The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 17 No. 35 - June 14, 2017


Margaritaville coming to this particular harbor

Carol Whitmore

Emily Anne Smith Designs | Submitted

This rendering created by designer Emily Anne Smith.

BRADENTON — For everyone who's ever thought of visiting Margaritaville, the dream's about to come true on Perico Island.

Minto Communities and Margaritaville Holdings are partnering on a neighborhood in the 220-acre Harbour Isle community on the western end of Perico Island overlooking Anna Maria Sound.

The neighborhood, dubbed One Particular Harbour, will feature 132 luxury residences, 30,000 square feet of commercial space for restaurants, retail and entertainment establishments and a marina with 55 wet slips and 128 dry slips.

Construction on the marina has already begun and is expected to be completed in 2018.

The new neighborhood is touted to bring the Margaritaville relaxed vibe to the private island community. Homes in the neighborhood will be within walking distance of the marina and commercial space, sharing amenities including the Beach Club at Harbour Isle with the other community neighborhoods.

Homes in the One Particular Harbour neighborhood are planned to start in the high $400,000s with two- and three-bedroom floor plans available. Units range in size from 1,483 to 1,650 square feet under air. The residences will be located in the Marina Walk section of the neighborhood.

"The Marina Walk residences on One Particular Harbour will provide owners with walkable access to boating, dining and entertainment on Florida's last private island in one of the most iconic Gulf Coast settings," said William Bullock, senior vice president of Minto Communities in a June 7 press release. "There is no other place like it."

Residences in the Marina Walk section of the neighborhood are already available for purchase.

One Particular Harbour marks the third partnership between Margaritaville and Minto. Two other developments are planned in Hilton Head and Daytona Beach.

Harbour Isle is at 12300 Manatee Ave. W., Bradenton. For more information, visit or call 888-827-3061.

Rough seas put swimmers in distress
Carol Whitmore

joe hendricks | SUN

Strong currents and rough surf presented additional risks for
those who entered the water last week, like this group of swimmers
in Bradenton Beach Wednesday afternoon.


ANNA MARIA – Rough surf claimed the life of a Lakeland man and made swimming conditions tricky and sometimes perilous along the Island's coastline last week.

Joseph Teston, 25, lost his life Friday, June 9, after nearly drowning the day before.

At 3:15 p.m. on Thursday, June 8, Manatee County Sheriff's Office (MCSO) units were dispatched to the beach area near the Sandbar restaurant in Anna Maria.

"Upon arrival, CPR was in progress by good samaritans. Marine rescue and EMS arrived and Teston was transported to Blake Hospital," the sheriff's report states.

Teston passed away the following day.

According to MCSO Public Information Officer Dave Bristow, Carolyn Colvin was swimming with others Thursday when a young boy asked her to check on Teston. She swam to him, found him unconscious and helped bring him to shore. Ian Hilvert saw Colvin swimming out to Teston and assisted her. He said Teston had been swimming by himself at least 25 feet from shore in the rough surf. Jake Glass provided additional assistance once on shore.

Anna Maria resident Laurie Jo Higgins said Teston's grandmother lives on Spring Avenue and Teston often stayed at his grandmother's house.

Additional scares

Rough surf contributed to another scare Friday afternoon. According to Manatee County Marine Rescue Public Safety Chief Joe Westerman, four men were swimming near the Sandbar restaurant in Anna Maria and found themselves too far from shore and cried out for help. Marine Rescue received a call for swimmers in distress, but when they arrived responding law enforcement officials were already in the process of cancelling the request.

"Somebody helped them to shore, and there were no medical issues," Westerman said

Marine Rescue also performed a rip current-related rescue Sunday at Coquina Beach.

Caution advised

Considering recent events, Westerman offered some precautionary advice.

"The first thing is to swim near a lifeguard or at a life-guarded beach. We have visitors from all over, and when they get here, they see the beautiful Gulf of Mexico; whether it's flat-calm or rough, what they see is fun times. But as trained professionals, my staff is visualizing and observing the hazards that exist every day.

"If you come to a life-guarded beach, you're going to get the best professional advice on who should go in the water and who shouldn't. If people take the right steps, they can come out and enjoy our beaches and return home safely," he said.

