Tag Archives: 06-13-2012

Anna Maria homeowner, building official disagree

Developer Shawn Kaleta, a resident of Anna Maria with a construction business in Holmes Beach, has been sent a letter by the code enforcement department that the house he owns at 804 N. Shore Drive is not in compliance with city codes because there are bedrooms on the ground floor of the elevated home.

According to Bob Welch, building official and code enforcement officer, he discovered the bedrooms while inspecting pool construction that was permitted at the site by the city. He said he observed the bedrooms by looking through a ground-floor window.

Because the house was built after 1974, when the city adopted an ordinance — what Welch called “post firm” construction — that requires the ground level of any new construction be used only as a garage or storage, the bedrooms don’t comply with code, Welch said.

Kaleta, however, said he bought the house furnished and no bedrooms are located on the ground-floor level.

“When Bob makes his inspection, he’ll see there are no bedrooms downstairs. It’s just a mistake,” Kaleta said.

He said he was not present when Welch performed the pool inspection.

The city’s letter to Kaleta gives him 30 days to bring the house “into compliance” or face a citation, which requires a hearing before the special magistrate.

Kaleta said the issue will be cleared up as soon as Welch inspects the ground-floor interior.

The property was advertised in February as a four-bedroom, single-family home for $1.1 million when Kaleta purchased the property.

The house is now listed on the website amibeachesrealestate.com as an eight-bedroom home for $2.2 million.

In examining the original architectural drawings for the home, Welch determined the house was built with four bedrooms, a study, nursery and den. The ground floor was a garage with two storage rooms.

Kaleta first gained notoriety in Holmes Beach last year when a number of residents spoke publicly against his conversion of older duplexes to more modern, three-story vacation rental properties, which they claim have too many bedrooms and accommodate too many guests,  leading to parking, noise and trash problems.

But city officials said Kaleta was not violating any codes or ordinances. His construction work was performed in the Residential-2 zone, which allows duplex construction.

Residents complained about vacation rentals that could accommodate more than one family at one time.

Kaleta said he was only building what buyers wanted for their property.

Neither Anna Maria nor Holmes Beach has any limit on the number of bedrooms for a single-family home.

City attorney Jim Dye has said the city cannot legislate how many bedrooms are allowed at a single-family home, provided construction and the structure meet all other building and land-development regulations.

Forced sea turtle nest relocation fuels BB argument

On the heels of a lawsuit filed by three Bradenton Beach citizens to stop the city’s joint development agreement with BeachHouse Restaurant owner Ed Chiles to develop a dune and parking lot across from city hall, a new argument has surfaced.

The two primary groups opposing the development project are the Bradenton Beach Planning & Zoning Board and Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch and Shorebird Monitoring.

P&Z argued the agreement violated the city’s comprehensive plan and rejected the plan later approved by commissioners. AMITW executive director Suzi Fox presented a second argument that the proposed development is in sea turtle nesting habitat.

The suit was brought forth by two former P&Z members who resigned after a contentious May meeting where P&Z board members were accused of being biased and presenting a “tainted” recommendation by Commissioner Ric Gatehouse. Fox also was challenged by city attorney Ricinda Perry, who conducted the meeting nearing a trial-like atmosphere.

Perry said Fox’s statements at the May 3 meeting about the development area being nesting habitat were false and should be stricken from the record because Fox brought no documentation to the meeting to prove her claims.

Perry also argued that the density of the sand at the proposed development site — next to the BeachHouse Restaurant — was prohibitive to sea turtle nesting.

But sometime during the night of June 4 or the morning of June 5, a loggerhead sea turtle crawled into the proposed development site and laid her eggs.

In an e-mail to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Fox reported her findings and why she felt it necessary to relocate the nest, which was mere feet away from the restaurant, and near the valet overflow parking area established on the beach by the BeachHouse.

Fox reported high tide had come within 15 feet of the nest and water was discovered in the nest when it was confirmed by her team. Fox said the FWC suggestion to move the nest to open beach could not be met due to the nearby “illegal” activity, she said.

