Tag Archives: 02-06-2013

AME readers bond with therapy dogs

“Dogs make everyone feel good,” said Anna Maria Island Elementary School media specialist Lynne McDonough.

        And for the past four years on Monday mornings in AME’s media center, the school’s partnership with Therapy Dogs Inc. — including poodles, golden Labrador retrievers, mixed-breeds and others — has resulted in happy students and teachers.

        “I can’t wait to come in on Mondays,” McDonough said, adding that the second-semester program is open to all grades, depending on teacher and student needs.

        Before students stream into the media center to read Jan. 28, Alice Gross of Bradenton explains there are one- and three-day courses for handlers and their dogs, and tests required for dog obedience and temperament before TDI registers a new team.

        Then, books in hand, second-graders met five dogs and their handlers last week at the media center. Students either bee-lined to the nearest corner where a dog and owner awaited, or waited on-deck for the next available dog/handler team.

        Eventually the students all settled in and read aloud, stopping from time to time to pet, smile and rub their new canine friend.

        Therapy Dogs is a company that provides registration, support and insurance for more than 12,000 handler/dog teams who are involved in volunteer animal-assisted activities, including schools, hospitals and nursing homes, according to its website.

        For registration as a TDI dog/handler team, dogs must be at least 1-year-old, in good health with proper vaccines, groomed, mannered around other dogs and attentive to their handlers. Dogs must allow strangers to touch them all over, walk on a leash without pulling, not mind strange noises or smells, be calm enough for petting and not afraid of people who walk unsteadily, according to TDI’s website.

        Judging from smiles all around, the pups that visit AME regularly received good marks from students, teachers and their handlers.

        Gross said the handlers/dog teams who volunteer at AME also visit Palma Sola schools, Blake Medical Center and Emeritus in Bradenton.

        “This is his job,” she added, looking proudly at Champ. “I’m just his chauffer.”

AM halts homebuilding, lower height limit planned

The past week was a roller coaster ride for Anna Maria commissioners and residents. Some longtime residents said it’s just the city getting back to its wild and crazy past.

On Jan. 24, commissioners approved a motion to enforce a minimum of 30-day stay for vacation homes, among other limits.

Following an uproar from those who own vacation homes, commissioners held an emergency meeting Jan. 29 and rescinded the restriction. At the same meeting, commissioners agreed to meet weekly until they find solutions to the myriad issues surrounding rentals and new construction in the city.

The first of the weekly meetings took place Jan. 31 and commissioners reached a consensus for an immediate administrative moratorium on new construction, while city attorney Jim Dye prepares an ordinance to enact a moratorium.

Commissioner Nancy Yetter was not at the meeting, but she had sent an email asking that moratorium discussion be delayed.

The commission’s action preempted her request.

Commissioners agreed that building permit applications already “in the pipeline” at city hall would not be affected by the moratorium.

After hearing numerous residents plead for a reduction from the present 37 feet to a 27-foot building height restriction, commissioners agreed, telling city planner Alan Garrett to prepare an ordinance reducing the limit for future permitting, essentially eliminating new three-story homes.

Mayor SueLynn was concerned that would be considered a “taking” of property rights and, with city attorney Jim Dye absent, asked Commissioner Chuck Webb, an attorney, for his opinion.

Webb said “each case is different” and it would be difficult to give an opinion on how a height restriction might affect someone. Essentially, he said, a private citizen would have to prove the height limit resulted in “a taking” of his or her property rights.

If current building permit applications stay in the pipeline and the city moves fast with a new height ordinance, Webb said it would halt future mega-homes, but he could not definitively say the city would never be sued.

“It’s a case-by-case basis,” he said.

Future homes could also be limited to a living area of 40 percent of the lot size, said Garrett, and commissioners agreed. For a 5,000-square-foot lot, that would provide 2,000 square feet of living area, Garrett noted.

“That’s big enough,” said Commissioner Gene Aubry, an architect.

