The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 16 No. 12 - January 20, 2016


Winter storm brings light damage

Carol Whitmore


Flooding was widespread following Sunday’s storm and
fairly deep in some spots, such as this one near the weekend
arts and crafts show in Holmes Beach.

The cold front that blew in Sunday affected two of the Island’s piers and forced two open-air events to close down, but the storm spared the Island from the heavy damage and injuries.

The bad weather blew in around 3:30 a.m. and there were reports of tornadoes in Siesta Key, Sarasota and Duette, where a man and his wife were killed.

Anna Maria Public Works Director George McKay said the high winds from Sunday’s storm took down some trees, flooded streets and eroded some renourished beaches in the city. He also said water was coming over the walkways at the Anna Maria City Pier and the Rod and Reel Pier. City Pier Manager Dave Sork saw the water, and McKay ordered people off the pier.

“Dave and I decided to shut it down around 11:30 a.m. and at 2 p.m., there was nobody out there,” McKay said. “Before that, there were parents with kids on the pier.”

McKay sai the Rod and Reel Pier was closed for emergency repairs.

He said there was flooding along North Bay Boulevard and workers had to clear some downed trees in about three locations. McKay said the high waves appeared to take out some beach areas.

In Holmes Beach, Police Chief William Tokajer said he had no reports of major damage, although an arts and crafts festival had to shut down when the winds blew over some tents. There were no reports of injuries.

In Bradenton Beach, the Bridge Street Market closed when the high winds came through and Nancy Ambrose, organizer of the Beach Market at Coquina Beach, said they cancelled it around 8 a.m. She said it looked like a snowstorm when the wind blew the snow and the country employees were busy cleaning up tree limbs and branches. One branch blew onto a picnic table, damaging it.

On another note, the storm brought people out to look at the surf, or storm damage. Kathy Smart, at Minnie’s Beach Café, said they had their best day since last season. The owners of Maria’s restaurant also said they had a lot of business on Sunday.

Crab trappers and shark fishers converge

ANNA MARIA – Last week’s City Commission provided an opportunity for public discourse on how commercial stone crabbers and recreational shark fishermen might better co-exist.

Public input was passionate and plentiful and represented the views of crabbers, shark fishermen and citizens concerned about public safety. Most who spoke, regardless of their personal positions, expressed hope that an agreeable solution could be reached.

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) Regional Director Thomas Graef, Regional Commander Roger Young and FWC Law Enforcement Lt. Grant Burton attended the meeting, and Graef offered to return this week for a less formal follow-up discussion that will take place at city hall Thursday, Jan. 21, at 6 p.m.

Commission Chair Doug Copeland said, “I encourage each and every one of you to come back next Thursday. Let’s see if we can solve this problem. We would like to find a solution without legislation.”

Public feedback

One piece of legislation discussed was an ordinance that would prohibit launching kayaks from the beach between sunset and sunrise, from Oct. 1 to March 1. This would prevent shark fishermen from dropping their hooks in deeper water where crab traps are located; a practice that produces better fishing, but can lead to hooked sharks becoming entangled in trap lines and trap lines being accidentally or intentionally cut.

“Not all the shark fishermen mess with the traps, but they’re not respecting those crab traps if they’re carrying their bait out there,” commercial stone crabber Anthony Manali Jr. said.

Orlando resident Melinda Colon is president of Sharks After Dark, a non-profit organization that hosts tournaments and advocates for surf fishermen’s rights. She said local governments cannot ban shark fishing because that is regulated by FWC, and she sees kayak restrictions as an attempt to circumvent state protections.

“You can’t shark fish without dropping bait with a kayak,” she said, cautioning against an ordinance that might encourage fishing during the day, when swimmers and beach-goers are present.

Colon does not think a few recent incidents warrant a new ordinance and she has helped fight fishing restrictions in other Florida cities.

Stone crabber Matt Labbelle said shark fishermen need to respect stone crabbers’ property.

“Those traps are legally allowed to be out there,” he said, noting that last year he and some fellow crabbers caught shark fishermen cutting trap lines in an attempt to clear an area the size of a football field.

“It’s an ongoing problem,” he said.

Briana Gagnier admitted that some shark fishermen cut trap lines, but she doesn’t feel those who fish legally should be penalized. She said even when casting from shore, a hooked shark can become entangled in nearby trap lines.

“I think traps need to be further out and allow more room for the shark fishermen,” she said.

