Tag Archives: 04-10-2013

AM commission approves draft LAR ordinance

After nearly two months of discussion on how new homes in Anna Maria should be constructed, commissioners at their April 4 meeting agreed to move forward with an ordinance that uses the living area ratio to the lot size as the basis for a new ordinance on construction of houses in  the city.

The proposed ordinance must now go to the planning and zoning board for a public hearing and a recommendation before returning to the commission for two more public hearings, city planner Alan Garrett said.

The language of the draft ordinance as approved by commissioners states that the owner of any lot of less than 15,000 square feet can have a LAR of 40 percent, with 33 percent of the LAR allowed on the second floor of living space. The maximum lot coverage would be 50 percent to include porches and decks.

The draft ordinance does not prohibit two floors of living space over parking, but a structure can be no higher than 27 feet above the crown of the road, according to a city moratorium currently in force.

As an example of the proposed ordinance, Garrett used a house on a 5,000 square-foot lot. At a 40 percent LAR, the owner could build a 2,000 square foot house, of which 33 percent of the 2,000 square feet, or 666 square feet, could be built on the second floor of living area.

By adding decks and porches, the maximum building coverage could go to 2,500 square feet, or 50 percent of the lot size. That gives the owner 500 square feet for outside decks and porches, Garrett said.

There is a sliding scale for the size of the house based on lot size in the proposed ordinance, he added.

For lots between 15,000 square feet and 21,000 square feet, the LAR would be 35 percent, while lots larger than 21,000 square feet would be allowed a 30 percent LAR. The 33 percent LAR for the second floor of living space applies regardless of lot size, as does the 50 percent maximum lot coverage rule, Garrett said.

City attorney Jim Dye chimed about the legality of the ordinance in relation to the Bert Harris Act, which prohibits governments from taking value from a property through legislation.

Dye said in his opinion the proposed ordinance is legal.

It “protects the character of the city,” which is a function of the commission, he said, and is a “rational response” to the commission’s concern that large houses could gradually squeeze out the city’s smaller, ground-level homes.

“It is not a regulatory taking,” Dye said. “A person still has reasonable use of the property.” He admitted, however, that the new ordinance would restrict the size of the house compared to what could be built under the current city building ordinance.

“Remember,” Dye said, “The Bert Harris Act is not concerned with the legality the ordinance. The only question is did the ordinance remove value from the property.”

There is a regulatory process in the Bert Harris Act for municipalities and property owners to settle any disputes, Dye added.

Dye recommended he write language in the proposed ordinance to allow anyone with a vacant lot to begin design now under the current regulations to avoid any “speculative claims,” in the future. Additionally, he’ll add language that the city will alert all property owners of the coming ordinance, once it’s finally approved by the commission.

Commissioners agreed the ordinance effective date would be 90-120 days after its passage. With that language in the ordinance, “No one can say they didn’t have time to file a site plan,” Garrett said.

.       Dye said the Bert Harris Act is about taking of value and it’s difficult for the owner of a vacant lot to show an expectation of value under the Bert Harris Act because all they have “is a pile of dirt.”

Attorney Scott Rudacille, who said he represented several Anna Maria clients, urged commissioners to take another look at the 33 percent LAR for the second livable floor. In his opinion, that percentage is “too restrictive.”

John Cagnina, who owns five vacant lots in the city, said he’s not being given the opportunity to develop his lots. Dye, however, noted Cagnina would have plenty of time between now and adoption of the ordinance to file a site plan, or five site plans, for his properties if he chooses.

Dye noted that there is no moratorium on construction, only on height. At present, structures that are 27 feet or less above the crown of the road are allowed. The moratorium would disappear with the passage of the proposed ordinance.

Commissioners unanimously approved the draft ordinance and it will be forwarded to P&Z for a public hearing.

Commissioner Chuck Webb received assurance from building official Bob Welch that building permits based on the current ordinance can still be issued to projects, but they must comply with the height moratorium restriction.

‘Busiest ever’ tourist season winds down

The past three months have been the busiest tourist season they’ve ever seen say a number of island business people. The numbers of visitors and accommodation occupancy figures are likely to set records, several in the industry say.

