Tag Archives: 04-11-2012

Island Easter arrives, appears golden

If you showed up on Anna Maria Island Saturday, April 7, looking for a room for one or two nights, you might have had difficulty finding an accommodation.

In fact, a number of business and accommodation owners said this Easter weekend was the best they have ever observed in terms of vehicles, people and spending.

“I didn’t have anybody call me with rooms available,” said Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce president Mary Ann Brockman. “It was an incredible weekend.”

“Sold out,” said David Teitelbaum, owner of four resorts in Bradenton Beach.

The Rod & Reel Motel in Anna Maria had one available room April 7, but that was quickly taken.

“Nothing for a weekly rental,” said Rebecca Barnett of AMI Accommodations Inc. The company manages more than 200 rentals.

“Really busy,” said Signa Bouziane of Mister Roberts Resort Wear, 5330 Gulf Drive, Holmes Beach.

“Extremely busy,” said Lauren Sato of Beach Bums outdoors rentals, 427 Pine Ave., Anna Maria.

“The weather has cooperated this winter and I never saw this much walk-in traffic. (April 7) was great, and we’ve had our best February and March ever for sales.

“I think Easter weekend was the best, or one of the best, weekends we’ve ever had,” she said.

Likewise, said Laura Shely of Tide & Moon Boutique on Pine Avenue.

“We were swamped on Saturday. Very steady all day and there were hundreds of people walking the street,” she said. “My guess is everybody on Pine Avenue had a great weekend.”

Sponsors of Saturday’s Easter bunny visit, bonnet and egg roll contests on Pine Avenue said the event was again a big success.

A classic car, truck and bike show held at the Island Shopping Center in Holmes Beach by the Anna Maria Island Privateers enjoyed a “full house” for vehicle entries, ranging from a Studebaker to Austin Healey to a surfer woody wagon “kit car” that priced out at $100,000 when it was built 10 years ago, and the enthusiasts and Privateers enjoyed a day-long crowd.

The holiday weekend crescendo came Sunday morning at the Kiwanis Club of Anna Maria Island’s sunrise service, including all denominations and all Island churches at the Manatee Public Beach.

Organizer Larry Fowler estimated the crowd at more than 1,500, with chairs and blankets and people spread across the sand from the beach parking lot to the Gulf of Mexico waters and from south of the concession and lifguard stands to the playground on the north end. The service and music were heralded as one of the best ever by members of Kiwanis.

The offering collected — also the largest ever — by Kiwanis is shared among the Island churches, Harvey Memorial, Roser Memorial, CrossPointe Fellowship, Gloria Dei, Annunciation and St. Bernard.

The price of Easter weekend

Following the Kiwanis Easter Sunrise Service, members, including Holmes Beach Mayor Rich Bohnenberger, took note of conditions at the Manatee Public Beach, which included finding trash strown about on their arrival, trash bins overflowing near the cafe, and mounds of debris and trash bags.

CityFest unfolds at Holmes Beach City Hall, field, marina

A two-day lineup of music, food, arts, crafts and more is in store April 13-14 at Island CityFest Holmes Beach Founder’s Day Celebration, which again is sponsored by the Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce.

Special recognition of city founders will kick off CityFest at a reception and dedication hosted by Mayor Rich Bohnenberger begins at 9 a.m. Friday, April 13, in the lobby of Holmes Beach City Hall, 5801 Marina Drive, where city officials will meet and greet guests from the community. Refreshments and breakfast fare are provided by The Islander newspaper.

At 10 a.m. there will be a dedication ceremony in the commission chambers. Kirby Stewart, American Legion, Post 24, will post the colors. Mike Sales will sing the national anthem. Bohnenberger will provide introductions.

The ceremony will include former city clerk D. Paulette Webb, 1971, and former commissioner and mayor, Jefferson Asbury, 1975-78. Also featured will be the presentation of a community partner award. Music will be performed by the Anna Maria Island Community Chorus and Orchestra.

Tours of city hall will be offered until 3 p.m.

Also Friday, April 13 — in the city field off of Flotilla Drive adjacent to city hall — the music lineup on the new gazebo stage will include:

· 5-7 p.m., Koko Ray.

· 7-8 p.m., Scott’s Garage Band.