Commercial crabber Ryan Hackney said “We have to have a happy medium. We’ve had two dead sharks in the last few weeks wrapped up on our traps, and we’re 50 to 60 yards off the beach.”

Resident Margaret Jenkins said, “I would like to know why we are using shark bait to attract them to a beach that’s primarily for swimmers. I think we should not allow shark fishing on the swimming beaches.”

Holmes Beach resident Matt Drattell said, “When you bring blood close to shore it’s going to attract sharks. They also have a high sensitivity to activity, such as kids swimming and kicking on rafts.”

Drattell mentioned Holmes Beach ordinances that curb shark fishing.

“I make one phone call to the Chief, and it’s taken care of,” he said.

Commissioner Carol Carter asked if shark fishing is prohibited in Holmes Beach.

Sgt. Paul Davis, from the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office, clarified that it is not.

“They’re encompassing other ordinances to prevent shark fishing,” he said.

Commissioner Dale Woodland said, “The majority of people sound like they’re willing to work together to come up with a solution. I guarantee you that if you let us make the decision, we’ll screw it up.”

Commissioner Chuck Webb expressed confidence in the commission, but warned that people might not like its solutions.

“We can’t regulate crab traps and fishing. What we can regulate is the use of the beach,” he cautioned.

Webb asked Graef if FWC had encountered similar problems elsewhere.

“Not exactly like this, but this is a user group conflict, and I think we’re on the right track having this discussion and moving toward a solution,” Graef said.

Graef said the willful molestation of a stone crab trap is a third degree felony, but admitted that enforcement is a challenge. He cited the need for greater education and also suggested the city attorney contact FWC’s legal staff to discuss the authority local municipalities are given in these matters.

Selling the lifestyle

ANNA MARIA – Jason Sato, co-owner of Sato Real Estate in the historic Roser Cottage on Pine Avenue, feels blessed to be working where he grew up and being successful at it. Last year he closed on 58 properties worth $49.77 million to lead all other real estate salespeople..

He credits his background for a lot of his success.

“I grew up here,” he said. “I am resident, I am local and I love it.”

When he says Anna Maria, he means it. He said the majority of the properties he sold are located in the city of Anna Maria.

“I love the fact you can walk to almost anywhere – shopping on Pine Avenue, the most beautiful beaches in the world and the best restaurants,” he said. “If you can’t walk, you can take the free trolley, and the majority of those people who bought property agree that it’s the lifestyle they want.”

Sato sold roughly the same number of properties in 2014, but appreciation and new construction raised the price per unit.

“People like to buy newer because it’s up to code and easier to insure,” he said.

Sato’s wife, Lauren, owns Beach Bums, a store that rents bicycles and golf carts and other items that offer transportation alternatives for visitors. They have two sons age 2 and 3.

“My kids love the fact we can walk to a store or go to Slim’s,” he said. “They will be going to Anna Maria Elementary School when it’s time.”

Sato said word-of-mouth brings in a lot of business.

“If I make a sale and the new owner’s friend ask about buying here, that customer will send them to me,” he said. “People feel comfortable with us. They know how to get a hold of me.”

Sato said he likes to stick with Anna Maria Island and Bradenton properties. He said if someone wants to look at a property on Longboat Key, for instance, he’d likely refer him or her to a real estate salesperson on the key,

Of the top 10 real estate sellers last year, three were from the Island. In addition to Sato, Gregg Bayer, of AMI Beaches Real Estate, was third selling $31 million worth of properties and Alan Galletto, of Island Real Estate, was ninth with $25.2 million.

Injunction ruling forthcoming

joe hendricks | sun

From left, lawsuit plaintiff Michael Bazzy and co-defendant
Sherman Baldwin found themselves sitting side by side at a
recent Pier Team meeting.

BRADENTON – Judge John Lakin is expected to rule this week on the temporary injunction request sought against one of the Historic Bridge Street Pier subtenants.

On Friday, Jan. 15, a 30-minute hearing took place at the Manatee County Judicial Center in Bradenton to address the temporary injunction motion attorney Nelon Kirkland filed on behalf of Bradenton Beach Marina owners and operators Allan and Michael Bazzy.

As the hearing concluded, Lakin asked the participating attorneys to file their three-page motions by Tuesday, Jan. 18. He said he would provide a written ruling on the temporary injunction request by Thursday, Jan. 20.

