Monthly Archives: December 2016

Holmes Beach man arrested for shooting, beating bird to death

A 75-year-old Holmes Beach man faces felony cruelty to an animal charge after what police say was a deadly attack on a great heron.

Laurie Pardee, 671 Key Royale Drive, Holmes Beach, was arrested June 16 after allegedly shooting the heron with a .22 caliber handgun from his porch.

According to police, Pardee shot the animal, but it did not die. Pardee then allegedly began beating the bird with a net and ultimately stomped it to death before throwing the heron into Tampa Bay.

Three adult witnesses saw the incident and contacted police, who noted that Pardee initially admitted to the incident. The bird’s body was recovered.

During the course of the investigation, Joyce Parker, 76, also was arrested for felony tampering with evidence.

According to the report, Parker attempted to hide the handgun from police by placing it in a closet under some linen. Police allege that Parker “made several false statements” during the investigation.

Pardee was charged felony cruelty to an animal and misdemeanor discharging a firearm within city limits, and booked into the Manatee County jail. He was being held on $1,500 bond, but according to the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office, Pardee posted bond the same day.

Parker was charged with felony tampering with evidence and misdemeanor obstruction. She initially was held overnight on $1,500 bond, but was released on her own recognizance June 17, according to the MCSO website.

Parker and Pardee were scheduled for arraignment July 13, at 9 a.m.

Anna Maria seeks harmony for residents, vacationers

The Anna Maria City Commission, spearheaded by Commissioner SueLynn, is trying to establish guidelines for vacation renters and rental agents to maintain peace and quiet for residents and vacationers.

But there are always a few renters and rental agents who provide difficulties, SueLynn pointed out at the commission’s June 14 meeting. The 2 percent of rental agents who don’t comply with the guidelines spoil it for the other 98 percent — and city residents.

SueLynn was a driving force in the creation of a list of best practices that many rental agents abide by when renting a property. At the same time, participating agents give renters a list of tips on how to be a good neighbor in Anna Maria.

Rental agents give advice on the city’s noise ordinance, turtle nesting and other helpful hints, she said.

When a complaint about a particular property comes to the city or the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office in Anna Maria, the rental agent or owner is contacted to deal with the problem.

But there are lingering problems.

“I’ve been keeping track of complaints about vacationers, and we’ve had three complaints about just one property,” SueLynn said. The complaints are primarily that this vacation rental is advertised to rent to several families at the same time, and the noise level after 10 p.m. has been excessive.

The property owner has not agreed to use the best practices policies.

SueLynn said she was meeting with the owner to try and reach some common ground to lessen the impact of this type of rental on neighboring residents.

But the issue has been under discussion the past year with no results, said Commissioner Dale Woodland.

“What’s the problem we’re trying to solve here?” he asked.

SueLynn said it’s difficult to find a happy medium for vacationers, residents and agents to coexist.

Commission Chair Chuck Webb said enforcing noise and nuisance ordinances along with the use of best practices and cooperation by agents is going a long way to “stay on top” of the problem.

“We can’t adopt new ordinances, but we can enforce those we have,” Webb said.

Woodland countered that enforcement is “dicey,” and would “piss off a lot of people.

“I don’t think rules and regulations are the solution. It’s a waste of time for everybody,” Woodland said.

Webb and SueLynn, however, said the city should do something to protect the quality of life for residents.

Since the economic downturn, Webb said he’s seen quite a few people sell their homes and move off the Island, while investors are buying properties to “maximize” their investment, and that means, “squeezing more and more people into a property.”

And if residents continue to leave Anna Maria, eventually “we’ll have nothing left but a large motel complex,” Webb said.

Furthermore, the city is not on a witch hunt to seek out people who violate city codes. It’s just trying to accommodate residents and vacationers, Webb said.

SueLynn said she gets frustrated when Woodland claims the city is doing nothing.

Nearly all rental agents use the best practices and distribute good neighbor suggestions, she said, and the city now has a database of nearly 400 rental agents and property owners to determine who to call in the event of an incident.

Mike Coleman of Pine Avenue Restoration, which owns rental properties, said the city is headed in the right direction.