The visitors and seasonal residents are gradually leaving as April 15 approaches, said Rita Kollar of Gulf-Bay Real Estate.

She said her vacation rentals were booked solid through April 7, but then occupancy begins to open up. By the end of the month, she’ll have vacancies for anyone arriving in late April or early May.

“But it was a very busy season,” she said.

Jesse Brisson, also of Gulf-Bay Realty, said this was the busiest season he’s had since he’s been in the vacation rental business. Rentals managed by the company were booked solid from Feb. 1 through April 1.

“A great season for the industry,” he said. “The best I’ve seen in the past 12 years.”

David Teitelbaum, who owns five resorts in Bradenton Beach, said his properties have been full since the beginning of February, and a few vacancies only started appearing on his books around April 8.

“We’ve been jammed. Definitely the best season I’ve ever seen on the island,” he said.

Teitelbaum said it’s been “quite a ride the past three months.”

As a board member of the Manatee County Tourist Development Council and the Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce, Teitelbaum said he hopes tourism figures for the season will be presented at the 9 a.m. April 15 TDC meeting at Holmes Beach City Hall.

With tourism already up 9.5 percent from the previous year, according to a report presented to the TDC in January from Research Data Services Inc., Teitelbaum said he expects even greater growth when February and March are added to the data.

RDS is retained by the Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau to compile statistics on tourism arrivals, expenditures and attractions visitors enjoy. RDS occupancy and visitor figures for any single month are typically delivered to the BACVB about six weeks after the end of the month.

Deb Meihls of the BACVB said she was not surprised that many visitors remained on the island after Easter and spring break.

With Anna Maria Island ranked No. 4 in a TripAdvisors.com Traveler’s Choice survey of U.S. island destinations and with cold winter still up north, “I would say this is expected traffic,” Meihls said.

“And we now have a curiosity factor from TripAdvisor for those who have not been here before,” she added. Meihls also was pleased that the spring break crowds appeared well-behaved and suitable to the overall ambiance of the island.

Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce vice president Deb Wing said February and March were “very busy” at the chamber with visitors seeking lodging at the chamber office daily during those two months.

But the number of walk-ins and phone calls for accommodations dwindled a bit the past week, she said.

Wing said she wouldn’t be surprised to see tourism at an all-time high for the 2013 winter season.

The number of visitors also benefited retail shops and restaurants.

Linda Bouziane of Mister Roberts Resort Wear in Holmes Beach said the store was full nearly every day.

“We had a great season. We’re all very happy. It was one of the best-ever seasons and I wish it would continue. Definitely a very busy time for us,” she said.

Ed Chiles, owner of the Sandbar Restaurant in Anna Maria, the BeachHouse in Bradenton Beach, and MarVista on Longboat Key, said business was up at all three restaurants, even when the weather wasn’t so great.

“It was warm enough most days this season and getting the (remodeled) Sandbar open in time for the season was a big help. We had very strong numbers at all three restaurants. I’m pleased, even though some days were a bit cool. Everyone does better when the weather is great,” he said.

Bradenton Beach Police Chief Sam Speciale offered his perspective on the season, saying it was certainly one of the busiest, if not the busiest, he’s seen in his two decades on the island.

“Many years I’ve said it’s just the normal traffic for a winter season, but not this year.”

“This year, I’m saying it’s been one of the busiest I’ve ever seen for traffic,” the chief said.

“There were so many backups, some going as far back as from Cortez Road to the Longboat Pass Bridge,” Speciale said.

When necessary, Bradenton Beach police officers used traffic control procedures, but when the Cortez Bridge was raised this season, there wasn’t much anyone could do to get motorists moving, the chief noted.

“It’s been a long season for our officers,” Speciale said.

Speciale might not have too long to enjoy the break from traffic.

Meihls said the BACVB is planning a number of events this summer in the county that should draw day visitors to the island. Meihls said advertising programs also will bring visitors to the area.

The summer tourist season on the island is just around the corner.

BB pier restaurant behind on lease payments

Rotten Ralph’s Restaurant on the Bradenton Beach Historic Bridge Street Pier is about $50,000 behind in rental payments to the city.