Coquina Beach in Bradenton Beach and Manatee Public Beach in Holmes Beach are life-guarded beaches, and Westerman said the county hopes to add lifeguards to Cortez Beach in Bradenton Beach soon.

"We have two beaches that are operational 365 days a year. Check those beaches first. If you're not sure of the conditions, take a drive down to the beach and see what flags are flying. Most of this past week we were flying red flags and a single red flag means only the strongest swimmers should go into the water. If you have children who are not strong swimmers, you may want to put them in life jackets to keep them afloat if they get knocked over," Westerman said.

Two red flags indicate the water is closed to swimmers. A yellow flag means the water is safe for average swimmers and a green flag indicates no issues.

Westerman and others are working on an application for the county website that will allow beachgoers to check the surf and swimming conditions ahead of time. Mote Marine's website currently provides twice-daily updates on beach conditions in 10 Florida counties, including Manatee and Sarasota.

State investigates net camp construction

Anna Maria Island Sun News Story


The Guthrie family net camp in Cortez is shown here in
this aerial photo from the 1950s.

CORTEZ – A historic net camp in Sarasota Bay off the Cortez commercial fishing village could be the next offshore structure scrutinized by the state, some Cortezians fear.

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection is investigating the legality of a building being constructed in the bay by Cortezian Raymond "Junior" Guthrie, who maintains he is building on the remains of a previous net camp long owned by his family, according to DEP.

"A title determination indicates the land is sovereign submerged land owned by the state," DEP spokesperson Shannon Herbon said, adding that this is the first, and so far, the only such case in this part of Florida. After an inspection on May 25, "We issued a compliance assistance offer asking him to come in for a meeting to discuss the structure," she said.

Guthrie's structure is just west of a net camp that the Cortez not-for-profit Florida Institute for Saltwater Heritage (FISH) rebuilt as a historic artifact. Cortez commercial fishermen long used net camps to mend, clean and store cotton nets; attached net "spreads" were used to hang the nets to dry.

The state should leave both buildings alone, said fourth generation commercial fisherman Capt. Kathe Fannon, who now operates boat tours in the bay.

When the state enacted a constitutional amendment banning gill nets in 1995, effectively putting Cortez fishermen out of business, it also made the net camps of the Cortez founding families obsolete, according to Fannon.

"We had net camps up until the net ban. What else are they going to take away from us?" she said. "I want my Dad's net camp back. It's a birthright."

"I was glad when Junior started building this," said Karen Bell, of A.P. Bell Fish Co., a mullet toss from Guthrie's structure. "I would be thrilled if every single family that had one could build them again."

Bell said she offered to place Guthrie's structure on her submerged lands lease to satisfy DEP, but thinks Guthrie's ownership should be grandfathered in under the Butler Act, a 1921 law repealed in 1957 that awarded title of submerged lands to owners of adjacent property who made permanent improvements to the submerged lands during that time period.

Net camps, or their piling and remains, have been off Cortez for decades, she said, as pictured in a 1950s photo in her office that "shows the shoreline dotted with those things," including the Guthrie family net camp, she said.

Net camps also could be protected within the Florida Working Waterfront program; Cortez is one of 24 Designated Waterfronts Florida Partnership Communities, a program created in 1997 to address "the physical and economic decline of traditional working waterfront areas," according to a DEP publication. Cultural resource protection is one of the goals of the program, according to the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity.

Some of the village's working waterfronts projects include the creation of the FISH Preserve, the FISH Boatworks and the Florida Maritime Museum and the restoration and relocation of the 1910 Pillsbury Boatshop.

The net camp also could be protected by Manatee County's Cortez Village Historical and Archeological Overlay District. The Cortez Village Community Vision Plan of 2000, included in the district's design guidelines, supports "maintaining the historic fishing culture of Cortez."

Island trolley study gets under way



Trolly pull-offs are being looked at as a way to
ease traffic congestion on the Anna Maria Island route.

ANNA MARIA — Island Cities Engineer Lynn Burnett is beginning work on a feasibility study for trolley pull-offs.

Burnett presented members of the Island Transportation Planning Organization June 5 with a proposed scope of work and timeline for a preliminary study to determine if improvements can be made for trolley travel along Marina, Palm and Gulf Drive corridors.