“You are doing something. None of us want an adversarial Anna Maria, and trying to be polite to renters and rental agents helps. It’s just a few who interfere with the residential quality of the city,” he said.

Webb said there is little the city can do with agents and vacationers who ignore the best practices guidelines except enforce codes, including noise and nuisance.

The next commission meeting will be at 6 p.m. Thursday, June 28, at the Anna Maria City Hall, 10005 Gulf Drive.

 

City official has right to inspect

By Rick Catlin

Islander Reporter

Following a story in the June 13 edition of The Islander about unpermitted work at 804 N. Shore Drive, Anna Maria, where bedrooms were observed on the ground floor, several people have questioned building official Bob Welch’s right to look through the windows.

But that’s just part of his job.

Welch said he was on the property inspecting the permitted construction of a swimming pool when he glanced through a ground-floor window and observed beds. Welch said city code gives him the right to come on any property that is permitted for construction and at any time to inspect that property, regardless of whether the owner is present.

Welch said he also can inspect a property if he sees something he believes is detrimental to the “health, safety and welfare” of either the occupants, the neighbors or the city.

Shawn Kaleta, owner of the house, maintains there are no ground-floor bedrooms and said the issue would be cleared up when Welch makes an indoor inspection of the house.

Welch, who also is a city code enforcement officer, sent Kaleta a letter giving him 30 days to bring the house into compliance with city code, which states that any house built after 1974 cannot use the ground floor as living space. The ordinance complies with the standard rules of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The original plans for the house show the ground floor was permitted for two parking spaces and two storage rooms. Additionally, those plans show the second and third floors of living space have three bedrooms, a den, nursery, study area and breakfast room.

Welch said the interior was remodeled in 2002.

BB commissioners prepare for fall budget process

Whispers about raising taxes for Bradenton Beach homeowners — and staff pay raises — abounded as Bradenton Beach commissioners spent the first preliminary budget meeting June 11 discussing how little of the tax pie city residents see from their tax dollars.

Bradenton Beach Police Chief Sam Speciale presented a breakdown of city tax dollars compared to county tax dollars paid by city homeowners.

“This is an example of what the county pays and what we pay in the city,” said Speciale. “If you assess a value on a house worth $105,000, the taxable value is $55,000.”

Speciale said if people read the tax bill for that house, they would see $213 goes to the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office, $300 goes to West Manatee Fire Rescue, “and a Bradenton Beach resident is only paying $117 a year to the city.”

Speciale said he understands people don’t want to pay more taxes, “but we still have to look at the whole tax bill. People don’t understand how little we are paying. I did this to show that we don’t want to cut services, so if we do have to raise taxes, in the grand scheme of things, we are not paying an exorbitant amount of taxes in the city.”

Speciale said, as a citizen, he believes citizens wouldn’t mind paying a few extra dollars a year to maintain the high standard of city services Bradenton Beach residents expect.

The discussion then turned to the last time the Bradenton Beach Police Department received a new vehicle. Speciale said it was in 2006, “and it’s becoming undrivable.”

Vice Mayor Ed Straight said he’s not in favor of raising taxes to “go out and do some wild spending, but we do need to take a look at what’s going on down the road.”

Straight said the millage rate on a resident’s tax bill “is smaller than you think, and we lowered it last year.”

Commissioner Ric Gatehouse said it’s important for the city to think about the future and develop a five-year plan.

“This is part of the five-year plan, you set aside funds and allocate them toward ongoing maintenance as required,” said Gatehouse. “It may require increasing revenue streams.”

Mayor John Shaughnessy said he understands citizens’ concerns on higher taxes, but he doesn’t believe taxpayers know that the city is the smallest part of their tax bill.

“I talk to people who say their taxes have gone up,” he said. “Well, it’s not us. It’s the fire department who gets a raise every year. I’m not looking to go hog wild here. I’m not saying we are going to increase taxes, but I don’t think 25 bucks a year is going to kill anybody.”

 

Mayor pushes staff raise

Amidst the commissioner’s preliminary budget meeting at Bradenton Beach City Hall, Shaughnessy asked if there was any comments on a letter he submitted saying he would support a raise for city employees.