The debt was revealed at the March 21 city commission meeting.

City attorney Ricinda Perry said the restaurant is a “number of months” behind in rent payments and that the lease agreement between the restaurant and city expired in July 2012.

Perry said the agreement contains a renewal clause, “but it has not been extended,” and is now on a month-to-month basis.

An auditor’s review of city revenue recommends immediate action by the city to address the loss of revenue and, Perry said the state does not allow a municipality to extend credit.

Dave Russell, Rotten Ralph’s concessionaire, accepted responsibility for the lack of payments. He said the restaurant fell behind on payments and he has been unable to catch up because the city does not allow partial payments.

“It compounds the problem,” he said.

Russell offered the city to accept restaurant equipment and furnishings in lieu of past due payments, with an option to purchase the equipment back from the city when he is able to do so.

However, there are existing liens on the equipment.

Commissioner Ric Gatehouse asked how long it would take to resolve the liens and Russell said two to three weeks. Gatehouse asked Perry if it was possible to make such an agreement.

Perry said she discussed the offer with Russell, but it was not an option because of the liens. She said if the liens are cleared, “We would still need to establish an independent appraisal of the value of the furnishings and equipment.”

Commissioners Jan Vosburgh and Gay Breuler opposed accepting equipment in lieu of back payments owed to the city, saying such an action was irresponsible to taxpayers and would not resolve the overall problems at the restaurant.

Gatehouse said it was reasonable to allow Russell two weeks to resolve the liens and to bring the matter up at the next meeting.

Commissioners voted 3-2 to allow Russell until the April 4 commission meeting to clear the liens and come up to date on the lease payments.

County plans property tax relief via added sales tax

The Manatee County Commission was scheduled to discuss a referendum on community tax issues during its April 9 meeting.

At stake is a referendum proposed by county administrator Ed Hunzeker will ask the electorate to consider a half-cent sales tax to generate $23 million to pay for local, indigent health care. Manatee County now pays for community health care through property taxes and the fund will run out in 2015. The additional sales tax could generate enough revenue to cover the health care fund and more, according to Hunzeker.

Along with funding indigent health care, Hunzeker is proposing to reduce property taxes in municipalities where there is a city-funded police department by excluding the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office patrol costs.

He believes the plan will reduce property taxes by about $10 million — 26 percent savings will be realized by municipal taxpayers in the county and an approximate 13 percent reduction in property taxes will aid taxpayers in unincorporated areas.

Also proposed for the ballot will be a tax abatement issue that will give the county board the ability to offer property tax relief to qualified companies that plan to either invest or create new jobs in the county.

If approved by a majority of voters, the half-cent sales tax would apply to the first $5,000 of a taxable sale or purchase.

Eligible uses are specific for the proposed half-cent sales tax. Florida statutes require the resulting funds to be spent on health care costs for qualified residents of the county.

The board is expected to make a decision on whether to hold the referendum on June 18, move it to Aug. 6 or to August 2014.

According to Hunzeker, the earlier referendum date would allow plans to proceed on a two-year budget that includes property tax relief.

The later date is preferred by some board members to allow voters more time to become familiar with the issue. Some board members suggested delaying the referendum to the 2014 primary date to defray special election costs.

Details on the plan to reduce property taxes are available at www.mymanatee.org/howwillwepay.

Mainsail returns to address HB commission

“Regardless of all the recent cooperation, here we are,” wrote Mainsail Lodging and Development president Joe Collier March 28 to Holmes Beach city attorney Patricia Petruff.

The city commission had voted 3-2 at its March 26 meeting to revoke the original site plan for Tidemark Lodging that Mainsail obtained with the purchase of the vacant property Tidemark property about three years ago. The development was first proposed in 2001 for the former site of Pete Reynard’s Yacht Club restaurant in downtown Holmes Beach.

Collier asked the commission to consider rescinding its vote and “come back to the table.”

Commission Chair Jean Peelen apparently plans to bring the Mainsail matter up at the April 9 meeting, although it is not on the agenda and there was little time for public notice.

