Flashback 2017 – Year in Review – Part 1


Marina offers $1 wet slip to Bradenton Beach: Mike Bazzy, owner of Bradenton Beach Marina, 402 Church Ave., offered a wet slip at the marina for the police boat until a lift can be installed at the pier. Bazzy said the marina could provide a slip for $1 for as long as the city needed one.

Pine Avenue Food and Wine canceled: 2016 was the final year for Food and Wine on Pine. The spring event hosted for five years on Pine Avenue in Anna Maria by the Chiles Group was canceled — permanently.

Bradenton Beach CRA considers parking, expansion: Bradenton Beach Community Redevelopment Agency Chair/Commissioner Ralph Cole opened a discussion about parking. He resurrected the idea of golf-cart shuttles from the beach to Bridge Street.

Holmes Beach committee plans memorial garden: The Holmes Beach Parks and Beautification Committee discussed recommendations for a memorial garden to replace the former butterfly park near city hall.

FISH signs on for Long Bar Pointe fight, mitigation appeal: The Florida Institute for Saltwater Heritage voted to oppose a second attempt from Long Bar Pointe LLLP to operate a 260-acre wetland mitigation bank on Sarasota Bay along a 2-mile stretch of pristine shoreline southeast of Cortez.

Holmes Beach defends tree house order: The tree house was back in the courthouse. Owners Lynn Tran and Richard Hazen were waging another challenge in the 2nd District Court of Appeal, this time seeking to overturn a circuit court order that halted their attempt to grandfather the tree house by putting it to a citywide vote.

Center flounders, $135K in the red: The Center of Anna Maria Island’s year-to-date net income was is in the red to the tune of $135,000, with $235,000 in revenue and $370,000 in expenses since the fiscal year began July 1, 2016. Kristen Lessig, executive director, called a Jan. 23 to update the community, but only one center member attended.

Anna Maria hiring lobbyist to challenge VRO rollback proposal: The city of Anna Maria was preparing for battle in Tallahassee. The commission unanimously voted to hire lobbyist Chip Case with Jefferson Monroe Consulting LLC of Tallahassee to fight a Senate bill that likely would undo the city’s vacation rental ordinance.

HBPD chief takes heat for reduced speed limits: Slow down and enjoy the scenery, said Holmes Beach Police Chief Bill Tokajer as a reduced speed limit for drivers heading west into Holmes Beach by way of Manatee Avenue/State Road 64 was posted. Tokajer said the speed reduction at the city limit was causing a “firestorm.”

Holmes Beach limits pet sales, bans medical marijuana dispensaries: Holmes Beach commissioners unanimously voted to restrict pet sales and prohibit marijuana dispensaries.


Anna Maria authorizes study on special tax assessment: Anna Maria commissioners authorized a contract for an engineering and consulting firm to study development of an occupancy-based tax assessment.

Medical marijuana dispensaries banned in Bradenton Beach: Bradenton Beach commissioners were given the opportunity to reconsider a proposed ordinance banning medical marijuana dispensaries in the city before a final reading, hearing and vote. However, city officials stayed their course and unanimously approved the ban.

Anna Maria chair suggests planning for city manager: Anna Maria City Commission Chair Doug Copeland suggested the city consider adding the hiring of a city manager to its 10-year plan. Copeland said a city manager could bring Anna Maria a level of continuity that mayors with two-year terms could not.

Holmes Beach mayor advocates city manager government: Holmes Beach Mayor Bob Johnson said Anna Maria Island is “the only beach in town” in the state without the city manager form of government.

Holmes Beach speed backlash, limits restored: Less than a month after the DOT installed lower speed-limit signs on Manatee Avenue in Holmes Beach, the speed limit was reverting to 35 mph. City commissioners approved a resolution asking the DOT to reinstate the 35-mph speed limit as some 30-40 people spoke against the lowered limits.

Anna Maria opens RFPs for pier repair: Anna Maria was moving forward with plans to restore its 105-year-old city pier. Three engineering firms responded to the city request for proposals to engineer repairs to the Anna Maria City Pier.

WMFR approves chaplain program: The fire commission approved a job description and policy to add a volunteer chaplain to the WMFR roster. The chaplain would counsel firefighters, their families and victims of fires.