“We decided not to place this nest at the wide-open beach because of the parked cars at night and chances of cars running over the nest,” said Fox.

The nest was moved away from the restaurant, but was relocated to an area still within the proposed development site.

“Glenn Wiseman dug the new nest and we found the sand to be normal density about 6 inches down,” she said. “The sand below was very soft and compatible with good sea turtle nesting sand.”

Fox told FWC, “Just for your information, (Perry) told the city commissioners at the last commission meeting in Bradenton Beach that you came out and did a compaction test on this sand and found it to be too hard for sea turtles to nest.”

Fox said in her e-mail to FWC that Perry had made a false statement. Fox also said compaction tests are typically performed by project engineers, not FWC.

“Guess she dreamed this up on her own,” wrote Fox.

Art league president defends league, financials

“They left. They chose to leave,” said Anna Maria Island Art League president Laura McGeary last week of former league board members.

    “They all knew I was doing everything. The financials were seen every month,” McGeary said, defending herself against published reports by former board members attacking her administration of the league.

    League board meetings included a certified public accountant, she said, who went over how to read financials and an update on the league’s Internal Revenue Service charitable reinstatement, as well as a bookkeeper who talked about the league’s expenses.

    “They were getting all the reports. They got monthly, quarterly, six-month and annual reports. They had all these financials put in front of them,” she said.

    McGeary took over as acting treasurer about a year ago when no other board member stepped up. She also points out, a second board member signed all checks.

    The league’s former executive director, Christina Reginelli, resigned May 11, and closed the gallery and art facility, 5312 Holmes Blvd., Holmes Beach. Seven members of the board submitted their resignations shortly thereafter, leaving three members, including McGeary, serving the league.

    Reginelli told The Islander she canceled summer camp, classes and workshops and put a notice on the door stating “closed until further notice,” saying the league could no longer meet its expenses.

    “I really didn’t expect it,” McGeary said about the shortfall. “I thought we’d squeak by.”

    In retrospect, McGeary blames the league’s problems on declining income due to the general downturn in the economy, rising costs, too few volunteers to staff the league’s Winterfest and Springfest festivals — which contributed to problems in marketing, sales and the bottom line — and the loss of the charitable status.

    McGeary said the loss of the IRS charitable designation was an “inherited” problem due to the league’s failure to file three years of returns before her term as president.

    Last week, McGeary released financial statements prepared for the league by certified public accountants, Rehfeldt Group P.A. of Bradenton.

    Statements for 2010-11 show the league began the fiscal year with net assets of $21,799, and ended in September 2011 with $17,985. Rehfeldt financial statements for six months ending March 31, 2012 showed the league’s net assets had dropped to $9,691.

    McGeary said income in April “dropped significantly,” and expenses were still coming in from Winterfest.

    Since April 1, McGeary said league coffers were depleted by “big bills,” including rent, utilities, newspaper and magazine advertising, and payments to art instructors, the accountant, executive director and festival director.

    The league has a 22-year history on Anna Maria Island, showcasing local talent, providing art classes, camps and workshops and two art and craft shows. The festivals were the league’s major income generator to fund the art center and a scholarship program that provided deserving students with art classes.

    McGeary is currently planning for Winterfest.

    Former board members, Leslie Robbins, Karen Hasler, Alexis Lillis, Cheryl Jorgenson, Gillian Holt, and Ellen Aquilina, as well as Reginelli, issued a statement May 30, seeking accountability about the finances.

    Remaining on the board, in addition to McGeary, are members, Deeana Atkinson and Christine Galanopoulos. McGeary said she is looking for others interested in serving the league.

     The art league needs approximately $5,000 to meet its current expenses and liabilities, according to McGeary. In the past two weeks, in addition to several nice calls, McGeary has received approximately $1,000.