· 8-10 p.m., Dr. Dave Band.

Saturday, April 14, also at the city field stage, Sales will be the master of ceremonies for a music lineup that includes:

10:15 a.m.-12:15 p.m., Mike Sales’ Restless Natives.

12:30-1:15 p.m., Gulf Drive Band.

1:30-2:30 p.m., Island Rockers.

3-5 p.m., soulRcoaster.

5:30-7:30 p.m., Russ Adams Project.

Both days will feature a fine arts gallery and local crafts and other chamber vendors, a food court and an AMI Fitness Kids Zone.

On Saturday, activities include a free LaPensee Plumbing and Pools-sponsored classic car show on the city baseball field and $10 Island Pearl cruises — a portion of proceeds goes to the chamber —  at noon, 2 p.m., 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. embarking from Mainsail Marina, 5400 Marina Drive.

The list of local restaurants preparing tasty treats include: the Feast, Waterfront, Pete’s-A-Place, Chicago Joe’s, Corky’s Hotdogs, Aaron’s Smokin’ BBQ, Ol’ Kentucky Concessions, Johnny’s Bad Dogs and Tyler’s Ice Cream.

The event sponsors include media sponsor The Islander, corporate sponsor Miller Electric, Friday beer sponsor Spivey Construction, Saturday beer sponsor Anna Maria Island Resorts and two-day wine sponsor Engel & Voelkers.

Admission to CityFest is free. Lawn chairs and blankets are welcome, but coolers will not be allowed on the field.

CityFest proceeds are designated by the AMI Chamber of Commerce for student scholarship funding.

AM awaits DEP report on excess beach

Investigators from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection are still working on finalizing the consequences for Anna Maria after determining the city had violated the terms of its Bimini Bay-Key Royale Canal dredging permit.

That permit, an extension of the city’s permit to dredge the Lake LaVista inlet, allowed the city to pump sand from the pass to the shoreline by the city pier. The permit allowed only enough sand to extend the shore out about 100 feet into Tampa Bay and south from the inlet by about 200 feet.

But following completion of the project, a DEP inspection team found the city had a beach by the pier going about 140 feet into Tampa Bay and extending south from the inlet approximately 530 feet.

DEP field services supervisor Ana Gibbs of Tampa said investigators informed the city of the violation March 23 when they met with Mayor Mike Selby and public works supervisor George McKay.

The DEP, however, has not yet established the amount of any fine, the amount of material to be removed from the pier beach or the preferred method of removal, Gibbs said.

The DEP investigating team suggested the city remove the excess sand at the pier beach and fill in an unauthorized channel in the bay at 643 Key Royale Drive, Holmes Beach, but has not made it an official order.

The team has to determine if a consent order is needed, Gibbs said.

A consent order essentially is an admission of guilt by the city and a formal order by the DEP to perform certain work to mitigate the offense. The city has asked the DEP not to issue a consent order, but rather to allow the city to correct the problem according to DEP instructions.

Mayor Mike Selby said he couldn’t begin to discuss the problem at a commission meeting until he has directions from the DEP to rectify the error. He has, however, met individually with commissioners to apprise them of the problem and to answer their resulting questions.

But those might be questions not yet answered by the DEP, Gibbs said.

“I don’t know when we’ll know the amount of any fine, but it will be a public record,” she said.

Sometimes incidents such as this one take the DEP several weeks or more to decide the best course of action.

But Gibbs said she and her department are monitoring the investigation and will inform the city as soon as it receives an official notice of corrective action and a consent order, if one is issued.

In the meantime, the pier beach may be losing sand, as McKay and West Coast Inland Navigation District consultant Sam Johnston said at the March 23 meeting.

An informal survey of the beach April 5 found the sand at high tide extended into Tampa Bay around 125 feet, and south from the inlet around 400 feet.

A similar informal survey of the pier beach in early March at high tide found the beach area extended approximately 150 feet into Tampa Bay and around 500 feet south from the Lake LaVista inlet.

Additional funds may save T-end of BB pier

The Bradenton Beach City Pier Team officially shifted focus from routine pier matters to the proposed reconstruction and piling replacement project at its monthly meeting at city hall.

