Tag Archives: 01-09-2013
Annie Weir, left, of Dogs for the Earth and Art for the Earth, with help from Tiffany, presents a check to Roser Food Pantry volunteers Mary Selby, center, and Pam Leckie.
I came to be acquainted with the Roser Food Pantry in its humble beginnings, while delivering food to a tiny closet in a hallway between the chapel and sanctuary at Roser Memorial Community Church.
More recently, I sent someone in need for help, first to the food pantry and also to All Island Denominations — the interfaith group representing all the churches on Anna Maria Island.
The individual and his situation were properly vetted and he received much needed aid. He was so pleased to have groceries to help him through his economic hard times and someone to console his depression, he came to The Islander office many times to express his appreciation.
While we don’t all see the benefits of our work, the Roser Food Pantry and its chair Pam Leckie — who literally brought the pantry out of the closet — can be most proud of their assistance to needy islanders.
The pantry started about 2004. When Leckie took over in 2009, they were just about to move into the new pantry facility across from the chapel on Pine Avenue. It opened in spring of 2010.
While the numbers for 2012 aren’t yet known, in 2011 they distributed almost 1,500 bags of food. Each recipient also receives a gift card to purchase fresh foods.
Leckie and her volunteers, from food packers to beggars for donations, are among the best.
Leckie says she tries to write thank-you notes for donations, but so many are small or anonymous, that she wishes to publicly thank any she might have missed, and she “relies on The Islander to help fill that need … and to keep the pantry in people’s minds.”
On behalf of those who benefit and those who can’t find the words to properly say thank you on their behalf, the food pantry and Leckie are our choice for Islander of the Year 2012.
We thank you many times over.
The city of Bradenton Beach can start the new year knowing at least one of the two lawsuits the city is engaged in may soon come to an amicable end.
“There’s a basic agreement between all parties,” Holmes Beach Carmel Monti told The Islander.
City attorney Ricinda Perry provided commissioners with an update on the lawsuit filed against the city by Holmes Beach regarding the contested Sandpiper Resort quitclaim deed.
Holmes Beach filed the lawsuit in May 2012 seeking to void a 2008 quitclaim deed to Sandpiper Resort from Bradenton Beach and removal of gates and private property signs installed by Sandpiper to block access to the beach and mobile home park.
“Essentially what happened is that we were successful in our claim that Holmes Beach did not have legal standing as presented in their complaint,” said Perry. “However, the court agreed that Holmes Beach should have an opportunity to amend their complaint and they went ahead and filed the amended version.”
Perry said the amended complaint appeared similar to the one the court already rejected.
“However, the slow process of the court and because of the holidays, the court has not yet ruled, but what was happening behind the scenes was a lot of discussion between the future elected to be officials of Holmes Beach and our mayor,” the attorney said.
Perry explained that Mayor John Shaughnessy “took it upon himself” to engage newly elected Holmes Beach officials in discussion and the city’s desire to settle the lawsuit that Bradenton Beach maintains should have never been filed.
“What flowed from that is Holmes Beach had a meeting and proposed a number of ways they would be satisfied and are seeking settlement,” said Perry. “Nobody is happy with the costs they have had to spend, which is, in my opinion, unfortunate.”
Perry said Holmes Beach wants an easement to address drainage issues, but that issue is between Holmes Beach and Sandpiper.
Shaughnessy, a resident at Sandpiper, said the Sandpiper board has agreed to the easement.
Perry also said Holmes Beach wants Sandpiper to allow beach access for pedestrians and bicycles.
“The contentious issue was in regard to golf carts whipping through there in a dangerous manner,” said Perry. “So I don’t see a problem with that, but again, that’s not something the city can control. It’s up to Sandpiper.”
Thirdly, Perry said, Holmes Beach wants private property signs removed and to have public access signs installed, as well as the removal of all locked gates.
“But again, these are issues to be dealt with by Sandpiper, not the city,” she said.
Perry said upon a settlement agreement, all claims and counter claims from all parties would be dismissed.
