses are either allowable in the R-1 residential district, allowable as accessory uses or prohibited as incompatible with the intent of the district. Those permitted include single-family detached dwellings. Non-permitted uses are “all uses not specifically permitted,” the sale of any commodity on the premises (except for yard sales) and landing any type of aircraft, including helicopters in the city limits.

Levin said the state legislature did not intend for the phrase “single-family dwelling” to include use as a transient public lodging establishment and there is nothing in the city’s code to suggest the city commission believed otherwise.

Levin said the city has a permissive zoning ordinance that only allows uses that are spelled out and nothing else. He concluded the lack of public lodging establishments was not expressly named in the R-1, R-2 residential district.

After receiving Levin’s opinion, the city commission agreed to discuss it at a work session they scheduled for Thursday, Dec. 11.

Mayoral recall effort being considered

BRADENTON BEACH – The commission-driven forfeiture of office proceedings against Mayor Bill Shearon may prove to be a moot point, if city voters are given the opportunity to determine whether the embattled mayor completes his inaugural two-year term.

According to acting City Clerk Terri Sanclemente, the city has been contacted by the Venice-based accounting firm of Robinson, Hanks, Young and Roberts. A representative of the firm informed Sanclemente that it is handling the financial duties for a yet to be named political action committee (PAC), the intent of which is to initiate a recall referendum against Shearon.

Sarasota legal assistant Michael Barfield was involved in the successful recall of former Anna Maria Commissioner Harry Stoltzfus in 2010. When contacted last week, Barfield said he is not directly involved in a Shearon recall, but he is aware of the PAC involved, and he said a formal announcement is expected soon.

Shearon’s supporters, and others, have publically condemned the idea of an elected city official being removed from office by his peers, although the city charter and the recently adopted forfeiture resolution provides the commission with that authority.

Many who have publically opposed the forfeiture efforts have stated during public comment that Shearon was elected by the voters, and if he is to be dismissed, he would be dismissed by the voters. Shearon himself has made similar public comments.

Clarke and Vosburgh are not involved in the recall, but both indicated they would prefer the mayor’s fate to be decided by a special election, rather than commission-led forfeiture hearings.

Manatee County Assistant Supervisor of Elections Scott Farrington said his office was aware of a citizen-initiated recall effort being organized in Bradenton Beach. He did not confirm which commission member the recall effort would be directed toward, but did provide general information on how it would work.

“This is not an overnight process,” he said, noting that a municipal recall is guided by Florida Statute 100.361,

The process begins with the formation of a recall committee that produces a petition that states in 200 words or less a statement of grounds for dismissal that contains the alleged reasons for potentially removing the elected official from office.

“In a municipality or district of 500 or more, but fewer than 2,000, registered electors, the petition shall be signed by at least 100 electors, or by 10 percent of the total number of registered electors of the municipality or district as of the preceding municipal election, whichever is greater,” the statute states.

As of August, the city had 763 active voters and 181 inactive voters. Farrington said the recall organizers would need approximately 100 signatures to move forward with their efforts, and would have 30 days, once initiated, to submit the signatures to the city clerk, who in turn would submit them to the supervisor’s office for verification.

If the required number of signatures is verified, the accused official would have the opportunity to rebut the charges in the form a written statement that contains 200 or less words. The rebuttal would be included with the original statement of grounds in a second petition that would require the signatures of approximately 15 percent of the city’s registered voters.

Those who signed the first petition would be allowed to sign the second one, and the petitioners would have 60 days to collect the second set of signatures.

Once verified, the city clerk would present the final recall petition to the city commission, who would request from a county judge an order that a special election take place within 60 days. Farrington estimated a recall election would cost the city approximately $3,500.

Skullywag takes 'cannon ball' to the side
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story


The pickup smashed through the
fiberglass exterior near midship of the Skullywag.


HOLMES BEACH – The parking spot for the Anna Maria Island Privateers’ parade ship, The Skullywag, will be vacant for a while as the Privateers scramble to get a ride in their own Christmas parade Saturday, Dec. 13.

The Skullywag got hit in the side by a Ford F-150 pickup truck Saturday, Dec. 6, around 9:41 p.m. as it was pulling out of the Asia restaurant parking lot at 6844 14th St. W., where members retrieved their cars after appearing in the Sarasota Christmas Parade.

“If this had happened while the men were on the ship, they would have ended up in the street,” said Privateers President Bob “Stitch” Dominas, who was driving the ship alone. “If it had happened three seconds earlier, he would have hit the cab where I was.”

Dominas said he was not injured, but was stiff and sore Sunday and Monday. He said witnesses told the Florida State Patrol that the driver had been speeding and swerving in and out of traffic and that he was driving with no headlights. There were two men in the pickup, which made a large hole in the side and burrowed into the interior of the vehicle.

An accident report from the Florida Highway Patrol was not available at press time.

Dominas said members would meet this week to find a ride for the parade this Saturday. He said they could ride in the trailer they built for Santa, but it wouldn’t hold all of them.

Privateers Vice President Bob “Sparkles” Rosencrantz said they will contact the International Crewe Committee to see if there is an extra ship available or a group that would like to join the parade and let them ride.