County wins comp plan challenge from Long Bar developer: The 2nd District Court of Appeal let stand a lower court judgment for Manatee County against Long Bar Pointe developers. Cargor Partners VIII and Long Bar Pointe LLLP had challenged 12th Circuit judge’s decision that upheld coastal policies in county’s comp plan.

Sarasota outlines criteria for ferry: In a 5-0 vote, Sarasota city commissioners gave conditional approval for a ferry service to debark from downtown Sarasota on an hourly run to the Historic Bridge Street Pier in Bradenton Beach.

BB looks to county for Coquina Beach Trail improvements: Bradenton Beach was considering enhancing the Coquina Beach trail to include fitness stations.

Ugly Grouper approved for expansion: After months of back-and-forth revisions, a revised site plan to expand the Ugly Grouper, 5704 Marina Drive, Holmes Beach, was approved. But Holmes Beach commissioners required two special exceptions: off-site shared parking and limited amplified outdoor music.


Bridge incident ends in death: A 24-year-old Bradenton woman died after falling from a moving truck on the Anna Maria Island Bridge. Florida Highway patrol reported the woman fell from a 2009 pickup onto Manatee Avenue and then was run-over by the vehicle.

Bradenton Beach CRA serves up pickleball court: After months of deliberation, the Bradenton Beach Community Redevelopment Agency decided to fund a concrete pickleball court at Lou Barolo Park on Highland Avenue.

Holmes Beach to hire lobbyist to defend VRO regs: A proposed bill circulating in legislative committees to prevent local governments from regulating vacation rentals prompted Holmes Beach commissioners to put up a fight for home rule. The city hired a lobbyist to help protect its vacation-rental ordinance and the certificate program.

Beautification begins for memorial garden at city hall: A former butterfly garden was being redeveloped into a memorial garden for veterans and others. City parks and beautification committee member Dennis Groh said, “A lot of the plants that have been selected here are actually butterfly plants.”

State: Groin not needed at Manatee Public Beach: Citing a lack of erosion, the state said it would not issue a permit for the replacement of a pier-like groin once prominent at the Manatee Public Beach in Holmes Beach.

Bradenton Beach CRA approves contract to build day dock: The community redevelopment agency unanimously approved with revisions a $119,980 contract with Technomarine, a contractor based in North Palm Beach, to construct and install the day dock at the city pier.

Cortez fish fest succeeds despite rain: “Yes, the rain got us.” festival committee chair Rose Lipke summed up the 2017 Cortez Commercial Fishing Festival for the directors at Florida Institute for Saltwater Heritage board meeting. Attendance at the 35th annual festival dropped 25 percent from 2016. Proceeds totaled $84,680, down from about $119,000.

FISH boatworks resignation shocks board: “That was a shocker.” That’s how Florida Institute for Saltwater Heritage vice president Jane von Hahmann described the resignation of board member and boatworks manager Rick Stewart.

Design firm hired for Cortez Bridge: The Florida Department of Transportation awarded Chicago-based Lochner a contract to design the Cortez Bridge replacement.

Private boat shuttle service connects Bradenton Beach-Longboat Key: Island officials joined a small group on the “ceremonial kickoff cruise” of a water shuttle planned to run daily between the Historic Bridge Street Pier in Bradenton Beach to the Mar Vista Dockside Restaurant and Pub on Longboat Key.

Holmes Beach plans land purchase: Holmes Beach commissioners voted 3-1 to approve an agreement with Dunlap & Associates Inc. for advice on issuing about $1.5 million in bonds to purchase land. The bonds would fund the purchase of two vacant parcels at Gloria Dei Lutheran Church, 6608 Marina Drive, which was projecting a $55,000-$60,000 per year shortfall.

Bridge Street restaurant, loud music draw noise complaints: Live entertainment at the Freckled Fin Restaurant, 101 Bridge St., resulted in numerous noise complaints to the city of Bradenton Beach. Email complaints about noise coming from the restaurant from other business owners and residents were sent to Bradenton Beach Mayor Bill Shearon.

Holmes Beach engineer presents master bike, pedestrian plan: Lynn Burnett, city engineer, presented a first draft of the Holmes Beach Master Bike pedestrian plan at a city forum.

Holmes Beach hears suggestions to reduce neighborhood noise: Turning down the volume of noise complaints was a goal for Holmes Beach commissioners at a March work session. However, a city report indicated 47 of 48 noise complaints investigated November 2016-January 2017 were unfounded.