Commissioner Jan Vosburgh said she read it and she saw a few problems with a staff pay raise.

“I thought it was a good letter, but I just had a few problems with it,” said Vosburgh. “You said the employees haven’t had a raise in four or five years, and we did give them a raise for 5 percent last year.”

Shaughnessy clarified his thoughts by saying city employees did get a 5 percent raise last year, but did not have a raise the previous five years.

“We also took away their Christmas turkeys and hams, and also took away their incentive program for insurance,” he said.

Shaughnessy said the incentive program is money not used toward insurance is put into a fund that commissioners planned to use to include dental or optical insurance in the future for city employees.

“We took $50,000 of that and put it in the general fund,” he said.

Vosburgh said she believed the commissioners should do whatever is possible to make city employees happy, “but there’s no place in the private sector that pays all of the dependent’s insurance the way we do.”

Shaughnessy said if Bradenton Beach is the only place in the country that pays full dependent insurance, “I think we should be proud of that.”

Vosburgh said her commitment to the voters when she decided to run for office was to carefully watch their tax dollars.

“I’m very conservative, but I do think we should give them the turkeys and hams back. I don’t have a problem with that,” she said.

Straight said he has dealt with county budgets for many years.

“We always watch the budget as tight as we can, but have to figure out where we make sacrifices,” he said. “People want less taxes, but don’t want services cut. You are better off spending a little more money and keep your employees happy. In my opinion, it’s less expensive to keep your employees and avoid employee turnover.”

Shaughnessy said it’s important to watch the budget, but he also doesn’t want to lose employees.

“Look in the paper and you see the fire department getting a $4 raise, the county looking at giving their employees a raise, and I look at our infrastructure, too,” he said.

Shaughnessy cited several upcoming issues that the city would need to find money to get done that is outside of regular budget items.

“How do we replace that money? The auditor said we had a clean audit, but there is just one thing. We can’t keep taking money out of the emergency fund,” he said.

The June 11 meeting was a preliminary budget discussion and no future budget work sessions have yet been scheduled.

Anna Maria election: No ballot, unclear path

Voters in Anna Maria won’t cast ballots for city commissioners or mayor in November, and yet the city faces a number of choices — all to be decided at the dais.

Anna Maria Mayor Mike Selby has issued a letter to all staff and commissioners in an attempt to clarify the procedures to elect a mayor once the Nov. 6 general election is concluded.

No candidate qualified to succeed Selby, who decided last month not to seek another term.

Selby’s letter explains the procedures as outlined in the city charter, mostly because the charter brought forth questions on the process and the term lengths required of elected officials. There appears to be some misunderstanding of the charter.

Selby said commission candidates Chuck Webb, an incumbent, and Nancy Yetter, a first-time officeholder, will become commissioners when sworn at the commission’s post-election organizational meeting.

Those procedures are no problem for the city, as the charter states that if only one candidate qualifies for each commission vacancy, “he or she shall be deemed elected without the necessity of having his or her name appear on the ballot.”

The problems come at the commission’s post-election organizational meeting, which apparently will be chaired by Selby.

The charter states that if there is no qualified candidate for mayor, “the office shall be filled until the next general election by the deputy mayor. The commission vacancy thus created shall be filled by appointment and the appointee shall serve until the next regular city election.”

Thus, the commissioner elected as commission chair automatically becomes the deputy mayor and the new mayor of Anna Maria.

Webb said he already has a full-time legal practice and the job of Anna Maria mayor is a “full-time position” that doesn’t pay enough money.

Scratch Webb from the list of candidates for mayor.

Commissioner John Quam, who has one year remaining in his term, said he would not accept the job of commission chair if nominated or elected.

“I would have to decline. It’s a full-time job,” said Quam, who is a retired executive.

Scratch Quam from the list of candidates.

Commissioner-elect Yetter also said she would decline if nominated for commission chair and mayor of the city.

“I have too many family responsibilities in Tampa that require my presence. There’s no way I could ensure I would be at city hall every day, or even every other day,” Yetter said.

Scratch Yetter from the list of potential candidates.

Commissioner Dale Woodland, who has served seven years and has one year remaining in his present term, also said he would decline if nominated or elected.

