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Date of Issue: May 18, 2006

Holmes Beach moves to calm Marina Drive traffic

Stay calm when driving in Holmes Beach, particularly during the winter season heading along Marina Drive between 57th Street and the Gulf Drive intersection.

Actually, the city is trying to help motorists and pedestrians stay calm.

At the city commission’s May 9 meeting, commissioners gave the go-ahead to Mayor Carol Whitmore to pursue a $300,000 grant that would install a number of traffic “calming” measures in the area.

Police Chief Jay Romine presented the commission with several options for calming measures, including addition of landscaped buffers between the north and south lanes, eliminating the right-turn-only lane northbound on Marina Drive at 56th Street and allowing traffic to gradually merge, lengthening the right-turn lane on Marina Drive at the Gulf Drive intersection, creating a driveway-access-control area about 30 feet wide for businesses on the west side of Marina Drive and adding lighting in the area.

The options could also include widening both lanes of Marina Drive in the business area.

Estimates provided by Robinson Engineering of Tampa put the project cost at approximately $260,000 to $275,000, but Whitmore cautioned that with the present inflation rate in the cost of construction materials, that figure could easily increase.

“We’ll need the exact numbers very soon,” Whitmore told the engineers, who promised to bring the figures to her as soon as possible.

Resident Joe Mullineaux, however, disagreed with lengthening Marina Drive’s southbound land at the traffic signal, noting the pedestrian crosswalk at the Island Shopping Center is already “extremely dangerous.”

Commissioner David Zaccagnino suggested a “wait island” could be built in the middle of the crosswalk.

 The commission, however, was intrigued by all the options presented by Romine and gave consensus for Whitmore to proceed with those traffic-calming measures in the grant application.

 

Golf carts

In other traffic matters, Romine told the commission that the Florida Department of Transportation has turned down any golf-cart crossing on State Road 789 (East Bay Drive/Gulf Drive) except at the traffic light already in operation at the intersection by Mike Norman Realty.

To reach the light from the southeast part of Holmes Beach, a path would have to be created through the Grassy Pointe area, an idea already being considered by the Sarasota Bay Estuary Program that is working with the city to create a public park there.

In fact, said Romine, the DOT “recommends a path through Grassy Pointe” to get to the light.

The DOT will not allow golf carts on S.R. 789 traveling in either direction and many golf-cart owners on the east side of Gulf Drive are unable to reach the supermarket and retail shops on the west side of East Bay Drive without a designated traffic light.

 

Signs

Commission Chairperson Rich Bohnenberger took exception to the planning commission’s recent perusal of a request by some real estate agents for changes to the sign ordinance.

The planning commission is not involved in the legislative process. It is only a recommending body and should have directed the entire request to the city commission for initial action, he said.

Bohnenberger noted he was not an advocate of any proposal to change the sign ordinance, just that everyone in the city is entitled to due process.

In other business, the commission approved an annual fee of $425 for property owners to lease a dock in the Sunrise Boat Basin.

Two homeowners in the area presented ownership claims on dock spaces in the basin. City Attorney Patricia Petruff said she would render an opinion after reviewing the documents.

Commissioners also approved a draft ordinance to the police officers’ pension fund that would increase eligibility and benefits, and reviewed the first article of the draft land development code prepared by the planning committee.

The commission agreed that when it has the first three articles of the revised code, it would discuss the proposed changes in depth.

The commission also approved a small-scale amendment to the comprehensive plan that would change the area known as Sportsman’s Park on the future land-use map from low density residential to medium density residential.

Approval was given to Whitmore to execute a maximum $125,000 contract with Millmack Inc. to dredge Key Royale canal No. 7.

The commission gave final approval for the addition of a fifth antenna array on the cell tower at the Smith Realty property on Marina Drive.