However, she said there was one segment of the agreement that did affect the city.
“We had asked a year ago if we could bind all future decisions,” said Perry. “We relied on them saying they wouldn’t sue and they changed their minds. The agreement also stipulates that all parties absorb their own fees.”
Perry said the agreement would dismiss the lawsuit with prejudice, meaning that once settled, no more lawsuits could be filed in regard to this matter.
“My understanding is that Holmes Beach, Sandpiper and our city wish to bring this to a close,” said Perry. “We don’t want to spend any more money, energy and time on this. If you have a consensus that the terms of this agreement are acceptable, we will start to draw up the agreement.”
Shaughnessy and Commissioner Gay Breuler did not participate in the consensus, because they were recused from voting as residents of Sandpiper. However, the remaining commissioners agreed to the terms solely related to the city.
“I’m comfortable with it,” said Commissioner Ric Gatehouse. “With the new administration in Holmes Beach, I think it’s incumbent for us to start with goodwill and start on a fresh note. My only concern is the binding aspect. I don’t want to do this again in two years, but I understand the dismissal with prejudice addresses that.”
Commissioner Jan Vosburgh and Vice Mayor Ed Straight also agreed and commissioners thanked Shaughnessy for “going above and beyond” in fostering good relations with the new Holmes Beach administration.
“I will make sure, from the city’s perspective, that we come to a settlement,” Perry said.
Once settled, the city still faces a lawsuit filed by three Bradenton Beach citizens over the city’s decision to enter into a joint development agreement with ELRA Inc., the corporate entity of the Ed Chiles restaurant group.
The suit was filed to prevent a dune/parking lot from being developed across from city hall and next to the BeachHouse Restaurant.
The plaintiffs claim the development project violates the city charter, land development codes and comprehensive plan.
“I have no update on the other litigation,” said Perry. “Unfortunately, there has been no real movement. Nothing in the court system and no real settlement proposal has come before me.”
An offer of arbitration was made by one of the plaintiffs in October, but Perry said the city would only consider mediation.
In other city attorney matters, Perry said she talked to department heads about a detailed job description of each city employee. The work is “on track and should be available by the first of next month.”
While the terms of a proposed settlement are uncertain, Holmes Beach Mayor Carmel Monti extended the olive branch to Sandpiper Co-op Resort Inc. and the city of Bradenton Beach in an attempt to settle the ongoing boundary dispute.
“I’ve spoken to the Sandpiper and the mayor of Bradenton Beach, and they’re to vote on it and get back to me. There’s a basic agreement between all parties,” he said.
Monti declined to give any specifics of the proposed agreement.
Holmes Beach filed the lawsuit in May asking the court to declare public the part of 27th Street east of Gulf Drive ending at Sarasota Bay. The undeveloped street divides the city of Holmes Beach and the Sandpiper Resort, a mobile home cooperative in Bradenton Beach.
The lawsuit also seeks a court order requiring the Sandpiper to remove gates and private property signs from its fence, and to remove part of the fence for access by residents of adjoining properties in Holmes Beach.
The Holmes Beach City Commission met Dec. 11 in a shade meeting to discuss settlement of the suit.
“I think they’ve always been willing to settle,” said Commission Chair Jean Peelen about Bradenton Beach and Sandpiper.
She blamed the failure of prior settlement talks on the city of Holmes Beach — before the Nov. 6 election of two new commissioners and a new mayor — for insisting it be given part of the right of way.
“They killed that part of the deal — that’s off the table,” Peelen said. She understood the city still wants drainage and beach access and “unlockable” gates.
“I hope it’s on its way to settlement. I surely do,” Peelen added.
For 2013, Anna Maria commissioners and the mayor want to continue the past two years of workable, compromising commission in good spirit.
Mayor SueLynn, who also served as mayor 2002-06, remembers past days of name-calling and hurtful allegations from commissioners and the public.
“Thankfully, we have put that behind us,” she said.
“What I’m looking for this year is continuing to work for a balance in the community. We need a balance among residents, business owners and visitors.”
