“We’re ahead of the curve. We’re ahead of Holmes Beach,” said Anna Maria Commissioner Dale Woodland after city commissioners passed a building moratorium at their Feb. 24 meeting, halting construction and remodeling to add bedrooms.
Commissioner SueLynn and Mayor Mike Selby raised the moratorium issue after learning of a number of multi-bedroom homes recently built in Holmes Beach can be rented to multiple families at the same time.
Some Holmes Beach residents have raised concerns to the city that the residential character of their neighborhood is being harmed by such large accommodations.
Anna Maria commissioners were determined not to have the problem move northward.
In Anna Maria, SueLynn said she was concerned about the recent purchase of 60 N. Shore Drive, where an existing home on three lots was bulldozed.
Building official Bob Welch said the owners, MEK LLC, had obtained a permit to clear the property, but had not submitted plans for a building permit.
“We all have fears about what might be built,” Welch said.
Plans for a six-bedroom residence at 111 Maple Ave., Anna Maria, being built by Modus Operandi Construction LLC, resemble a property in Holmes Beach that Modus Operandi built, Welch said, as he distributed the floor plan to commissioners and the public.
Commission Chair Chuck Webb said his concern was there could be from five to seven bedrooms in just 2,000 square feet of living space.
“My concern is we are going to get three of those built at 60 N. Shore Drive,” Webb said. “That’s 18 bedrooms.”
“Unlike in Holmes Beach, we don’t want these popping up all over the place,” SueLynn said, as she proposed an immediate moratorium on new residential construction.
Webb said the city should really narrow the focus of the moratorium, and suggested several things the city should do to limit such construction.
Among those were ensuring a single-family home is not planned to be a vacation rental, avoiding licensing by the state and Manatee County. The city should also establish a licensing procedure and inspect all permit applications to determine if the construction is for a vacation rental or family residence.
Webb said the city codes and other measures should be employed to halt rental home construction, but SueLynn and Woodland argued for the moratorium first, while solutions could come later.
“Just focus on the moratorium,” at this time, she said.
The moratorium extends to all new single-family construction, or any construction or remodeling that could increase the number of bedrooms in a residence.
City attorney Jim Dye agreed the city had justification for an immediate moratorium, but cautioned the city to attack the problems quickly.
“There is an influx of homes in the city that are threatening the residential use of the city and the city is going to examine its codes to determine what can be done. I think you have justification,” he said.
“Just have the building official inform applicants that ‘zoning in progress’ is under way in the city, and justify what you are doing in the moratorium ordinance,” Dye said.
“But don’t stick it on the shelf. Come back with a specific date” to complete the solutions, he added.
Developer Mike Coleman, however, said he had just spoken with a Holmes Beach developer about the three lots on North Shore Drive.
“He said he had no plans for any multi-bedroom residence, that they were all for single-family residences,” Coleman said.
He said some developers and builders in Anna Maria already were building large residences.
Dye said he would have the moratorium ordinance ready for a first reading March 8.
Shawn Kaleta of Beach-to-Bay Construction in Holmes Beach wants to set the record straight about his projects in Holmes Beach, and his involvement with 60 N. Shore Drive in Anna Maria.
He’s concerned that Anna Maria city commissioners enacted a moratorium at their Feb. 24 meeting on construction of new single-family residences over fears the three lots at 60 N. Shore Drive will be developed into multi-bedroom vacation rentals.
Kaleta said that is “absolutely not the case.”
Kaleta said he owns 10 percent of MEK Properties LLC, the company that bought the lots, and they are being marketed to people who plan to live in Anna Maria.
“We’ve already sold one lot to a couple from Tampa who are retiring here. The real estate agent told us the owner has no plans for a rental, but wants to retire in peace and quiet, ” said Kaleta.
The remaining two lots are being sold for single-family homes, Kaleta said, adding it’s “absolutely untrue” that his company is planning houses in Anna Maria that can be turned into vacation rentals accommodating several families or large groups of people at one time.
“I know some people in Anna Maria don’t believe me, but I live in Anna Maria and I love the old Florida atmosphere. I will do what I can to preserve that,” he said.
Considering the current economic climate, Kaleta said, now is “not the time for a building moratorium.”
He noted that no Anna Maria commissioners contacted him about the plans for North Shore Drive. He assumes they made assumptions based on rumor, not fact.
Kaleta said he’s only done three construction projects in Anna Maria the past few years and he is not involved in any way in the project at 207 Palm Ave.