“I want to keep my vote,” he said.

That leaves Commissioner SueLynn, a former mayor who also has one year remaining in her term, as the only potential candidate for the chair’s position, which then requires serving as mayor.

“I would consider becoming commission chair if nominated,” she said.

SueLynn served as mayor 2002-06, and was elected commissioner in 2011.

While not making her answer decisive, she said it would make sense to select the mayor from among the three commissioners who have only a year remaining in his or her term.

“It makes sense because the interim mayor is only serving one year until the next election,” SueLynn said.

Not exactly, said city attorney Jim Dye at the commission’s June 14 meeting. The next mayor serves until the next general election, which is when state and national elections are held.

That means the next mayor serves a two-year term.

But Selby said in his letter that the next mayor “will serve until the next city election,” which would mean serving until the November 2013 city election.

But electing a mayor in 2013 is a violation of the city charter. It also is not a general election year.

The charter states the mayor and two commissioners are elected in even-numbered years, while three commissioners are elected in odd-numbered years.

The charter further provides that the commission appoint a person from the city electorate to serve a one-year term as commissioner to fill the vacancy created when a seated commissioner is elected as chair and then becomes the mayor.

City attorney Jim Dye said the charter is clear on how a mayor is elected when no candidate qualifies for the city election.

What’s unclear is how long the interim mayor serves, and how long does the interim commissioner serve to get the election schedule back into compliance with the charter?

Dye says the next mayor will serve two years.

SueLynn said she was not asking for the job.

“I’m just considering what I would do if nominated and elected as commission chair,” she said.

After deciding on a mayor, the four remaining commissioners must then appoint the interim commissioner. Once five commissioners have been sworn into office, they must then vote for a new chair and deputy chair. The commission chair serves as the deputy mayor, according to the charter, and the deputy chair becomes the chair if the chair is not in attendance or vacates his or her seat.

Who chairs the meeting where commissioners must elect a chair?

The charter states the mayor — Selby — serves until a new mayor is sworn into office. That means Selby chairs the organizational meeting and remains mayor until the commission elects a chair.

The new commission chair becomes mayor after being sworn. It is apparent that becoming the next commission chair equates to the mayor’s seat.

Dye said at the June 14 commission meeting there are a few more questions for the commission to discuss regarding the election of the next mayor and the appointment of an interim commissioner, but commissioners have more than four months to make any decisions.

A spokesperson for the Florida Supervisor of Elections office said the office does not interfere with interpretation of municipal charters.

“That’s up to the city attorney and the commission, and in some cases the charter review committee that proposed those changes in the charter,” the spokesperson said.

Selby said a charter review is required every five years and it’s time to form the next charter review committee. Former Commissioner Tom Aposporos chaired the 2002 and 2007 charter review committees.

Under the city charter, the mayor appoints the members of the committee subject to commission approval.

HB mayoral challenger attends first HB meeting

Carmel Monti may be new to politics — challenging Holmes Beach Mayor Rich Bohnenberger in the Nov. 6 city election — but he’s not new to ‘kaizen,’ a Japanese word meaning “the relentless pursuit of perfection.”

        “I have a clean slate,” Monti said June 12 of his political experience before attending his first Holmes Beach city commission meeting.

        “I think that’s a good thing. I’m not jaded.

        “I don’t know what the rules are. I’m very naive to the process.”

        Even so, Monti is familiar with kaizen through a lifetime of running three businesses, and the teachings of Edward Demming.

        Demming was an American statistician, lecturer, author and consultant — most known for his work in Japan, a country which “very much embraced” his teachings, he said.

        One example of Demming’s work is how Japan’s auto industry did not stop at “good,” but, Monti says, worked “to make it even better,” surpassing the American industry with precision engineering in the 1980s.

        Bringing the kaizen concept to Holmes Beach is one goal of Monti’s.

         “The city is wonderful place to live,” he says. “This is good. Now we look to how to make it even better.”

        As for changing the ground rules of the short-term rentals, now under scrutiny by city commissioners, he said, they will need to determine whether the system needs to be changed just to address what he called “the bad eggs,” the people who abuse it.

