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Date of Issue: August 16, 2007

No need for speed off Bean Point

If the Anna Maria City Commission and some concerned residents near Bean Point have their way, boaters passing through the waters just off Bean Point will have to slow down to a “no-wake” zone when heading in and out of the Gulf of Mexico.

But that’s not the case right now, said Manatee County coastal program director Bill O’Shea at the commission’s Aug. 9 meeting.

In fact, Manatee County has an ordinance that allows for a 25-mph speed “corridor” in that area, a swath that cuts through the county’s already established “no-wake” zone and is just a few feet from the sands of Bean Point and swimmers who enjoy the waters.

O’Shea said county commissioners several years ago wanted to establish all of the area off Bean Point as a “no- wake” zone, but boaters lobbied successfully that they could not easily get in or out of Tampa Bay to the Gulf of Mexico at “no-wake” speeds during inclement weather.

But residents in the area who regularly walk Bean Point say swimmers there are in grave danger from speeding boats that pass within a few feet of the shoreline. Members of the group claim they see potential for a serious accident just about every day.

Speaking for the group, Charlie Daniel said the concerned residents would like the county to post some “no-wake” signs in the area immediately, but O’Shea said that’s not going to happen.

The county commission would have to first change the ordinance, and that action will involve a workshop session and public hearings. He said he has asked the commission for a work session on the issue, but the earliest available date is not until October, possibly November. And, O’Shea admitted, he’s not even sure what recommendation his department will make on the proposal.

He noted that the public boating lobby is extremely strong in Manatee County and active among county commissioners.

Daniel was perturbed by the apparent lack of interest in the issue by the county.

“It appears to me that, as citizens, we don’t have any rights. I’m disgusted we don’t have our county commissioner here. I guess we’ve been overworked by the boaters.”

The unanimous consensus of the city commission, however, was to draft a letter to the Manatee Board of County Commissioners requesting that all of the waters off Bean Point be designated as “no wake.”

To get to the Gulf of Mexico at a high rate of speed, Commissioner Dale Woodland suggested they just find another route.

Without a strict speed limit in the area, “This is an accident waiting to happen,” he claimed.

In other business, commissioners agreed not to extend the moratorium on construction seaward of the coastal construction control line, which expires in September.

Commissioners agreed with city attorney Jim Dye that recent conditions in the Island real estate market, along with ordinances passed by the commission recently to control growth, have made the issue moot.

The commission had been concerned that developers could gather several pieces of property together, then make it a gated community such as what was proposed at Rosa del Mar.

Those concerns, however, have disappeared, the commission agreed.

Commissioners also agreed to send a letter to the owners at the Anna Maria Beach Cottages at 112 Oak Ave., informing them that the city now does not agree that a gate in the alleyway is legal, reversing a commission opinion of Oct. 19, 2006. The commissioners now agree that the owners should apply to the city to allow a gateway to be in the city’s right of way.