The balance requires mutual respect for people.
She believes the city has made strides in code enforcement, especially loud residential disturbances after 10 p.m. and commercial construction on weekends and holidays.
That’s not to say all the city problems are solved, SueLynn said.
“We’ve made a start, a beginning, with a great staff, commissioners who discuss issues in a proper manner and are willing to compromise, and people who are searching for answers to achieve that balance.”
Finding and maintaining that balance is not easy, she said. Anna Maria is primarily a residential community with a small business district along Pine Avenue and a portion of Gulf Drive.
However, the Anna Maria City Pier is Manatee County’s No. 1 attraction for visitors and thousands come every year, the mayor said.
Additionally, the city’s beaches, Bean Point and Bayfront Park attract many people, particularly on weekends and holidays. This puts a strain on residents and the city’s infrastructure, SueLynn observed.
“We are always going to have visitors,” she said. “We just need solutions to deal with them and protect our residents.”
One of her resolutions for 2013 is to ask the Manatee County Tourist Development Council or the county commission for financial assistance, she said.
“One of my main goals for the year is to get the county to recognize the attraction of Anna Maria and the city pier and provide some funding for pier improvements. It’s what brings people to our city, and I’m going to each TDC meeting and plead our case,” she said.
The island cities provide millions of dollars in resort taxes to the county each year, yet it’s mainly only beach renourishment that brings a portion of the resort tax directly back to Anna Maria and the island, she added.
Another 2013 wish from the mayor is to study why people are moving out of Anna Maria and what the city might do to encourage residents to stay.
“It’s going to be a great year in Anna Maria,” she said.
Commissioner Gene Aubry
Aubry agrees there will be peace and tranquility on the commission for 2013, and there will be accomplishments.
“Just look at our last commission meeting. We had a relaxed atmosphere of thoughtful discussion. Not everybody agreed with each other, but there was a lot of respect among commissioners up there on the dais. That’s what I’m looking to continue in 2013. We’ll get a lot accomplished,” Aubry said.
He has no personal agenda for the coming year, just for the commission to continue to work to make Anna Maria a better city for everyone.
Commission Chair John Quam
“My hopes are that further regulations will be adopted to control building coverage based on lot size and limit residential parking based on the number of bedrooms, for new construction.
“I also wish to re-zone the six lots at the corner of Pine and North Bay and move forward with a plan to make it a recreation/open space area for the public’s use.
“Finally, I wish that TDC would allocate some of the tourist tax collected from Anna Maria property owners to the city for maintenance/repair of our infrastructure or for repair of the city pier,” Quam said.
Commissioner Dale Woodland
“My wish is that our residents, visitors and community would appreciate how blessed we are and each do what we can to preserve and protect it for future generations,” Woodland said.
Commissioner Nancy Yetter
Yetter sees a bright future ahead for the city and commission.
“I see a tremendous amount of energy among commissioners, and a lot of thoughtful discussion. My resolution for 2013 is to work as hard as I can for the city and find peaceful solutions for our issues. I know there will always be issues, but we will keep working to solve them, and do so respecting everyone’s opinion,” she said.
Yetter said the commission has come a long way the past three years in solving issues and addressing problems.
Bradenton Beach Mayor John Shaughnessy shares an emotional New Year wish for the city while presiding over the first commission meeting of 2013. He spent the holidays with his family in Connecticut, the state where the mass shooting occurred. Islander Photo: Mark Young
Bradenton Beach Mayor John Shaughnessy recently returned from the holidays visiting family in Connecticut, the state that drew a nation’s mourning over the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting that claimed the lives of 26.
At a Jan. 3 city meeting, an emotional Shaughnessy gave new perspective to a new year’s wish.
“We are all raised on the idea of pursuit of happiness,” said Shaughnessy. “But it suggests that happiness is something for our future, something that we have to chase, to climb toward or race to or earn it in some struggling way.”
Shaughnessy said after spending Christmas with his family in Connecticut, he was reminded of how precious life can be.
