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Flea market application heads to commission

By Rick Catlin, Islander Reporter

Holmes Beach Mayor Rich Bohnenberger has forwarded a permit application for a weekly Holmes Beach flea market at 5313 Gulf Drive to the city commission for consideration.

The application by Nancy Ambrose, who formerly managed the Bridge Street Merchants’ seasonal markets, is asking for a special event permit for each Sunday from Nov. 6 through April. The markets would be held in the parking lot in front of the Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce.

Ambrose said she has about 35 merchants who would set up booths at the market and sell a variety of items, including clothes, jewelry, crafts, food and art.

Bohnenberger said he has authority to approve the application, but elected to have the commission decide the issue because the permit is not just for one or two days.

“In the past, all special event applications went to the commission, but the policy was changed to make it an administrative decision. Normally, the special event is for one day or just a few days, but this is for each Sunday for several months. I believe that’s something the commission should discuss and decide,” he said.

The commission is expected to review the application at its 7 p.m. Oct. 25 meeting, the mayor said.

Ambrose, a Holmes Beach resident who previously organized the Bridge Street markets, said that after she left that job, she was asked by a Holmes Beach merchant to organize a similar market for the city.

She said she had approval from the city public works department for the markets, which are scheduled to start Nov. 6.

“I was surprised it is going to the commission. The mayor seemed to favor the idea when I presented it to him,” Ambrose said.

Most businesses in the Holmes Beach business district at the Gulf Drive-Marina Drive intersection are closed Sunday, Ambrose said, and said she didn’t believe the open-air markets on Sunday would be competitors.

“I thought the market would attract more people to Holmes Beach, and that can only help all businesses in the city,” she said.

A few Holmes Beach business owners, including Nicole Heslop of the Island Flea, just north of Ambrose’s proposed location, said there are already enough merchants for the city.

Heslop’s Island Flea sells fresh juices, crafts, clothing, jewelry, garden and lawn furnishings and other household items. Her business and others in the city would be hurt by the proposed market, she said.

“I am opposed to anything that would come in and hurt the Holmes Beach businesses already here,” Heslop said.

Ambrose said a representative for the Holmes Beach Sunday Market would be at the Oct. 25 commission meeting to make a presentation and answer commission questions.

If Holmes Beach rejects the permit application, Ambrose said she might look for another city where her event could be held.

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