It’s just another assumption some people have made about him and his company without meeting or talking with him, he said.
“I wish people would call me. I’m part of the community. I want to help the community center and the city. My family bought the old Moss cottage on Willow Avenue and we are going to preserve it, not demolish it.
“We could build a new house or develop multiple homes there, but we’re not. We want to keep Anna Maria as much old Florida as possible, given the restraints (Federal Emergency Management Agency) has in place.”
Some Holmes Beach residents publicly chastised him at a commission meeting last year for construction of multi-bedroom duplexes.
But, Kaleta says, since that happened, he has tried to explain his company only built what the owners wanted and what was allowed by city code.
It’s not up to him to judge what the owners intend to do with their structure when they hire him to build, he said.
He said more than 90 percent of homes his company built in 2011 — some 40 projects — were four bedrooms or less.
“It’s what the owners wanted. If I didn’t build it, someone else would. It’s the city codes that determine if what they wanted could be built.”
Any complaints about loud parties and multiple people at a vacation rental should be directed to the owner or rental agent, not the contractor, he said.
He has partnered on some ventures with Steve Hanson, who markets vacation properties, but he is not presently working with Hanson.
Hanson owns Modus Operandi Construction LLC, which is building a residence in Anna Maria.
Kaleta invites people to call him at Beach-to-Bay Construction about his projects and properties.
He says he is not responsible for the construction style of a residence, the number of bedrooms permitted in any Holmes Beach or Anna Maria residential construction, or the rental of vacation properties. Those are city issues.
Kaleta says he builds projects to suit the owner, and the market is driving the changes on Anna Maria Island, not the builders.
For a third time, Bradenton Beach commissioners will hear a request to approve a special event permit for the Gulf Drive Market at the Gulf Drive Cafe & Tiki, 900 Gulf Drive N.
The request would renew market operations every Sunday beginning March 4 through the end of December.
Two previous attempts to extend market operations have failed, the most recent being Feb. 2. On both occasions, citizens flooded Bradenton Beach City Hall to speak on supporting or opposing the market, which had initially been allowed in November last year for a 60-day trial period.
Complaints of traffic delays combined with safety issues have been the concerns of those opposed to the market continuing on Gulf Drive. Some citizens said they weren’t opposed to the market, but would like to see it operate somewhere other than the high-traffic area of Gulf Drive at the Cafe.
Following the Feb. 2, 4-1 vote to deny the permit, cafe manager Pete Barreda said he would not renew his effort to continue the market.
“I want to first and foremost thank the vendors for their hard work,” said Barreda after the Feb. 2 denial. “I think at this point, I’ll just let the issue die.”
But Barreda has submitted the permit application for the commissioners to once again consider the weekly markets at their 7 p.m., Thursday, March 1, meeting at city hall, 107 Gulf Drive N., Bradenton Beach.
The Florida Institute for Saltwater Heritage board of directors will hold elections for four seats at 7 p.m. Monday, March 5, at Fishermen’s Hall, 4515 124th St. W., Cortez.
The meeting is the board’s annual election for FISH dues-paying members to vote on those willing to serve on the board, which oversees the 95-acre preserve and organizes the annual Cortez Commercial Fishing Festival.
The FISH board is a 15-member board. It holds annual elections for board seats on a rotating basis. This year there are four seats up for election and five nominees have been chosen by the board’s nomination committee.
Existing board members up for re-election include John Banyas, Kim McVey, Jane von Hahmann and Holmes Beach Commissioner David Zaccagnino. Also vying for one of the seats is Marshall Fischer.
Banyas was born and raised in Cortez. He is a fisher and owns the Cortez Bait and Seafood, N.E. Taylor Boatworks and the Swordfish Grill Restaurant.
McVey is the current president of the FISH board and is a native Cortezian. She is vice-president of the Cortez Bait and Seafood.
Von Hahmann is employed by the Manatee County School District, Manatee Technical Institute, and a former county commissioner. She has been a resident of Cortez for 34 years and currently serves as the board’s treasurer.
Zaccagniono is a Holmes Beach city commissioner. He is a financial planner and is the board’s vice-president.
Looking to take one of the four existing seats is newcomer Fischer, a University of Southern Florida student who will graduate this year. Fischer has been a volunteer in the FISH boat shop and also assists with preserve restoration. He serves on the steering committee for the Turner Maritime Challenge.
The election is open to all dues-paying members of FISH. Those who are not up to date on their dues will not be allowed to vote at the meeting.
