The first-place runner Jonathan Hufty of Bradenton crosses the finish line at the Dolphin Dash 5k run.
The Anna Maria Elementary School’s fifth annual Dolphin Dash drew its largest number of runners ever with 253 participating in the Jan. 15 school fundraising event.
Race organizer Becky Walter said a large number of students, alumni and teachers participated this year. The youngest student to run in the 5k dash through downtown Holmes Beach was 6-year old Eli Heskin.
“Eli has been a super star of running club and finished the race in 28 minutes 3 seconds, which is unbelievable,” said Walter.
The oldest racer was Walter White, who at age 85 finished the race in 38 minutes 3 seconds.
Walter said there were more participants in the 1-mile fun run/walk than the 5k this year and attributes some of the growth in participants to members of the Bradenton Runners Club, who are now able to earn club points for completing the race.
The proceeds from the race go to the AME Parent-Teacher Organization’s general fund.
Anna Maria residents should brace for more meetings with Pine Avenue parking as the main topic of discussion.
City commissioners at their Jan. 13 meeting appeared ready to move closer to a solution. They informally agreed 3-2 to move forward with a parking plan for Pine Avenue that will include an option for parking in the rights of way for new retail-office-residential projects.
The Pine Avenue Public Parking and Pedestrian Plan was one of three plans presented to commissioners by city planner Alan Garrett.
Each of the proposed plans would “prohibit vehicles from backing over a sidewalk to enter or exit the space,” although residential parking spaces would be exempt from the sidewalk requirement, according to Garrett.
The controversial portion of the plan commissioners are moving forward is that some parking spaces could be located “partially within the city right-of-way.” A future business needing such space would be required to obtain a right-of-way use permit from the city. On-site parking could also be used by the new business.
Perpendicular and angle parking on Pine Avenue also are in the plan, and future sidewalks would be located between the parked vehicles and the structures of the development. No separate loading space is required under the plan.
The 3-2 informal vote was not without debate.
Commissioner Dale Woodland said he wanted to know “what is the problem we are trying to solve?”
In his opinion, there is not a parking problem, so “why do we want to change?”
A number of residents have said they don’t want the city giving up any right of way for parking, Woodland observed. If a public parking plan is approved, a lot of people are going to be unhappy.
But Commission Chair Chuck Webb said it’s time for the commission to move forward with a plan. Everyone agrees that backing out across a sidewalk is unsafe. Where the disagreement comes is over parking in the right of way.
Webb said he was a planning and zoning board member 12 years ago and a commissioner from 2002-2004. People agreed then that they did not want strip mall development on Pine Avenue. The proposed plan ensures strip retail centers won’t be on Pine Avenue, he said.
“This is a balance between more green space,” Webb said. Additionally, studies have been done showing there is enough existing parking on Pine Avenue to accommodate new developments.
“I don’t want to see lots paved over” for parking, he said, but would rather “preserve the green area” and put parking on the street.
“My position is this is the way to go,” Webb concluded.
Woodland disagreed, as did Commissioner John Quam, who favored a parking and pedestrian plan that did not include parking in the right of way, but does eliminate back-out parking.
Commissioners Jo Ann Mattick and Gene Aubry agreed to proceed with the plan for more discussions.
Planning and zoning board chair Sandy Mattick favored Quam’s suggestion that back-out parking be prohibited and no right-of-way parking allowed.
Resident Larry Albert said that before the commission approves any new parking plan, it should “park some cars up there on Pine Avenue and see what it looks like.” He disagreed with parking in the right of way.
Mike Coleman of Pine Avenue Restoration LLC invited commissioners to visit PAR’s retail-office-residential project at 216 Pine Ave. and observe how the parking arrangement works.
Parking at that location is based on the plan commissioners are moving forward, he said. A sidewalk Coleman constructed is between parking spaces and the buildings and there is enough room along the right of way for delivery trucks to parallel park.
Aubry observed there already are a number of Pine Avenue locations where right-of-way parking is permitted.