The Bazzys are asking the court to order Paradise Boat Tours owner Sherman Baldwin to vacate the pier-based office space he is subleasing from Anna Maria Oyster Bar President John Horne. As the city’s primary pier tenant, Horne holds the long-term rights to the restaurant space and the two small spaces next to it.

In November, Kirkland filed a lawsuit on behalf of the Bazzys and their belief that a new request for proposals (RFP) should be issued for the two secondary spaces because the original bid proposal Horne submitted in July was for the restaurant space only. The Bazzys submitted a competing proposal for all three spaces that was not given strong final consideration by the commission.

Before the hearing began, Kirkland told Fred Moore, the attorney representing the city, that issuing a new RFP for the space occupied by Baldwin would satisfy his client’s demands.

With an anticipated opening on Wednesday, Jan. 20, Baldwin plans to use the space as a terminal for his current tour operations and his proposed water taxi service. He also plans to sell live bait and provide concierge services for nearby recreational activities. He did not attend the hearing, because he was at a vigil for an ailing family member.

During the hearing, Kirkland recalled the July 23 Bradenton Beach City Commission meeting that resulted in Horne being declared the city’s tenant of choice. Kirkland acknowledged that the commission did direct Mayor Jack Clarke and City Attorney Ricinda Perry to negotiate the lease terms and bring those terms back for final approval, but he questioned whether those non-public discussions constituted a Sunshine violation that prevented the Bazzys from bidding on the two remaining spaces.

Counter arguments

“What occurred was not a violation,” Moore told Lakin.

He held up a CD that contained a recording the July 23 meeting and said, “The city commission negotiated this lease after the city attorney and mayor discussed it. If there was a violation, which we deny, it was cured with a public meeting.”

Moore cited the two commission meetings that followed in August that provided for public input and resulted in the commission approving the final lease terms.

“Mr. Bazzy did not stand and offer opposition,” Moore said of those meetings.

Moore does not believe Baldwin should be ordered to vacate his space because it has not yet been determined whether any Sunshine violations took place that would invalidate the sublease agreements.

Moore noted that any action taken against a subtenant would also impact Horne’s ability to meet his financial obligations to the city.

Representing Horne, attorney André Perron said his client holds the master lease, and the Bazzys are trying to defeat the property rights the lease grants.

Perron agreed that the status quo should be maintained until a full hearing takes place.

After the injunction hearing, Kirkland said the injunction request only pertained to Baldwin because the identities of the other two subtenants, Laura Shely and AnnMarie Nicholas, were not known to him when he filed the original complaint in November. Nicholas and Shely opened A Room with a Hue and Tide & Moon 2 in their subleased space last month, yet continue to be referred to in court documents as unknown tenants.

Opposition to downlisting manatees grows

One week after the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced that it is moving ahead with its plan to downlist the manatee from endangered to threatened status, 26 people from as far as the United Kingdom, New York and California filed comments on a government Website, all in opposition to the plan.

The West Indian manatee, and its subspecies, the Florida manatee, no longer meet the legal definition of endangered and should be reclassified as threatened due to increased population numbers and successful conservation efforts, such as slow speed zones, which would not be reduced, according to the agency.

Recreational boating group Save Crystal River Inc. petitioned the agency in court in 2012 to downlist the manatee.

Critics dispute population numbers, citing the agency’s reliance on a Florida survey that showed a record high 6,063 manatees in Florida waters over three days in 2015, an increase compared to previous surveys that were conducted over one or two days.

Other concerns expressed in the comments are the increased popularity of boating, loss of habitat due to increasing development and loss of habitat as power plants modernize operations to eliminate warm water outflows.

The Save the Manatee Club is concerned that the federal agency based its decision largely on a growing population, but does not account for two recent, massive die-offs of hundreds of manatees due to cold, red tide and a mystery illness killing Indian River Lagoon manatees, according to Dr. Katie Tripp, director of science and conservation for the organization.

“In addition, there is no long-term plan for the anticipated loss of artificial winter warm-water habitat on which more than 60 percent of the Florida manatee population depends,” she wrote.


Here is a sampling of comments from the Website,!documentDetail;D=FWS-R4-ES-2015-0178-0001, which is accepting public comments until April 7.