According to McVey, the meeting will consist of electing new board members followed by the election of officers. McVey and von Hahmann, if re-elected, are seeking to retain their officer positions.
Board secretary Joe Kane is not up for re-election, but also is seeking to remain as secretary. Deb Ibasfalean and Bob Landry have been nominated for the vice-president position.
At the meeting, members also will discuss ongoing FISH efforts, according to McVey.
“As FISH continues with our mission of protecting and preserving our community’s heritage and environment, as well as the way of life of one of Florida’s few remaining fishing villages, we have also been facing the demands of keeping our nonprofit organization financially solid while looking to the future,” she stated in a letter to FISH members.
As tourism numbers break records on Anna Maria Island, so goes the traffic in Holmes Beach, the most central and largest of the three Island municipalities.
The Holmes Beach Police Department is hoping to get the word out to motoring residents and visitors alike to plan ahead, be patient and careful, and avoid accidents.
HBPD Lt. Dale Stephenson recalled two accidents last year, one where two people on bicycles were hit by a motorist near the Kingfish Boat Ramp, and another where a motorist side swiped a bicyclist.
“This time of year, the big problem are motorists passing on the right, going off road, into the bike lane,” said Stephenson. “It’s a huge issue and violation of state statute,” he added.
State laws prohibit a driver from driving off the pavement or main-traveled portion of the lane/roadway to pass on the right. They also require drivers pass bicyclists at a safe distance — allowing no less than 3 feet between the vehicle and the bicycle. An infraction is a noncriminal traffic violation, but punishable as a moving violation.
“Nobody wants to wait,” Stephenson acknowledged. “But people just need to remember at this time of the year, if you need to go into town, to leave five to10 minutes early, and understand there’s going to be a back up.”
He also reminded bicyclists to ride in the same direction as traffic, and to exercise common sense and caution while biking.
Lucy and Polo pace near the outfield gate Feb 21 as a team of young ballplayers practice behind the new signup board at Birdie Tebbetts Field. A sign on the fence prohibits dogs during ball playing activities at the city’s ball field, 62nd Avenue and Flotilla Drive. Islander Photo: Kathy Prucnell
As city commissioners look into a fence to separate the ball field and dog owners exercising their pets, more ball players and pet owners are making use of Birdie Tebbetts Field, 62nd Street and Flotilla Drive.
Dog owners and their pets have been the primary field users for several years, with 30 to 50 dog owners per day estimated to be using the field to exercise their dogs.
However, ball players are turning up with more frequency after dog owners last month asked Holmes Beach city commissioners for a policy change to allow them to use the field.
An organized softball game was held at the field Feb. 18 and some dog owners say there was plenty of notice of that event for them to make adjustments.
At other times, a parent and a player or two arrive to use the field, or teams use the field for practice without any notice, leaving dog owners with few options. A sign at the field states, “No dogs permitted during ball-playing activities.”
Some of the dog owners are approaching ball players or their parents to allow sharing the field, while others are avoiding any interaction.
One example came Feb. 21 when Steve Evans and his golden-doodle, Lucy, and Andre Renard, and his yorkie, Polo, yielded the field to a team of young men who came to hold a practice session.
Team organizer Loralie Helgeson said her husband’s team, Hammerhead Pools, was from G.T. Bray, and they were planning to practice.
According to G.T. Bray Park staff, however, the park does not organize sport leagues. The Manatee County parks department instead rents the fields to organizations.
Helgeson said the team plans to practice Tuesday and Thursday evenings at Birdie Tebbetts Field during their season. She said they were told about the field’s availability by a relative residing at Westbay Point & Moorings.
“It’s the next war on the Island,” said Renard, referring to the city commission’s ongoing ball park-dog park discussion.
Evans said commissioners appeared to be working on a solution, and he likes the “idea of a (dog) park on the perimeter.” But he also found merit in not changing anything.
Evans and Renard noted the increased use by ball players from off the Island. Both agreed it would be nice to have notice of any baseball practices or games.
To address such conflicts, the city last month posted new signup boards for ball players. While commissioners discussed having players sign in with the police or city hall, there is yet no policy.
The Feb. 18 Pros vs. Girls game poster is the only event posted at the field thus far.
At a Jan. 31 work session, Commission Chair David Zaccagnino recommended a redesigned field, separating the ball field and creating a fenced-in area for dogs. City staff have been looking into the costs associated with the shared-use proposal.