One resident after another, including former Mayor Gary Deffenbaugh, spoke in favor of a 27-foot height limit.

Commission Chair John Quam agreed that changing the height limit is a good start to halting the influx of multi-bedroom vacation rentals.

“People have been coming here and building mega-homes, living in them for a year and then selling them,” he said. Those large houses were then turned into vacation rentals, attracting more than the usual number of guests to an accommodation, he said.

Commissioner Dale Woodland also was concerned with rowdy renters, who create noise and nuisance problems for city residents living adjacent to party houses.

“That’s what we’re trying to solve,” Quam said, but the issues are inter-related and not all can be solved at one meeting.

Woodland wanted the commission to establish a priority list of problems, and to direct code enforcement to immediately address them.

Quam, however, said that’s the mayor’s job. Commissioners can go directly to the mayor with complaints, he noted, adding SueLynn has been working with Sgt. Paul Davis, the new head of the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office-Anna Maria substation, to improve enforcement.

Webb said he was involved with Dye and the MCSO in establishing new guidelines for deputies to handle complaints.

He said deputies will respond to a complaint of loud noise or a rowdy party. If necessary, deputies will issue a citation and pass the violation to code enforcement.

Resident Mike Coleman, principal with Pine Avenue Restorations, including vacation rental properties, suggested property managers and owners should be liable for code citations.

Webb said many rental agencies, including those operated by Larry Chatt and Mike Brinson, are willing to work with the city, but a few are ignoring the policies established in November and adopted by Chatt, Brinson, the mayor and others.

The city might consider establishing a licensing ordinance to track vacation homes because, Webb said, renting a home is a commercial venture and the city can require businesses to obtain a license and have it posted in a conspicuous location on the property.

Code enforcement officers already have a database of almost 500 rental properties and corresponding owners and managers, but requiring a license for each vacation rental would provide names and contact information for owners of vacation rentals.

SueLynn said she would look at a license code for businesses and report back to the commission.

“But we need the public to help,” Webb said, and the mayor noted the new attitude of MCSO deputies toward nuisances.

Webb urged the public to call the MCSO number with complaints. The new policy will result in action by deputies and code enforcement officers. If a member of the public feels they were ignored in making a complaint, he urged them to come to city hall and make that known.

Other issues related to vacation rentals and new construction will be addressed at the next workshop, Quam said, at 6 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 7, at city hall, 10005 Gulf Drive, Anna Maria.

City hall overflows as AM commission reverses rental limits

Anna Maria commissioners were quick to put their gears in reverse Jan. 29, rescinding their Jan. 24 action to enforce 30-day minimum residential rentals. The 3-1 vote at the emergency meeting called by Commission Chair John Quam allows vacation rental homes to operate as before Jan. 24.

Commissioner Nancy Yetter, who voted for the Jan. 24 motion, was unable to attend Jan. 29.

Commissioner Chuck Webb, who introduced the 13-page memo Jan. 24 recommending enforcement of selective portions of the code, voted against rescinding his motion, but later said he was glad to see the city take action to solve the problem of rowdy renters and loud parties at some rental homes.

Commissioner Dale Woodland reminded commissioners he voted against the Jan. 24 motion — opting instead to study Webb’s recommendations and consult with the city attorney — before he made a new motion to “totally rescind” the Jan. 24 vote.

Following Woodland’s motion and discussion, commissioners allowed an amendment by Commissioner Aubry providing they immediately begin work on the city’s vacation home problems. They also agreed to meet every Thursday until they get solid solutions and enforcement in place.

Aubry asked agents, owners, law enforcement or anyone interested in finding workable solutions to problems related to vacation rentals, particularly loud noise after 10 p.m. and other nuisances, to attend the Thursday meetings and provide input.

Commissioners John Quam and Aubry conceded they voted hastily Jan. 24 on Webb’s 13-page memo and did not take sufficient time to study the ramifications for the city.

