Team Sandtastic works on a super-sized sand sculpture in Bradenton Beach on the south side of the BeachHouse Restaurant. The project, an annual tradition and part of Keep Manatee Beautiful’s Sandblast celebration, began Nov. 17 and took three days to complete. Islander Photos: Lisa Neff
Bradenton Beach hosted an outdoor gallery Nov. 20 with the arrival of Sandblast 2010, the annual sand-sculpture contest organized by Keep Manatee Beautiful.
The BeachHouse Restaurant, 200 Gulf Drive, Bradenton Beach, served as the main sponsor of the event, which featured a recycled art exhibit, showcased an 80-ton sand-sculpture created by Team Sandtastic and matched nearly two dozen teams in a friendly sand-sculpting competition.
Teams, each working with sand piled in a 15 by 15 plot, started sculpting at about 9 a.m. The contest rules required sculptures to be along one of three themes — free form, nautical or holiday.
Participants included the Anna Maria Island Privateers, Bradenton Boys and Girls Club members, and students from Bayshore High School, Braden River Middle School, Braden River High School, Bradenton Christian High School, Lincoln Middle School, Manatee High School, Manatee School for the Arts, Southeast High School, State College of Florida students and Wakeland Elementary School.
Prior to the Sandblast contest, Team Sandtastic held a series of sculpting clinics on the Gulf of Mexico shore just south of the BeachHouse. Also, for three days prior to the contest, the professional team worked on its sandy holiday showpiece that likely will remain on the beach for the next month.
Team Sandastic holds a Guinness World Record for the tallest sandcastle ever built in less than 100 people-hours — the sandcastle was 28 feet, 7 1/4 inches tall.
A state administrative law judge has ruled that an attorney representing Richard Friday of Anna Maria must pay Steven Walker $2,000.
Friday and Walker are adjacent property owners near Anna Maria’s Park Avenue beach access and both have legal actions against the city regarding a Florida Department of Environmental Protection construction permit issued to Walker.
After Walker received a DEP permit to build a home, Friday filed an appeal of the permit with the Florida Division of Administrative Hearings.
Under rules required of an administrative hearing, attorney Ricinda Perry, on behalf of Walker, said the two parties first met to attempt a settlement. Perry said Friday did not agree to Walker’s settlement offer.
When Friday also did not agree to the terms of a joint stipulation about what evidence would be presented at the hearing, an administrative law judge heard the appeal case in March and ruled against Friday.
“Because of the obvious lack of legal merit” to Friday’s case, Perry said, Walker then requested sanctions, which are generally monetary reimbursements.
The judge, D.R. Alexander, granted sanctions Nov. 12 against Friday’s lawyer for “continuing to pursue the appeal.”
Alexander ordered Friday’s attorney, Harry Haskins, to pay Walker $2,000.
The judge said that Friday agreed prior to the March 16 hearing to present testimony that Walker’s environmental permitting process was flawed. Friday said he would also present evidence of Walker’s conflict with the city’s zoning code and comprehensive plan. Haskins was not Friday’s attorney when Friday agreed to present that evidence.
Alexander said Friday failed to present the environmental evidence, only the evidence that Walker’s planned project was in conflict with Anna Maria’s zoning ordinance and comprehensive plan.
Alexander said in his Nov. 12 order that the prior hearing was unnecessary because no environmental testimony was presented.
“Florida law was clear that Friday’s legal position was without merit,” Perry said following the Nov. 12 decision.
Friday has sued the city for informing Walker that it saw no obstacle for building in the environmental district, although the comprehensive plan states that no development is allowed in that land-use category.
Walker filed his legal action after the commission failed to pass a lot-split he requested for property he owns in the environmental zone that he claims was legally platted and accepted by the city.
Walker’s project is a three-bedroom house that would be built at 100 Park Ave., west of Friday’s house at 104 Park Ave.
Haskins said he “totally disagreed” with Alexander’s ruling, and was pursuing “other appellate options.”
The Florida 2nd District Court of Appeal Nov. 19 denied a motion by ex-Anna Maria Commissioner Harry Stoltzfus requesting more time to file a brief in his appeal to the DCA.
The brief would be a response to the DCA’s Sept. 16 order lifting certification of the results of Stoltzfus’ recall vote and asking the ex-commissioner to show why his appeal of the recall should not be moot.
Stoltzfus filed his request for an extension Nov. 2. A posting on the court’s website indicated the request was denied.
No date for oral arguments on the merits of the appeal has been scheduled.
Stoltzfus’ recall began in March following a public records request that resulted in the release of more than 1,200 of Stoltzfus’ personal e-mails pertaining to government business.
The contents of those e-mails, some of them inflammatory, prompted Anna Maria resident Bob Carter to form a Recall Commissioner Stoltzfus Committee and proceed through the various legal steps to remove Stoltzfus from office.
On Sept. 7, the city electorate voted 363-332 to recall Stoltzfus.
Discovery Channel viewers will discover Anna Maria Island in February.
A crew filmed at a number of Anna Maria Island locations earlier this month, including retailers on Bradenton Beach’s Bridge Street.
The crew turned its cameras on the Bridge Street Market, the Back Alley, The Hive, The Fish Hole and the BridgeWalk, which also hosted the film team.
The crew also filmed skimboarders off Longboat Key and some Island real estate properties, including those in the Pineapple Fish accommodations roster.
The crew was working on a 30-minute episode of “Florida Travel Life Affordable Luxury” that will first air at 9 a.m. Feb. 12 and then repeat 14 times.