1st snowy plover nest contains 3 eggs: The first snowy plover nest on Anna Maria Island in the 2017 nesting season contained three eggs.

Neal wins decision on Harbor Sound: The 5th District Court of Appeal upheld a state wetlands permit for an enclave of homes on Perico Island for developer Pat Neal. The decision would take the developer a step closer to constructing Harbor Sound on 3.46 acres fronting on Anna Maria Sound.


Turtle watch shocked by EPA halt to nesting: What? Oh, wait. That was The Islander’s annual April Fool’s Day gag.

BB restaurant owner jailed for noise-making: “Excessive and petty” is how Freckled Fin owner Scott Lubore described his arrest for a noise ordinance violation at his Bradenton Beach bar-restaurant at 101 Bridge St. Lubore, 48, was arrested after BBPD Officer Steven Masi heard loud music at while on Fourth Street South coming from Bridge Street.

Bradenton Beach CRA approves district plan: The Bradenton Beach community redevelopment agency approved its amended plan for the historic district. The revised plan outlined the history of the district, progress made since the CRA was established in 1992 and goals, including a 30-year extension of the CRA.

Bridge plans divulged: The future of the bridge linking Cortez to Bradenton Beach was coming into focus. Florida Institute for Saltwater Heritage vice president Jane von Hahmann reported on DOT plans with potentially dire consequences to the village. The two moves involved a plan aimed at solving the 119th Street bottleneck on Cortez Road West and the DOT leaning toward a 65-foot fixed-span Cortez Bridge.

Bayfront mega project gets county planners’ nod: Manatee County planning commissioners voted 3-2 to recommend a large-scale mixed-use development along more than 2 miles of Sarasota Bay shoreline southeast of Cortez and Anna Maria Island. The action moved approval of Aqua By The Bay — 2,894 homes, 78,000 square feet of commercial space, 13- and five-story buildings, a 2-mile lagoon and seawalls — to the county commission.

Grassy Point Preserve re-opens with fanfare for nature: Sixteen years ago, Billie Martini eyed what would become Grassy Point Preserve from a boat with a vision for the future. The preserve re-opened to the public April 19 with a welcome by Holmes Beach Mayor Bob Johnson and much praise for Martini.

Anna Maria finalizes last of more than 112 Bert Harris offers: Anna Maria Mayor Dan Murphy announced that city attorney Becky Vose successfully drafted initial offers for all 112 Bert Harris claims received in response to the city vacation rental ordinance.


County board sends development plans back to planners: A mistake in a staff report sparked a second round of county hearings for Aqua By The Bay. The Manatee County Board of Commissioners voted 6-0 to return the proposed large-scale development on Sarasota Bay to the planning commission.

DOT’s Cortez Road-119th St. plans rile Cortez: Island and Longboat Key leaders met their counterparts from Cortez. At a presentation and public hearing put on by the Florida Department of Transportation for a $3.7 million project on Cortez Road West between 86th and 123rd streets, more than 150 people wanted to be heard.

New ‘tiny home’ development proposal pops up in Cortez: Hunters Point Resort & Marina may be the next new development in line for Cortez. Cortez Road Investments and Finance Inc. proposed a site plan in early May and, after a few engineering calculations, it was destined for the Manatee County review process.

Holmes Beach mayor holds out hope for retaining post office: Mayor Bob Johnson told city commissioners there were inquiries from businesses in the city considering making the post office operation a piece of their business. The operators at the time said they notified the U.S. Postal Service of their intent to terminate the contract.

ManaSota League applauds home rule victory, preps for 2018: The 2017 legislative session ended in Tallahassee, but concern about next year was starting to mount. The ManaSota League of Cities remained concerned with bills that would rollback vacation rental regulations.

Manatee County BOCC advances life-saving services for WMFR: The Manatee Board of County Commissioners approved an ordinance granting West Manatee Fire Rescue the ability to apply to the county for a certificate of public convenience and necessity, necessary by state law to perform advanced life support services.

1st sea turtle nests spotted: The first five nests of the 2017 sea turtle nesting season were documented May 12 by Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch and Shorebird Monitoring.