Collier said he was “blindsided” by a letter from city building official the day prior to the hearing, but the city did not introduce the letter at the March 28 meeting. Instead, the mayor said it had not been finalized, and it was not part of the discussion.

City planner Bill Brisson, who also made recommendations regarding the revised Mainsail site plan, did speak briefly to his concerns.

Brisson highlighted concerns with building setbacks, particularly building B. He noted the project has increased intensity based on about 4,000 added square feet of air conditioned space. Brisson notes the site plan meets the provision for parking spaces on site, but also notes some spacing and circulation problems.

Building code administrator Tom O’Brien’s letter, dated March 25 and preceeding the meeting, outlines the background meeting March 8 between the city and the developer.

O’Brien’s comments on setbacks state provide the setbacks are substantially the same as the original plan, but also says there is “concern that (setbacks) were not correctly applied at the time of the original approval.” He further notes the minimum setbacks decrease the area for landscaping between the seawalls and the buildings.

O’Brien recommends a comprehensive review of the appropriate setbacks.

He notes the Mainsail proposal increases the intensity — the living area — of the project.

He recommends a reduction in the ground-floor areas to reduce the footprint and provide better onsite circulation and parking.

O’Brien notes the arrangement of buildings and/or reductions could better accommodate on-site parking.

He notes the internal circulation of traffic is significantly compromised by the main lodge building. He also recommends vacating the right of way on the southern boundary of the project where it connects to the public right of way to Marina Drive to ease the project’s onsite circulation.

O’Brien goes on to note the building masses of buildings A and B on the peninsula provide minimal landscaping areas and he recommends a significant increase in the setback of building A.

He notes “considerable concern” of Sunrise Lane property owners regarding the facade on the eastern boundary of the project and increased setbacks for building D.

O’Brien says the project lacks an access easement for Sunrise Lane and parking and traffic congestion need to be more fully addressed.

He concludes that a major revision of the original site plan and that proposed by Mainsail are required to address the issues.

Collier asks in his March 28 letter that the commission consider rescinding its vote and “come back to the table with us.”

He offers to improve the plan “where we are able” and listen to ideas “within reason.”

Collier says he hopes the city will give reconsideration and “go for a positive outcome and show everyone in the community that we don’t have to go to the mat.”

Other matters on the April 9 agenda include final readings for the ordinance to end the moratorium and require duplex party walls, discussion on extending O’Brien’s contract, bike paths and the county’s proposed half-cent sales tax.

Cortez man arrested for aggravated assault

A 66-year-old Cortez man was arrested March 30 after brandishing a 30/30 hunting rifle in a threatening manner at Corky’s Live Bait & Tackle, 10103 Cortez Road W.

According to the probable cause affidavit, Colin Campbell of 11900 Cortez Road W. sat in the business parking lot for several hours, at some points revving his engine, and also trying to engage the store’s female employees in conversation.

Campbell then entered the store, purchased some items and exited, but did not leave the area. According to a Manatee County Sheriff’s Office report, Campbell approached the business with the rifle, a bat and a hammer in his hands and gestured at the employees in a threatening manner.

At one point, Campbell allegedly yelled out that he “smashes pig heads.”

According to the report, the women inside the business were in fear for their lives. Campbell allegedly took a photo of one woman’s vehicle tag before leaving.

MCSO deputies made contact with Campbell at his home and arrested him on a felony aggravated assault with a firearm charge. Upon his apprehension, police found the rifle, bat, hammer and several knives inside his vehicle.

During the course of the investigation, law enforcement discovered a complaint had been filed against Campbell for an incident at the Winghouse restaurant, 5105 14th St. W., Bradenton.

On March 22, Campbell entered the store, ordered his food and went inside the bathroom for about 20 minutes. When he exited, he placed his hand on a server’s shoulder, saying that her shoulder was sticky.

The woman told him not to do that, at which time Campbell allegedly made several sexual comments to the woman.

Campbell returned to the restaurant on the day of his arrest and ordered a pizza for all of the female employees. Upon placing his order, Campbell again went to the bathroom.

A male witness reported to the manager that Campbell was engaging in inappropriate behavior inside the bathroom.