Last week the city received an $8,291 estimate for a 490-foot-long fence, providing a 28- to 35-foot-wide fenced-in dog exercise area, according to Holmes Beach public works director Joe Duennes
Duennes and Scott Dell, an assistant director of the Anna Maria Island Community Center, walked the field recently, discussing the proposed modification.
“Why not leave it as multi-purpose as possible was the thought,” Dell said after the review with Duennes. It could be used for adult and children’s softball, kickball, as well as Little League baseball for ages 13 and under.
Dell said he favors a 40-foot-wide enclosed dog area, allowing for shade trees and other beautification measures.
Dell said the major cost would be the fence. All other changes could be done with volunteers, he said.
Some field adaptation would be needed, and a shortened field would bring second base into the grass, he said. But after first and third bases are installed, the bags could just be picked up and moved, according to Dell.
He also favored an adjustable dog exercise area.
“My family goes out there now to walk our dog all the time,” Dell said. “We’re always looking for shade when we go to parks, especially in the summer, when it’s hot.”
He said future plans could involve gates being cut for an expanded dog exercise area into the current parking lot area where the materials for an ongoing city stormwater project are located.
“It’s a win, win,” he said of the proposed modification. “I think it makes everyone happy.”
SIDE BAR #1
Liability concerns aired
It’s the elephant in the room.
What would happen if a dog park user was injured by a stray ball in a mixed-use park? What would happen if a ball player was hurt by a dog?
Holmes Beach Commission Chair David Zaccagnino said these are questions he’s afraid to ask. He’s proposed a redesigned ball park with a separate dog exercise area at Birdie Tebbetts Field to provide for dog owner needs and protect the city against liabilities.
Other commissioners shared their concerns Feb. 7 about the use of Birdie Tebbetts Field, 62nd Avenue and Flotilla Drive.
Commissioner Jean Peelen said in researching communities with recreational facilities, she’s learned “the worse thing you can have” is a dog park next to another highly-charged activity, and called for the commission to take an “up-down vote” at the next regular meeting.
Zacaggino countered, “the worse thing you can have is an insurance issue.”
Resident Socko Pearson pointed out that putting dog owners in a fenced area beyond the baseball outfield — homerun territory — would create “an accident waiting to happen.”
Ball park reservation policy
To reserve Birdie Tebbetts Field for baseball use, there’s a $40 fee, insurance requirements to be met and a registration form to fill out at city hall.
The city established a policy for the field in January 2007 to coordinate the use of the ball field with Anna Maria Island Community Center and Manatee County.
The policy outlines a procedure requiring the scheduling of games and practices. Registration is required with the city clerk, who is to manage the field schedule along with dates for upcoming festivals and other events on the open field.
There is no charge for practice games, but dates “do need to be cleared with the city clerk,” according to the policy statement.
The city’s public works department is to be notified by the clerk 48 hours in advance of a game to allow time to prepare the field. The department also is to be notified of scheduled practices.
Liability insurance coverage of $1 million is to be provided to the city for games and practices, and the city is to be named an additional insured.
The procedure with any Manatee County use of the field requires the county to provide special maintenance as necessary in accordance with an interlocal agreement.
Matthew S. Harrod
At approximately 2:20 p.m., Feb. 18, Holmes Beach police attempted to stop motorcycle rider Matthew S. Harrod, 21, of Bradenton, for not wearing proper eye protection.
The attempt to stop Harrod launched what police described as a reckless chase in which “the defendant willingly endangered lives of motorists and civilians by driving into bike lanes and in and out of vehicles,” according to the arrest report.
Police say Harrod apparently didn’t stop because his driver’s license is revoked. He admitted to police that his intention was to get away.
The chase started in the 5300 block of Marina Drive, Holmes Beach, and ended with Harrod being forced off the road when he attempted to crash into the arresting officer’s vehicle, in the 10000 block of Manatee Avenue.
According to the report, Harrod fled the traffic stop by driving at a high rate of speed into the bike lane, bypassing several vehicles. A second Holmes Beach police officer soon joined the chase.
As the chase neared the Anna Maria Island Bridge, Harrod crossed the double yellow line into oncoming traffic, “forcing vehicles off the roadway,” according to the report.
The second HBPD vehicle managed to get in front of Harrod but, upon crossing the bridge, Harrod accelerated and smacked the mirror of the lead patrol car, according to the report, which said Harrod then attempted to ram into the patrol car.
