Vol. 17 No. 27 - April 19, 2017


FDOT changes 119th Street plans

BRADENTON — Residents of the village of Cortez can breathe a little easier now that the Florida Department of Transportation is changing its plan for 119th Street access.

Concern mounted after FDOT released plans to try for a reduction in vehicular congestion on Cortez Road by modifying the signal at the 119th intersection and adding medians which would restrict left hand turns in and out of the south side of 119th Street. The changes, based on three year old traffic counts conducted by FDOT contractors, didn't demonstrate sufficient traffic to keep access to the street as-is.

A new traffic count showed a significant increase in the amount of left turn traffic at the intersection, prompting FDOT to change its plans. More...

Anna Maria Island Sun News StoryLong Bar Pointe developers present new plans ...

BRADENTON – On Thursday, May 4, Manatee County Commissioners will discuss the new general development plan and rezoning requests for the Aqua by the Bay development once known as Long Bar Pointe.

On Thursday, April 13, the Manatee County Planning Commission voted 3-2 in favor of the proposed development being consistent with the county's comprehensive plan and land development code. Timothy Rhoades, Mike Rahn and John DeLesline supported the development. Matt Bower and Al Horrigan Jr. did not.

County commissioners will consider the Planning Commission's recommendations when making their own decisions and a large public turnout is expected at the 9 a.m. land use meeting. More...

... as opponents draw battle lines

BRADENTON – Twenty Manatee County residents signed up to speak at last week's Planning Commission meeting, and all but one opposed the revised plans for the Aqua by the Bay development once known as Long Bar Pointe.

The plans call for a 145-foot building, a 75-foot residential building and a man-made estuary and retaining wall that would separate the development and the coastal mangroves along Sarasota Bay. The developers also want to rezone 191 of the property's 529-acres.

Representing the local Sierra Club, Stuart Smith said an online petition gathered more than 1,000 signatures and the county received nearly 200 e-mails opposing the project. More...

Anna Maria Island Sun News StorySchooner San Francesco raised

CORTEZ – Thanks to the efforts of James Frederick and Michael Ibasfalean, the schooner San Francesco is once again floating in front of the Seafood Shack restaurant.

With an assist from the restaurant and marina's management team, the 66-foot, two-masted wooden schooner rose from its resting place on the bottom of the waterway on the evening of Tuesday, April 11.

Two questions now remain: Will the schooner stay afloat and what will happen to it?

On Sunday night, a breaker for the dockside electrical outlet popped. This caused the electric pumps to stop running and the ship to take on water. Property Manager Joe Seely and Dock Master Eddy fetched a gasoline-powered pump that helped remove the water, and the schooner was still floating Monday morning. More...

Anna Maria Island Sun News StoryEgg hunt, Pine Avenue draw crowd

ANNA MARIA – Easter came early for hundreds of children and their parents Saturday at the Sandbar restaurant and on Pine Avenue.

The action began at 9 a.m., as hundreds of early bird parents and their children showed up for pastries, compliments of the Sandbar restaurant and Hometown Desserts, at the pavilion by the restaurant. Then everyone lined up around three rectangular, taped-off areas containing colorful Easter eggs strewn about in the sand. Armed with bags and baskets, the kids eagerly awaited the signal to begin the 2017 Chiles Group and AMI Sun Newspaper Easter Egg Hunt.

The signal wasn't quite loud enough for all the kids to hear, however, so instead of starting in stages all the kids in all the groups made a mad dash for eggs at the same time. More...

Concern mounts over concession funds

HOLMES BEACH — There's a $1 million pot of money, and each Island city wants to get a cut before it's gone.

The pot of money in question is the concession fund, a Manatee County-managed account containing the three Island cities' cut of the county's share of profits from the public beaches concessionaires.

As of April, the account contained $1,097,872 in unused funds.

The amount doesn't include an estimated $10,000 expenditure for a proposed fitness trail in Bradenton Beach.

"It's troubling the money has been sitting here and no one is asking for anything," Commissioner Jean Peelen said. "This kind of money could disappear overnight." More...

Politics one reason for soft tourist season

HOLMES BEACH – A decline in tourism on Anna Maria Island in January and February could be due in part to European perceptions that the U.S. is becoming more isolationist, according to the county's tourism consultant.

The "Trump effect" may have played a role in the unusual downturn in the first half of the four-month peak tourism season on the Island, Walter Klages, of Tampa-based Research Data Services, told the Manatee County Tourist Development Council on Monday.

Occupancy was down about 1 percent countywide in January and 2 percent in February, Klages said.

On the Island, tourist tax collections in January were down 16 percent in Anna Maria, 7 percent in Bradenton Beach and 24 percent in Holmes Beach in January, according to statistics from the Manatee County Tax Collector's office. In February, Anna Maria collections declined about 1 percent, Bradenton Beach was up about 1 percent and Holmes Beach was down about 4 percent. More...