        His management style is “bottom-up,” finding out first what isn’t working and “manage by the facts,” he said.

        Monti said, “I definitely believe in transparency,” and that city officials and workers are “public servants, not rulers. They shouldn’t be there to milk the system.”

        “I’ve seen a lot of changes since I’ve been here,” Monti said. “I think the Island complexion is changing. But I need to find out all the details.”

        The five-year city resident said he’s only had good experiences from renters in a house across the street from his home in Key Royale.

        Monti says he wants to take the “next three months or so” to sit down and get to know as many people as he can, to knock on doors and  meet with people.

        He is the son of an Italian immigrant, and “very very conscious about integrity,” he says, from the values instilled by his parents while growing up in Battle Creek, Mich.

        He earned a bachelor’s in social sciences in 1969 from Michigan State University. He spent 18 years with Pentex, managing its eyeglass division for eight years, and then moved to the Boston area, became president and CEO of Hilsinger, a company specializing in eyewear and other products, he said.

        Monti is now self-employed, operating My Garden Products LLC. He and his wife, Heidi, sell plants and other garden accessories weekly at the Sarasota Farmers Market, he said.

        They need more space for their growing business, and also have their home in Key Royale on the market, but that was before he decided to run for office, Monti said.

        Now, he says, he’s “looking to stay,” adding he’ll likely find a warehouse or industrial space for his business in Sarasota.

        He invites all Holmes Beach residents to e-mail him at fishandships@yahoo.com.

No injuries in Holmes Beach boat, boathouse fire

Liz and Bob Lang of 5801 Flotilla Drive, Holmes Beach, escaped injury June 11, when a fire on their 24-foot boat docked at their seawall caused two explosions and an estimated $200,000 in damage to the vessel and boathouse.

The flames were extinguished before the house was on fire, Liz Lang said, but the blaze did some damage to a fence and the roof of the house.

Lang said she and husband Bob were in their home office around 10:45 a.m. when someone rang their doorbell and told them their house was on fire.

Liz Lang could not see the fire from the office where she was working, and the boat dock is about 30 feet from the back of the house. But she saw flames and first thought were coming from a neighbor’s house, she said.

She immediately called 911 and began to give the address when, she said, she believes she heard two explosions, and realized the fire was at their boathouse.

“I have to admit, I panicked a little bit because Bob had a heart attack Friday and had just returned from the hospital. Everything was happening so fast. I’m not sure if the explosions were during the call or just after I called. I think it was during the call,” she said.

Her first thought was to ensure Bob was safe and to get out of the house.

As they went outside, they saw the fire raging, and Steve and Dana Garavuso, vacationers from Ohio.

Dana Garavuso is a nurse, while Steve Garavuso is a retired lieutenant from the Pataskala, Ohio, police department. They checked to make sure the Langs were OK, but Dana Garavuso eventually convinced Bob Lang to get checked in the waiting ambulance.

“We are used to being first responders, my husband more than me,” Dana Garavuso said. When they saw the flames and smoke, their first impulse was for the safety of anyone inside, she said.

After telling the Langs about the fire, the Garavusos ran to neighboring houses to warn them of the blaze.

Liz Lang made a quick return to the house to see if flames were inside the structure. When she came outside, she became worried when she could not see Bob.

“After his heart attack, I was concerned,” she said, but he was moving their recreational vehicle from the driveway and the blaze.

Dana Garavuso said the boat “had just exploded when we got there.” She estimated the first fire truck arrived about seven to 10 minutes later, but Liz Lang said it was only about 2-3 minutes after she called 911 before the first West Manatee Fire Rescue truck reached the house.

“They were very quick. They said they had been in south Holmes Beach near the hardware store when they got the call,” Liz Lang said.

The boathouse was fully engulfed in flames on WMFR’s arrival, but firefighters extinguished the blaze before it spread to the house structure, she added.

WMFR’s Station No. 1 is on Marina Drive about 300 yards from the Langs house, but apparently there was no fire truck at the station to answer the call.

WMFR public information officer Tom Sousa said the first 911 call to Station No. 1 came at 10:43:33 a.m. The first fire engine arrived at 10:47 a.m., Sousa said.

