Vol. 17 No. 11 - December 28, 2016


Anna Maria Island Sun News StoryCitizen of the year honored

ANNA MARIA – When it comes to good citizenry, Jack Brennan takes the prize.

Brennan received the city of Anna Maria’s Citizen of the Year award during the final city commission meeting of 2016.

The award selection committee was headed by Bob Carter and also consisted of Irene Pearman, Ruth Uecker and Mary Manion. Before presenting Brennan with the award on Thursday, Dec. 22, Carter addressed the commission and the many members of the public on hand for the ceremony, including Jack’s wife, Lynn Brennan. More...

Board proposes smaller lots and structures

BRADENTON BEACH – Planning and Zoning Board members reached consensus last week on recommended land development regulations that if approved would significantly reduce the size of homes built in the R-1 and R-2 residential zones.

During its Dec. 21 meeting, board members unanimously agreed to recommend to the Bradenton Beach City Commission that the maximum platted lot size be limited to 5,000 square feet, rather than the 7,500 square feet currently allowed. Properties that currently exceed 5,000 square feet would be grandfathered in.

If adopted, developers who wish to combine two or more lots would still be subjected to size and density calculations based on a maximum lot size of 5,000 square feet. Combined lots would provide for larger yards and more green space, but not for a larger structure. More...

Petition seeks action on traffic congestion

Members of the Sarasota/Manatee Metropolitan Planning Agency (MPO) plan to discuss in January a petition presented to them by Longboat Key resident Tom Freiwald, according to an email from Dave Hutchinson, executive director of the MPO, to local elected officials.

The petition asks for “immediate action to mitigate local vehicular traffic congestion during the 2017 tourist season.” It asks the Florida Department of Transportation to cooperate with the MPO and local municipalities “to institute pilot programs (temporary solutions) during peak traffic hours.” More...

Anna Maria Island Sun News StorySanta came by sea

ANNA MARIA – Christmas came early for approximately 80 children last Wednesday at the Sandbar restaurant. The kids, many from Head Start and RCMA, a non-profit childcare in Palmetto, were treated to fun on the beach with face painting, bounce houses, slides and cartoon characters. There also was live music.

Then came lunch featuring chicken strips, French fries, pasta and fruit for kids and parents. After they ate, Santa appeared in the Gulf on a personal watercraft. The kids and parents ran toward the water as the watercraft neared the shore and finally, Santa got out and was greeted by the children. He picked some up while others were content to hug him, but it wasn’t easy because the jolly fellow had put on some pounds. More...

Board debates minor development procedures

HOLMES BEACH – Planning commissioners debated minor development procedures at a recent meeting.

City Planner Bill Brisson had created a definition for minor development and procedures to allow a site plan to be administratively approved by the building official. The proposal generated a great deal of discussion at a previous meeting in November, which continued at the Dec. 7 meeting.

Member Barbara Hines, who had expressed at the previous meeting objections to giving the building official too much power, continued to be skeptical.

“Given the history we have had with past building officials approving all sorts of things that really should have gone before the city commission, I think it would be a slippery slope,” she said. More...

Ugly Grouper seeks liquor license

HOLMES BEACH – City Planner Bill Brisson has submitted his thoughts regarding a request from the owners of the Ugly Grouper to obtain a liquor license.

He said city approval would be premature for the following reasons:

• The approval of the Barefoot Tiki Bar in 2014, involved only beer and wine sales, a limited number of indoor and outdoor seats, an outdoor recreation area and an outdoor performance stage with limited times of operations and other stipulations. Some of the approvals were inconsistent with Chapter 6 of the city’s code involving alcoholic beverages, and any intensification/expansion of the use would require compliance with Chapter 6.

• Changing from a beer and wine license to another type of license was not included in the original site plan approval therefore, it must be included in the site plan review. More...

Anna Maria Island Sun News StoryWaterfront aids Haitian children

ANNA MARIA – On Tuesday, Dec. 20, Fernande Antoine and Muller Thelusma represented the U.S. based World Harvest Mission and the Haiti based New Life 4 Kids organizations when accepting the $8,000 check The Waterfront Restaurant & Craft Bar and its patrons raised during the Dec. 5 “A Day for Haiti” fund-raiser.

Waterfront owners Jason and Leah Suzor organized the fund-raiser because they wanted to assist Haitian children and the New Life Children’s Home orphanage after Hurricane Matthew hit Haiti in October.

“I just feel like people had forgotten about it. We employ a lot of Haitians and felt like we wanted to give back to their country and their fellow countrymen and women,” Jason Suzor said. More...

Anna Maria Island Sun News Story Flooding prompts stop work order

BRADENTON BEACH – The developers of a property at 2514 Gulf Drive were issued a stop work order last week because their de-watering of the vacant lot flooded the state road for multiple days.

Bradenton Beach Code Enforcement Officer Gail Garneau issued the stop work order at approximately 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 21 after the city received several complaints from residents about the man-made flooding that began the previous Friday near the Sandpiper Resort, Sharky’s Seagrill and Club Bamboo.

The work crew was using a pump to remove groundwater in preparation of laying the concrete foundation. After the stop work order was issued, the pump was turned off and no more de-watering could take place. The stop work order pertained to the unauthorized pumping only, and once the pump was turned off, other site work was allowed to continue as long as no more water was pumped onto Gulf Drive/S.R. 789. Gulf Drive is a state road, which led to the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) requesting the de-watering be stopped. More...