After the vote to rescind, Woodland said he was “absolutely pleased with the direction the city is headed,” and “things should move quickly, I hope.”

Mayor SueLynn said Manatee County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Paul Davis would attend as many commission meetings as possible, and supports enforcement of Anna Maria’s existing codes. Davis is the new sergeant in charge at the Anna Maria MCSO substation.

“Enforcement of our codes is key,” SueLynn said.

“We don’t want the few rowdy partygoers we’ve had” the past two years, she said, even if it means calling the rental agent, manager or owner to come and evict rowdy tenants.

SueLynn said Anna Maria is not going to become a “party city,” despite the Web ads she’s seen for large home rentals in Anna Maria.

AM commissioner pleased with shakeup

Anna Maria Commissioner Chuck Webb, who shook things up with a Jan. 24 motion that was approved to enforce 30-day minimum vacation rentals in the city’s residential zone, said he’s pleased the city is working toward solutions, even though commissioners rescinded his motion Jan. 29.

Immediately after his motion was rescinded, both Webb and Commissioner Gene Aubry spoke to the urgent need to meet and discuss issues and related topics to the vacation rental market. Aubry suggested the commission move “as fast as possible” toward solutions.

Webb added that with weekly workshops, “I hope it means we’re starting to get things done.”

A good start, he said, is the list of best practices for vacation rental owners, managers and tenants put together last year with the help of Mayor SueLynn.

However, Webb worries some owners and agents will ignore the practices for the sake of profit. It’s all about enforcement, he said.

SueLynn agreed. Positive enforcement of city codes will put a halt to problem renters, she said.

While Webb’s plan to enforce strict rental rules was struck down, he remained upbeat about the future of the city.

“We’ve got things moving and it’s going to be up to this commission to control the renters. Rental owners aren’t the problem, it’s the renters,” he said.

Mayor SueLynn said she hopes the word spreads soon that loud parties are not welcome in Anna Maria. A few citations issued to rowdy partygoers might solve some problems, she suggested.

The mayor has a database of city rental properties, owner and managers for each, and details on any recent complaints and violations for each property.

Corps takes blames for Bradenton Beach dock delay

Aaron Burr was a Revolutionary War hero and served as vice president under Thomas Jefferson, but perhaps one of his most famous quotes set an early tone for how the government would operate well into the future.

“Never do today what you can put off till tomorrow,” he said.

Perhaps Burr never realized he may have invented red tape when it comes to the slow process of government, but residents along Eighth Street South in Bradenton Beach don’t likely care, as they have been waiting for almost two years to have the Eighth Street dock replaced.

The old Eighth Street South dock is city-owned and it was essentially condemned by the city about two years ago with a promise that it would be replaced.

Budget issues have left the project out of the city’s priority list ever since, but this past summer, residents on Eighth Street South stepped up to the plate and volunteered to fund a new city dock on their own.

The news was welcomed by the city and efforts began to have a new fishing pier approved by the appropriate agencies that closely monitors development proposals on a barrier island.

Burr’s recommendation of putting something off today to do tomorrow can take on a whole new meaning when it comes to any project on Anna Maria Island.

After working through the red tape of other agencies, building official Steve Gilbert sent the project proposal to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Tampa Regulatory Office more than a month ago, the final step needed to begin construction.

In an email dated Jan. 24, Gilbert asked the corps for an update.

“It has now been over a month, and I’m getting a lot of questions about how long this is going to take,” Gilbert wrote. “Can you give me an idea as to when we can expect approval, so we can proceed?”

Mindy Hogan-Charles, a project manager at the Tampa field office, responded the same day, but not necessarily with good news.

“Unfortunately, the Tampa Regulatory Office has experienced a manpower shortage, which resulted in pending projects being delayed,” she wrote. “In addition, I have been tasked by management to work on a highly controversial and complex project, which is delaying my pending projects.”

Hogan-Charles said the Tampa office has recently hired a project manager from another state, “and the individual is currently being trained on local and state of Florida issues … at this time your project is currently pending.”