WMFR Chief Andy Price confirmed the fire truck was at Ace Hardware and firefighters were answering a call inside the building on East Bay Drive in Holmes Beach when the call came to respond to Flotilla Drive.

The time from the first call to the arrival of WMFR firefighters at the burning boathouse was about 3 minutes, 30 seconds.

Three fire engines and 17 firefighters responded, Sousa said, in addition to EMS personnel. The blaze was almost under control immediately after firefighters began putting water on the fire, and the fire was contained and out by 11:15 a.m., according to the report.

Sousa said a press release would be issued shortly regarding the fire, but it’s up to fire investigators to release any cause or suspected cause of the fire.

WMFR deputy fire marshal Kurt Lathrop is investigating the cause of the fire. The boat was taken to Bradenton Beach Marina June 12 for inspection by insurance adjusters.

“Right now, I can’t tell you how long the investigation will last or even guess at the cause,” Lathrop said. He is preparing the first report of the incident.

“A general, ballpark estimate of the damage is about $200,000, but it could vary a lot from that figure,” he said. He declined to speculate on any cause for the fire.

The boathouse contained an upstairs apartment that Liz Lang used as an art studio. The boat was a 24-foot Grady-White with a Yamaha outboard engine.

“We can still live in a portion of the house. I don’t know how long it will take to get that smell out,” she said.

Insurance adjusters told her there are companies that specialize in removing the smell of smoke from a house and one will be contacted.

“Thankfully, we’re OK, and Bob is fine,” Liz Lang said. “The boat, boathouse and paintings are just things. They can be replaced.”

Trouble spills over into Holmes Beach dog park

Softballs were flying over the outfield fence at Birdie Tebbetts Field June 13, hitting the tin roof of the newly erected shelter and startling dogs and their owners in the dog park.

    “If the shelter had not been there, someone could’ve been hurt,” said Commissioner Jean Peelen who, along with several others and their dogs, was under the shelter when the first balls struck at approximately 6:45 p.m.

    The dog park is a fenced area on the perimeter of the outfield of the ball park.

    Another witness, Bill Ellstrom, who came to the dog run after the initial hits said, “It was war.”

    There were approximately six ballplayers, eight or nine dog people and a dozen dogs when he arrived at the park at approximately 8 p.m., Ellstrom said.

    He witnessed the ballplayers and dog owners arguing. “You wouldn’t want to print what they were saying,” he said.

    And, Ellstrom said, one of the ballplayers stood in the dog run and began catching balls from what he overheard the players calling “a home-run derby.”

    According to the sign-up board at the park, Robert Cornell of Holmes Beach reserved the ballpark for coed adult softball for Wednesdays, beginning at 5:30 and ending at dusk, through September.

    Cornell said, while he wasn’t at the park on the evening of the incident, one of his team members, Larry Conlon of Holmes Beach, was at the field.

    The first ball that hit the shelter’s tin roof “startled the people — it was loud,” and discussions between the two factions were “courteous” at first, according to Conlon.

    “It was kind of becoming immature towards the end of the evening,” he added, saying one woman in the dog run threw a softball into the garbage can.

    “In no way was someone trying to maliciously hit anyone,” Conlon added.

    Peelen said she left after approaching the ballplayers about the incident, and did not see the “home run derby.”

    The ballplayers were “not nice,” according to Peelen, and she was sad to hear about the derby. Dog park users need to realize “people have the right to play ball. And I’m happy to share.

    “It’s a small price to pay on Wednesday evenings,” Peelen said.  “But know that you’re going to be (at the park) at your own risk.”

    Some dog owners were led to believe it would only be a kids’ ball field, she said.

    Peelen, however, said this is a “clearly legitimate misunderstanding.”

    She said perhaps a sign should be posted about using the dog park at your own risk.

    Cornell said, “I don’t know what’s the solution,” while suggesting the addition of netting or additional roofing over the dog run.

    Also, because of the minimal use expected during the summer, Cornell said people wanting to use the dog run might avoid the field during the two-hour window of the ballplayers’ scheduled practice

    Cornell said it’s “unfortunate” that city’s redesign made the field shorter. “When they put up the fence they put it up on the wrong side” of the outfield fence, he said.