• Once again, money wins! The monies and time spent by both sides could have been used for saving the Everglades and wildlife education. Instead, you decided to pander to developers and the boat industry. There were 87 boat deaths last year (most in three years) and 450 deaths. I volunteer as a docent at the TECO Big Bend Manatee Visitor Center in Apollo Beach, educating the visitors about manatees. I know that ways will be found around the current regulations and/or money will change hands. In a few years, we will be back to the beginning of saving manatees. Hope you're not a manatee, black bear or panther in the next life! Do the right thing for the gentle giants who live in our waters. – Joan Leshin

• Sad to see the Fish and Wildlife service cave in to special interests. Unfortunately, this has become all too common. The manatee population at 6,000 hardly justifies downlisting these magnificent creatures. I hope the service reconsiders this short sighted proposal. I commend Congressman Buchanan for speaking out and I join him in protesting the downgrade. – Barbara Lancki

• In general, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services have a history that is anything but protective of those that they have been given the task of protecting. (They seem to be second, though, to the Bureau of Land Management ... ) I am so sorry to say that this agency is likely to do the exact wrong thing for manatees and the right thing for whomever it is that stands to gain monetarily from delisting them to threatened. – Sharon Tracy

• This is not the time to weaken federal protection for the manatees. There is still habitat loss, undiagnosed massive die-offs, toxic dinoflagellates of the genera Alexandrium, Gymnodinium and Karenia and a massive sea grass die off in Brevard County. Please retain the endangered species designation. – Beth McHenry

• I strongly oppose changing the manatees’ status to threatened as opposed to endangered. The manatees face continued threats from waterfront development and boaters as Florida’s human population is ever-increasing. And the manatees’ food source – sea grasses – has been decimated along Florida’s central east coast. We also already know what a single cold winter can do to the population. Do not negate what little progress has been made to save these magnificent and gentle creatures. – Nancy DuVal

• I very strongly oppose changing the manatees’ status! Manatees are a unique and rare ancient species. They still need all the protections we can offer them in an environment which on its own is killing them off, along with our careless boaters whose propellers cut and kill them. Please keep them listed as “endangered!!! – Lori Oostendorp

• The down-grading of manatees from endangered status to merely threatened, while acknowledging their rise in number, doesn’t appear to allow for lack of robustness in their maintained population, or increase of threats due to increased numbers of boats, holiday-makers and so on, and their attendant secondary hazards. Many years ago I asked (nationally rather than of Florida specifically) about the mandatory construction and conversion of water-vessel propellers to include cheap, rounded sleeving to minimize laceration damage to all non-small waters users. I know some areas are implementing this, but is it something you are pursuing? – N. Bruce

• Please keep manatees as an endangered species. They need as much protection as the government can offer. – Jo Wiest

• I strongly oppose the reclassification of West Indian Manatee as threatened. According to evidence to the contrary despite ‘counts’ of manatee success, there is still widespread contamination of Florida waters by sewage, fertilizer, and manure. In 2010, the FWS pursuant to a federal consent decree, created first-ever numeric limits on phosphorus and nitrogen in Florida’s lakes, rivers and streams. In 2012, pursuant to a federal consent decree, the FWS proposed similar rules for estuarine and coastal waters. The consent decrees required that these protections apply to 85 percent of Florida’s waters. Clearly these waters impact the health of both the manatee and its ecosystem. – Roberta Silverstein

• I do not want to see the West Indian Manatee removed from the endangered list. I do not want the West Indian Manatee reclassified. I want the West Indian Manatee to stay on the endangered list. The manatee deaths caused by boats have increased in 2015 over 2014. You have been influenced incorrectly by looking at 2014’s data, and in addition, this is another reason to not remove the West Indian manatee from endangered. As of Dec. 18, there were 85 manatees killed by watercraft in Florida in 2015, about 22 percent of the overall death toll, compared with a five-year average of 76 or 16 percent. That outpaced 67 manatees killed by watercraft in Florida the previous year. For this reason the West Indian manatee should stay as endangered. If you change the West Indian manatee from endangered, this will dramatically increase the deaths of the wonderfully majestic creatures. When I went to Florida, I went to see the manatees. By not keeping the West Indian manatee as endangered, this will make even harder for tourists to see these wonderfully majestic creatures. – Barney Schwenzer

• Please keep the manatees as endangered; please do not downlist them. The reason they are doing well is because they are listed as endangered. If they are downlisted, certain protections will inevitably be lost and the manatees will decline again. – Heidi Osterman

• Please do not downlist the manatee, manatees need full protection from habitat loss, diseases, cold weather and human’s ignorance. – Robin Peterson

Commission approves first reading of parking ordinance

HOLMES BEACH – Despite receiving a warning from the Manatee County Commission about jeopardizing beach renourishment funding, city commissioners approved the first reading of a parking permit ordinance with a vote of 3-2.