        McGeary is seeking contributions or pledges in support of the league “that has meant so much for art education in the community and for the children — that is what the art league is really about,” she said.

Anna Maria quandary: no one to run for mayor

For the first time in memory, no one is running for mayor of Anna Maria in the upcoming November election, leaving the city with a conflict for who will fill the mayor’s seat — and how.

In fact, there won’t be much of a municipal election in Anna Maria Nov. 6, as only incumbent Chuck Webb and Nancy Yetter qualified for the two commission seats up for election. With no opposition, the two candidates automatically win a commission seat, according to the Manatee County Supervisor of Elections office.

Since there is no candidate for mayor, attention turns to the city charter for answers, and this is where the conflicts begin, said deputy city clerk Diane Percycoe.

Percycoe said she spent a number of hours reviewing the charter with city attorney Jim Dye after learning there would be no mayoral candidate. There are a number of issues still to be resolved, although the procedure to elect a mayor is clear, she said.

It’s what happens after a mayor is elected that is causing some issues, Percycoe observed.

The city charter states that after the new commissioners are sworn in, the five commissioners elect a chair. In the absence of a duly-elected mayor, the chair automatically becomes interim mayor until the next general election — one year. A vice chair also is elected.

The four remaining commissioners then nominate and appoint a qualified city resident to fill the commission seat vacated by the chair for one year. The vice chair becomes the commission chair and the commission must then elect another vice chair. The new commission chair becomes vice mayor of the city.

Here’s where it becomes confusing, Percycoe said.

Commissioners are elected for two years. If either Yetter or Webb are elected chair and become mayor, do they return to the commission to serve the remainder of their term — one year — after a mayor is elected in November 2013?

As the mayor is supposed to serve a two-year term, how long does the mayor elected in 2013 serve?

And what happens to the person appointed by the commission to fill the vacancy for one year left by the new chair? It could result in four commission seats on the 2013 ballot.

The charter — the virtual bible for the city — requires election of a mayor and two commissioners in even-numbered years, which would be 2014. It also requires an election for three commission seats in odd-numbered years.

Percycoe said she had no solutions at this time for any of the potential issues.

“There are a number of questions involved here that staff and the city attorney are reviewing,” Percycoe said.

The situation will be addressed by Dye and commissioners at the June 14 commission meeting, she said.

Percycoe noted it’s the first time she can remember not having a candidate for mayor, but she has not yet checked city records, which date back to 1923, as they are in storage.

Long-time city resident and planning and zoning board member Tom Turner, who first came to the city more than 40 years ago, also said it’s the first time he recalls the city lacking a candidate for the mayor’s post.

“And I’ve been around a long time,” Turner said.

Although there will be no municipal balloting, the county, state and national elections will be held Nov. 6 at Roser Memorial Community Church.

Webb and Yetter will be elected to two-year terms at a salary of $400 per month. Anna Maria’s mayor — when one is elected or appointed — receives a stipend of $800 per month.

2 BB commissioners unopposed for second terms

While there may be contested elections elsewhere in November, it appears to be all quiet on the Bradenton Beach front with two uncontested races for seats on the city commission.

At the end of May, only Ward 4 Commissioner Jan Vosburgh had filed for re-election with Ward 2 Commissioner/Vice Mayor Ed Straight still undecided. However, according to the Manatee County Supervisor of Elections website, Straight’s “likely” run became reality last week.

According to Bradenton Beach city clerk Nora Idso, as of June 7, no one opposing the incumbents had claimed an election packet for the seats held by Vosburgh and Straight.

Straight won the his seat in 2010 after three decades in public service as Manatee County EMT chief, 911 emergency response center chief and as a reserve deputy sheriff.

Straight said in May that his run was likely, but that he would discuss his political future with his family before making his decision.

Vosburgh was appointed to the commission in 2010 to fill the term of then Ward 4 Commissioner Bob Bartelt, who vacated his seat to assume the mayoral role following the resignation of former Mayor Michael Pierce. Vosburgh went on to defeat mooring committee member Michael Harrington later that year to claim her spot on the dais for a full term.