P&Z board member Tom Turner argued for the formation of an ad hoc committee to develop a plan.
“For the past 14 months, discussion has gone nowhere,” he said. The solution is to change the parking requirements or the lot coverage to create more open space on the property. An ad hoc committee can come up with a good plan, he said.
Jo Ann Mattick observed the parking plan is still in the “discussion” phase and nothing has been decided.
Correct, said Webb.
The plan will be discussed at either the Jan. 27 meeting or the commission’s February work session before it goes to a first reading.
Any ordinance change requires two readings and a public hearing, but Webb said it was too early to ask city attorney Jim Dye to prepare an ordinance.
Numerous lawsuits, legal actions and official complaints filed against the City of Anna Maria remain in the courts awaiting rulings. Hearings in one legal case were scheduled for Dec. 21 and Dec. 22.
Nally vs. City of Anna Maria
A hearing in the William and Barbara Nally lawsuit against Anna Maria was scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Dec. 21 before circuit court Judge Edward Nicholas, followed by a 3:30 p.m. hearing Dec. 22 before the same judge.
At the hearings, the city was to present a supplemental answer to the Nallys March 22 lawsuit that claims the city approved a Pine Avenue Restoration LLC site-plan for 216 Pine Ave. that is inconsistent with the 2007 comprehensive plan’s stated density calculations for the retail-office-residential district.
City attorney Jim Dye has submitted a July 15 ruling from the Florida Department of Community Affairs that states the city’s method of calculating density for the small ROR lots is consistent with the 2007 comprehensive plan.
Hunts vs. City of Anna Maria
The DCA issued the July ruling in response to a February complaint by residents Robert and Nicky Hunt that the method used by the city to calculate density in the ROR was inconsistent with the comp plan.
The DCA ruling became official Oct. 1, which was after the city was required to present its first response to the Nally complaint.
Stoltzfus vs. Carter
The Florida 2nd District Court of Appeal has yet to rule on former Commissioner Harry Stoltzfus’ appeal of the Recall Commissioner Stoltzfus Committee’s effort that began in April and resulted in a 362-331 vote Sept. 7 removing him from office.
PAR vs. City of Anna Maria
PAR sued the city on June 25 for the city commission’s May 27 denial of its site-plan for 308 Pine Ave. The commission denied the plan for parking and density issues. An Oct. 27 hearing was cancelled and has yet to be rescheduled.
Walker vs. City of Anna Maria
Stephen Walker and the Walker Family Land Trust of Park Avenue sued the city June 23 over an eminent domain issue, claiming the city changed its procedures for land-use in the environmental district in October 2008, but the Walkers were “vested” in the previous procedures. Walker claims this change resulted in “a taking” of his property rights without compensation. No hearing date has been scheduled.
Friday vs. City of Anna Maria
Richard Friday of Park Avenue filed a legal action in March against the city over a letter of no objection the city issued to Walker for a proposed development within the environmental zone created by the 2007 comp plan.
Friday claims the Walker project would violate the comp plan that states that no development is allowed in the environmental land-use category, and the city letter violates the comp plan. No hearing date on the complaint is scheduled, according to the circuit court website.
Blanton vs. City of Anna Maria
On Aug. 13, the owners of the model home at the Villa Rosa subdivision on South Bay Boulevard — Stephen and Victoria Blanton of Lakeland — sued Anna Maria, along with CapX Realty, Bon Eau Enterprises LLC of Sarasota and the Villa Rosa Home Owners Association, for a construction defect that is preventing Manatee County from accepting the utility lines and easement at the site. The Blantons claim the defect prevents them from obtaining a permanent certificate of occupancy.
The presiding Judge is Janette Dunnigan. No court date has been set.
Friday vs. Walker
In a case of battling property owners, an administrative law judge in early November ordered Richard Friday of Park Avenue to pay Stephen Walker’s attorney $2,000 for bringing an appeal action against Walker that did not have legal merit.