“This is the initial meeting of what we will call the 2012 city of Bradenton Beach pier reconstruction project meeting,” said Police Chief Sam Speciale, who facilitates the city pier team.

At its February meeting, the committee agreed to begin compiling and consolidating information for member review. Speciale said the “book has started to be put together for anyone involved to review.”

The committee currently has old project estimates available from the previous renovation project, which at that time, called for the city to address further piling and decking replacement.

The project was initially capped by the city’s Community Redevelopment Agency — which will fund the project — at $400,000.

City clerk Nora Idso set the amount, but has announced the CRA might have more money to put into the project.

City public works director Tom Woodard also had good news from the company that submitted the original proposal.

“They told me piling costs have dropped,” said Woodard.

The $400,000 project cap brought forth prior cost-saving discussions, including the possibility of removing the pier T-end, as well as narrowing the overall pier.

With costs for piling replacement dropping and additional funding being a possibility, the committee’s hope is to move forward with the project without having to reconfigure the pier.

“The initial statement about cutting off the T or modifying it is now that hopefully we won’t have to do that,” said Speciale.

The amount of new funding available was not yet known, but Idso said she would be able to provide the committee a number for its April 19 meeting.

The CRA — also the city commission — is scheduled to meet April 18.

In the meantime, the pier committee agreed to prepare a CRA agenda request to get permission to move forward with an engineering study, if needed. An old one exists, but may need to be modified, updated or replaced.

Building official Steve Gilbert would contact the contractor on record — the contractor who performed the previous renovation — and will determine what may be needed regarding the study.

Mayor John Shaughnessy asked the committee how serious the problem was and how soon the project could start.

“The whole idea is to get it done as soon as possible,” said Speciale. “We’ll follow all of the procedures and get it done. At the time when we put the restaurant in, it wasn’t serious enough to do it right away, but we were told we needed to make plans to do it as soon as possible and that was several years ago.”

The last report provided on the pilings was submitted in 2010 “and the recommendation was we do it within three to five years,” said Woodard. “So we are right there now.”

Speciale said he would like to see the project start by summer, “so when everybody comes back, they come back to a brand new pier.”

Idso said it would take two to three months just to send out a request for proposal.

The scope of work planned for the pier includes replacing 151 pilings and putting in new decking. The committee continued to discuss whether to use wood or composite materials, which would have a longer lifespan than wood.

“Those are things we will figure out as we move forward,” said Speciale. “Until we have a number, we don’t know.”

Idso reminded the committee that while additional funding may become available, the project would be limited to the final amount.

“It’s important to remember that we can’t get a loan for this project,” she said. “It stretches out into state waters and can’t be insured. You can’t get a loan on something that you can’t insure.”

Rental cottage, pool company face code board

Barefoot Bungalows and Agnelli Pools & Construction will come before the city’s code enforcement board at 10 a.m. Thursday, April 19, for building code violations in the city’s R-2 zone.

The hearings will be held in the city hall chambers, 5701 Marina Drive.

Barefoot Bungalows LLC, listed in county property records as owner of 5608 Holmes Blvd., will be asked to answer for alleged violations of state building codes when it allowed its contractor, apparently Beach to Bay Construction Inc., to continue work after the city issued a stop work order. The home was in the process of being remodeled and the stop work order related to enforcement of flood-zone remodeling regulations, according to city building officials.

The city issued the stop work order on the Holmes Boulevard property after Beach to Bay removed certain walls in violation of the 50 percent Federal Emergency Agency Management rule, city building inspector Bob Shaffer said.

FEMA requires the city to oversee permitted remodeling projects and project alterations to ensure homes are built with safeguards against erosion due to flooding.

While the issue was ultimately resolved by the parties’ attorneys, according to Forbes, Beach to Bay started work on the Holmes Boulevard property the stop work order was lifted by the city.

According to the Florida Secretary of State, Barefoot Bungalows is a limited liability company with two managers, Beach to Bay Construction LLC and Dean Hoshizki of Seattle, Wash. Beach to Bay Construction Inc. is listed as one of the Beach to Bay Construction LLC’s managers, and also is identified as the contractor by the sign on the property.