The manager called MCSO and told Campbell to leave. He had left the business when law enforcement arrived, but was charged following his assault arrest with misdemeanor battery for having previously placed his hands on the server.

Campbell was booked into the Manatee County jail and held on $2,000 bond. According to jail records, he posted bond the following day and was released.

Campbell is scheduled to be arraigned at 9 a.m. Friday, April 19, at the Manatee County Judicial Center, 1051 Manatee Ave. W., Bradenton.

Road watch

The Florida Department of Transportation is conducting a bridge maintenance project on the Anna Maria Island Bridge/State Road 64 from 9 p.m.-6 a.m. weeknights and the work will continue through the summer. Most of the work will take place under the bridge, a DOT press release said.

A flagging operation will be in place for any lane closures.

The proect should be completed by late summer, the release said.

Snowy plover nest signals beginning of shorebird nesting

There is but a handful of nesting snowy plover pairs in Manatee County, and the first pair laid their eggs in late March to mark the beginning of the shorebird nesting season.

According to Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch & Shorebird Monitoring volunteer Glenn Wiseman, the nesting is about three weeks later than last year’s first attempt at a snowy plover nest on the beach in Anna Maria.

“Last year we had our first nest on March 5, but that was a bit early,” said Wiseman. “Usually mid-March is more typical. It’s always a relief to see the first nest because even though we expect a nest or two, there is always a chance it might not happen due to the limited number of nesting pairs in our area.”

Snowy plovers typically nest on beaches along the Florida panhandle. Wiseman said about 20 percent of the population will nest south of Manatee County and about a dozen nesting pairs are typically seen within the county.

“More than likely it’s the same birds,” he said. “The same 24 or so have been seen from here down past Longboat all winter.”

Wiseman said the snowy plovers on and around the island are not the migrating type.

“They are permanent residents,” he said.

Last year’s nesting season for the snowy plovers and many other shorebirds was disastrous. Two tropical storms and a king tide in June 2012 “wiped out all but one of our nests,” said Wiseman.

“We are hoping for a good season,” he said. “The good news is that the storms brought in lots of sand at the north end where the nests are typically located, which produces excellent habitat for nesting shore and sea birds.”

Wiseman said shorebird nesting season typically begins with the snowy plovers making their first attempt to nest.

“The snowys come first and will be joined shortly by the seabirds, the skimmers and then terns,” he said. “The later two are colonial nesters, meaning that they may have up to 600 birds nesting in the same area.”

AMITW executive director Suzi Fox said the female snowy plover is now protecting three eggs.

“We believe this nest was laid approximately March 25 and is due around April 18, which is just before Earth Day,” she said. “We have buffered off the area and signage is now up. It is now considered federally protected land.”

Fox said there are two other nesting pairs on the island, but they have not yet produced a nest.

Sad signs

Kathy Caserta found this dead loggerhead turtle April 5 where it had washed up on the 31st beach street in Holmes Beach. Suzi Fox, of Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch, responded to examine the turtle and said it was an adult loggerhead, likely a female, and the algae and barnacles are a sign it had been ill for some time. There were no signs of trauma. Fox also said another turtle found a few weeks ago had a brain parasite, but it is responding to rehab. Turtle nesting season begins on Anna Maria Island where nesting is dominated by loggerheads. Islander Photo: Vic Caserta

Sports – 04-10-2013

Spring sports season gears up, champions named


The Anna Maria Island Community Center last week announced its spring sports offerings for youth and adults.

The youth basketball league for players ages 5-17 will get started in mid-April with games played in the gym Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday evenings and some games will be played Saturday afternoons.

The center also is offering a youth baseball season for players ages 5-11, also starting in mid-April. There’s still time to register for both sports if players act quickly.

The adults will have three coed sports from which to choose. The center will host a coed basketball league on Tuesday nights, kickball on Wednesdays and soccer on Thursday evenings.

The center is always looking for coaches, captains and sponsors for its teams and programs.

For more information, contact Troy Shonk at 941-778-1908, ext. 9205, or email troy@myamicc.com.