“We will have a parade, let there be no question about that,” said Privateer Tim “Hammer” Thompson. “We may have taken a cannon ball to the side, but we’ll still have our parade.”

The Skullywag was built by the late Jim “Skully” Hungerford in 1999 to replace their worn out trailer ship. The Skullywag was built on a school bus frame with a Ford van cab and a Ford truck engine. Hungerford worked with fiberglass and formed the hull’s skin from molds he made, and Dominas said he thinks they still have those molds stored.

Until the Skullywag is in ship-shape condition, the Privateers will be hitching rides with other crewes or using their own vehicles to get around, but they will still be the Island’s kind-hearted philanthropists spreading joy, a little history and help for kids and students on and near the Island.

Holiday of Treasures coming Friday

ANNA MARIA – The merchants are prepared to celebrate the holidays with everyone on Friday, Dec. 12, from 5:30 to 8 p.m. at the Holiday of Treasures

They will be offering specials on merchandise, refreshments and good old-fashioned fellowship to those who travel from one end of the city’s commercial district to the other. Visitors are urged to get a bingo card that participating businesses can sign and those who get them all filled can turn them in for a drawing for one of two gift baskets full of merchandise from the business owners.

In addition, there will be snow and Santa Claus in a sleigh in the parking lot of the Island Sun Plaza and at 6 p.m. the Roser Children’s Choir will sing carols at the Historical Park at 401 Pine Ave. The front porches of the shops along Pine Avenue will be alive with merchandise, music, food and drink. There will be chairs for those who need to rest or if they just want to sit and visit with the others.

The shops at Bayfront Plaza will also be open offering more unique items.

Those on the Island are reminded that the free Island trolley is a good way to avoid long searches for parking spaces, and CrossPointe Fellowship has plenty of parking spaces and will be offering rides to and from the site on a hay wagon.

The Anna Maria Historical Society and The Anna Maria Island Sun are sponsors for the Holiday of Treasures. For more information, call Valerie Wilson at 779-0785 or Kandi Kerekes at 779-0709.

Thompson takes off with ideas for Center

pat copeland

Executive Director Cindy Thompson said her first
priority at the Community Center is the children’s programs.



ANNA MARIA – Her mind goes a mile a minute and the ideas tumble out so fast that you can barely follow them.

This is Cindy Thompson, the AMI Community Center’s new executive director in charge of overall operations with a particular focus on the external aspects of the organization.

“It’s amazing how the community has come out to support me in this position,” she said. “And it’s critical to me to do it in a transparent way because I’m a steward of this Community Center for the community.”

Her first priority is the children’s programs for which she is eminently qualified. Thompson owns and operates Thompson Academy in Bradenton, which provides high quality childcare and early education for children 18 months to 5 years old.

“The basic function of the Center’s children’s programs is child care,” Thompson pointed out. “The immediate need right now is revamping all the children’s programs and providing more services for families.”

She is currently in the process of moving the children into the former workout room on the ground floor, which most recently housed the administrative offices. The children were using the windowless room across the hall, which also serves as a staging area for events in the gym.

“It’s important for children to have a sense of belonging and an attachment to the Center,” she explained. “They’ll have their own areas with developmentally appropriate activities set up with learning centers so they can go from activity to activity.

“There’s room for solitary, cooperative and group play. If you structure it as a play environment and the by-product is incredible learning. The learning becomes deeper when activities are open-ended.”

Expanding Programs

She said donations from board members will be used to purchase furniture and supplies and the room should be ready by mid-January for the two age groups – kindergarten through second grade and third through fifth grade. In addition, she plans on starting a drop in program for preschoolers from 2 to 5 years old.

“The room is empty all day, and we could be meeting the needs of the preschoolers,” she said. “There will be activities with development centers for the different age groups and babysitting from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., when the other children come in from school.”

Another area she plans to revamp is the teen program for middle and high school youths with a social room for parties, events, dances and dinners. She said she will survey the local high and middle schools to learn what activities the teens want.
She also plans to increase the number of events offered by the Center including reviving the popular fishing tournament and hosting Sunday pancake breakfasts.

“Events, marketing and community outreach are critical to bringing people in, and events are a key part of our budget,” she pointed out. “I’m going to build a volunteer arm to absorb a lot of these events.

“The goal is to answer the needs of the people and their requests. When people tell you what they want, you need to provide it. We’re trying to build something that we can be proud of so we can go out in the community and show people what we’ve done.”

Managing director position created at Center

Pat copeland

Kristin Lessig is currently meeting with
each staff member.


ANNA MARIA – The other half of the Community Center’s director equation is Kristin Lessig – in the newly created position of managing director in charge of internal operations such as staffing, programming and finances.

“Kristin brings a breadth and depth of proven, hands on leadership and management experience that made her the clear choice for this position,” Executive Director Cindy Thompson said.

“I’m thrilled to have her in support of our commitment to bring more and better services to our members and the community at large.”

“The Community Center is a true asset to Anna Maria Island, and I am excited to work with Cindy and the team to enhance the services we provide,” Lessig said.