Gilbert responded saying he understood that nothing on a barrier island is simple and sympathized with the staff shortage.

“However, this particular project is probably the least problematic as it could get,” he wrote. “We are removing an old dock, which did not meet any kind of standards and replacing it with a fully compliant fishing pier.”

City commissioners approved the project in 2009, but did not fund it. The city accepted bids in August 2012 when Eighth Street South residents volunteered to pay the estimated $12,000 for the pier.

Gilbert said the Florida Department of Environmental Protection approved the project in November, “So it’s been almost two months now. We have contractors waiting on this project, as well as every resident on Eighth Street South.”

Gilbert suggested someone at the Tampa office should take “a few minutes here and there, which would clear up a lot of the little permits,” such as this one.

As of Islander press time, there has been no further response from the Tampa office.

BB floating dock clears final hurdle — maybe

Email communications between the city of Bradenton Beach and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers indicate one of the final hurdles that have delayed the city’s floating dock repairs may have been cleared.

The dock adjacent to the Historic Bridge Street Pier shut down early in June 2012 due to damaged dock sections caused by wave action against improperly designed hinges. Plans for repairs were set in motion, but the arrival of Tropical Storm Debby that month ensured the dock’s closure for much longer than expected.

Determining how to counter the design flaw and then assess the damage caused by Debby was the easy part. The challenge for city officials has been negotiating the red tape of bureaucracy.

City officials worked directly with the Federal Emergency Management Agency for months following Debby to obtain funding for the city’s modified repair plans.

FEMA approved the project and the city then cleared the scope of work with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection only to learn DEP no longer reviewed permit applications for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

 

Progress?

        As soon as the city learned of yet another governmental layer of red tape, building official Steve Gilbert sent the corps the necessary paperwork in November.

He said late last year that the city didn’t anticipate any problems with getting corps approval, but a problem did arise after the corps misevaluated the scope of work.

Two months after the city submitted the paperwork to the corps, an email dated Jan. 24 from Caitlin Hoch, of the Tampa Regulatory Field Office, notified the city that the corps would have to consult with the National Marine Fisheries Service as part of the city’s permitting review.

Hoch said the consultation would be necessary to study the impacts to the smalltooth sawfish and sea turtles in the area.

Hoch sent the city a checklist of all new information for the city to submit.

“Once the information is received, I will coordinate with NMFS,” she said. “As the request is incomplete, no action will be taken on it until the above requested information is received.”

Hoch went on to write that the city had 30 days to respond or “we will assume you have no further interest in obtaining a Department of the Army permit and the application will be withdrawn.”

Hoch said once withdrawn, the corps would consider it to be “the final action by the Department of the Army.”

Gilbert replied Jan. 25 insisting the corps had misevaluated the city’s intention.

“I’m not certain how this has transitioned from a simple repair project to a full-blown permit,” Gilbert wrote. “This project is for repairs to an existing and permitted floating dock, which proposes to also permanently reduce the size of the already permitted dock.”

Gilbert explained FEMA and DEP have already signed off on the repairs.

“The scope of the project is to bring in a barge, lift each section out of the water; replace damaged floatation cells, and lower them back into the water in the same location,” Gilbert said, while noting three sections have been marked for removal.

“As you can see, this is a simple repair to some sections with no impact to existing seagrass or other habitat,” he said.

Gilbert resubmitted the city’s request.

“Please advise as to your course of action on this project, as we have the funding commitments from FEMA already in place, and there are time constraints on getting the repairs and mitigation done as soon as possible,” he concluded.

Hoch responded later that same day admitting her mistake.

“I talked with my chief and you are correct, there will be no impacts so no reason to coordinate with the National Marine Fisheries Service,” she wrote. “I mistakenly took your simple dock repair for a full in-water work permit. I have written your permit and it is being reviewed right now. I anticipate it being sent out by the end of the week.”