The ordinance would establish a program in a test area where parking on the rights of way would be banned except for residents with permits. It must have a second reading to be in effect, however, Mayor Bob Johnson has vowed to veto it.

Prior to board discussion, Jayne Christenson, chair of the city’s congestion committee, offered suggestions for changes to the ordinance. The first was that several streets were left out of the description of the test area.

The second was that the ordinance stated permit decals would be assigned by parcel ID number rather than vehicle registration number. Christenson said committee members always advocated using the vehicle registration number and that the ordinance does not address those who rent for more than 30 days.

The ordinance states that contractors and subcontractors working in the permit zone may park in the right of way. Christenson said they should limit them to parking on the property they are servicing.

Finally she said committee members have never advocated issuing temporary passes for those attending special events in the permit zone, but have asked that they notify police if they are attending an event.

“People who live in the affected areas want the parking permits,” she concluded. “It’s not to create a gated community. It’s 15 blocks, not the whole city.”

Other voices

Bob Lang asked, “What’s the ramification of losing some of the state and federal subsidies (to fund beach renourishment)? Let’s make sure there are not some other ramifications we haven’t considered. I applaud the mayor for standing up and saying he’s going to veto it.”

Maureen Shuman said she lives in the affected area, and she is opposed to the permit program.

“Before we try permit parking, we should give other things an opportunity – maybe trying to ban parking on one side of the street,” she offered. “It seems a little Draconian to go to permit parking right off the bat.”

Ursula Stemm, a member of the congestion committee, said commissioners must consider that the volume of people coming on the Island will continue to increase over the next 10 years.

“It won’t affect our beach renourishment; we have so much beach access parking available” she said. “We’re just trying to get our neighborhoods back.”

Tom Huntington said he lives south of Manatee Avenue, and there also is parking congestion and asked, “If you restrict parking in the north of Manatee Avenue, will it drive people south? What kind of study did you use to limit it to north of Manatee?”

Chair Judy Titsworth said the congestion committee suggested using a test area, and commissioners could expand it to other areas of the city if needed.

Commission discussion

Commissioner Jean Peelen asked why the ordinance requires a parcel ID instead of a vehicle registration, and City Attorney Patricia Petruff said some property owners come to vacation and don’t have vehicles registered in Florida.

“It’s for people who own property and pay the taxes to allow them to have the street front for parking,” Petruff said. “It’s a privilege that goes with property ownership,” and added that the owner could assign those rights to a tenant.

Commissioner Carol Soustek, the committee’s liaison, said the committee suggested including those owners if they provide proof of ownership. Peelen said they could accept both forms of proof, and the others agreed.

In addition, two parking decals will be issued to owners of residential parcels located outside the test area upon proper application.

Soustek disagreed with issuing temporary parking passes to visitors and said residents could call the police department if they are having an event with guests. The others agreed.

Titsworth asked how to deal with parents who don’t have permits and park in the neighborhood when they are dropping off or picking up their kids or attending school events.

Soustek said she didn’t think they need permits.

Commissioner Marvin Grossman said it only occurs at certain times, and police know those times and could use their judgment.

“They know there’s a school there, and at certain times of the day there will be cars,” Peelen added.

Commissioner’s suggestions

Grossman said, while the permit program is a step in the right direction, the real problem must be resolved by the county and cities working together. He said although the county maintains the recreation area at Manatee Beach, there’s not enough dedicated parking.

“Holmes Beach residential neighborhoods get to be the overflow parking lot,” he said, plus the city must pay for extra police needed for all the visitors.

“The county should reimburse the city of Holmes Beach for its cost to police theses areas, estimated around $250,000 per year. This can mostly be paid for with the excess funds from the beach concession,” he said.

He suggested that the county develop parking lots on the mainland on Manatee Avenue and Cortez Road and offer free bus service to the public beaches. He said the county could pay for them with impact fees on the new developments.

Following approval of the ordnance by a vote of 3-2 with Titsworth and Commissioner Pat Morton dissenting, committee member Pam Leckie admonished commissioners.

“I have never in all my life seen anything drag on for so long with so much nit picking,” Leckie stressed. “Just give it a chance; if doesn’t work, it doesn’t work.”