Both Straight and Vosburgh expressed a love for the Bradenton Beach community in their desire to be re-elected.

According to financial reports, neither incumbent had yet raised or spent any funds toward their re-election.

Political newcomer challenges HB mayor

Holmes Beach Mayor Rich Bohnenberger qualified early last week for his fourth consecutive run as the city’s top administrator, and the race was uncontested until minutes before the close of qualifying week.

       Ten to 15 minutes before the qualifying deadline at noon June 8, according to city clerk Stacey Johnston, Carmel Monti, 65, of 530 Key Royale Drive, filed qualifying papers, challenging the mayor in the Nov. 6 city election.

       “I’m qualified — that’s a good thing,” said Monti after his filing on June 8.

       About why he’s running, Monti said, “I’d like to see changes made in certain areas. I believe I can contribute to the city to make it even better.”

       He said he’s run three businesses in his life, and feels qualified to run the city.

       Bohnenberger announced his intention to retain office in April. He was first elected city commissioner in 1993 and then again 1999-2006. He has served as mayor since 2006, and previously held the position 1993-94, having resigned his first-term commission seat for the mayoral run.

       Bohnenberger last week issued a statement on his goals for 2012-14, including opening the 32-acre preserve at Grassy Point for public access; continuing stormwater improvements; lobbying the Florida Legislature to restore local rental regulatory power; applying “every existing code possible to bring resolution to major rental problems;” and working with staff to deliver cost-effective public services.

       “Together we have achieved so much while setting a new record of four consecutive years of no tax increases,” Bohnenberger said in his statement.

       Bohnenberger also indicated he’d be recommending new police hires enter the state pension plan to save the city money and protect current pension plan members.

       The mayor serves as the chief executive officer of the city and attends commission meetings. He also oversees the city administration and manages the city budget. The city’s 2011-12 budget is $8,665,109.

       The mayor has authority to hire and fire city employees, except for department head appointments or terminations, which require concurrence from the commission. The mayor also holds the power to veto legislative actions of the commission, but a vote of four commission members can override the mayor’s veto.

       The mayor is elected for a two-year term, and draws a $12,000 annual salary.

       Johnston said she qualified the candidates by determining their petitions contained the required signatures of registered voters and making sure they paid the $120 fee and filed proper forms, including an affidavit of two-year residency.

       As of June 4, there were 3,259 registered voters, according to Johnston. Voter turnout for the previous election was 28 percent.

2 challengers seek to unseat 2 HB commissioners

Qualifying week ended June 8 in Holmes Beach, and all who announced they’d be running for a spot on the city commission in the Nov. 6 city election made it official.

    City clerk Stacey Johnston reported Marvin Grossman was the first to qualify June 4.

    Commissioners Sandy Haas-Martens and John Monetti also filed June 4, but were not qualified until the next day, she said.

    Next to qualify was challenger Judy Holmes Titsworth on June 7.

    Incumbents Haas-Martens and Monetti announced their bids for re-election in April.

    Johnston said she qualified the commission candidates by checking their petitions against the voter registration roll and checking the necessary forms, including an affidavit of two-year residency, and payment of the $60 filing fee.

    Haas-Martens is running for her eighth term as a city commissioner. She’s served as commission chair and deputy mayor 2003-05 and 2006-11. She recently chaired a code enforcement focus group that addressed ongoing multi-story construction and rental issues. At present, she’s the commission vice-chair.

    Haas-Martens did not return phone calls last week, but when she announced her candidacy in April she said she saw no reason for change on the commission.

    Monetti is running for his third term on the commission. He is city liaison to the Anna Maria Island Community Center and the public works department. He chaired the zoning/permitting focus group.

    Monetti also did not return phone calls last week, but announced his intention to run in April, saying he’s running to continue his efforts on the commission.

    Challenging Monetti and Haas-Martens, Grossman and Titsworth are first-time candidates for office.