“We are looking at happiness in the face right here, that we were spared that horror that took place in Connecticut,” he said. “We are holding our happiness in our hands whether we realize it or not. We are breathing it as a gesture from someone else, a slanting of light and the joy of peace that comes to us all too infrequently and far between.”
Shaughnessy said even with the negativity and frustration that exists in the country today, “there are so many reasons for us to be happy at the beach. All we have to do is reach out, take a few moments each day to look around us and realize how lucky we are to live here in Bradenton Beach and how short life really is, and we don’t know what tomorrow will bring.”
Shaughnessy wished a healthy and prosperous new year to citizens.
“That we will all strive in the new year to bring an atmosphere of cooperation, positive thinking and friendliness to our paradise and leave the negativity back in 2012,” he said.
Commissioner Jan Vosburgh
“My new year wish for the city is that we continue to improve and beautify our city for both our citizens and welcomed visitors. That we continue to watch the expense of the city and treat it as if it were our own money and be as prudent as possible to spend it wisely.
“That we treat our visitors with respect and be hospitable to their needs because they help pay our bills.”
Police Chief Sam Speciale
“My new year’s wish for the city may sound cliché, but it is nonetheless true in hoping everyone has a safe and prosperous new year and that everyone’s families stay healthy and safe.”
Commissioner Gay Breuler
“I’d like to see our two lawsuits finished. I also have a wonderful project going on for the city’s gateway and it looks like it’s going to happen shortly. I’m putting a lot of my attention toward projects that will benefit the city.”
Commissioner Ric Gatehouse
“My biggest wish for 2013 is that we can resolve some of the more contentious issues and put them behind us so we may get to the work of the people. I hope that everyone has a happy and prosperous new year.”
Vice Mayor Ed Straight
Vice Mayor Ed Straight did not respond to an email request for a new year wish as of press time for The Islander.
Newly elected Holmes Beach Mayor Carmel Monti and city commissioners are pretty much in agreement about their wishes to start 2013.
For the new year, they all want peace and harmony to reign over the city’s building issues.
“After we get our hands wrapped around the building issues, and there’s peace and harmony, I hope we can strike a balance between residents and rentals,” Monti said.
He pointed to the 20 percent loss of residents since 2000 in all three island cities, and hopes more people will live in the city and participate in the community.
“I know people who are moving out or planning to move out because of the character changing,” Monti said, adding he wants to stop the community from becoming resort-dominated like Daytona Beach or Siesta Key.
As for his wishes during his term of office, he said he’d like to see an emphasis toward a pedestrian-friendly community, with crosswalks and traffic circles, and grant money to fund the downtown development.
“Right now, I feel like Holmes Beach is just a drive through town. We don’t have a Bridge Street or a Pine (Avenue),” Monti said, referring to Bradenton Beach and Anna Maria downtown areas.
As for his own wishes, he wants to combine good business sense with government.
“I don’t want the government to run us. I want the people to run the government,” Monti said. “I want to think out of the box. If it’s for the betterment of Holmes Beach, and not immoral or illegal, tell me how it can be done.”
Commission Chair Jean Peelen
“For the city, I would like a complete commitment to retaining our lovely, old Florida town — our quirky city,” Peelen said.
Until the end of her term in office in 2013 — and she’s undecided about running for another two years — she wants to continue her commitment to the city.
She also hopes for good health for herself, family and friends.
Commissioner David Zaccagnino
“I really want to work on our downtown area and make it a better place — more pedestrian friendly to help the small businesses and shops.”
He also is looking forward to working on the charter in 2013.
As far as his own wishes, he said, “I’ve got everything I want.”
Commissioner Judy Titsworth
Newcomer to the commission in November, Titsworth agrees with a need for balance in the Residential-2 zone.
She also hopes for a renewed sense of community, which, she says, will come from confidence in city leaders who work for the people within the vision established by the city’s fathers.
She also wants to make certain the city’s land development code is consistent with its comprehensive plan.
