To settle the recent dispute between the bordering cities of Holmes Beach and Bradenton Beach over public access the Sandpiper Resort mobile home park, Holmes Beach commissioners voted Dec. 13 to seek a settlement that would restore access to a 30-foot-wide length 27th Street.
In 2008, the city of Bradenton Beach quitclaimed the right of way to the Sandpiper Resort, to help the resort clarify ownership of land in order to finance some improvements.
A dispute arose in 2011 after a fence and gates were erected, and signs posted to keep people from trespassing.
The platted, but unimproved street is 50 feet wide and about half a mile long and runs between the Sandpiper Resort and Holmes Beach.
Having atteneded the initial assessment meeting that is required by the state for conflict resolution, Holmes Beach city attorney Patricia Petruff requested that the commission consider a settlement discussed with Bradenton Beach representatives, with the added knowledge from two surveys of the 27th Street property she recently received.
She said the surveys indicate only 20 feet of the prior public right of way is encumbered by encroachments of mobile homes, porches and possible other improvements, and thus pose no interference.
“I’m concerned that our residents have full access to what they have always accessed before,” said Holmes Beach commissioner Sandy Haas-Martens.
Other terms of the proposed settlement include:
• Setting a date for a joint meeting that satisfies what Petruff described as the “deadline intensive” conflict resolution statute.
• Retaining the white fence.
• Removing “do not enter” and “no trespassing” signs from the fence near the border between Holmes Beach and Bradenton Beach at 27th Street.
• Removing any and all gates so the alleys can be accessed.
The vote was 2-1 with two members abstaining. Commissioners David Zaccagnino and Haas-Martens voted in favor, Pat Morton voted no. Two commissioners abstained due to previously identified conflicts, John Monetti because of his home nearby and Jean Peelen because of an ownership interest at the Sandpiper.
Bradenton Beach city attorney Ricinda Perry said at the dispute resolution meeting Dec. 7 that with a proposal from Holmes Beach, she could bring the matter up at the next Bradenton Beach commission meeting, which will be Jan. 5.
However, Bradenton Beach lacks a quorum of elected officials who can vote on the topic.
The city must appoint a new Ward 3 commissioner, for which a search is under way, before a quorum will be restored. Mayor John Shaugnessy and Commissioner Gay Breuler are residents of Sandpiper Resort and have recused themselves from voting.
If Holmes Beach and Bradenton Beach fail to reach an agreement in the conflict resolution process, a special magistrate could resolve the dispute.
During the discussions prior to the Holmes Beach commissioners’ vote on the settlement, Douglas LeFevre, president of Sandpiper Resort board of directors, went to the podium.
Just prior to the commission vote, Zaccagnino asked LaFevre whether the Sandpiper would agree to the Holmes Beach settlement proposal, asking,“Are we 80 percent there?”
LaFevre responded, “No.”
“My concern is whether Sandpiper will quitclaim it back,” Zaccagnino said.