    Grossman is a 13-year-resident, recently appointed to the code enforcement board. When he first announced his candidacy May 9, he said he was running “to maintain the old Florida lifestyle.”

    According to state election laws, if Grossman wins a commission seat, he will be required to resign from the code board before being sworn as a commissioner.

    Titsworth is a life-long resident of Holmes Beach. Her main reason for running, she says, is her concern about the city’s failure to enforce its land-development code. She vowed to be proactive and set the tone in the city of “not only compliance, but of good stewardship.”

    The five-member commission governs the city with policy decisions. Commissioners are elected to two year terms, and their salary is $6,000 annually.

        In the November 2011 city election, Johnston reports 984 of 3,515 registered voters cast ballots — a 28 percent voter turnout. The election saw incumbents David Zaccagnino and Pat Morton and newcomer Jean Peelen take seats, while Al Robinson and Andy Sheridan were unsuccessful in their bid for office.

3 WMFR seats, 3 district candidates run unopposed, Davis retires

Two incumbents and a newcomer face no opposition for seats on the West Manatee Fire Rescue Commission.

       An unexpected retirement changed the Nov. 6 election landscape during qualifying week for the WMFR board of commissioners.

       District 1 Commissioner Jesse Davis, a 20-year-veteran of the board, decided June 4 against taking on a re-election bid, leaving challenger Larry Jennis the only candidate seeking the District 1 seat to take office after the election.

       Davis said last week he decided not to run following an emergency medical procedure.

       “Right now I’m not at my optimum condition,” he said, adding he now has three heart stents. He’s spoken to WMFR Chief Andy Price about his decision, and he was supportive, said Davis.

       “I love the district,” he said. “The decision was not made lightly.”

       Jennis, a seven-year district resident, declared his run for the District 1 seat last month after participating in the spring WMFR Citizen Academy.

       With Davis sitting out the election, Jennis will automatically take the District 1 seat for a four-year term.

       It is Jennis’ first bid for public office. He says he wants to contribute his management experience to the district.

       WMFR Commissioner David Bishop qualified for his first election in District 4. He is unopposed for the seat, having been appointed last year by the board to replace former Commissioner John Rigney, who moved from the district.

       Bishop is an architect and life-long district resident who has served on the WMFR board since July 2011.

       He announced in May his intention to retain his seat and run for the remaining two-year term. He now will remain on the board.

       Commission Chair Randy Cooper, also unopposed, will fill another four-year term.

       Cooper was first elected as a commissioner in 2008. A former volunteer firefighter in west Hillsborough County, he served 11 years in the Florida National Guard and moved to Bradenton from Tampa in 2003.

       Last week also saw Al Robinson of Holmes Beach pre-qualify for the District 4 seat. Robinson previously ran for a seat on the WMFR commission and subsequently served one term as a Holmes Beach city commissioner. He lost his bid for re-election in 2011.

       However, Robinson did not qualify by the June 8 deadline, according to Manatee County Assistant Supervisor of Elections Nancy Bignell, and will not be on the ballot.

       According to the supervisor of elections office, there are 23,026 registered voters in the WMFR district as of April 2011.

Role-model dad teaches life’s lessons

Eric Boso is a small town guy with a big heart. And, he’s been a dad or in the role of a dad — a great role model — to so very many.

        He was born and raised just outside of Columbus, Ohio., and never traveled far from home, he says.  He would see the “same people every day” and “they were good people.”

        “But in the last 15 years,” Boso says, with the encouragement of his wife, Pedreia, “I really started living.”  He tells several “crazy” stories about his life between 1997 when they married and 2008 when they decided to come to Sarasota.

        At his first fulltime job in Columbus, Ohio, he worked with ARC Industries and special needs adults, teaching them jobs “and even how to ride the bus,” he says.

        Working there and inspiring others, he says, helped him decide to go back to school to be a teacher.

         “I bled University of Michigan,” says the Columbus-area native.