For herself, she’s wishing for “continued strength in dealing with adversaries in order to fight for what is right for the city of Holmes Beach, for its businesses, and for its residents.”
Commissioner Marvin Grossman
Elected Nov. 6 for his first two-year term, Grossman wants to fulfill all of his promises from the election, and “make citizens feel like they have a voice in the government.”
He hopes to encourage future residents with community building activities.
“I see Holmes Beach as a residential community that welcomes visitors to share the island’s natural beauty,” Grossman said. “We have to remember why we came here. When we crossed the bridge, we saw a place you can actually live in. Not a tourist resort.”
For himself in 2013 and for his term in office, he hopes to spend his “complete energy” on giving back to the city because he enjoys it.
The Anna Maria Charter Review Committee got back to work in the new year with a discussion Jan. 2 of extraordinary situations the city could face in the future.
Member Jim Bennington said after all that’s happened in the past two years, discussing the extraordinary is needed. He was referring to the 2009 recall election of a city commissioner and the Nov. 6, 2012, election, when, lacking a candidate for mayor, the commission appointed a mayor from its five-member board and then became split on the appointment of a commissioner to fill the fifth seat.
Committee chair Howard Payne said, “Considering how long I’ve lived here,” nothing the city commission does would surprise him.
One extraordinary circumstance would be if all five commissioners were “unable or unwilling to serve,” said member Tom Breiter. That would leave five seats open on the commission.
Breiter proposed that in such an event, the governor should appoint five people to the commission and their first order of business would be to hold a special election for all vacant seats, with the top five vote-getters taking office.
Committee members agreed with the recommendation, but adviser Tom Aposporos said what’s more likely to happen is that the commission would have only one or two members, not enough for a quorum.
Payne, however, said jokingly that he knew enough “ornery people” in Anna Maria who might just walk off a commission en mass if they were unhappy.
City attorney Jim Dye said the commission must have three members to conduct business, otherwise, it can’t really hold a meeting or pass ordinances or resolutions. He said in such an event, the city would look to the governor to appoint a commissioner to make a quorum. The three commissioners might then appoint two people to fill the remaining vacancies until the next election cycle, or the city could hold a special election for the two seats. The governor might also appoint three people as interim commissioners until the next election cycle.
“You can’t run the city with only two people” on the commission, Dye said.
Breiter suggested two commissioners might appoint a third commissioner, but Dye pointed out that a commission with just two members is not a quorum and has no charter authority to appoint a third member, unless the people of Anna Maria want to allow that in a charter revision.
Breiter was concerned that on a three-member commission, two pro-development commissioners could pass legislation against the vote of the third commissioner.
Aposporos noted that the charter requires a “majority vote of commissioners,” meaning three “yes” votes to pass an ordinance, approve a site plan or resolution. All three would have to vote “yes” or “no” for an issue to pass or fail.
Breiter said he would write a recommendation on what should be in the charter in the event there is less than a majority of commissioners and bring it to the next meeting for discussion.
Dye said it’s a matter of policy if the city wants to involve the governor in appointing a commissioner, but the county should be removed from consideration. He said asking the governor to appoint a commissioner is the “usual process,” when a charter does not have a method for replacing a commissioner who leaves office before completion of his or her term.
Aposporos cited the recent appointment of a Sarasota County commissioner by the governor as precedent for gubernatorial power.
Dye said he would research the governor’s power to appoint local officials and report at the next meeting.
The committee also dealt with the removal of the commission chair.
Bennington recommended that it take four commissioners to remove the chair, and the vice chair would then take the position. The former chair would remain a commissioner. Payne liked the recommendation, but said to “put it on the back burner for now.”
Breiter noted all the discussion issues were about “extreme circumstances,” but they need to be addressed in the charter.
Dye said the issues “sound like a John D. McDonald novel,” but they need to be discussed.
The committee will next meet at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, Jan 16, at Anna Maria City Hall, 10005 Gulf Drive.