Friday had appealed Walker’s Florida Department of Environmental Protection permit to construct a house — part of the proposed Banyan Tree Estates project — within the coastal construction control line. Friday said prior to the appeal he would bring evidence to the hearing that the project would cause environmental damage to the surrounding area.
When no such evidence was presented at the appeal hearing — which was denied — Walker requested and was granted sanctions — a monetary award — against Friday on the grounds the appeal was unnecessary.
With four months left until the Anna Maria City Pier Centennial Celebration, celebration committee chair Sissy Quinn had a number of concerns alleviated at the committee’s Jan. 10 meeting.
Two concerns were laid to rest when Sandbar Restaurant owner Ed Chiles, organizer of the May 14 inaugural food festival, said he would fund additional law enforcement if it’s needed for the food festival.
That event is scheduled from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, May 14, along Pine Avenue, with food, refreshments and art vendors.
In addition, The Islander and the City Pier Restaurant are sponsoring a $10,000 fireworks display May 14 on the pier that includes law enforcement in nearby waters.
The Islander publisher Bonner Joy told Quinn the fireworks portion of the celebration, including the cost of any required safety measures for the display, is being paid by the city pier operators and the newspaper.
Quinn was concerned about funding an estimated $800 for five Manatee County Sheriff’s Office deputies who will be needed during the day on May 14, but City Commissioner Jo Ann Mattick said those costs should “be prepared after the event, in case we have to pay anything.
“That’s when we’ll know what’s come in. We could be in great shape,” she said.
Quinn suggested Chiles and the City Pier Restaurant might want to give additional funds to the committee, but Chiles assured her that the food vendors have agreed to a 75-25 split of revenue.
Expenses will be taken from the 25 percent split of the revenue and the remaining balance will be donated to Island nonprofit organizations, he said.
Joy said the newspaper and the pier have partnered to sell memorial planks on the city pier for $100 each to cover the cost of fireworks and related expenses. The donation is $10,000, and that’s a “significant amount,” Joy said.
Anna Maria Mayor Mike Selby said he would waive special event permit fees, and, if necessary, bring the issue of funding for law enforcement to the commission.
Quinn relaxed after hearing that news, but noted that, if she’s concerned, it’s only because this is the “first year we’ve ever done this,” and a centennial celebration is only going to occur once a century.
Quinn said she wants donors to cover expenses, but Mattick said the celebration is still four months away and sales by the committee of memorabilia likely will pick up as the event draws closer.
More good news came from Barbara Sato of Sato Real Estate and the North End Merchants Organization, She said NEMO had sponsors for the 33 street banners needed to promote the event.
Quinn remained worried about lagging sales of T-shirts intended to fund some centennial expenses, but Susan Cecere of the city’s environmental education and enhancement committee stepped up to the plate.
Cecere volunteered to contact and distribute T-shirts to merchants, keep track of sales and return the resulting funds to the committee.
Presently, the shirts are available at the Anna Maria Island Historical Society museum on Pine Avenue and J&J Graphics, 9701 Gulf Drive, Anna Maria.
Cecere also pledged to help spruce up the landscaping and vegetation at the city pier entrance before the celebration, and help the committee in any way possible.
“This needs to be a showcase,” she said.
Committee members and volunteers discussed holding a party following the Anna Maria Island Privateers May 13 evening parade, and Quinn suggested that Mike and Lizzie Vann Thrasher may wish to be included in some manner at the Anna Maria Historical Green Village, now under construction on Pine Avenue.
John Lefner and Erin Heckler of Island Real Estate in Holmes Beach presented more good news when they said they would put information about the centennial celebration on the company’s website and blog.
“It’s something we want to do to reach out to the community,” Lefner said. “This is part of the Island’s heritage, and we support that for the Island.”
Sandy Mattick suggested the committee prepare a flyer to put in welcome packets distributed by real estate offices, accommodations, rental agents and motels.