Lessig and her husband, Kyle, came to the Island from Richmond, Va., where she founded a non-profit organization called Sportable, “to create opportunities for people with physical disabilities to participate in sports and recreation.”

When her husband found his “dream job as a member of the technical staff of IMG for soccer,” they chose to live on the Island because of the Center and Anna Maria Elementary School.

Starting as a volunteer

“I wanted a place for my daughter, Madeline, who is 6, to socialize, so I enrolled her in summer camp at the Center,” Lessig explained. “It’s great resource for young families, but I also saw the diversity in the programs here.”

She said the Center was going through its financial crisis at the time, and she felt she could help due to her experience and background. She began volunteering and helping with small fund-raisers.

“I wanted to do more, and when Dawn (former Executive Director Dawn Stiles) resigned, I put my hat in the ring. I learned about the vision for the future. Cindy and I talked and it became clear what my role could be.

“My job is to see that things are operating smoothly and efficiently and to manage the personnel and make sure they have the resources they need to do the job.”

Lessig said she currently is meeting with each staff member “to get their perspective in order to see the challenges and opportunities to support them and start things moving forward.”

Center meets rental membership goal

Anna Maria Island Community Center, 407 Magnolia Ave., Anna Maria, has exceeded its goal of 100 vacation property memberships.

Property owners who use property management companies may acquire center memberships for their clients through that company, while memberships for independently owned rentals may be purchased directly through the Community Center. Perks for property management companies include a business spotlight at the Center and linking partnerships with social media.

An investment of $350 per property annually allows all renters to enjoy tennis, pickleball, gymnasium and fitness center use, discounts on classes and programs such as yoga, Pilates, dance, art, lectures and more.

Special thanks and recognition go to the six property managers who were the first to step up and offer their clients a Center membership as part of their rental package. Currently at 116 properties enrolled and counting, the participating agencies to date are AMI Accommodations, Anna Maria Vacations, Paradise Realty, Duncan Real Estate, Island Real Estate and Sato Real Estate.

For information on how your agency can join this program, contact Jennifer Griffith at 941-778-1908, ext. 9204, or

Christmas on Bridge Street returns

BRADENTON BEACH – Hosted by the Bridge Street Merchants Association, Christmas on Bridge Street will transform Bradenton Beach’s historic business district into a holiday-themed winter wonderland Saturday afternoon and evening.

The once a year holiday extravaganza will coincide with the 11th annual Cortez Yacht Club Holiday Lighted Boat Parade that sets sail at dusk.

Promising family fun from 4 to 8 p.m. on Dec. 13, Christmas on Bridge Street will feature a visit from Santa, snow, the Island’s largest live Christmas tree, holiday street lighting, a brand new hot chocolate bar, and holiday music performed by Russ and Brandi and Savannah Brady and Friends

In addition to the special sales and promotions taking place inside the shops and businesses along Bridge Street, an outdoor holiday market at 107 Bridge Street will offer arts, crafts, and one of a kind gifts for the special folks on your holiday shopping list.

Over $2,000 in gift baskets and holiday wreaths donated by local businesses will be raffled, including the infamous wheelbarrow full of liquor and holiday spirits donated by the Drift In.

The traditional Children’s Craft and Cookie Bazaar offers area students an opportunity to sell homemade crafts, baked goods and holiday items. Youngsters who wish to participate can e-mail, as can business owners still looking to contribute raffle prizes.

Proceeds from the event will benefit local food banks in their year-round efforts to provide assistance to food-challenged individuals and families.

Parking is available at city hall, the post office, the public beach south of Bridge Street, behind BridgeWalk, and along Bridge Street. Attendees are encouraged to take the free trolley from anywhere on the Island.

The Anna Maria Island Sun, Bradenton Herald, Brighthouse Networks, METV, BeachHouse restaurant, Ideal Image, Grayhawk Systems Inc., Edgewater Real Estate, and Kimball Construction join the Bridge Street Merchants in sponsoring the event. For more information visit

Holidays ahoy

Hosted by the Cortez Yacht Club, the Dec. 13 holiday boat parade will depart from Moore’s Stone Crab restaurant in Longboat Key, casting off after 6 p.m.

Participating skippers will guide their power boats and sailboats on a lovely cruise along the Intracoastal Waterway, en route to the Seafood Shack in Cortez. The vessel sporting the best holiday decorations will win the $500 grand prize, with additional prizes awarded as well. No entry fee is required, but a gift donation to Toys for Toys is requested.

New this year, is the opportunity for boat-less passengers to catch a ride aboard Capt. Jeff’s Island Pearl Express, with advance reservations required at 941-780-8010.

Due to Seafood Shack renovations, this year’s after party will be held at the Bridge Tender Inn, with the Seafood Shack providing overnight docking for boat parade participants and Capt. Jeff providing after party shuttle service.

Those not yet registered can do so at the mandatory skippers’ meeting taking place at 7 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 11, at the Bridge Tender Inn, 135 Bridge St. Skippers requiring additional information can call 941-780-3547 or e-mail

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