 

Not over yet

        With FEMA and DEP approving the project, and an expected corps approval any day, repairs starting soon are not necessarily a given.

Public frustration over the long-term closure has been mounting for the past few months.

Public works director Tom Woodard noted a spike in complaints beginning in December, but acknowledged they were coming primarily from visitors “who are not up to speed on the project.”

The final obstacle to alleviate public frustration and vindicate the efforts of city staff, who have navigated a proverbial red tape minefield, will be accomplished when FEMA has the funding in place.

FEMA has approved the city’s plan and for all intents and purposes has approved the funding, but has been waiting for DEP and the corps to sign off on the project.

Woodard said in December that as soon as FEMA ends the holding pattern, the city is prepared to begin the repair work.

While FEMA has approved funding, it’s not a guarantee that funding is available. The city will have to first pay for the project and then seek reimbursement from FEMA.

The city wants to ensure funding will be available before proceeding, but there is some concern that Super Storm Sandy’s impact to the Northeast could drain FEMA resources.

An update to the corps approval and FEMA funding could come as early as the city’s next pier team meeting at 1 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 7, at city hall.

Center mortgage down, challenge met, donations decline

Acting Anna Maria Island Community Center executive director Scott Dell told the board of directors that after 2012 revenues and expenses, the center’s $4.5 million mortgage was down to $1.5 million.

On the negative side, Dell said donations and revenue fell by $53,000 in 2012. However, he said, $30,000 of revenue was used to pay interest on the mortgage.

Dell said the center cut back operating expenses by more than $8,000 last year, mostly by staff assuming more duties and responsibilities in lieu of new hires.

He noted the costs of some adult programs were raised a few dollars, but the annual membership fee for teenagers and children remains $30. The fee has not increased in more than five years, he said.

Board member David Teitelbaum said he was disappointed that donations declined, but Dell said the center has seen worse years.

He noted the Lester Challenge to match $25,000 if the center raised $25,000 was met, with the center raising $27,000.

“The donations will come back,” Dell said.

Board president Greg Ross said he hoped so. A major goal of the board this year is to reduce the mortgage with more fundraising events.

Dell said he expects good attendance at an upcoming entertainment event. A Neil Diamond tribute concert was a success, and he expects a Frank Sinatra tribute in February and an Elvis Presley impersonator show in March to do as well or better.

Dell also noted the highly profitable fundraiser, the annual tour of homes, is March 16.

The largest fundraiser is the annual Island Affaire, which will be held in May. That event is expected to raise $200,000 or more, Dell said.

“If it’s good, we’re OK,” Ross said of the event and its potential proceeds. “If it’s not, we’re in trouble.”         Ross also reported that the center received a $90,000 grant toward the purchase of a new $100,000 bus. The center has to put up $10,000, but could then sell the old bus, which was originally donated by the Florida Department of Transportation.

In other business, Steward Moon Jr. and Cindy Thompson were elected to the board. Also, Thompson and Teitelbaum were named to the governance committee. Ross said the governance committee and board must review the center’s by-laws before other elections.

Newly appointed executive director Dawn Stiles, who is expected to assume her duties no later than April 1, joined the meeting via a teleconference call from Portland, Maine. She praised Dell and the board for their hard work and dedication, particularly in fundraising ideas.

The next board meeting will be 8 a.m., Monday, Feb. 25, at the center, 407 Magnolia Ave., Anna Maria.

Holmes Beach puts halt on private appraisals for remodels

Looking to eliminate private appraisals that regulate rehabs from the city’s land development code, Holmes Beach commissioners directed their city attorney to begin drafting a new ordinance based on Manatee County property appraiser’s values.

    Private appraisals are part of the city’s land development code that implements the Florida building code and Federal Emergency Management Agency regulations, including what is commonly called the 50 percent rule.

    If an owner seeking to remodel a ground-level home chooses not to elevate the first floor of living area, the rule restricts substantial improvements to less than 50 percent per year based on the structure’s value.