Chiles suggested contacting Manatee Educational Television to document the centennial and contacting U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-Fla.) to have a centennial proclamation placed in the Congressional Record.
SueLynn of the committee produced a proclamation that will be offered to other government bodies in advance of the event.
Caryn Hodge suggested the committee move forward with a marketing plan and Sandy Mattick volunteered to take the job. She said she would present a formal public relations/marketing plan by February, or possibly at the committee’s Jan. 31 meeting.
At that meeting, Quinn said she wants to finalize the list of events for committee members, media and event participants.
The centennial is scheduled to start at 6 p.m. Friday, May 13, with the Privateers parade at CrossePointe Fellowship, leading to Pine Avenue and ending at the pier.
Among the many events planned for May 14 are the food and cultural festival, a Privateers family picnic at Bayfront Park, VIP dinner on the pier and the fireworks display.
The committee’s next meeting is 3 p.m. Jan. 31 at Anna Maria City Hall, 10005 Gulf Drive.
The Anna Maria Island Privateers are working to raise at least $40,000 for charitable work in 2011, which is the nonprofit’s 40th year. To reach that goal, AMIP is seeking sponsors for its events, including the thieves markets at Coquina Beach, Snooks Adams Kids Day, the July 4 parade and a Labor Day Pirate Fest. AMIP also is seeking sponsors for its commemorative coins, as well as selling some bling. Sparkly medallions or pins are retailing for $20. For more information, call Tim “Hammer” Thompson at 941-780-1668.
Boaters are proposing a yacht club to help oversee Bradenton Beach’s anchorage field south of the Historic Bridge Street Pier.
Meanwhile, city officials continue to meet with boaters, county officials and U.S. Coast Guard representatives as they prepare for stepped up patrol and governance in the field.
Bradenton Beach Police Chief Sam Speciale and Mayor Bob Bartelt discussed plans for the field with several boaters Jan. 10 at city hall, 107 Gulf Drive N.
A meeting of the advisory city mooring field committee was scheduled for that day, but did not take place because it was not properly noticed and there was no agenda.
Instead, the chief, mayor and boaters chatted about stepped up policing in the area, a new city registration program for anchorage, a recently approved grant for a vessel removal program and the prospects of a Bridge Street yacht club.
Several years ago, city officials secured from the state Legislature oversight of bay and Gulf waters extending 500 feet from the city shoreline as they pursued a plan to establish an official mooring field.
Last year, city officials redirected the strategy, focusing instead on establishing an anchorage field rather than a more costly mooring field, with mooring equipment and a harbor master.
“Even though the managed mooring field isn’t going to happen, we’re going to have a managed anchorage,” Speciale said.
Pursuing that course, the city commission in 2010 adopted an ordinance establishing new rules for the field and passed a resolution creating a registration program — $15 per boat anchored for more than 24 hours.
“We’re getting ready to do this registration,” Speciale said, adding that the forms already are available at city hall.
The registration will help the police and code enforcement departments with monitoring vessels in city waters, as well as aid when an emergency develops and a vessel owner needs to be contacted.
“It’s a nominal fee, just for administrative stuff,” the chief said.
Additionally, Speciale said the city, with a $25,000 grant awarded in December, will begin early this year to remove abandoned or derelict vessels.
Speciale said boaters could expect to see improvements within a month.
Meanwhile, several of the boaters are proposing that a yacht club help with managing the anchorage.
“We did draft a letter to formally request the city to assign the management of (the field) to the yacht club,” said boater Wes Waldrope.
The yacht club could operate similar to a homeowner’s association, establishing anchorage rules, such as requiring boaters to drop two anchors rather than one, Waldrope said.
Speciale encouraged the boaters, but suggested that the mooring field committee review the proposal and take a recommendation to the city commission. The committee has struggled to meet on a regular basis.
“I think you have to get the mooring field committee running right,” Speciale suggested as a first step. “Show the board is a viable board before you do something out there.”
