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Anna Maria stop work order halts ‘improvement’ project

By Rick Catlin, Islander Reporter

Anna Maria building official Bob Welch placed a stop work order at this duplex at 300 N. Shore Drive Jan. 8, after finding issues with the construction project. Islander Photo: Rick Catlin

Remodeling of an L-shaped duplex at 300 N. Shore Drive, Anna Maria, by Beach to Bay Construction was halted Jan. 8 by building official Bob Welch after he found several issues with the construction project.

Mayor SueLynn said the site plan also was reviewed by Rik Bass of Bass & Associates professional appraisers. She said Bass found “significant questions” about the cost estimates to warrant a stop work order.

Welch wrote on the stop work order “substantial improvement,” as the reason for halting the project. He said he had not yet discussed the issues with Jim Moss, the project superintendent for the contractor, Beach to Bay Construction.

The administrative issues involve the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Welch said, but he declined to elaborate. He said he did “not feel comfortable” discussing the issues before talking with the contractor.

Welch added, “These are issues that have to be ironed out before construction can continue.”

Richard Eason of Bradenton, who owns 300 N. Shore Drive, was at the property Jan. 8. He said he was shocked when he saw the posted stop work order.

“I thought everything was proper. Yes, there is going to be living space on the ground floor,” Eason said. However, he added, he was told the work does not violate any ordinance or regulation.

When contacted, Beach to Bay Investment principal Shawn Kaleta referred questions to Moss, but efforts to reach Moss were unsuccessful.

Beach to Bay Construction is owned by Scott Eason, but it was Kaleta who came under fire from officials in Holmes Beach for building and marketing large rental properties in that city’s duplex zone. Kaleta maintains he broke no building codes or ordinances.

He said his companies built or remodeled some 60 properties in the city, more than any other builder or investor, and he felt he came under scrutiny for that reason.

4 Responses to Anna Maria stop work order halts ‘improvement’ project

  1. Tom Mixon says:

    Seems like everything is a scam with Beach to Bay;any way around guideslines or the spirit of such seems to be thier strategy. Holmes Beach has the right approach; time for Anna Maria to adjust too before our City is destroyed.

  2. Mike Stringer says:

    Funny how people see success as a scam. Holmes Beach looks nicer now then it has in a decade and affords everyone who lives there a more sustainable lifestyle then they have ever had as a result of small businesses flourishing and fuller tax coffers due to increased tourism. If that is the destruction of a city please let it happen elsewhere, Mr. Mixon.

  3. jT says:

    I guess if you consider rows of boxes in candy colors an improvement then you are right Mr Stringer. But to say that the residents are lucky as the commercial district is flourishing makes no sense. Most of the local businesses aren’t even run by locals especially if you take Anna Maria City as an example. The local businesses are mostly geared to the tourist which brings absolutely no benefit to the residents unless you think it’s great to see the place over run with tourists. The developers have exploited the situation for the tourists at a cost to the residents who in case you hadn’t noticed are actually leaving to the tune of 20% in the last ten years only to be replaced by rentals. I guess if you want to live in a resort you have come to the right place.

  4. Mike Stringer says:

    Thanks for the reply JT. First of all, the “candy colored boxes” are far more appealing than drab grey concrete block rectangles with no architectural character.

    Your comment regarding the departure of residents from 2000 – 2012 as a result of the dramatic influx of tourists is interesting and may be partially correct but lacks relevant context. A brief review of the economic environment during this time sheds further light on this phenomenon. The housing run-up in the early 2000’s likely had an impact on the aforementioned as people whose homes had doubled (or in some cases quadrupled) in value and they, like many others in the USA saw the opportunity to make money by moving. The subsequent collapse of the housing market likely also had an impact when people who could no longer afford the homes they had upgraded to dropped in value, hence the increase in the number of foreclosures on the island, and a common thread that similarly gripped many other parts of America but specifically took its toll on Florida. Couple those factors with a prolonged recession, a significant increase in unemployment, and living on a small island with very few jobs and you get a lot of different reasons to consider moving.

    The great part about AMI as a whole is that we have effectively managed the pace of change using the existing bylaws to allow the development of it to take place without the addition of blocks of condominiums and high-rises. The revision/tightening of the bylaws only incents land owners who want to renovate their homes to knock them over and build up (per FEMA regulations). Clearly, if you don’t want to see an increase in larger homes being built don’t increase the restrictions around renovating the ground level ones.

    Tourism has been a crucial element in sustaining the quality of living and services provided on AMI and elsewhere in the USA during a very difficult time. I would encourage everyone to take a close look around when they walk down the streets on the island, they are not filled with truckloads of screaming teens tearing up the beaches in Jeeps, a la Daytona, which there is no logical comparison to. The island is being enjoyed by young, extended families that revel in the beauty, want to relax on the beaches and celebrate being there with friends likely in the same fashion as it was enjoyed by most residents when they first arrived there. Sharing a great place with others who have mutual interests generally makes it that much more pleasant.

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