     “It’s been a lose-lose,” for the ball players and dog owners who exercise their dogs,” said Conlon.

        “Before the fence was built, the dogs had the whole field area, and the players had a larger field.”

Dog park plans move forward, naming contest announced

By Kathy Prucnell

Islander Reporter

    A new sign at the entrance to the Holmes Beach dog park announces, “This park has gone to the dogs,” but the newly opened area is yet to have a name.

    Holmes Beach volunteers, contractors and city workers pitched in to improve the new dog exercise area adjacent to Birdie Tebbetts Field — along the outfield — at 62nd Street and Flotilla Drive in recent months, first with a fence, then with amenities, including a shelter, benches, signs and trees and other landscaping.

    To remedy the lack of a name, some of the people who frequent the dog park are asking anyone with a “catchy name” to enter a Name-the-Park Contest, said Barbara Parkman.

    Entrants are asked to e-mail suggested park names — sure to be popular with pups and their owners — to Barbara.parkman@verizon.net. The deadline for contest entries is July 4.

    Organizers will post the entries online and at the park. Parkman said the winner will be chosen from the roster of “dog people.”

    Votes for the best dog park name should be sent to Barbara.parkman@verizon.net or dropped in a container that will be provided in the dog park shelter.

    The contest winner will be awarded bragging rights and a $25 gift certificate to Pet Supermarket.

    In other dog park news, Parkman reports the June 9 dog park yard sale raised $586, and the funds will be put toward more dog park improvements.

        Parkman also said the double-gate entry will be installed soon, and a pet water fountain is in the works.

Holmes Beach commissioners vote for FAR limits

    Holmes Beach city commissioners June 12 took a step closer to implementing floor-area ratio requirements in Holmes Beach.

    Three of five commissioners agreed that FARs should become part of the city’s land development code.

    On a motion by Commissioner Jean Peelen, seconded by Commission Chair David Zaccagnino, the vote moved the city forward on limiting the size of residential properties. Commissioners John Monetti and Sandy Haas-Martens dissented.

    The floor-area ratios being considered by the commission will limit the total square feet of residential construction depending on lot size.

    The building code focus group, headed by Peelen, recommended a .30 FAR for R-2 zoned properties, and .35 for R-1 zoned properties.

    These recommendations, and others, came from focus groups headed by commissioners to address the problems relating mostly to rental properties, including garbage, noise and parking. The groups also identified problems relating to builders and rental agents circumventing building codes, leading to the development of oversized accommodations.

    The issue came to a head in December last year when more than 100 people attended a solutions-oriented meeting, and the focus groups were formed.

    Mayor Rich Bohnenberger first asked for reasoning behind the new building code restrictions.

    Peelen replied, “To stop the enormous houses from being built,” and in turn, relieve the problems they create, relating to land use, water and other utility use and disruption of neighbors’ quiet enjoyment of their properties.

    “It’s not an aesthetic issue,” she said.

    Bohnenberger said there are other ways to implement control over the number of rooms and home sizes.

    But Peelen said her focus group recommended residential FARs after considering regulating rooms, lot coverage, setbacks and other building code restraints, because “it made the most sense.

    “The most reasonable solution was the FAR requirement,” she said.

    Commissioner Sandy Haas-Martens said she was concerned about nonconforming uses that result from a new overlay of percentages of floor space.

    “People are going to find a way around them,” Haas-Martens said.

    Zaccagnino supported FAR, saying the city needs to “adjust the size of the container” to curtail “the size of structure going up,” and stop homes being built to sleep 16-18 people.

    Zaccagnino said he was no longer concerned with the creation of nonconforming uses because of Federal Emergency Management Agency regulations. “We’re all nonconforming,” he said.

    Commissioner John Monetti favored additional discussion before the vote about FAR.

    Commissioner Pat Morton said he saw FAR as “a double-edged sword” with “pros and cons.” But, in weighing the existing situation of “real estate agents out there on the web,” advertising homes in a seven-day minimum rental zones for three days or less, he said, “I’m in favor of looking into FAR.”

    The city’s R-2 zone allows for a maximum occupancy of two families and minimum one-week rentals, according to the land development code and comprehensive plan.

