The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 16 No. 33 - June 15, 2016


Day dock closed, pier damaged

Carol Whitmore


the day dock is closed due to damage from the storm.

BRADENTON BEACH – The city's public day dock will remain closed for the next month or so due to damage sustained during Tropical Storm Colin.

The tropical storm also damaged some of the composite decking on the Historic Bridge Street Pier, but the pier remains open.

City commissioners will be asked to approve $30,000 in repair expenditures during the Tuesday, June 14, commission workshop and the Thursday, June 14, commission workshop and the Thursday, June 16, commission meeting

According to Mayor Bill Shearon and Police Chief Sam Speciale, the day dock will remain closed until the repairs are complete and might not reopen in time for the Fourth of July weekend.

On Friday, Shearon said the city-owned dinghy dock near the Bridge Tender Inn has been designated as a short term loading and unloading zone for recreational and commercial vessels. A 15-minute time limit applies and the captain must remain at the dock.

The storm damage was first discussed at the Tuesday, June 7, budget meeting.

"The pier had around 10 boats that were affected by the wind and broke loose of their moorings. We had about eight of them that hit the pier itself, including the day dock. We had two that sunk at the day dock," Speciale told the commission.

Public Works Director Tom Woodard said one of the hinge pins that holds the day dock together came within inches of coming completely out.

Speciale said the pilings that surround the south side of the pier helped protect it from further damage.

"They kept the majority of the boats off the pier," he said. "We had one boat that sank between the pilings and we have about six pieces of Trex decking on the pier and three at the T-head that were broken after being struck by two vessels."

Speciale said the pier remains structurally sound despite the damage to the decking.

During the storm, a house boat also sank in the anchorage area south of the pier, and it remains partially submerged next to a sunken sailboat.

The two boats that sank while tied to the day dock during the storm have been removed.

The commission workshop scheduled for Tuesday, June 14, was originally going to feature discussion on paying a consultant $11,000 to do a feasibility study on creating a managed anchorage.

During the June 7 budget meeting, Shearon said he recently learned the anchorage area is not located within the Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) boundaries that extend south of the Cortez Bridge to Fifth Street South. He and Speciale have been exploring possibly using some of the $1.3 million in CRA funds to finance a managed anchorage.

"It does not include the anchorage area, but it does include the pier," Shearon said of the CRA district that allows designated tax revenues to be used to fund projects that meet CRA requirements.

Shearon is now looking into whether the CRA boundaries can be expanded to include the anchorage area he described as the last blighted area in Bradenton Beach.

The June 14 workshop agenda was amended later in the week to include commission discussion on funding the needed repairs and expanding the day dock in a manner that would provide for continued free public use and additional paid dockage for commercial and recreational vessels.

The day dock expansion will also be discussed at the June 16 commission meeting. Because the pier is located within the CRA boundaries, CRA money could be used to fund day dock expansion if that is the commission's desire.

County proposes half-cent sales tax

BRADENTON – Manatee County commissioners last week got their first look at an ordinance that would seek voter approval of a half-cent sales tax.

County Administrator Ed Hunzeker said a citizens' board that met from December 2015 to April 2016, recommended the tax as the best way to generate funds for infrastructure improvements.

"You have before you a proposal to put on the ballot in November of this year for a half cent sales tax that would cover the roadways, parks and public safety needs of this community that we have insufficient funds to deal with in the future, " Hunzeker explained.

He said the allocation would be 70 percent for transportation projects, 15 percent for public safety and law enforcement needs and 14 percent for parks and community amenities.

"We'll present today a detailed list of projects," he continued. "We've been working with the cities on their project lists and how we would accommodate their project lists within this ordinance."

He said an oversight committee would be established to have the ability to modify the project list "because we don't know today the issues that will face future boards."

Project lists

Dan Schlandt, of the county administrator's office, said the tax must be used for infrastructure projects and cannot be used for operating expenses. He said there are 200 projects on the county's list, and they are based on the estimate of the tax generating $23 million per year or $345 million over 15 years as the county's share.

The transportation project list has three categories – sidewalks, intersection improvements and major road improvements.

The public safety and law enforcement list has four categories – law enforcement facilities and equipment, criminal justice and public safety facility improvements, 911 and public safety technology upgrades and animal services and sheltering.

The parks and community amenities list has five categories – parks and aquatic facilities, athletic fields, recreation building and playgrounds, environmental preserves and boat ramps and libraries and community amenities.