Scott Eason is listed as president of Beach to Bay Construction, Inc. Its address, according to the state website, is 5702 Marina Drive, Holmes Beach. The city posted the notices April 4, listing both Barefoot Bungalows and Agnelli Pools & Construction at the 5702 Marina Drive address.

The state website indicates Agnelli Pools & Construction is a limited liability company at another Marina Drive address, and Frank Agnelli of Bradenton is the managing member.

“Agnelli goes hand in hand with Beach to Bay,” said Forbes, referring to the two contractors known to work on the same construction projects.

Commissioners will also hear the city code violations against Agnelli Pools for work performed without a permit at 205 77th Street. Agnelli was red-tagged by the city building department for failure to pull a permit for recent demolition work on the 77th Street property, Forbes said.

Code Enforcement Officer David Forbes said the case against Agnelli also involves the company’s repeat offender status “predicated on the last instance concerning the pools on 66th Street.”

The city previously issued stop work orders in January to Agnelli for work at 66th Street on two pools before permits were in place, according to Shaffer. After the 66th Street incident, Agnelli paid a $1,500 fine, according to building department records.

Now with their respective violations before the code enforcement board, Agnelli and Barefoot Bungalows face fines of $250 a day, and $500 a day for repeat violations.

        “But it’s not about revenue generating,” Forbes said. “It’s about a message of ‘don’t do it again.’”

Rental focus updates on April 10 HB agenda

Recommendations from Holmes Beach commissioners heading up various rental focus groups may be discussed at their Tuesday, April 10, work session.

        The work session is held immediately following the regular commission meeting that begins at 7 p.m.

        Prior to Tuesday’s discussion, Commissioners Jean Peelen and Pat Morton released their respective group’s recommendations.

        Commission Chair David Zaccagnino and others have recognized Peelen’s group, the building code focus group, as having the majority of the workload. This group has tackled issues of the city’s land-development code.

        Peelen summarized her group’s recommendations:

        • Keep most current building requirements — setbacks, height limits, etc.

        • Add floor/area ratio (FAR) requirements for the R-1 single family and R-2 duplex districts — with R-1 FAR at .35 and the R-2 FAR at .30.

        • Create a requirement for duplex houses joined underground to be separated by a minimum of 10 feet.

        • Increase the minimum size for a duplex lot from 8,712 square feet to 10,100 square feet.

        • Require pool setbacks 10 feet from the pool water to adjacent property lines.

        • Discourage demolition of ground-level houses, and encourage rehabs by allowing setback variances.

        A draft report from Morton’s focus group includes changes to current rental practices:

        • Boat trailer one spot, car one spot.

        • Designate rentals with stickers of different color for different period.

        • Boats need to be accepted/stored at rentals. Suggest city overflow parking for boats.

        • Designate parking spaces per bedrooms.

        • Establish fines – first offense, written warning; second, $200 fine; third, fine percentage of reservation and eviction.

        • Police can intervene without formal complaint if issues are clear, issue written warnings and call property managers.

        • Leasing agent responsible for fine.

        • Use of rental agent best practices, including minimum-age limit of occupants and renter.

        In addition to the rental issue, the work session agenda includes a 27th Street/Sandpiper update. The city commission gave the Sandpiper Resort Co-op two weeks to advise of its intentions regarding the city’s requested quitclaim of 30 feet of the 27th Street 50-foot right of way that divides Sandpiper from the city limits.

        Commissioners also will hold first readings of revisions to the city’s outdoor dining ordinance and a new ordinance related to Internet cafes.

Below-average hurricane season forecast

There’s good news in the weather forecast this summer for Anna Maria Island and Florida’s coastal areas.

Scientists at Colorado State University have just released their annual predictions for the number of tropical storms that will form in the Atlantic, Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico this summer and are expecting a below average hurricane season — officially June 1 to Nov. 30.

CSU scientists predicted only 10 named storms would form in the tropics this season, compared to the seasonal average of 11 named storms.

Of the 10 storms, only four will become hurricanes, and just two of those will be considered major — Category III or higher — hurricanes.

Scientist and weather forecaster Bill Gray of CSU said the forecast is based upon several factors, including the appearance of El Nino in the eastern Pacific this summer.

El Nino, a weather pattern that creates high-level winds moving from west to east, will produce a strong wind shear that is expected to keep most tropical storms in the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico from becoming major hurricanes, Gray said.

