Vol. 16 No. 30 - May 25, 2016


More Bert Harrris claims filed

ANNA MARIA – On Monday, the city of Anna Maria was presented with 20 additional Bert Harris claims seeking compensation for occupancy limits placed on vacation rentals.

The new claims were filed by attorney Louis Najmy, who had not filed any of the previous 25 claims recently filed against the city.

A total of 15 new claimants are seeking an additional $5 million in compensation, on top of the $7.5 million already sought in previous claims. More...

Island cities want their share of proposed surtax

LONGBOAT KEY – Island elected officials plan to make their own recommendation to the county regarding the disposition of a proposed half-cent surtax.

Manatee County Commissioner Betsy Benac told the group at last week's meeting of barrier island elected officials that county commissioners have not decided on whether to join with the School Board on the tax or whether to put it on November's ballot.

"We have not voted on it," Benac said. "We wanted input from the cities on how they feel about it before we vote on it. We want to hear if the cities would support it," adding that the money would be used for capital improvement projects, not health care. More...

Planning board discusses vacation rentals

BRADENTON BEACH – Last week, the Bradenton Beach Planning and Zoning Board members engaged in a wide-ranging conversation on lessening the impact of vacation rentals in residential neighborhoods.

Some members felt the best approach would be the development of regulations that address guest behavior. This could be done by incorporating any desirable elements contained in the city's dormant quality of life ordinance and combining them with elements taken from ordinances and regulations adopted in Holmes Beach and Anna Maria.

Other members favored an approach that focused on structural elements, design, lot coverage and allowed livable space. The thought process here was that smaller structures hold fewer people who in turn create few problems in regard to noise, parking and trash accumulation. More...

Anna Maria Island Sun News StoryPier settlement floated

BRADENTON BEACH – Confidence in the city's legal position left at least one commissioner questioning the need to pursue a potential settlement in the lawsuit involving the Historic Bridge Street Pier.

During general public comment at the Thursday, May 19, Bradenton Beach City Commission meeting, Paradise Boat Tours owner Sherman Baldwin said private conversations with Bradenton Beach Marina owners Allan and Michael Bazzy may have produced an opportunity to settle the lawsuit the Bazzys filed in November.

The lawsuit names Baldwin as a co-defendant, along with the city of Bradenton Beach, the Anna Maria Oyster Bar (AMOB) ownership group and unnamed subtenants AnnMarie Nicholas and Laura Shely. More...

Island officials to respond to FDOT letter

LONGBOAT KEY – Island elected officials last week expressed displeasure with a response they received from the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) regarding their list of suggestions to immediately impact traffic congestion on the islands.

In March, the four island mayors submitted the list to various entities that could implement changes such as the FDOT, neighboring cities, Manatee and Sarasota counties and the Sarasota/Manatee Metropolitan Planning Organization.

The received two replies – one from Sarasota County and one from FDOT. FDOT District Secretary Billy Hattaway said improvements would be developed from the list as part of the planned Sarasota/Manatee Barrier Island traffic study. More...

License plate recognition cameras proposed

LONGBOAT KEY – Holmes Beach Commissioner Carol Soustek proposed that the Island cities work together to install license plate recognition cameras on the Anna Maria Island and Cortez bridges like those on Longboat Key.

"We should think about doing it for the Island," she said at last week's meeting of barrier island elected officials. "The Island is not utopia. There are a lot of people with problems who come here."

Longboat Key Town Manager Dave Bullock said the town installed five cameras, three on one end and two on the other end, three years ago. He said the startup cost, including cameras, was $70,000 to $75,000. More...

City and fire district approve dock agreement

HOLMES BEACH – Commissioners authorized the mayor at the May 10 City Commission meeting to sign an interlocal agreement with West Manatee Fire Rescue (WMFR) for a boat dock and lift at the 63rd Street boat ramp.

WMFR Chief Tom Sousa said the district has been launching its boat from a trailer for 16 years, and the dock would allow it to move the boat out of Station 1 in Holmes Beach and free up the space for fire apparatus.

He said the district has applied for a federal grant to hire more firefighters, which will enable it to have four firefighters at Station 1 to better serve the Island, especially during season.

"It will enable us to launch quicker and get out on the water faster," he said. More...

Metz issues new threat

BRADENTON BEACH – Planning and Zoning Board member John Metz has made accusations against Building Official Steve Gilbert and City Attorney Ricinda Perry.

These allegations appear atop an e-mail Metz sent to the Mayor and city commissioners on Friday, May 20, in response to the denial of his request to appeal a building department decision. The appeal hearing Metz sought pertained to his demands that the city declare a neighboring vacation rental property abandoned. Metz based his demand on the fact that the two-story structure located at 308 Gulf Dr. S. has remained unoccupied by renters for more than 18 months after being sold to George and Wendy Kokolis in late 2014.

On May 13, Metz received a letter from Perry that was e-mailed to him via the city's building department, of which Gilbert serves as the department head. More...


Anna Maria Island Sun News StoryThe joys of dining alone

In the past few years, I've become a connoisseur of dining alone – not out of misanthropy, but rather of necessity due to work schedules and, more recently, for the simple pleasure of it. I've found that I like the experience of sitting in a bustling restaurant, listening to the sound of clattering dishes and popping corks, catching the honey smell of freshly baked bread or the buttery sweetness of a creme brûlée. I like having snippets of conversation pass through without having to focus on anything but the meal sitting before me.