Harrod and the second patrol car exited the roadway, avoiding any collision. The chase ended with one patrol car and the motorcycle stuck in the mud. The arresting officer drew his weapon, at which point Harrod is reported to have laughed.
Harrod was charged with felony fleeing to elude. Holmes Beach Police Department also has filed a felony driving while driver’s license revoked for habitual offender charge. Misdemeanor charges also have been filed for failure to have the proper endorsement on a driver’s license for a motorcycle, and reckless driving.
Harrod was booked into the Manatee County jail after first being medically cleared at Manatee Memorial Hospital.
He is scheduled for arraignment March 16, and has tallied separate bonds on the multiple charges totaling approximately $8,000.
Sometimes one suspect leads to another. Such was the case for a Holmes Beach resident now facing a felony burglary charge.
Miles Hostetler, 19, of 6100 Marina Drive, Holmes Beach, was arrested on felony burglary charges at his residence by the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office Feb. 21.
Hostetler was implicated in a burglary to an unoccupied dwelling at 30th Street in Bradenton. Bond was set at $7,500. He was scheduled for arraignment March 23.
According to the arrest report, sheriff’s investigators arrested another man suspected of committing multiple burglaries. During the suspect’s interview, he implicated Hostetler and a third male as being involved with the 30th Street burglary.
Investigators made contact with the third suspect, who also implicated Hostetler, but later tried to deny his claims.
On Feb. 21, at approximately 9:45 p.m. investigators met with Hostetler.
Hostetler denied any involvement during the interview.
According to the report, investigators then played the interview tape from one of the other suspects, at which time, Hostetler “put his head down and looked defeated.”
Hostetler refused to cooperate further and he was booked into the Manatee County jail.
The Florida Department of Transportation repair project to the Longboat Pass Bridge/State Road 789 continues this week, but lane closures will be limited to 10 p.m.-6 a.m. Sunday through Thursday, a DOT press release said.
The contractor is working around the clock to finish the project by late spring, the DOT said in its release.
A ban on over-size vehicles using the bridge remains in effect. The contractor temporarily reduced the size of the travel lanes from 12 feet to 10 feet, requiring the prohibition on large vehicles.
Pedestrians can use the east sidewalk while work continues on the west sidewalk, the DOT stated. The west sidewalk is expected to open in about two weeks, the DOT said.
The draw will open for boaters on demand.
For safety reasons, the DOT said it has closed the nearby area on Greer Island — also known as Beer Can Island — to pedestrians and boaters during the construction project.
Completion of the project is expected in spring 2012.
The DOT also said it will perform routine maintenance work on the Cortez Bridge for the next several weeks, but no lane closures or disruption of traffic is expected. The mainenance project is expected to end in late March.
For the Cortez area, the DOT plans intermittent westbound lane closures at night on SR 684/Cortez Road from 127th Street West in Cortez to 51st Street West in Bradenton for repair and replacement of drainage inlets and pipes.
All work will take place 8:30 p.m.-6 a.m. weekdays, and the project should finish by April 30, the DOT said.
Workers from Florida Dock & Dredge were busy on the shoreline north of the Anna Maria City Pier last week, spreading sand dredged and pumped from the West Coast Inland Navigation District Bimini Bay project. The additional sand will extend the shoreline about 10-20 feet into Tampa Bay. Islander Photo: Rick Catlin
The Tampa Bay shoreline on the north and south sides of the Anna Maria City Pier is the beneficiary of a West Coast Inland Navigation District dredging project that is clearing the Bimini Bay channel of excess sand and fill and pumping it to the city pier.
The project began Feb. 9 and the addition of sand to the south side of the pier has finished. Crews from Florida Dock & Dredge are now pumping sand along a pipeline to the north shoreline of the city pier.
When completed, said Anna Maria public works director George McKay, the additional sand will extend the shoreline into Tampa Bay about 10-20 feet.
The permit authorizes Florida Dock & Dredge to dispose of the dredged sand on about 500 feet of shoreline from the Lake LaVista jetty southward to the end of the city pier parking lot.
The project will not extend north of the Lake LaVista inlet, according to the permit approved by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
WCIND said in a press release it took several core samples from Bimini Bay before the dredging began to ensure the dredged material showed “compatibility with the maintenance dredge footprint.”
The samples were sent to the DEP for approval as beach-quality material before dredging began, the press release said. WCIND authorized the city to receive the sand at no charge as part of the project.
If the weather remains favorable, the project will be completed by late February, McKay said.