Hunzeker said the county would produce maps showing where the projects are located and added, "The lists were done by staff members who know the needs in the community. We want to move as quickly as possible to put these projects in place.

"In the annual CIP development presentation to the board we'll show how we're tracking these dollars, and we'll track them separately from all other dollars in the budget to show the public we are meeting what we committed to in this ordinance."


Commissioner Carol Whitmore pointed out that these funds are different from impact fees, and Schlandt said that the funds are for maintaining existing assets and that impact fees can only be used for capacity improvements.

"To increase the sales tax is a big decision that the people will have to make. They have to understand what it means to them in their district and if it's worth it," Commission Chair Vanessa Baugh said.

"Manatee County shouldn't be the cheapest place to live in Florida if we want to maintain the quality of life that we have."

Commissioner John Chappie said the Island cities are concerned about the distribution of the tax funds, and Hunzeker said it would be based on population as provided in statute.

Schlandt said there would be a public hearing on the ordinance to establish a half-cent tax on June 21 in county commission chambers, 1112 Manatee Ave. W., Bradenton. If approved by county commissioners, the ordinance would be on the Nov. 8 ballot, become effective Jan. 1, 2017 and be in place for 15 years.

Island suggestion

Longboat Key Town Manager Dave Bullock, speaking for the four island mayors said the mayors have discussed the impacts of tourism on the infrastructure of the barrier islands, and while they represent a relatively small portion of the county's population, they receive a significant impact due to tourism.

"In fact, 58 percent of the tourist development tax generated countywide comes from the four island cities, and more than 500,000 people ride the trolley," he said. "If you are still in doubt, try to get off Longboat Key at 4 in the afternoon any time in January, February or March."

He said when the cities raise taxes to deal with infrastructure, the property owners, not the tourists, pay for it. He said that tourists would pay approximately 30 percent of a sales tax.

"Our suggestion is for you to consider a sight modification to the statutory population distribution formula," he continued.

"Base 90 percent of the surtax distribution on that population statutory requirement and use the tourist development tax generation numbers to distribute 10 percent of the surtax."

He said it would recognize the impact of tourism and also allow the cities to recover some capital project costs from tourists rather than taxpayers.

Commissioner Betsy Benac said, "I'm supportive of trying to address the needs of the islands."

Chappie added, "I think we all clearly understand the island cities' hands are tied. The impact of the tourist population five months of the year is tremendous, and they're limited as to resources. It warrants our looking at what they proposed and maybe coming to a compromise."

Mosquito director gives Zika update

Anna Maria Island Sun News Story


The Aedes aegypti mosquito is one of two types that
transmit the Zika virus.

BRADENTON – The most important thing people can do to prevent mosquitoes from breeding is to clean up their yards, Mark Latham, director of Manatee County Mosquito Control, told Manatee County commissioners last week.

"Aedes aegypti and aedes albopictus mosquitoes are the two types that transmit the Zika virus and are only found in association with man – in man made containers and a few natural containers in urban and suburban areas," Latham explained.

"They rarely travel more than a few hundred feet and are active during the daylight hours. They bite in the early morning after sunrise and late afternoon and evening before sunset."

He said the most effective and preferred method of control is for people to empty any containers found in their yards, but added, "Unfortunately, the public rarely acts on this. We are primarily reactive in response to the threat of the Zika virus.

"We rely on timely notification of suspect Zika cases, which the health department is very good at. Then we can focus our efforts on eliminating the threat."

Because Zika transmitting mosquitoes don't fly very far, staffers can focus on a few blocks around the suspect case and inspect properties for containers, hand fog and leave educational brochures, he said. They also may spray from helicopters.

Latham said the department would like to saturate high risk areas with educational brochures, promote community cleanup days, seek aid from law enforcement for access to high risk properties and receive cooperation from the media on informing the public.

He said there are no locally acquired cases of Zika, and all of those who have the virus contracted it in other countries.

Questions from commissioners

Q: Is there something people can sprinkle inside bromeliads.

A: Yes. The life cycle of that mosquito in the water is probably 7 or 8 days, so check them once a week.

Q: What should people do about rain barrels?

A: Screen the top or put some minnows in it and they will eat the larvae.

Q: Are the chemicals you use harmful?

A: Anything in a certain dose can be harmful. EPA has evaluated these chemicals, and the way we use them is strictly controlled. There's a hundred fold safety factor built in. For the larvae, there is a bacterial toxin that doesn't activate until it is ingested by a mosquito and doesn't harm any thing else in the water.