It wasn't until recently, though, that I discovered the pleasures of solo fine dining. On a vacation trip to Budapest last fall, I was taking advantage of the delights of that beautiful city- long strolls along the Danube, cold beers in ruin pubs, garlicky mangos eaten under the dour stare of a Bronx Lenin in mime to park, when I stumbled upon a gourmet deli and store. Though I'm far from deprived of good food, I find that my imagination and Credit card balance run amok when faced with shelves of Sardinian fregola, Sicilian pastachio pesto, Middle Eastern baharat and Malaysian laksa paste. After lugging my treasures back to my hotel and mentally menu planning for my return home, I decided that as delicious as it was, street food just wouldn't work for that evening. And so I found myself booking a table for one for dinner at Costes, the first Michelin starred restaurant in Hungary. More...


Anna Maria Island Sun News StoryCatch and release

Catch and release is practiced by all anglers. Even those that take their catch home or to market release undersized fish. Many anglers are driven by the desire to protect sport fish populations, realizing that they are vulnerable and not the endless resource that they were once thought to be. Other anglers enjoy keeping a fish to eat but release most of their catch. Once a novel idea, Catch and Release, has become common place among a cadre of anglers.

Anglers, unlike hunters can pursue their passion and release their prey. Many hunters and anglers are advocates for their sport and invest time and money in protecting the habitat and health of the fish and animals they pursue.

Most anglers I know who practice catch and release have no problem with taking an occasional fish home for dinner. It's more about enjoying the sport and trying to be proactive in helping it to remain healthy and viable. There are certain species, like tarpon, that anglers seldom if ever kill. Catch and release is not just about releasing fish that you don't want, it's also about releasing undersized fish or species that aren't valued at the table. Catch and release in any form is a wise use of the resource, but anglers must know how to properly handle the fish they let go. More...

real estate

Tear it down and build it up

So here's the riddle of the day, "Where do you find three separate cities surrounded by water where it's almost impossible to find a building lot?" Well that wasn't really a tough one to figure out, but what really is tough on Anna Maria Island is deciding on how much of a renovation to tackle or to just go for it and tear down.

Tearing down a property, also known as infill in the never ending real estate vernacular, could be the solution you may be looking for when you can't find the perfect house or a suitable building lot. The National Association of Home Builders says about 25 percent of the single-family homes built nationwide will ultimately be torn down, and one out of 10 sales will be teardowns. They go on to say that today's buyers don't want a house that looked like their grandmother lived in it, even if it's at the beach. In addition, many older homes are hard to renovate with low ceilings, old wiring and who knows what may be lurking behind the walls. More...


Anna Maria Island Sun News StoryTwo Scoops turns 10

If baseball is the all American game and hot dogs are the all American food, then ice cream must be the all American treat, and at Two Scoops in Anna Maria you'll find two out of the three.

This is the 10th year that Two Scoops, located in Bayview Plaza in Anna Maria across from the city pier, has been owned by the LaBelle family, and I say family because it is truly a family affair. Dave and Mary LaBelle, who also own Two Sides of Nature the clothing store right next door for 20 years, started running Two Scoops 10 years ago. Now their daughter, who worked at Two Scoops through college, and son-in-law, Brittany and Justin Sauveur, currently run Two Scoops on a full time basis. Even Dave LaBelle's mother still comes in to work a few days a week.

And if that isn't enough family, add Ruth, Bonnie and Sheila the "Golden Girls" into the mix, all of whom have been part of the LaBelle family between seven and nine years. Add in their other 13 employees, and you can have quite a family reunion. More...

Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

Taking chances with long-term care

Investment Corner

On Monday, October 24, 2005, Hurricane Wilma caught many Floridians by surprise. Strengthening when it was supposed to weaken, Wilma brought gusts of wind up to 123 mph and several inches of rain. Six million people were affected when a record 3.2 million homes and businesses lost power and many lost water service as well. Mobile homes disintegrated, hospitals were evacuated and a sinkhole even opened up in Interstate 95. The most severe storm in half a century in Broward County, Wilma took the lives of 25 people statewide.

If a storm warning were issued today, and they said there was a 70 percent chance of a hurricane of similar magnitude, what would you do? Would you sit back and relax? Most likely you would make preparations to protect your family and property. More...


Anna Maria Island Sun News StoryBark and Company kick it with Beach to Bay Construction

With their coaches on the field to guide, encourage, teach and cheer them, two teams of three-to five-year-old preschoolers with new boots and tons of energy took the field on May 16. Team Bark & Company Realty and Team Beach to Bay Construction kicked the soccer ball up and down the field in the Florida spring heat and humidity.

These little players spend the season learning to dribble the ball and learn foot-eye coordination, as well as the basic rules of the game with their volunteer coaches. Volunteer coaches James Lynch, for Bark & Company, and the substitute coach for Jason Suzor, coaching for Beach to Bay Construction, spent their time on the field for the love of the game and kids. More...


Turtle Talk Tuesdays begin in June

Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch and Shorebird Monitoring volunteers will present a 30-minute program every Tuesday at 10 a.m. in June and July at CrossPointe Fellowship Church, 8605 Gulf Drive in Holmes Beach.

Using photos, videos and funny stories, volunteers will take you on a virtual tour of Anna Maria Island's nesting beaches and answer your questions.

Everyone will get the scoop on the time and location of upcoming nest excavations, which is done three days after hatchlings leave the nests, and can pick up free activity books, handouts and temporary turtle tattoos.


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