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Golf cart driver started Sandpiper fence squabble

By Rick Catlin, Islander Reporter

No fence was needed for several years at the Sandpiper Resort in Bradenton Beach on 27th Street where the city line meets Holmes Beach. But, someone recently began driving a golf cart around the gate, across the grass, through the resort and into Bradenton Beach, resort officials said. Islander Photo: Rick Catlin

The current dispute between Holmes Beach and Bradenton Beach over a fence along 27th Street that borders the Sandpiper Resort might not have happened were it not for one, or possibly a few drivers traveling by golf cart throught the resort to reach businesses on the other side.

Following the 2008 vacation of 27th Street where it adjoins the mobile home park east of Gulf Drive by the Bradenton Beach Commission to the Sandpiper Resort — a move that the Holmes Beach City Commission publicly protested — relations between the two cities over the vacation appeared to wane.

“We’ve always been good neighbors,” said Sandpiper manager Tracy Moon. “We’ve always allowed Holmes Beach residents to use 27th Street to walk to Gulf Drive or the beach. There’s a gate there, but it’s never locked. Access has never been a problem,” Moon said in August.

But the rift started anew when someone driving a golf cart on a Holmes Beach street began driving around the fence onto the grass dividing the two cities. The “driver” was observed using Sandpiper’s private streets avoiding Gulf Drive to reach Bradenton Beach restaurants, bars and a nearby convenience store.

On one return trip to Holmes Beach through the resort, the driver appeared “inebriated,” Moon said, and apparently tore up some turf on Sandpiper property. Several residents said they saw the incident, Moon said.

Unlicensed golf carts are not allowed on any Holmes Beach street south of Manatee Avenue, and are prohibited by law from using Gulf Drive or any Bradenton Beach road outside of the downtown area.

Sandpiper residents said the alleged drunk-driving incidents occurred more than once, prompting the homeowners association to approve installation of a fence to keep golf carts out of the resort.

Moon said the golf cart driver was told to stop driving around the gate, but continued, prompting the fence. The fence was installed to keep golf carts from entering the Sandpiper via Avenue B or Avenue C.

After the fence was in place, Holmes Beach commissioners asked city attorney Patricia Petruff to write Bradenton Beach to protest the street vacation and investigate any remedial action possible by the city.

The result was the introduction of a motion at the Holmes Beach commission meeting Sept. 13 calling for “conflict resolution” and “legal action” against Bradenton Beach.

Bradenton Beach Mayor Bob Bartelt and Mayor-elect John Shaughnessy, a Sandpiper resident, spoke at that meeting and the result was and agreement to meet Holmes Beach Mayor Rich Bohnenberger to come up with some recommendations that both city commissions might accept to resolve any dispute.

“We’ve always been good neighbors. We’ve always allowed Holmes Beach residents to use 27th Street to walk to Gulf Drive or the beach and there’s never been a problem until recently. The resort even wrote a letter to

Holmes Beach about access to 27th Street,” Shaugnessy said.

The mayor-elect said there’s a lot of misinformation going around that the Sandpiper is denying people access to 27th Street. “That’s just not true,” he said.

Shaughnessy said any legal action by Holmes Beach would only cost both cities a significant amount of money.

There are two gates along the fence and Bradenton Beach Commissioner Gay Breuler, also a Sandpiper resident, said the gates are not supposed to be locked.

Breuler said no lock is authorized for the gate and an offending lock has been removed. Any lock found on the gates in the future also will be removed, she said.

“We’re trying to settle this peacefully, amicably, between two friends,” Breuler said.

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