A fisher works his catch at the Historic Bridge Street Pier in Bradenton Beach. The railings have been freshened up with new paint as the city maintains a holding pattern on the pier reconstruction. Islander Photo: Mark Young
The Bradenton Beach city pier team doubled its scheduled meetings last fall with expectations high that a reconstruction project was close to getting started.
Contract negotiations, stalled by insurance concerns with Sago & Sago Engineering led to the city authorizing a request for proposal to find a new engineering firm for the project.
Sago & Sago had been awarded the work based on its service on a previous project.
In November, commissioners authorized the RFP and, last month, ZNS Engineering’s bid was approved by commissioners, but contract negotiations continue with ZNS.
“I expect we should hear something soon,” building official Steve Gilbert told the pier team Jan. 3.
In the meantime, the pier team suspended its semimonthly meetings in favor of returning to monthly meetings until the project can move forward.
The project will consist of replacing 151 pilings and the pier’s wood deck.
Police Chief Sam Speciale asked for the team’s consensus, saying there is no reason to double the meeting schedule until the reconstruction work is ready to begin and the committee agreed.
“We started doing the second meeting because we were getting ready to roll on this project,” he said.
The pier team resumed regular business of the Historic Bridge Street Pier with mostly maintenance updates. Public works director Tom Woodard said maintenance issues were minor.
“Things are looking pretty good at the pier,” he said. “Haven’t had any major issues. Some of the rope lights we put up by the clock tower went out, so I unplugged them all until I can get a lift in there and replace the bad ones.”
Woodard said it was unsightly with only half the lights working, but wanted the pier team members to know he was working on the problem.
“We have also done some regular maintenance to the pier, such as painting the railings and picnic tables,” he said.
Woodard said the replacement of the adjacent floating dock “remains in a holding a pattern, so the dock is still closed. We’ve had to run a few people off. Someone had parked a 53-foot yacht against the dock and people were climbing all over it.”
Gilbert said the Florida Department of Environmental Protection approved the floating dock repairs, but there is a new step to take in obtaining permits.
“We are still waiting on the Army Corps of Engineers,” he said. “We also haven’t heard back about FEMA redoing the paperwork. We turned all that in the second week of December to change it from replacement to mitigation.”
Gilbert said the Eighth Street South dock project also has been approved, but the city continues to wait on approval from the corps.
Corps approval is a recent obstacle to the delays. Gilbert said last month that DEP is no longer reviewing corps permits, so the process now has an additional agency to go through before permits are approved.
“Hopefully we will know something in the next week,” he said.
Gilbert questioned whether a new Eighth Street South dock would come under the overview of the pier team, “since it is being designed as a fishing pier.”
Speciale said it would be outside the reason the pier team was formed. He said only the Historic Bridge Street Pier, the floating dock and the dinghy dock across from the Bridgetender Inn and Dockside Bar were to remain under the guidance of the pier team.
The floating dock was closed early last year due to separating dock sections and damaged ballasts. A design flaw in the dock’s hinges was discovered as the culprit, but as the city made plans to replace the hinges, Tropical Storm Debby’s arrival in June damaged the dock further.
The dock replacement project was approved by FEMA due to storm damage, but the city wanted to continue with plans to modify the dock’s size. It will be reduced from nine sections to four or five, depending on the damage assessment when the work begins.
That decision is why it has gone from a replacement project to a mitigation project, which requires additional approval.
Commissioners wanted to have the pier project completed before tourist season, but recent discussions at city meetings now have commissioners discussing delaying the project until after tourist season.
The dock replacement, when approved, will not infringe upon pier operations. The city will move forward on that project when final approval is given. FEMA funding for the dock project already has been pledged.
Sisters Julia Mahanna, 6, and Isabella Mahanna, 8, visiting Anna Maria Island from Indianapolis, become mermaids as dad, Chris Mahanna, finishes an interactive sand sculpture on New Year’s Day. Islander Photos: Kathy Prucnell
An unknown artist left a sandy snake for Jan. 1 beachgoers to admire near the surf at Manatee Public Beach in Holmes Beach.