        But his wife knew his dream. “Without me knowing it,” Boso says, she filled out a University of Michigan application, sent it in and “it came back accepted.”

        After they had their son, “that’s when I started back,” he adds.

        But wait a minute, they lived in Columbus. He still had his job at ARC.

        A little matter of distance wasn’t going to stop Boso.

        He started his first semester at UM, commuting some 190 miles to the Ann Arbor campus.

        It wasn’t long after he started the trek to college that he began having trouble with his statistics class. After he sat down with his professor and told him about his commute, his life took on another radical change.

        “Wait a minute,” Boso recalls the professor saying, “you want to come to U of M so badly you’re commuting that far. He told me, ‘You remind me a lot of me when I was a kid.’”

        His professor gave him a name and phone number written on a little piece of paper, Boso says, and he made contact with the person for a job. He was hired as a University of Michigan strength and conditioning trainer, working with all teams — “but football, mostly.”

        He and his family put everything they owned in a truck and moved to Ann Arbor, where they lived in family housing, and met people from around the world.

        In 2006, Boso received his bachelor’s degree from UM, and he maintained his “cool job” at the university for about a year and a half longer.

        He recalls seeing the importance of role modeling at this job. There, he says, children with life-threatening diseases came from an area hospital to visit the athletes. He remembers how special the children felt when the “big man on campus” recognized them, and the humble feeling expressed by the players.

         “It changes you as a person,” he says, adding that he’s teaching his children and AME students about the need to give back.

        As cool as that job was, he says, he saw himself without time for his family. “What can I say, they’re my life,” Boso says.

        So it was time for a change — especially because his oldest son needed him. Son Erick has Asperger syndrome — a mild form of autism.

        While Erick had therapists, and Boso could have had other professionals help him, he believed he could do it “better than anyone.”

        So Boso worked to improve Erick’s physical condition by playing with his son — especially basketball, which Erick loves — leading to his improvement today. He has no remaining signs of Asperger, Boso says.

        Exercise is so important for everyone, he adds. And for Erick, it “opened up the world for him. He has friends. He feels confident. He has something to look forward to.”

        Next for Boso, with his bachelor’s degree in hand, he says, was another job. “I just knew I wanted to teach kids.”

        Boso’s career jumped to Florida after he and his wife heard about Siesta Key being among the “America’s Top 10 Beaches” — another crazy story, he says.

        Boso says he and his wife thought, “why stay up north when we could work and live” in the beautiful setting near Siesta Key.

        So he tried to land a job by flying in for the “Great Florida teach-in” but didn’t get an interview. He was disappointed, but he reasoned it wasn’t meant to be.

        Soon enough, his wife, who was a personal banker at J.P. Morgan Chase in Ann Arbor, put in for a transfer and a Sarasota position was offered.

        So in 2008, the Bosos moved to Sarasota. Once in Florida, he reached his goal of teaching kids, first at Gulf Gate Elementary in Sarasota, and at PAL Charter School in Bradenton, before arriving at Anna Maria Elementary School.

        Now going into his third school year at AME, he says, “I love it. I’ve gotten such positive feedback.”

        He brings his younger son, Jarrett, 9, along with him to work every day. Next year, Jarrett, who wants to be a policeman someday, will be a fifth-grader.

        “I want to help people,” says Jarrett, adding other family members are policemen and firemen.

        “I love all these kids like they were my own kid,” Boso says. “I know every kid’s name. I always look them in the eye and say ‘hi’ to each of them.”

        And his excellent role modeling ability is recognized by others.

        School counselor Cindi Harrison says, “He’s a great example of a dad. It’s neat to see him as a real dad, and as a dad to all the students. He sets a good example. He’s responsible, respectable, and he cares.

        “He exemplifies the values we teach at AME,” she says.

        The end of Boso’s crazy story — for now anyway — is Boso loves his job, and says he wants to bring even “more to the table, to make it exciting — to keep the kids loving it.”