Parking fines to increase in Bradenton Beach: During a city commission meeting, Vice Mayor John Chappie said the commission should move forward with an increase in parking fines, from $35 to $50 a citation. Mayor Bill Shearon suggested adding a $5 penalty to the fee if unpaid after 10 days.

FDOT begins island-key traffic study: A long-awaited traffic study of the barrier islands got underway and members of the Coalition of Barrier Island Elected Officials were hoping it would be the final word on the issue. The DOT was looking at improving infrastructure and traffic circulation on local barrier islands, as well as traffic flow to and from the mainland.

Stone crab season wraps up with a bang: The stone crab harvest ended with a strong finish, with crabbers statewide pulling in nearly 3 million pounds of claw fish worth almost $30 million.

HBPD arrests butterfly advocate on fraud charges: A local community activist was arrested for an alleged scheme to defraud and solicit as a charity without authority. The allegations stemmed from an agreement with the city of Holmes Beach to landscape and maintain the former Anna Maria Island Butterfly Park at city hall.

State drops charge against BB restaurant owner: The state dropped a noise ordinance violation charge against Freckled Fin owner Scott Lubore. Live entertainment at the Freckled Fin Restaurant and Public House, 101 Bridge St., Bradenton Beach, led to Lubore’s arrest for a misdemeanor noise violation following multiple warnings.

Gregg Allman, legendary rocker dies: Gregory LeNoir Allman, born Dec. 8, 1947, died May 27. Allman, a founding member of The Allman Brothers Band, died at his home in Savannah, Georgia. He lived for a time in the 1980s in Holmes Beach.


Forecast: Above-normal hurricane season: An above-normal hurricane season was forecast for the Atlantic region. Forecasters put the likelihood of an above-normal season at 45 percent, with a 70 percent likelihood of 11-17 named storms, with winds of 39 mph or higher. The forecast called for five to nine storms becoming hurricanes, including two to four major hurricanes.

DEP: House built on water on state’s land: A house on pilings that appeared in Sarasota Bay within a stone’s throw of Cortez was built on state-owned submerged lands. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection announced the title determination.

BB commissioner plans chain restaurant: “They’re successful,” Jake Spooner, Bradenton Beach City Commissioner and business owner said of the Daiquiri Deck, his potential tenant for his proposed development on Bridge Street.

Minto steps up marina construction at Perico development: Heavy equipment and workers with florescent vests became part of the waterfront view on Perico Island near the northeast apron of the Anna Maria Island Bridge. Minto Bradenton LLC, part of Florida-based Minto Communities, began dredging a marina at Harbour Isle Anna Maria Sound.

Lakeland man dies after Gulf rescue: A Lakeland man died a day after he was found unconscious in the Gulf of Mexico in Anna Maria. He died at Blake Medical Center in Bradenton following a rescue by bystanders and medical personnel.

USPS promises to deliver new Holmes Beach postal office: U.S. Postal Service said bids were still being accepted on a contract to continue the operation of a post office in Holmes Beach.

$12.9M AMI SUNTrail on fast track for funding: The $12.9 million SUNTrail Loop on Anna Maria Island was positioned to secure state funding quicker than previously expected. Lynn Burnett, engineer for the three island cities, said the trail was on the fast track.

Center debt prompts board conflict, leadership turmoil: Within two weeks, the Center of Anna Maria Island saw two board officers resign, unresign and a board vote via email to replace its chair.

Holmes Beach draws business distinctions to preserve ‘flavor’: Holmes Beach officials continued to reshape regulations concerning formula businesses. Commissioners said protecting the “island flavor” would prevent the city from devolving into a homogenized area, indistinguishable from metro Florida cities.

2nd swimmer in 3 weeks dies in Gulf: For the second time in less than three weeks, a visitor to Anna Maria Island died in the Gulf of Mexico. Holmes Beach police and Manatee County Marine Rescue responded to a 911 call about a swimmer who went missing north of the Manatee Public Beach. The Haines City man was pronounced dead after he was located about 150 feet offshore by the U.S. Coast .

Anna Maria commission reviews center relationship: “I’ve lost faith.” Anna Maria Commissioner Nancy Yetter was recommending the city re-evaluate its financial relationship with the Center of Anna Maria Island.

DOT, county agree to realign 119th Street in Cortez: The Florida Department of Transportation announced it would move forward with a plan for realignment to Resolve the 119th Street bottleneck on State Road 684/Cortez Road.

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