On Burnett's timeline in June is to identify areas along the trolley route in Holmes Beach where pull-offs could be established, then meet with Ryan Suarez with Manatee County Area Transit to identify any operational concerns. In July and August, Burnett plans to coordinate with the Manatee County Utilities Project Manager for the Island portion of the force main replacement project. She said she'd like to incorporate any approved trolley pull-offs into the design for the project. Her reasoning is that if the area already is being disturbed by the construction project, the roadways should be "put back in a way that makes the most sense."

She plans to present a finalized timeline for improvements to the three Island city commissions and the ITPO in the fall.

The idea, broached by Anna Maria Commissioner Doug Copeland during the May meeting, is to determine if there are some areas along its route where the trolley could safely pull out of travel lanes to allow vehicles to safely pass. For the idea to work, a 40 to 50-foot pull-off area would need to be established at each location and vehicle drivers will have to abide by the law to allow the trolley back into traffic.

Burnett said installing trolley pull-offs may require some stops to be realigned to allow for the additional space needed.

Bradenton Beach Mayor Bill Shearon expressed concern that there are no places available in Bradenton Beach to designate a pull-off. He also said he fears the project, which he said has been addressed previously, would be refused by MCAT.

An update on the project's progress is expected from Burnett at the September ITPO meeting.

City cracking down on Jet Skis at Bayfront park

joe hendricks | SUN

City Officials are concerned about Jet Skis accessing
the beach at Bayfront Park Sgt. Russell Schnering discusses
his safety concerns with city commissioners.

ANNA MARIA – Due to public safety concerns, city officials have asked City Attorney Becky Vose to strengthen city ordinances pertaining to motorized personal watercraft launching and landing at Bayfront Park.

The mayor and city commissioners also want to prohibit swimming in the Lake La Vista canal and jumping from the humpback bridge into the water below.

"We've had several complaints and problems with Jet Skis down at Bayfront Park," Mayor Dan Murphy said at the Thursday, June 8, commission meeting."

Murphy and Sgt. Russell Schnering attribute the increased activity at Bayfront Park to county officials banning entry into the water near the South Coquina Boat Ramp in Bradenton Beach.

"They banned the Jet Skis down there, so the Jet Skis have migrated up here to our park," Murphy said of the county ban enacted in 2015 that applies to the area between the boat ramp and Longboat Pass.

"The problem is it's a swimming area, and there's Jet Skis going in and out," Murphy said of the Bayfront Park area.

He said Schnering and the Sheriff's Office received several complaints over the recent Memorial Day weekend.

"Our problem has been enforcement; what can we do about it?" Murphy said.

He told commissioners the city owns the land that serves as a county-maintained park and the city has riparian rights that extend into the water.

Vose has been asked to revamp the ordinance in a manner that allows citations and fines to be issued to watercraft violators.

A visit to the park last week revealed only one sign that references watercraft restrictions. The sign is located at the main entrance and lists the various park rules.

"No watercraft on beach or in designated swimming areas," it says.

Sec. 38-53 of the city ordinance says, "It shall be unlawful for any person to operate a boat within 300 feet of the Bayfront Park beach area out the area designed in section 38-51."

Sec. 38-51 declares that 200 feet of the beach area near Bayfront Park – measured north from the north boundary of the channel, shall be reserved as a boat landing area that allows boats to load and unload passengers and/or skiers.

Motorized personal watercraft are included in the city ordinance's definition of a boat.

Sec. 38-52 states, "It shall be unlawful for any person to land a boat on the beach outside of the area designated in sec. 38-51.

In addition to revamping the existing ordinance, Schnering, the city's top law enforcement officer, requested more signage be added to the park and beach area that informs users of the city's regulations. He said the current lack of signage makes enforcement more difficult.

"With signage, I can talk with our Marine Unit and they can come down and do enforcement like they did Memorial weekend," Schnering said.

"Safety's paramount. On a holiday weekend, we're looking at 50 to 75 Jet Skis running around with families swimming. They race into the beach, and they change drivers, and they race back out when you have kids swimming. It's dangerous. It's a recipe for disaster," Schnering said.

"If the word gets out that they're not allowed to bring their Jet Skis to Bayfront Park, they'll find somewhere else," he added.

Commissioner Doug Copeland asked Schnering where the personal watercraft were being launched. Schnering said some were being launched at the boat ramp in Holmes Beach, but most were using the Kingfish Boat Ramp.