“Florida Travel Life Affordable Luxury” is paid programming sponsored by American Express and Visit Florida, the statewide tourism bureau.
The promotional series, an extension of Florida Travel Life magazine, debuted in June to take viewers “to Florida’s hottest destinations, starting with Daytona Beach, Miami and Ft. Lauderdale, with insider tips on where to stay, dine, shop and play like a VIP.”
Next on the itinerary for the “Florida Travel Life” team was a stop at Palm Beach and a visit to the Keys.
Bob Bartelt, Janet Vosburgh and Ed Straight take their oaths of office from city clerk Nora Idso Nov. 15 at city hall. On Nov. 2, Straight and incumbent Vosburgh were elected to the city commission and incumbent Bartelt was elected mayor. Swearing-in ceremonies took place in Anna Maria Nov. 9 and in Holmes Beach early Nov. 15.
The Manatee County Tax Collector’s Office this month mailed 157,634 annual tax bills and notices to property owners.
The office is encouraging property owners who did not receive tax bills to print a copy from www.taxcollector.com.
Taypayers also can make payments on the website, as well as complete applications to pay in quarterly installments.
Annual payments received or postmarked by Dec. 8 are discounted 4 percent.
The total taxes owed to Manatee County governments is $481,703,771.31.
The total taxable property value for the county is $32,402,644,636.
A report from the Manatee County Property Appraiser’s Office indicates the total taxable value in Anna Maria is $609,147,976, in Bradenton Beach it is $403,596,403 and in Holmes Beach it is $1,237,767,765.
Property owner’s tax bills show the millage rates and taxes for the various taxing authorities — from Manatee County to the local municipality, as well as the school district, fire district, mosquito control district, water management district, library operations and navigation district.
Total millage rates — rates that combine the charges from all the taxing authorities for a property — are 16.4927 mils in Anna Maria, 16.8584 mils in Bradenton Beach and 16.4545 mils in
Holmes Beach. For comparison, the rate is 16.4545 mils in Bradenton and 19.3707 mils in Palmetto and 15.3154 mils in unincorporated Manatee County, including Lakewood Ranch.
A mil is $1 for every $1,000 of assessed value of property.
Unpaid 2010 taxes become delinquent on April 1, 2011.
Manatee County water customers will see rates rise with the arrival of the new year.
The county board of commissioners, meeting Nov. 9 in Bradenton, raised the water and sewer rates effective Jan. 15, 2011.
“We can’t do business without raising rates,” said at-large Commissioner Joe McClash.
The increase impacts water and sewer customers throughout Manatee County, including Island customers.
The county last increased its rates for potable water, reclaimed water and wastewater in October 2008.
A staff memo to the county commission explained the reason for the increase.
The commission directed the county staff to accelerate capital improvements in 2009-10 to help boost the economy, with utility system reserves used to fund the projects.
The county now faces the need for additional improvements in 2011-12, in part to meet regulatory requirements. “Revenue projections for 2011 and 2012 are not sufficient to fund the CIP. As a result, borrowing is recommended… .A rate increase is necessary to fund the additional debt service and ensure adequate reserves for operational integrity,” the county memo stated.
So what will be the impact on consumers?
The bill payer in a single-family home that uses 6,000 gallons of water per month will see the rate rise from $55.42 to $60.26, a monthly increase of $4.84.
The monthly increase for a single-family home that uses 10,000 gallons of water will be $7.57 and the increase for 20,000 gallons will be $3.43, from $120.32 to $123.75.
For a condominium using 4,500 gallons of water per month, the rate will go from $38.05 to $40.99, an increase of $2.93.
For a commercial operator using 15,000 gallons of water per month, the rate will go from $131.34 to $143.69, an increase of $12.35.
In addition to upping the rates, the resolution approved by the commission reclassifies hotels and motels as “commercial” entities, which should lower monthly base charges for utilities.
The maximum charge for residential accounts also was lowered from 12,000 gallons per month to 10,000 gallons per month and the wastewater rate per 1,000 gallons was reduced.
The commission also voted to increase sanitation rates.
However, the Island cities do not use county sanitation services. Anna Maria and Holmes Beach contract with Waste Management for trash, yard waste and recyclables collection. Bradenton Beach operates its own yard waste and trash collection service, but contracts with Waste Pro for the pick up of recyclables.
Newly elected but incumbent city officers Rich Bohnenberger, Sandy Haas-Martens and John Monetti took their oaths of office Nov. 15.
The early morning session at Holmes Beach City Hall, 5801 Marina Drive, was followed by a brief organizational meeting.
Bohnenberger was re-elected mayor without opposition Nov. 2.
Haas-Martens and Monetti were re-elected to two-year terms on the city commission. They faced challenger Jean Peelen on Election Day.
Twelfth Judicial Circuit Court Judge Janette Dunnigan, who lives on the Island, officiated during the swearing-in program. Bohnenberger took his oath first, followed by Monetti and then Haas-Martens, who brought a nearly 60-year-old family Bible for the occasion.
During the organizational meeting, Commissioner David Zaccagnino nominated Haas-Martens as chair, a post she has held numerous times.
With a second from Monetti, the vote was unanimous.
“I enjoy doing it and I enjoy working with the staff,” Haas-Martens said.
The commission then unanimously elected Monetti vice chair, a position he previously has held.
Bohnenberger, at the conclusion of the meeting, said he looked “forward to another productive year.”
The commission’s next regular meeting will be at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 23, at city hall.