    According to city code, value is determined either by an independent certified appraisal, actual cash value or adjusted tax-assessment, as well as the owner’s and contractor affidavits attesting to project costs.

    Though not present at the Jan. 31 work session, city attorney Patricia Petruff advised the commissioners on the issue in a Jan. 30 email.

    She recommended the commission delete the option that allows independent appraisal determinations of market value, “and instead rely upon the property appraiser’s value of the structure plus a percentage in the range of 15-20 percent.”

    For homesteaded properties, Petruff said a county database may be available to rectify artificially low market values due to the 3 percent homestead cap, and suggested the commission consider using “that value for homesteaded structures, plus the agreed upon percentage.”

    Another way to determine market value is by sales price, building inspector Tom O’Brien told commissioners.

    Mayor Carmel Monti said the appraisal issue is relevant to all zones and recommended a uniform process be established.

    The market value determination for rehabs was one of the commission-identified objectives to lift the Residential-2 building moratorium enacted Dec. 25 by the commission, although determining values will be applicable to all districts.

    With the moratorium in place, commissioners plan to revamp city building laws and policies to discourage large homes and encourage old Florida-style development.

    Commissioner Marvin Grossman questioned past rehabs based on independent appraisals, and favored the county appraiser value as a way to achieve a consistency.

    O’Brien agreed, “I think the approach of using another source to determine this — instead of having to argue with someone at the counter — makes our job easier. It makes it more consistent from one person to the next.”

    Since being hired in December, O’Brien has sought to clarify the city’s implementation of rehab rules.

    O’Brien says he disagrees with past building official decisions on substantial improvements. In a December report, he told commissioners that major structural replacements, such as major portions of a roof or exterior walls, are substantial improvements regardless of the cost.

    Commissioner David Zaccagnino agreed with the mayor that a new comprehensive process should be put in place.

    “I have confidence in the building department that they will come up with something so everybody in all districts are on the same page, and that all the builders know,” he said.

    Commissioner Judy Titsworth asked whether the city has the authority to allow people to remodel over a period, referencing a rule that prohibits additional improvements within a calendar year after a remodeling project is permitted.

    “What if the previous owners have maxed out on the 50 percent?” Titsworth asked.

        O’Brien said he’d research that question, adding that, “I believe the city’s policy has been and continues to be a one-year cycle.”

… and works to eliminate duplex divide

By Kathy Prucnell

Islander Reporter

    The Holmes Beach City Commission — with the exception of one commissioner — agreed to direct its planner to begin drafting an ordinance that will eliminate the separation of duplex units by underground footers.

    With city planner Bill Brisson present at their Jan. 31 work session, commissioners discussed changes that will instead require a party wall joining two-family dwellings, as well as related setbacks in the Residential-2 zone.

    Following a lengthy discussion on setbacks — which the commission decided not to change — Commission Chair Jean Peelen directed Brisson to draft an ordinance to stop underground or above ground connections between duplex units and grandfather properties where one of the two units already has been permitted.

    Brisson provided commissioners with a Jan. 18 memorandum on the proposed code changes.

    Peelen asked Brisson to clarify proposed regulations on existing two-family dwellings separated by a footer or other means to eliminate the impression the city will permit them in the future.

    Commissioner David Zaccagnino disagreed with the commission’s direction, saying, “Two separate small buildings are much more attractive than if we force people to put them together.”

    “We’re going to have one massive building instead of two smaller ones that will be landscaped and buffered a lot better. Because of FEMA regulations, they’re going to go up,” he said.

    Manatee County Commissioner Carol Whitmore, formerly mayor of the city, told commissioners the interpretation changed to allow the underground separation during her term.

    “(Building official) Bill Saunders started it probably in 2006 just before I left,” she said.

    Whitmore continued, “He met with a local builder here. We all know the person. He’s been around here as long as I can remember. They had a cup of coffee one day. Because the houses were starting to look like big houses, because everyone was trying to get the biggest house possible, this guy decided to go with the single-foundation thing.”