A common sea gull seems to smile approvingly New Year’s Day at the beach in Holmes Beach.
A sand turtle dons a new year’s greeting on the beach between Anna Maria and Holmes Beach.
Holmes Beach building official John Fernandez, consulting for the city since July, recently severed his contractual ties with the city. Islander Photo: Kathy Prucnell
Holmes Beach building official John Fernandez severed contractual ties with the city effective Dec. 26, leaving no one at city hall to sign permits.
In a letter to Mayor Carmel Monti dated Dec. 19, Fernandez said he’d fulfilled the intent of the short-term position for which he was hired, and offered to help the city in the future as a citizen if needed.
“I feel the department and the city have all bases covered with three options,” Monti said about Fernandez’s departure and a state requirement that a certified building official city-issued building permits and plans.
“First of all,” Monti said, “We don’t need someone on staff. We have (public works superintendent and building official) Joe Duennes until February. We can use him.”
He said Duennes already has signed off on permits in progress.
Duennes tendered his termination letter in November to then-mayor Rich Bohnenberger. While Duennes’ last day was Nov. 16, he is on the city’s payroll until mid-February, using up accumulated time off.
Monti said other options include asking Manatee County for assistance and possibly hiring a building consulting firm, such as the one used by Anna Maria and Bradenton Beach.
Commission Chair Jean Peelen said she understood the city of Anna Maria offered to assist Holmes Beach “if it was in a pinch.”
Commissioner David Zaccagnino said the best option was asking Manatee County for help.
Bohnenberger hired Fernandez as a consultant July 1 to assist on Federal Emergency Management Agency issues.
In a letter dated June 25, Fernandez agreed to perform services until Sept. 30 at a rate of $32 an hour, not to exceed 65 hours. Fernandez said he worked more than 36 hours a month, and also donated some time.
“The reason I came aboard originally was to sort of keep things going while Joe was here, and to help out with people on vacation,” Fernandez said, adding, “It turned into more hours than I really wanted.”
Last week, building clerk Susan Lonzo said she spoke to Duennes, and he agreed to lend his signature to meet the state’s requirements for city building plans.
Florida’s Business and Professional Regulation director of communications Sandi Copes Poreda agreed with the arrangement.
“It is our understanding that Mr. Duennes is the building official until his departure in February,” she said. “The statutes and rules do not mandate the hours a building official must be on duty.”
As of The Islander press time, Duennes did not return a phone call for comment.
Interim building inspector needs certification
Interim building inspector Tom O’Brien applied Jan. 2 for a one-year, non-renewable provisional building code administrator’s certificate to enable him to sign city-issued building permits and plans.
The state of Florida requires a building code administrator or building official to supervise, direct, enforce or perform the permitting and inspection to ensure compliance with the Florida Building Code.
Monti supported O’Brien’s application with a Jan. 2 letter to the DBPR’s Building Code Administrators and Inspectors Board. He told the board the city had employed O’Brien as the interim director of building and zoning.
“The intent is that Mr. O’Brien will assume the duties of the retiring building official upon your approval of provisional certification as a building code administrator,” Monti wrote.
In his letter, Monti acknowledged O’Brien’s experience, including holding an architect license since 1990 and a certified building official in 1988 under a prior state licensing board, as consistent with the DBPR requirements.
For the provisional certification, the state board requires 10 years of experience as an architect or other building professional, with five years in supervisory position.
O’Brien was hired in November as a consultant on a four-month contract, with a formal search expected for a permanent replacement for public works superintendent Joe Duennes, who announced his last day Nov. 16.
At a Nov. 29 commission meeting, Commissioner David Zaccagnino pointed out the DBPR did not list O’Brien as having the proper building official certification.
O’Brien responded state law qualifies a licensed architect, such as himself, to perform building code inspection services and plans examination without additional certification.
City attorney Patricia Petruff then asked O’Brien to clarify the licensing interpretation with the DBPR.
According to DBPR’s Poreda, after Duennes leaves the city, “the city will need a licensed building code administrator, which is a separate license from an architecture license.”