Q: What repellants are best?

A: The gold standard is DEET, but others are almost effective such as picaridin. There also are natural ones such as lemon oil and eucalyptus oil.

Q: What are symptoms of Zika?

A: Rash, conjunctivitis, joint pain and possible fever.

Q: How is Zika transmitted?

A: Sexual contact with a sick person or being bitten by a mosquito that bit a sick person.

For further information, go to

Seymour joins four-way commission race

ANNA MARIA – Anna Maria General Store and Deli owner Brian Seymour has pulled papers and plans to qualify to run for a seat on the City Commission.

The qualifying period for Anna Maria candidates opened Monday, June 13 and closes at noon on Friday, June 24.

This will be Seymour's first bid for an elected office.

When asked about his forthcoming campaign, he said, "My intentions are to run for city commissioner, but before I go into much detail I'd like to get through the qualifying first.

Seymour moved to Anna Maria in 2009 and was part owner of the General Store from 2010 to 2012. In 2012, he bought out his business partners and became the General Store's sole owner.

Seymour joins David Youngs as those who plan to challenge incumbent Commissioners Nancy Yetter and Chuck Webb in the November elections.

Youngs moved to Anna Maria in 2008. He is the CEO and owner of the Anna Maria-based Center for Innovation in Health and Human Services Inc., and he currently serves on the city's Planning and Zoning Board,

When asked about his campaign, Youngs said, "I think we've talked about the vacation rental ordinance long enough; it's time to look at some other issues."

Young said these issues include infrastructure improvements; streets and roads; making Gulf Drive and Pine Avenue safer and better suited for pedestrians and bicyclists, reducing the city's carbon footprint and increasing the city's technological capabilities by streaming and archiving city meetings at the city website.

Youngs also supports the efforts to see a greater percentage of Manatee County's resort tax and half-cent sales tax revenues shared with the three Island cities.

Plans continue for AMI Bridge replacement

BRADENTON – Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) Project Engineer Kati Sherrard addressed the Manatee County Board of Commissioners last week about the replacement of the Anna Maria Island Bridge. She said everything is on track since the Federal Highway Administration approved the plan for a fixed-span bridge with a 65-foot vertical clearance to replace the current drawbridge with a 17-foot clearance.

Sherrard said FDOT received a request from Manatee County to consider a transit lane, which will be considered. The big news is the formation of an aesthetics committee of representatives of the Island cities, Bradenton, Save Anna Maria and the Palma Sola Scenic Highway Committee. It will meet on the third Wednesday of each month.

The group will consider colors and designs including scenic overlooks. She said FDOT expects to have the final design by 2019. The estimated cost for the project is $76 million.

"I supported the fixed span bridge in 2007, and I'm surprised that estimate is lower than the one back then," County Commissioner Carol Whitmore said. She didn't say what they earlier estimate was.

Sherrard said FDOT is considering the transit lane, but it's not a sure thing. The current plan calls for two emergency 10-foot-wide lanes for emergencies.

The commissioners approved the plans and Commissioner Betsy Benac asked about funding. Sherrard said that would come down the road, after the design is finalized.

Boardwalk coming to Grassy Point


Grassy Point has a shell-covered nature trail, and a
boardwalk and observation deck soon will be installed
in the 32-acre preserve.

HOLMES BEACH – In the next few weeks, the city plans to send out an RFP (request for proposals) to complete the master plan for Grassy Point Preserve.

Amenities such as a boardwalk, observation platform and fishing pier are required by the original grant award agreement from the state.

Opened in October 2012, the 32-acre environmental preserve located along Anna Maria Sound includes a 1,000-foot nature trail around the upland portion, three picnic tables, an informational kiosk, a bicycle rack and four parking spaces.

It is located along the east side of Gulf Drive across from Publix and the Anna Maria Island Center. It is accessed via Avenue C. It is open only during daylight hours.

The project began in 1998, when the city received state funding to acquire the land and completed the purchase in 2001 with plans to provide passive recreational and educational opportunities, as well as water quality improvement.

Improvements to the preserve in 2015 included reworking the walking trail, planting 750 native plant species, installing bollards at the entrance to the path to keep out bicycles and golf carts and reactivating the informational kiosk with materials for the public.

In addition, the mayor asked Planner Bill Brisson to investigate the possibility of acquiring two parcels east of the entrance road adjacent to the preserve's existing shell trail.