A snowy egret on Gulf shore in Bradenton Beach. Islander Photo: Lisa Neff
Florida may remove the “threatened status” for several birds seen on Anna Maria Island.
There are 21 birds on Florida’s list of most vulnerable species.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission appointed a task force to review information and data and determine whether any species should be removed from the “threatened” classification.
In a preliminary review, the group determined that four birds — limpkin, brown pelican, white ibis and snowy egret — no longer meet the criteria for the threatened listing.
“We hope these preliminary findings will result in the discovery that our conservation measures in the past decade have had measurable, beneficial impacts on wildlife in Florida,” said Elsa Haubold, who is leading the FWC species review team.
The FWC also reviewed mammals on the threatened list and determined, in a preliminary analysis, that the Florida black bear, chipmunk, Florida mouse, Homosassa shrew and Sherman’s fox squirrel no longer meet listing criteria.
The early findings indicate concern remains about the fate of a number of other species found on Anna Maria Island, including the American oystercatcher, least tern, little blue heron, reddish egret, roseate spoonbill, tricolored heron, black skimmer, snowy plover, American kestrel and osprey.
Haubold emphasized the preliminary nature of the review — the state has only completed the first step in the “careful process of studying the status of these species.”
“This is a huge effort,” she said. “We still have lots to do to ensure that no species ever goes extinct in Florida.”
Gulf shore in Bradenton Beach. Islander Photo: Lisa Neff
The Holmes Beach Police Department announced the closure of a section of Marina Drive from Thursday, Jan. 20, through the weekend.
HBPD Lt. Dale Stephenson said Marina from 67th Street to 68th Street will be closed, probably until Monday, Jan. 24, while a crew replaces piping under the road surface.
Stephenson said the closure would require a detour for motorists.
For more information, call Holmes Beach City Hall at 941-708-5800.
A 62-year-old Holmes Beach man is facing a burglary charge for allegedly stealing underwear from a neighboring home.
Law enforcement officers, executing a warrant Jan. 10, searched Ernest A. Kendler’s residence and found two pairs of women’s panties identified as belonging to a 23-year-old neighbor who reported them stolen in November. A lab will analyze the evidence for DNA.
Kendler was arrested nearly two months after the investigation into the allegation against him began. He faces one count of burglary. He was released from the Manatee County jail on a $10,000 bond.
According to the warrant filed at the Manatee County Judicial Center, a woman told authorities that she was missing two dozen pairs of panties and that her 21-year-old sister was missing 16 pairs of underwear.
The woman told authorities on Nov. 6, 2010, she saw a man going through a dresser drawer in her sister’s bedroom, according to the warrant. The intruder did not face the woman, even as he left, but she said she believes the man to be Kendler.
In a civil complaint filed at the judicial center in November, the woman sought an injunction against Kendler alleging he “has broken into my home and I witnessed him digging through my sister’s panty drawer. We have had hundreds of pairs disappear over the past two years and I finally caught him in the act. He has stolen my sense of privacy along with personal belongings.”
The complaint also stated, “I fear for my safety and the safety of my family.”
A month after the filing, the civil case was closed. The woman terminated her request for an injunction, saying that she had taken precautions to protect herself.
But a criminal case remained open with the Holmes Beach Police Department and state attorney’s office.
An HBPD officer had responded to a 911 call on Nov. 6 and interviewed the woman who alleged seeing Kendler in her sister’s bedroom.
In the HBPD report, the woman said she saw Kendler at the dresser and he seemed to be breathing heavily. She stared, scared and confused for 30 seconds, and then said, “Hello.”
The man left the room and the woman ran to a neighbor’s to call her mother, who called 911.
The intruder was described as wearing black shorts, white tennis shoes and a gray or white shirt.
The HBPD officer sought out Kendler, who was wearing a tan shirt, tan shorts and no shoes. The report described the suspect as “very nervous” and “visibly shaken” when the officer entered his home.
HBPD forwarded the case to the state attorney’s office to request the warrant, which led to the search and arrest Jan. 10.