Copeland asked if it would help to also prohibit trailer parking at Bayfront Park. Schnering said it would help, but Murphy said the concern there would be redirecting trailer parking into residential areas.

Uncertainty surrounds Aqua by the Bay

joe hendricks | SUN

County staff is still unsure of what the Aqua by the Bay developers
intend to build on this coastal property located between El Conquistador
Parkway and Sarasota Bay.

BRADENTON – Manatee County staff members have reviewed the Aqua by the Bay height analysis report received on May 16, and they still have several unanswered questions regarding proposed building heights and locations.

When some of these unanswered questions arose at the County Commission land use meeting on May 4, the commission remitted Carlos Beruff's general development plan and rezoning requests back to the Planning Commission for additional review. The Planning Commission review and public hearing is currently scheduled for Thursday, July 13, but that could be delayed if staff's requests are not fulfilled.

On May 30, Manatee County Building and Development Services employees Nicole Knapp and Stephanie Moreland issued a report that contains staff comments on the height analysis report received from King Engineering Associates.

"Upon further review of land development code (LDC), staff is of the opinion that the revised submittal does not satisfactorily address the commissioners requests, nor the LDC, thereby placing the project in jeopardy of not meeting the necessary deadlines for the July Planning Commission agenda, as well as a recommendation of denial from staff," the report says.

"As requested by the Board of County Commissioners, please indicate the maximum number of buildings proposed between 35 and 95 feet in height. Staff notes that the height analysis commits to a maximum of four buildings in excess of 95 feet, not to exceed 145 feet," the report says.

Staff has asked the developers to indicate the number stories proposed for 95-foot and 145-foot buildings.

"It appears from the height analysis narrative that you have stated the four buildings in excess of 95 feet will be located within the pink area of the General Development Plan (GDP), however, there is no mention of where the buildings between 35 and 95 feet in height will be located. Please show on the GDP where the 95-foot tall buildings will be located," the report states.

"An applicant requesting an increase in building height over 35 feet shall provide at the time of public hearing conceptual architectural drawings, elevations and plan views showing the buildings and their relationship on the property. As such, please revise the GDP to provide notations which depict approximate/general locations for buildings between 35 and 95 feet, as well as buildings in excess of 95 feet," the report says.

Staff also is asking the developers to clarify the proposed setbacks to the mean high water line, the proposed estuary enhancement area wall, the wetland buffers, El Conquistador Parkway and between buildings.

The report notes the latest information received from the developers indicated a minimum setback of 210 feet from the mean high water line and 15 feet from the wall, applicable only to the four buildings exceeding 95 feet.

"Does the minimum setback also apply to the 95-foot tall buildings?" the staff report asks.

The clarity and timeliness of the responses requested will help determine when the Planning Commission conducts its second preliminary review of the controversial project.

The Planning Commission's initial preliminary review in April was based in part on a staff report that was inaccurate because of incomplete information provided by the developers. At that time, the planning commissioners voted 3-2 in support of the proposed project being compliant with the LDC and comprehensive plan.

County Commissioners take the Planning Commission's recommendations into consideration when making their land use decisions.

Metz's land use challenge fails

joe hendricks | SUN

This structure at 308 Gulf Dr. S. is the subject of a land use dispute
initiated by neighbor John Metz. At right, Special Master
Lisa Gonzalez Moore issued her written ruling on June 7.

BRADENTON BEACH – The city of Bradenton Beach and Wendy and George Kokolis have prevailed in a land use related legal challenge initiated by John Metz, but an appeal of the special master's ruling is expected.

The dispute involves a renovated two-story structure at 308 Gulf Dr. S. that was built in 1945 and purchased by the Kokolis' in September 2014. The Kokolis property is next to Metz's home at 306 Gulf Dr. S., a portion of which he uses as a vacation rental.

Citing the city's land development code, Metz and his attorney, Nelon Kirkland, unsuccessfully argued the property's historic allowed use as a vacation rental should be forfeited based on their belief that the structure sat vacant for more than 18 months before and during renovations. The property is in a zoning area where new vacation rentals are no longer allowed.

In June 2015, Building Official Steve Gilbert issued the building permit that allowed the renovations to begin. In February 2016, Metz questioned the permitting decision and later demanded the property's vacation rental use be abandoned. Gilbert responded with an e-mail that said, "The fact that a building is vacant does not mean it has been abandoned. Buildings are very often vacant, sometimes due to lack of occupants, sometimes due to renovations. It does not mean that the use of the structure has been abandoned."