Beaches recovering from TS Colin


Most of the small, man-made beach by the Anna Maria City Pier
was washed away by the storm.



ANNA MARIA ISLAND – While the winds whistled through the Australian pines, floodwaters did more damage during Tropical Storm Colin's visit last week.

The heavy rains left many homeowners with the unenviable task of drying out their floors and cleaning their walls and furniture, as some beach walkers wondered what the waves were doing to our recently renourished beaches.

Water on the south end of the Island overflowed the seawall where the Island ends under the Longboat Pass Bridge, according to Manatee County Marine Rescue officials.

By Friday, the beaches were busy with sunbathers and swimmers. There was a line of beach debris near the lifeguard towers at Coquina Beach showing how high the surf got, but the water went down and things were back to normal. Lifeguards estimated Colin took about 30 feet from the beach's width.

"It did some damage, but it wasn't as bad as we feared," said Lt. Karl Payne. "When the water went over the seawall on the bay side, it flooded the parking lot."

At Manatee Public Beach, the water had receded enough so people were able to use the volleyball courts.

Lifeguards said the beaches might build back up, since a lot of what washed away was still out there. They said they would know more when they got a chance to see where the sandbars were offshore.

In Anna Maria, the beach at Bayfront Park looked good, with little erosion. The small beach near the entrance to the Anna Maria City Pier, which was built up from a dredging project, was gone.

Manatee County Parks and Natural Resources Director Charlie Hunsicker was out of town last week, and he is expected to check out the beaches this week.

There was considerable damage to the Bridge Street Pier, especially the day dock

Meanwhile, Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch and Shorebird Nesting Director Suzi Fox said she lost 50 of the 70 turtle nests but she praised the renourished beaches saying the sand on the beaches is denser and less apt to wash away.

Moratorium vote on Thursday

BRADENTON BEACH – Will the third time be the charm for a citizen-requested building moratorium?

On Thursday, June 16, Bradenton Beach City Commissioners will decide the immediate fate of a citizen-initiated building moratorium ordinance. Led by longtime resident Priscilla VonAhnen and supported by 69 registered city voters who signed her petition initiative, the moratorium request is the third attempt to slow the construction of large homes to be used as short-term vacation rentals.

If three or more commission members support the proposed ordinance, the two commission meetings in July would include public hearings on the formal adoption of a six-month building moratorium. If the commission majority rejects the moratorium ordinance, the decision would passed onto city voters in November, as provided for in the city charter via the petition initiative process. The meeting begins at noon.

The proposed moratorium ordinance is based on a moratorium ordinance previously adopted in Holmes Beach. The ordinance calls for a six-month moratorium on the acceptance, review and issuance of building permit applications for all residential units in the R-1 and R-2 zoning districts that contain more than four rooms that will be or can be used for bedrooms or sleeping areas. Potential sleeping areas would include dens, offices and studies.

If adopted, the moratorium would temporarily limit permits for new duplexes to no more than two bedrooms or potential sleeping areas per side. If adopted as written, the moratorium would apply to residential units intended for full-time residency or use as a vacation rental. Permits could still be issued for residential units containing four or fewer bedrooms and potential sleeping areas.

During one of last week's budget meetings, Commissioner Jake Spooner asked Building Official Steve Gilbert if a six-month moratorium would impact building permit revenues. The 2016-17 fiscal year budget Gilbert presented projected $150,000 in building permit revenues.

After noting that the typical house built in the past five years in Bradenton Beach has contained four or five bedrooms, Gilbert said, "It could, but we don't do budgets based on what might happen. The difference wouldn't be to our budget, it would be to the general fund because the salaries still have to be paid."

Commissioner Jan Vosburgh asked how many houses with five or more bedrooms had been built in Bradenton Beach.

"I don't think that has a bearing on it," Gilbert said. "You can't predict what someone's going to do in response to a moratorium. Is everyone going to refuse to come in for permitting or are they just going to submit plans that conform with what we're allowing?"

Past efforts

In December, a building moratorium placed on the agenda at the request of Mayor Bill Shearon died without a vote after Vosburgh's motion to approve failed to garner a second from another commissioner. In Bradenton Beach the mayor cannot make a motion or second a motion.

In September, the previous commission voted 4-1 in opposition to the initial citizen-requested moratorium that called for a six-month moratorium on all residential structures containing more than three bedrooms, with Vosburgh casting the lone vote of support.

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