Westbay condo owners hit the links

Westbay Point and Moorings and neighboring Shell Point residents held their annual golf scramble and banquet at Key Royale Club April 3.

The team of Bob McGlynn, Beth Lindeman and Bob O’Brien combined on an even-par 32 to take first place in the event. Second place went to the team of Vicki Anderson, Helen Pollock, Jack Smulowitz and Lance Lindeman with a score of 1-over-par 33.

McGlynn powered the longest drive among the men, while Beth Lindeman captured the women’s longest drive of the day. Smulowitz and Mary Lous Dreier won the closest-to-the-pin contests.


Horseshoe news

Marvin Gamgemi and Norm Langland were the only team to earn a 3-0 pool play record and were outright champs in the April 6 horseshoe action at the Anna Maria City Hall horseshoe pits.

The April 3 games had three teams advance to the knockout round. Norm Good and John Johnson drew the bye into the finals and watched as Rod Bussey and Bill Wright defeated Dave Lansaw and Tom Skoloda 21-16. It was all Bussey and Wright in the finals, as they obliterated Good and Johnson by a 21-1 score with Wright throwing two “six packs” in the victory round.

Play gets under way at 9 a.m. every Wednesday and Saturday at the Anna Maria City Hall pits. Warmups begin at 8:45 a.m. followed by random team selection.

There is no charge to play and everyone is welcome.


Key Royale golf news

It was another busy week of golf for Key Royale Club members, punctuated by Sue Christenson defeating Jean Holmes 1-0 in the women’s handicap championship on March 24. The men’s senior handicap championship will be decided next week, so stay tuned.

The KRC men played an 18-hole, best-ball-of-foursome match April 3. The team of Dick Eichorn, Pete Weir and Bob Landgren combined on a 17-under-par 47 to earn a one-shot victory over two teams. The team of Al Kaiser, Jim Helgeson and Bill Gallagher matched the 16-under-par 48 carded by Don LaTorre, Danny Hayes and Dennis Schavey to finish in a tie for second place.

The KRC women played a nine-hole, individual-low-net-in-flight match April 2. Jean Holmes rode birdies on the second and sixth holes to torch the course with an 8-under-par 24 to grab the top spot in Flight A by six shots over Kay Kaiser and Beatrice Friebe, who finished in a tie for second place. Judy Anderson’s 1-under 31 was good for third place.

Sue Christenson fired a 6-under-par 26 to take first place in Flight B. One shot back in a tie for second place were Penny Williams and Beth Lindeman, while Pam Alvord, Liz Lang, Sue Little and Meredith Slavin tied for third place at 3-under 29.

Kay Anderson’s 1-under-par 31 was good for first place in Flight C by one shot over Sue Wheeler and Barb Lindewall, who tied for second with matching even-par 32s.

Matching 6-under par 26s by Erma McMullen and Marcia O’Brien produced a tie for the top spot in Flight D. Nell Bergstrom carded a 3-under-par 29 to take second place, while Sally Keyes was alone in third with even-par 32.

Trish Kruger, Lynn Dailey and Bergstrom each had chipins on the day, while Joy Kaiser, Helen Pollack and Marcia O’Brien all recorded birdies on their rounds.

The game of the day was two best balls of the group with Jean Holmes, Judy Crowe and Margrit Layh combining on a net 77.

The men played two nine-hole matches April 1. The morning round saw a best-ball-of-foursome match won by the team of John Sagert, Vince Fanton, Bill Shuman and Dennis Schavey with a 10-under-par 22. Three shots back in second place was the team of Vince Mercadante, Ed Havlik, Earl Huntzinger and Larry Fowler.

Later in the day, the men played a nine-hole, modified-Stableford or quota-points match. Gerry Dahl carded a plus-7 to take first place in the individual competition by two points over Lex Halakan, who finished in second place at plus 5.

Dahl’s point total helped his team of Gregg Shorten, Tim Shorten and Larry Solberg to the team title with a plus-7 score.

The men closed out March with an 18-hole, individual low-net golf match March 30. Gary Harris took first place with a 6-under-par 58. Vince Mercadante, Larry Fowler and Ron Pritchard tied for second at 4-under-par 60.