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Date of Issue: March 17, 2005

Holmes Beach pledges fight over county charter

Holmes Beach Mayor Carol Whitmore and city commissioners vowed at the Nov. 23 commission meeting to fight any attempt by the Manatee County Commission to impose a county charter that will take away home rule from municipalities.

Whitmore had attended the county commission meeting earlier that day where commissioners said they were going to hold work sessions to discuss a "growth management" charter.

"They said they wanted growth management but we all know it's [county commissioner] Joe McClash versus [Bradenton Mayor] Wayne Poston over the height of buildings," said Whitmore.

"I told them we would oppose any charter that takes away home rule from us. We don't want them telling us what to do and we won't tell them what to do."

The county, she observed, seems to think it knows what the cities need. "We need to attend the work sessions and tell them that they don't know what's best for us," she said.

Whitmore said County Commissioner Jane von Hahmann, whose district includes the Island, was asked to attend the Dec. 14 city commission meeting to explain exactly what the county wants and hear commissioners opinions.

Commissioners agreed with Whitmore and hoped von Hahmann could attend the Dec. 14 meeting.

In other commission business, the commission approved the first reading of a small scale amendment to the comprehensive plan that would change the Future Land Use Map designation of two properties where churches were formerly located from "public/semi-public" to medium-density residential.

The land is already zoned MDR, but the FLUM was not changed during the last revision in 1989, Whitmore said.

The amendment was opposed by Holmes Beach resident and ManaSota-88 member Joan Perry.

Al Wiedorn of the Holmes Beach Civic Association asked for the reasons behind the amendment.

"It was an error" by the city in 1989, noted Whitmore.

Commissioner Roger Lutz agreed with the amendment.

"You always look at what they want to do and what's the worst thing they could do," he observed. If the FLUM was not changed, property owners could put in a school "or a rehabilitation center for drug abusers," Lutz said.

Commissioner Don Maloney was "not happy" with the amendment, but agreed an error had been made.

The first reading was approved by a 4-0 vote. The second and final reading was scheduled for the Dec. 14 commission meeting.

Whitmore also noted to commissioners that the canal dredging project is nearly finished and the sand pile along Flotilla Drive should be removed within a few days.

She thanked residents who had been affected by the sand pile and dredging for their patience, noting that "it's the first time in 50 years we've dredged the canals."

The city will now perform maintenance dredging on the canals every five years, but that impact and cost will be considerably less than the now completed $2 million dredging project.

Commissioners also approved the engineering firm of Zollar, Najjar and Shroyer to prepare bids and oversee the city hall air conditioning renovation project. They also decided not to schedule a Dec. 28 meeting unless absolutely necessary.