Anna Maria Island Sun News StoryCapital plan in place

ANNA MARIA – The city now has a $35.8 million 10-year capital plan in place.

On April 6, city commissioners adopted a resolution presented by Mayor Dan Murphy that formalizes the city's long-range plans regarding capital improvements to address infrastructure, coastal conservation, traffic circulation and city facility needs.

City Engineer Lynn Burnett, Public Works Manager Dean Jones, City Clerk LeAnne Addy and volunteer financial consultant John Chambers assisted Murphy in the creation of the plan that was based in part on input previously provided by city commissioners. More...


Earth Day cloudy, with silver lining

A few storm clouds are gathering over Earth Day this year.


The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service downlisted manatees under the U.S. Endangered Species Act from endangered to threatened status in March.

Florida manatees should have been exempted from this downlisting, which was based on studies of manatees in Puerto Rico, Mexico, Central America, northern South America and the Greater and Lesser Antilles. More...


Anna Maria Island Sun News Story Good time for Spanish mackerel

Spanish mackerel are one of the most abundant fish in area waters. Although not a native species in the strictest sense, this fast, toothy and tasty predator is present year-round. The only exception is during prolonged periods of cold weather. I think of them as an everyman's fish, since they can be caught in the bay, in the Gulf, from a boat, from the beach and from piers, jetties and local bridges.

Spanish mackerel are rapacious, opportunistic carnivores that feed on a wide range of baitfish and crustaceans. Some of their favorite targets are pilchards, threadfin herring and shrimp. The mackerel's streamlined body and sickle tail provide the speed and maneuverability that makes it an extremely efficient hunter and exciting target on spinning, fly or bait casting tackle.

Mackerel will take a wide variety of lures, flies and live bait. When rigging for them, keep tackle light and use as little hardware as possible. Eight- to 10-pound spinning and bait casting tackle and seven- and eight-weight fly rods are sufficient. The most effective rig is created by doubling the standing line using either a spider hitch or a Bimini twist. A bite tippet of 30- or 40-pound monofilament is then added. More...

real estate

Traffic, traffic, traffic

We probably say this every year, "This was the worst year for traffic heading out to the Island," and unfortunately every year it's an accurate statement. In fact, the traffic does get worse every year, not just westbound to the beach, but all over Manatee County, and if you think it's going to get better, I have a bridge in Cortez to sell you.

The volume of new construction in recent years on the west side of Manatee County is exploding, and so is the population. Harbour Isle located on the Palma Sola Causeway is slated for almost 700 properties, there are two new developments on Palma Sola Boulevard adding hundreds of residences and new villas being built off 75th Street in the middle of the Village Green association, and this is just what is currently underway.

We all know about Lake Flores, with its 6,500 properties south of Cortez Road at 75th Street, and Aqua By The Bay, with 2,894 residences, formerly known as Long Bar Pointe, is being considered again by the county commissioners with a recommendation that it be approved. More...


Anna Maria Island Sun News StoryAir & Energy grows

Watching your business grow is a wonderful thing, but watching your children grow is really what touches your heart. When you're lucky enough to see your children become successful in your business, well that's a heart exploding event.

Air & Energy Air, Plumbing & Electrical based on Anna Maria Island has been a family run business for 34 years. Several years ago, Stewart Moon, Sr. retired and made way for his son Stewart Moon, Jr. to become one of the principals of the business along with his mother Trudy Moon, who remains active in the business. 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 StorySlim's Place takes the first win

The community center pitch came alive again on Saturday for three competitive recreational youth soccer games. With new teams created and the merging of two age divisions to create the 11- to 14-year-old league, coaches and teammates worked to try to find the chemistry on the field that would take them to victory in the season spring season.

Coach Jesse Brisson, for Slim's Place, was fortunate enough to have two seasoned powerhouses on his team with Gregory Jordan and Aiden Templeton. Both players have honed their soccer skills at the center, bringing up their game with each season.

For Brisson, Connor Samblis will be the player to watch along with Gabe Hoover. Hoover and Jordan work their skills together off Island as well as teammates in another soccer club. More...


Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

Turtle Watch preps volunteers in spring training

HOLMES BEACH – Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch and Shorebird Monitoring is starting earlier and doing things differently this sea turtle season to safeguard sea turtles better than ever.

Volunteer beach walkers already are scanning the Island's beaches at dawn each morning for signs of nesting. Turtle Watch Director Suzi Fox thinks that unseasonably warm weather may prompt nesting before the May 1 season starts.

Turtle watchers will do several things differently this year to better focus on keeping track of the increasing number of threatened loggerhead turtles and occasional endangered green turtles that nest and hatch on the Island for six months each year, she said. More...

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