    The code defines family as “Any number of individuals related by blood, marriage or legal adoption, and not more than four persons not so related, living together as a single housekeeping unit. Foster children are considered part of a family.”

Commission poll on FAR numbers

    In a poll of Residential-2 zoning FAR preferences, Peelen and Zaccagnino favored a .30, and commissioners Sandy Haas-Martens and John Monetti favored .61.

    Commissioner Pat Morton said, “if you build it, they will come,” and he chose a lower FAR number of .25.

        He later said he wanted Haas-Martens and Monetti to eventually come down to meet him at .30, but the vote was 3-2 and no compromise was needed.

Moose plans major renovation

While many civic organizations across the country struggle with membership goals, Moose Lodge No. 2188, 110 Gulf Drive S., Bradenton Beach, does not have the same problem.

According to Moose governor Ron Luckerman, membership for the Island’s lodge is 6,000 strong, “and is the largest Moose membership not only in Florida, but the country,” said Luckerman.

“We only have 22 parking spots, so it gets interesting sometimes,” he said.

It’s easy to see why the Bradenton Beach-based lodge enjoys so much popularity. The facility is situated on the Gulf of Mexico shore, offering its members their own beach access, a stunning view of the Gulf “and some of the best food around,” said Luckerman.

It’s that view that is the driving force behind a planned $300,000 renovation to the facility’s interior that will basically flip-flop the current layout.

Luckerman said he hopes construction will begin in the next three months, but is relying on a speedy permit process to meet that goal.

“First we will ask the city for a letter of no objection at the July 5 commission meeting,” said Luckerman. “You never know what the commissioners will do, but we expect that to happen. Then we just need to wait on the DEP permits and we can begin, but DEP has 90 days to review the application, and if they wait the full 90 days, we might have to wait until next spring to begin.”

Luckerman said the construction process may take about three months, so a 90-day delay would mean ongoing construction by the time tourist season arrives.

Renovations include a change to the interior layout of the private club. The bar area, now at the facility’s entrance, lacks a Gulf view. It will be moved to the Gulffront side of the facility with open views of the beach. Walls will be removed and new support beams will be added.

“Hopefully we won’t have to close down once construction starts,” said Luckerman. “We are going to try to keep it open the whole time, but there may be a day or two where we have to shut down.”

Lodges across the country, Canada and Bermuda are affiliated with Moose International in Chicago, which is also the home of Moose Heart.

Moose Heart is a facility for orphaned children who have no family members to take care of them.

“It’s kind of like a village,” said Luckerman. “The kids live there and they can go to school there all the way through high school.”

Moose members also support Moose Haven in Orange Park, Fla., a retirement center for Moose members in need of assisted living.

Locally, Moose members raised $5,000 for the Safe Kids Coalition, donated to the Hope Center for abused women, and contribute to “basically any children’s events we can help with,” he said.

“We are big on charities and try to be involved with just about anything that has to do with kids,” he said.

Anyone who wants to become a member of Moose Lodge 2188, Luckerman said can stop by the club and fill out an application.

“You have to be sponsored by a current Moose member,” said Luckerman. “A man must be sponsored by a male member and a woman must be sponsored by a female member.”

Once sponsored, Luckerman said it’s just a matter of having the application reviewed for approval.

And then there’s an initiation, and an open door to the lodge on the beach.

HB man arrested for child abuse

When a female juvenile was asked to put on her bathing suit, and didn’t, David Johnston, 44, is alleged to have attacked her using a plastic bucket.

According to the police report, Johnston hit the girl in the face with the bucket and slapped her on her upper legs and buttocks to the point of “leaving large red welts.”

Police also observed scratches on the girls face and her eye was bruised from what the child reported as Johnston hitting her with a doorknob.

The incident is alleged to have taken place June 11 at 5801 Marina Drive, and he was arrested at his residence June 12 following the girl’s interview with Florida Child Protective Services.

Holmes Beach police charged Johnston with felony child abuse. As of press time, he was still being held in the Manatee County jail on $5,000 bond.

Johnston is scheduled for arraignment at 9 a.m. Friday, July 13.