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HB commission scratches upstart market

By Rick Catlin, Islander Reporter

A proposal for an open-air market in Holmes Beach every Sunday for the next six months was rejected Oct. 25 by the Holmes Beach City Commission.

Ambrose Inc. had requested a special-event permit for Sundays from Nov. 6 through April for the open-air market from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. in the parking lot of the Tidemark Shoppes, 3500 Gulf Drive.

The routine procedure is for the mayor to approve or deny a special event permit, but Mayor Rich Bohnenberger said that most requests are for just one or two days. Because this was for one day a week for six months, he elected to have the commission decide.

Commissioners learned that Nancy Ambrose of Ambrose Inc. formerly organized and operated the Bridge Street Merchants market on Sundays.

A Holmes Beach resident, Ambrose, who did not attend the meeting, said in correspondence with city hall some time ago that a Holmes Beach business owner approached her to bring an open-air market to Holmes Beach.

According to Ambrose’s e-mail, her new market would be called the Holmes Beach Sunday Market.

Before voting, commissioners heard from people both for and against the market, and learned from the mayor he had received several e-mails opposed to the idea.

Val Graties of Island Jewel said open-air markets would rejuvenate the economy and bring much-needed foot traffic to downtown Holmes Beach.

She added that Ambrose “knows what she’s doing” and “runs a quality market.”

The fresh produce sold at the market would be highly sought after, she said.

But Nicole Heslop of Holmes Beach, owner of the Island Flea on Marina Drive, said she offers fresh produce at her business that she buys three times a week in Plant City, and rents space to a number of people who sell crafts and other items.

Heslop said most of the 35-odd vendors that Ambrose lined up for her market were formerly with the Bridge Street Market. Many of them do not live on Anna Maria Island, she said.

“There’s no reason to bring in these people,” she said. “Why would you want to bring in someone from Bradenton when I have this affordable space at my store for other merchants to sell goods?”

Heslop said she went to an organizational meeting of downtown Holmes Beach merchants and they had an idea for a market that would use Holmes Beach vendors.

Other speakers had concerns the market would pose vehicle and pedestrian safety issues on a Sunday afternoon during the winter season.

Commissioner David Zaccagnino said having a special event for six months is just “too long.” If the commission approved this application it would open “Pandora’s Box,” and other businesses would want the same special treatment, he said.

The application was denied 5-0 by the commission.

In other business, commissioners agreed to move forward with an amendment to the city’s golf cart ordinance that would require all operators of unlicensed golf carts to have a valid driver’s license.

The ordinance also would allow unlicensed golf carts on all city roads with less than a 35-mph speed limit and eliminate unlicensed golf cart use on Marina Drive, East Bay Drive, Gulf Drive north of the Manatee Avenue intersection, Manatee Avenue and Gulf Drive south of the East Bay Drive intersection.

Gulf Drive from the Manatee Avenue intersection southward to the East Bay Drive intersection has a 25-mph speed limit.

Unlicensed golf carts can only cross roads with a 35- mph speed limit at Florida Department of Transportation approved crossings.

There are no such crossings in the city, although Police Chief Jay Romine has sought one from the DOT for years for the Gulf Drive-East Bay Drive intersection.

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