Additionally, the waters of the tropical Atlantic are much cooler this year than in previous years. Cool water slows development of hurricanes, Gray said.

But Dan Noah of the National Weather Service in Ruskin advised people not to put too much faith in forecasts.

“In 1992, we only had seven storms, but one of them was Hurricane Andrew,” he said.

Andrew caused an estimated $43.9 billion worth of property damage, primarily in the Miami area, and is the costliest storm in U.S. history, Noah said.

“It only takes one storm to have a major hurricane,” he said.

The official NWS hurricane forecast for 2012 will be published the last week of May, Noah said.

Noah noted the NWS has revised the Saffir-Simpson scale used to measure the strength of hurricanes by the central wind speed.

The new hurricane ratings are:

• Category I — 74-95 mph sustained winds at the center.

• Category II — 96-110 mph at the center.

• Category III — 111-129 mph at the center.

• Category IV — 130-156 mph at the center.

• Category V — 157-plus mph at the center.

Noah said coastal residents such as those on Anna Maria Island should take all the usual precautions before hurricane season begins, even with a below-average prediction.

The most important precaution for any coastal resident is to know the evacuation route if authorities call for the Island to be evacuated, and know where they are going when they do evacuate, he said. Noah also suggested residents have a portable radio and plenty of batteries.

The most active year for Atlantic hurricanes since the federal government began keeping records in 1851 was 2005, when 28 named storms developed. None struck Anna Maria Island directly, but several, including Hurricane Katrina, passed about 100-150 miles away and caused some flooding and considerable beach erosion.

For a full compliment of hurricane information, see The Islander’s May 30 Storm-Ready special section.

Easter weekend emergencies

 Law enforcement and emergency rescue personnel gather at Cortez Beach April 6 in Bradenton Beach following a report of a missing 6-year-old girl. According to Manatee Marine Rescue Capt. Joe Westermann, the girl’s mother and grandmother had just been rescued from a riptide by bystanders when the family noticed the girl was missing. Fearing she was in the water, multiple agencies responded to search for the girl, who was located several blocks away by the Bradenton Beach Police Department. Islander Courtesy Photo


 A beachgoer was life flighted from Holmes Beach City Hall field, April 6, following an accident at Coquina Beach. According to the Bradenton Beach Police Department, a girl was injured while operating a watercraft, but no information was available at press time to confirm any details. Islander Courtesy Photo

Shooting suspect pursued across Island

According to the Bradenton Beach Police Department, a 22-year-old Bradenton man attempted to use the Island as an escape route following a Bradenton shooting in the early morning hours of April 9.

Jose Serrano allegedly shot another man in the 3100 block of West First Street, in Bradenton. Manatee County Sheriff’s Office deputies made contact with Serrano at approximately 3 a.m.

Serrano fled west on Cortez, continuing into Bradenton Beach. Serrano was eventually captured in South Lido Park, in Sarasota County.

MSCO is reporting that the victim was not seriously hurt, and was treated and released for minor injuries. Serrano faces a multitude of charges.

Roadwatch, April 11-18

The Manatee County Utilities Department has equipment and supplies on North Shore Drive and adjoining streets in Anna Maria for the installation of new sewer lines in the city.

An MCUD press release said the work is not expected to impact traffic in the project area, which is between Cypress Avenue and Palm Avenue on North Shore Drive.

The Florida Department of Transportation maintenance project on the Longboat Key/State Road 789 bridge will be operational both day and night this week, including some nighttime temporary lane closures that will last no more than 15 minutes. A flagging operation will control traffic during lane closures, a DOT press release said.

No nighttime closures will be permitted from 10 p.m.-6 a.m. Friday evening through Monday morning.

The west sidewalk of the bridge is closed, but pedestrians can use the east sidewalk during construction. The draw will open for boaters on demand.

The DOT has closed Greer Island — often called Beer Can Island — near the bridge to pedestrians and boaters during the project, citing safety concerns and liability. Boaters are advised they could be ticketed by law enforcement for anchoring or beaching their boat in the restricted area.

Completion of the project is expected in late spring.

More information on the project is available online at www.mySR789.com.