City Attorney Ricinda Perry then informed Metz that his challenge was untimely because the city provides 30-days to challenge a permit, and he waited almost a year.

During the Metz-requested special master hearing that began this March and concluded in April, Metz and Kirkland also alleged the renovations exceeded the substantial improvement threshold. If true, this could result in the project being deemed new construction and the loss of the existing vacation rental use. They also alleged the construction of an outdoor shower expanded the existing structure, and they challenged the certificate of completion issued by Gilbert.

During testimony, Metz acknowledged he had expressed interest in purchasing the property before the Kokolis' bought it, and signs formerly posted on Metz's property advertised a three-story, L-shaped retail-residential development on his property that would have extended south, between the Kokolis property and the Gulf.

The ruling

The 37-page final ruling Special Master Lisa Gonzalez Moore issued on Wednesday, June 7 stated:

• "The residential use was not discontinued for a period of 18 months or more;

• Metz failed to timely appeal the validity of Kokolis appraisal;

• The change from an outdoor storage area to a shower did not constitute an expansion of the structure;

• Metz failed to prove that the work done under the 2015 building permit exceed the substantial improvement threshold;

• Metz failed to prove that Gilbert's decision to issue the certificate of completion was unreasonable, erroneous or illegal."

Attorneys reaction

"I am pleased with the ruling of the special master. It was unequivocally the right decision. While the Building and Planning Department has always had a welcoming open door policy, helping and providing information to anyone who visits or makes inquiries, the time and costs involved to successfully defend the city in this hearing will now require staff to modify its long standing open door practice," Perry said of the ruling.

"I'm very gratified the special master denied all of Mr. Metz's claims. It's unfortunate and unfair that the Kokolis' were forced to pay to defend themselves against these meritless claims. There is no valid legal or factual basis for any further appeal or proceedings," said Robert Lincoln, the Kokolis' attorney.

On Friday, Kirkland said Metz planned to appeal the ruling to the Circuit Court.

On Friday, City Treasurer Shayne Thompson informed City Commissioners that Metz's challenge has thus far subjected the city to $16,244 in legal fees.

An appeal would subject the city and its taxpayers to additional legal fees.

In 2015, Metz filed an unsuccessful lawsuit against mayoral candidate Jack Clarke that later exposed the city to $11,049 in legal fees.

Island musician harnesses the good vibes of AMI

Kristin Swain | Sun

Island native Rebecca Turk takes a break with
her guitar June 7 during the filming of her music video
for "Saltwater Hair" at The Anchor Inn.

HOLMES BEACH — Island native and musician Rebecca Turk is capturing the essence of Island life in her new single, "Saltwater Hair."

"It's the feeling of growing up here and spending your life in the waves," Turk said June 7, taking a break from filming the song's music video at local watering hole The Anchor Inn in Holmes Beach.

Turk said she wrote the song on a weekend day that epitomized growing up on Anna Maria Island for her — hanging out on the beach and meeting up with friends at their favorite locales without having to make advance plans.

Entering The Anchor Inn, the feeling she speaks about is obvious as old friends greet Turk as set up begins for filming.

"It's a typical day of being an Islander," she said.

Other Island locations featured in the video include the beach at sunset and Slim's Place in Anna Maria. Production for the video came courtesy of the Sarasota-based TruColor Productions with Jason Morillo serving as director.

More than 50 people packed into The Anchor Inn to help Turk film the final scenes for her video.

She said she loves the community aspect of the Island and appreciates everyone who came out to support her.

"Saltwater Hair" is the second single from her upcoming five track album, expected to be released in late July. The single is planned for a late June release on iTunes.

Though Turk traveled to Nashville after the video shoot wrapped, where's she's graced stages including the famed Bluebird Café, which she described as "a dream come true," she hopes to return after the album release for a hometown show.

"I think it's something I have to do," she said.

In addition to her blossoming music career as a singer and guitarist, Turk also is teaching English at Florida State University. She took the summer off to pursue her musical opportunities.

"I do what I enjoy doing," she said. "As long as the doors are opening, I'm going to go through them. We'll see what happens."

To keep up with Turk and check out her music, visit

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