Parking around the school will be enforced

HOLMES BEACH – Police Chief Bill Tokajer responded to a question that arose during the city commission discussion on the parking permit ordinance concerning whether police would enforce parking around Anna Maria Elementary School.

The issue was brought up by Chair Judy Titsworth, who noted that parents who bring their children to school or attend school events park in the neighborhood because there’s not enough parking at the school. If those parents do not live in the city, they will not have parking permits.

The others felt it would not be a problem because police could use their discretion.

Tokajer, who was out of town during the discussion at the City Commission meeting, responded when he returned.

“If we drive down the road and see an illegally parked vehicle without a permit, there’s no way for us to know whether they are at the school or at the beach,” he explained. “They will get a ticket.

“I don’t know how we could show discretion on one block and not another not knowing who the vehicles belong to or what they are doing in the area.

“It’s impossible to say we’re going to enact an ordinance that requires parking by permit and then say we want officers to pick and choose who gets a ticket.”

He said once the ordinance goes into effect, it will be uniformly enforced.

City officials react to county letter

HOLMES BEACH – City and congestion committee officials were quick to react to the warning letter from Manatee County officials regarding implementing any parking restrictions that could jeopardize beach renourishment funding.

At Tuesday’s City Commission meeting, commissioners approved the first reading of a parking ordinance to establish a test area where parking on the rights of way would be banned except for residents with permits

“The letter did not arrive in the city until today, which is outrageous,” Commissioner Jean Peelen pointed out at Thursday’s work session. “It’s also outrageous that no city commissioner or anyone on the parking committee was talked to about it to get the facts.

“The fact that it was a bullying letter and a threatening letter was outrageous – not something I expect from the county. We’re working very hard to deal with the effects of the state economy on tourism and our visitors. To be yelled at and threatened was not good.”

“The county is trying to scare us,” Chair Judy Titsworth said. “We have more parking than we need, but the way they look at it is we’re up against all these other communities in the state wanting the pot of money, so they want us to look better.”

Peelen agreed and added, “They want us to look over the top so we’re more competitive.”

Setting the record straight

Congestion committee chair Jayne Christenson told commissioners on Thursday that the resident parking permit plan will not jeopardize or impact the city or county’s beach renourishment funds.

“Here are the facts from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP),” she said. “Holmes Beach (HB) has 16,000 linear feet of shoreline for potential renourishment. HB needs to provide 364 public parking spaces to be eligible for renourishment funds.

“The 37 trolley stops and 45 beach access walkways are each equivalent to a parking space. A bike rack holding four bikes counts as a parking space. The Manatee public beach has 325 public parking spaces.

“There are 67 signed public parking spots throughout HB in neighborhoods. As you can see, HB has a total of 481 public parking spaces, which is more than enough to qualify and maintain the state funding for beach renourishment. “

She said that number does not include unsigned street and right of way parking currently available, nor are these spaces needed for beach renourishment.

“The permit parking pilot area is about 15 blocks,” she continued. “Protecting our neighborhoods and providing a safe place to live for residents and visitors alike is a priority.

“Manatee County is trying to scare and bully us. Knowing the facts will help to dispel their scare tactics.”

No response from county

In the letter, Manatee County Administrator Ed Hunzeker “strongly” suggested the city seek written confirmation from the FDEP that the adopted public access changes will have no adverse effect on the maintenance of the 100 percent grant eligibility as determined by the FDEP.

However, Christenson said all the information on the number of parking spaces that she cited could be found in a binder at city hall and added, “The study is called Anna Maria Island Shore Protection Program. The most recent parking study was funded by Manatee County fiscal year 2014-2015.”

She said a letter was sent by the city to Manatee County and the FDEP more than a year and a half ago “requesting acknowledgment of the parking changes to be made. Holmes Beach did not receive a reply to the letter nor did any of the county commissioners or Mr. Hunsicker (Charlie Hunsicker, director of the Parks and Natural Resources Department) express any concern during numerous meetings with the city of Holmes Beach.”

Commissioner Carol Soustek said members of the congestion committee invited Hunsicker and staff to meet with them when they were establishing the numbers of parking spaces and they got no response.

“Early on I did have a substantial set of meetings with county staff and continued to provide them with periodic updates,” Mayor Bob Johnson told the board.

“We understand all the requirements of beach renourishment and respect the county’s position. Whatever we arrive at would be protecting beach renourishment.”

AMISUN ~ The Island's Award-Winning Newspaper