    Whitmore encouraged the city to find ways to allow builders and owners to be creative, and to discourage building larger structures.

    Resident architect Terry Parker suggested staggered front- and rear-yard setbacks to avoid the massive appearance of residential structures.

    Building code and policy changes are expected to continue before the commission lifts the building moratorium, which is set to expire June 25.

        The commission next meets at 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 7, at city hall, 5801 Marina Drive.

Chicken roost coming soon to Holmes Beach

A loud “cluck, cluck, cluck” echoed in the chambers Jan. 31 after Holmes Beach commissioners heard resident Ryan Duncan’s proposal to allow egg-laying hens.

        He asked that the city consider an ordinance — such as one already enacted by the city of Sarasota, and those being considered by the city of Palmetto and Manatee County.

        Commissioner David Zaccagnino said the city has a livestock ordinance because it once had a 300-pound pot-belly pig running loose, while others in the community recall the livestock ban coming before the pig problem.

        Duncan said his family compelled him to plead his case to allow chickens as pets, and he pointed to how it encourages healthy lifestyles and offers opportunities to teach children how to be responsible. He said the laying hens are quiet and will stay put.

        “It’s kind of a national push right now. To be able to control what we put into our bodies a little better. It might tie into your family strategy for permanent residents in Holmes Beach,” he said.

        Commissioner Jean Peelen said she’s been buying fresh eggs. “They’re absolutely different tasting than what you get at the store. They’re just great,” she said.

        Manatee County Commissioner John Chappie said the county is looking at a re-write of its land development code in considering such an ordinance. He didn’t know if it will be adopted by the county board, but agreed with Peelen about the delicious eggs.

        Having grown up in a farm community, Chappie said he liked the idea, adding that chickens aren’t noisy and can be like pets.

        “I love the idea of laying hens,” said Commissioner Judy Titsworth. “Everyone knew I grew up here. And I had hens. As a little girl, I’d walk to the shopping centers carrying my little hens under my arms.”

        She added, “We’re trying to bring family back. We’re going to get people moving here just because we’re cool.”

        After the meeting, Titsworth said there is a consensus among commissioners for legalizing egg-laying chickens, and she expects the issue will go on a future agenda for a vote.

        The next Holmes Beach work session is at 7 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 7.

Shoplifting arrest leads to drug charges against HB man

A 42-year-old Holmes Beach man faces multiple felony drug charges after being arrested for shoplifting at Kmart, 7350 Manatee Ave. W., Bradenton.

According to the probable cause affidavit, Michael Fitzpatrick, 4500 block of Gulf Drive, was observed by a loss prevention officer at the store’s jewelry counter taking off his watch and replacing it with a new one.

Fitzpatrick allegedly went to the register to pay for several other items, but attempted to leave the store without paying for the watch. The loss prevention officer had already contacted the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office and a deputy was waiting for Fitzpatrick outside the store.

He was placed under arrest for petit theft. The watch was valued at $30.

During a search of Fitzpatrick, the deputy allegedly found a bag containing .07 grams of a powder that field-tested positive for methamphetamine.

According to the report, the deputy also found a pill bottle containing 20 morphine pills and 29 doses of oxycodone.

Fitzpatrick allegedly said he had a prescription for the pills, but keeps them in a different bottle to avoid getting robbed. The reports states he then told deputies that he did not know the methamphetamine was in his shorts, saying the shorts he was wearing were not his.

He was booked into the Manatee County jail on misdemeanor petit theft, felony possession of methamphetamine and two counts of felony possession of a controlled substance and held on more than $3,000 bond.

According to jail records, Fitzpatrick posted bond Jan. 29 and was released.

He is scheduled to be arraigned at 9 a.m. Friday, Feb. 22, at the Manatee County Judicial Center, 1051 Manatee Ave. W., Bradenton.