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Mayors broach issue of homeless population on AMI

By Rick Catlin, Islander Reporter

If you’re looking for a place to sleep on Anna Maria Island, one location to check out is behind the dumpster at the Anna Maria City Pier.

Anna Maria Mayor SueLynn told members of the Coalition of Barrier Island Elected Officials she and staff recently discovered someone has been sleeping behind the pier dumpster.

Speaking at the Jan. 15 meeting, SueLynn said public works department employees also found someone has been sleeping alongside a city maintenance shed.

“And we’ve discovered seven homeless people in Bradenton Beach,” said Mayor Bill Shearon, adding that homeless people more often present issues for officials in Bradenton and Sarasota.

Shearon added that Bradenton Beach Police Chief Sam Speciale told him seven people in the city have been identified the past few weeks as homeless and panhandlers.

He suggested studying panhandling and homeless ordinances for inconsistencies.

“It’s something to keep in mind,” SueLynn said.

She then delivered a legislative report, saying that Florida Senate Bill 356, which repeals HB 883 enacted in July 2012, has passed a Senate committee.

The bill must be approved by the full Senate when its session begins in March, then be heard and pass in the House of Representatives, where SueLynn said she expects opposition.

HB 883 provides Florida property owners broad leverage to their rent homes. Local governments were largely prohibited from enacting legislation to govern or limit the vacation rental industry — particularly in zoning districts — after HB 883 became effective July 1, 2012.

Shearon also updated members on beach renourishment, which has been hampered by the winter weather. With good weather, he expects the project to reach Bradenton Beach within the week.

Manatee County Commissioner John Chappie, who attended the meeting, said the county saved $3 million-$4 million in mobilization costs by having Great Lakes Dredge and Dock complete two renourishment projects, one after the other.

The present project, funded by federal, state and county money will finish at Coquina Beach. The second project, which renourishes Coquina Beach, will be paid with state and county money, he said.

Chappie said Coquina Beach renourishment should be finished by the end of March or early April.

West Manatee Fire Rescue deputy Chief Brett Pollock attended the meeting to ask officials for help spreading the word about the WMFR Citizen’s Fire Academy beginning Feb. 18.

The class is open to any member of the public. Attendees also will attend a firefighting demonstration and learn how to handle firefighting equipment.

Anyone wishing to enroll can call 941-761-1555 for more information, Pollock said.

Pollock said this is the third year WMFR has presented the academy.

The next BIEO meeting is scheduled for 2 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 19, at Bradenton Beach City Hall, 107 Gulf Drive N.

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