Anna Maria Island Sun News StoryPreserving our produce

Once upon a time, families weren’t accustomed to advancements in modern farming and product delivery technology. Our current food system allows us to have lettuces hydroponically grown in California, heirloom indeterminate striped Roma tomatoes from Canada, fish from the Gulf caught using a hand thrown seine locally made by a mermaid tribe in Cortez, and zephyr squash from Florida grown by a sixth generation organic specialist - all delivered to your door in Tennessee, still fresh and ready to eat. While we could sit back and marvel at our accomplishments, we should be trying to figure out what went wrong.

To be fair, maybe nothing went wrong, but instead maybe we all took a lot for granted. We expect to have that perfect tomato on our hamburger, and we expect that the lettuce will be crisp and bright all year round. In this day and age, it is, and it can. And because of our innovations, we have figured out how to move these items across massive distances in very little time, consistently and while preserving nearly all of that items’ freshness and flavor. More...


Anna Maria Island Sun News StoryThe miracle of Matlacha

Gossamer veils of mist driven by a cool, damp north wind greeted us as we motored into Matlacha Pass. The weather had morphed overnight, from warm fall to early winter with the arrival of a cold front. The wind was gusting to twenty miles an hour and Captain Joe Harley was pondering his game plan.

The trip had been planned a month before and Harley had mapped out a strategy based on prolific fishing he had been experiencing throughout the Matlacha Aquatic Preserve (AP). The change of weather required Harley to access his memory. The 300-plus days he spends on the water every year would prove invaluable.

Rick Hess joined us on our outing. His pin point casts and stamina proved invaluable with the poor visibility we encountered. Over nearly 16 hours, Hess made thousands of casts to and under the mangroves. This was the place we had most of our action. More...

real estate

What will 2017 bring?

In a few days, we will be ringing out 2016 and ringing in 2017, a year that promises to be one of the more interesting in recent decades. But how will the real estate market fair during 2017? As usual, all of the experts who profess to be wicked smart in this area have an opinion and so do I.

In November, Realtor.com did its 2017 National Housing Forecast. Some of what was in its report predicts that the housing market will be slowing in the new year with moderate growth because of higher interest rates and first time buyers dropping out of the market. Home prices are anticipated to increase 3.9 percent and existing home sales are forecasted to increase 1.9 percent. Interest rates are expected to reach 4.5 percent, and, of course, its prediction may be proving correct since the Federal Reserve did increase the prime rate two weeks ago, indicating more increases in the new year. More...


Anna Maria Island Sun News StoryTwo Sides of Nature celebrates 20 years

As I ride around Anna Maria, I’m always impressed by how much it has stayed the same and also by how much it has changed – two sides of the same island. Keeping with the island charm there are two shops in Anna Maria City that have changed and also stayed the same during the past 20 years, Two Sides of Nature and Two Sides of Nature Too.

The LaBelle family is celebrating its 20th anniversary on the Island. Dave and Mary LaBelle started the original Two Sides of Nature on the north end of the Island in a different location and then moved into the new Bayview Plaza when that became available. Now they have two Two Sides of Nature shops, Two Sides of Nature and Two Sides of Nature Too. In addition, they also own Two Scoops Ice Cream Parlor, also in Bayview Plaza. More...

Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

Reverse mortgages worth another look

Investment Corner

I have written about reverse mortgages over the years, at least twice here in the Sun. My advice was that reverse mortgages were expensive for the borrower, but in the case where a retired person or couple had run out of assets, using the equity in their home through a reverse mortgage wasn’t the worst idea in the world.

I’m bringing the topic back one more time because some changes in federal guidelines have made the reverse mortgage a more attractive option for those who are over age 62, that own their home free and clear of another mortgage and who are concerned about the possibility of running low on retirement income during their lifetime

Space limitations don’t’ allow us to go into a full primer on reverse mortgages, but let’s hit some of the highlights. More...


Anna Maria Island Sun News StoryTeam Acqua Aveda cleans up against Jiffy Lube

Heading into the seventh week of adult co-ed recreational soccer play at The Center, the top of the charts stays tight with Team Mason Martin and Team Ross Built Construction with the same record, but Mason Martin ranked in first place currently with their win over Ross Built last week.

Also with the same record, Team Acqua Aveda and Jiffy Lube went head-to-head under the lights Wednesday night. Acqua Aveda’s win landed them in the sixth place rank over Jiffy Lube and Team Slim’s Place with one win in the season.

Wednesday night saw the two teams, which on paper have the talent to capture the league championship, work the field with strong passes and teamwork. The break away scoring by team captain Eric Pullen gave Team Acqua Aveda the spark they needed to capture the win. More...


Turtles crawl to a record year

Sea turtles had a record year in more ways than one on Anna Maria Island, according to Suzi Fox, director of Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch and Shorebird Monitoring.

The record of 435 nests is higher than the next closest record year of 2013 by 66 nests, and higher than the 15-year average by 246 nests.

Why, especially in a year with two hurricanes and a severe tropical storm that destroyed 145 nests?

Mostly, it’s due to 34 years of Turtle Watch volunteers caring for turtles and educating visitors, residents and business owners, Fox told volunteers on Saturday at an appreciation luncheon marking the end of the 2016 turtle season. More...

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