Tag Archives: 08-14-2013

Long Bar developer drops marina, gains swing vote

Manatee County Commission Chair Larry Bustle pledged the Aug. 6 special hearing regarding map and text changes to the county’s comprehensive plan requested by the Long Bar Pointe developer would continue until every voice was heard.

Bustle was true to his word, with public comment consuming about half of the meeting that ran for more than 12 hours and ended just before 2 a.m. Aug. 7, at the Bradenton Area Convention Center.

With about 1,000 people in attendance to begin the meeting, either for or against the Long Bar Pointe proposals, county officials, staff and the Long Bar Pointe development team launched into a detailed meeting to address the questions before them.

The hearing — the largest ever county meeting — was for two proposals from developers Carlos Beruff and Larry Lieberman, including a request to amend the county’s land-use map and to amend text in the comprehensive plan.

Commissioners ultimately approved the land-use map amendment with a 4-3 vote and rejected the comprehensive plan text amendment that would have put the county’s environmental protection regulations and policies in jeopardy.

Commissioners John Chappie, Michael Gallen and Robin DiSabatino voted against both amendment requests.

The map amendment must still be approved by the state and then return to the county commissioners for a second public hearing.

The approval to a map amendment change designating the property from residential-9 to mixed use — units per acre plus commercial — potentially allows the developers their residential development plans, yet to be submitted.

The Aug. 6 meeting was the first in many steps the developers must negotiate with the exception of a 2004 approved site plan to begin construction on more than 250 homes at the northern portion of the 500-plus acre parcel.

Developers, at any time, may proceed with that construction, but Beruff is proposing an amended development project that adds commercial retail space, a 300-room hotel, 72,000 square feet of office space and an 84,000-square-foot conference center, in addition to commercial space.

That proposal will require a site-plan submission and further review.

What the developers lost when commissioners voted to reject the text amendment was the opportunity to change stringent environmental rules that would allow dredging rights for a channel into Sarasota Bay.

The text amendment proposal was at the heart of the controversy that spurred multiple environmental protection groups and thousands of citizens to protest.

 

Future land-use map amendment

Manatee County planner Shelley Hamilton told commissioners that staff recommended approval of the land-use map amendment — rezoning — based on the information available, which she emphasized did not include a site plan.

Hamilton’s staff explained that amendments to the future-land use map are not uncommon and that the map is a guiding document in how the county intends to grow.

Hamilton emphasized that an approval of the amendment was not an approval for any phase of the proposed development. She said all aspects of a future site plan would be thoroughly reviewed for consistency with the county’s comprehensive plan and land development codes.

She said an approval would simply re-designate the property from residental-9 to mixed use, which she said is consistent with the comprehensive plan and other undeveloped property in the county.

She said although a site plan has not been submitted, based on development suggestions, staff noted that environmental impacts would require further review and that some of the proposed uses may not be consistent with the conservation elements of the comprehensive plan.

Manatee County Environmental Planning Division manager Doug Means said staff raised concerns about a proposed marina and the impact it would have on Sarasota Bay, mangroves, coastline, wildlife and fishery.

Means also said that an approval of the map amendment, “in no way grants approval for those proposals.”

Commissioners expressed concern for whether any reference to a marina, dredging or boat docks should be included in the map amendment request.

Commissioners Carol Whitmore and DiSabatino wanted references to a marina removed from the request before voting.

Staff cautioned the board that the amendment was the developer’s proposal and not theirs to change, which could be considered grounds for a future lawsuit.

Commissioners were advised that a recent court ruling advised against local governments telling developers what they can and can’t put into a proposal, however language referencing the marina was removed prior to the vote after the developers agreed to have the language removed from their request.

Chappie said he also had trouble understanding how staff could say the request was consistent with the comprehensive plan.

“I’m having a problem that quite a few things are changing if the map amendment changes to mixed use as far as regulations that are imposed,” he said. “Why does staff say this is consistent with the comprehensive plan?”

Hamilton said until staff sees a site plan, “we don’t know if it will be inconsistent.

She said that’s why staff made sure to include language in its recommendation that further review may be needed and that there may be proposals that are inconsistent with the comprehensive plan.

Hamilton said the amendment request asked for the change and “we looked at it based just on that.”

Chappie said based on the increase in commercial square footage alone, it appears an increase in intensity is apparent and therefore not consistent with the comprehensive plan.

 

Text amendment change denied

While county staff recommended approval of the map amendment, Hamilton said staff had recommended denial of the text amendment request.

Hamilton said the language was not in the best interest of the public and would jeopardize the county’s environmental protection provisions.

“Staff has concerns that it could have negative impact on seagrasses, water quality, fish and shellfish harvesting,” she said.

Hamilton said the request would limit the county’s ability to maintain control of flooding, erosion and protection from tidal storm surges in order to maintain public safety and wildlife habitat.

“There is no justification in support of the text changes,” she said. “The uses envisioned may have an adverse impact to all shoreline in Manatee County, not just Sarasota Bay.”

While Beruff has maintained his text amendment proposal is designed to apply only to Long Bar Pointe, Means cited 42 properties within the county, which were identified by staff in a last-minute study completed the day before the Aug. 6 meeting, that the text amendment could impact in the future.

Means also said the comprehensive plan, written in 1989, prohibits the development of private property that continues into Sarasota Bay for dredging purposes and that the Long Bar Pointe proposal is contradictory to state requirements.

Commissioners unanimously voted to deny the text amendment changes.

 

Developers defend proposal

Beruff, whose comments were brief Aug. 6, said his vision for Long Bar Pointe was inspired by a trip to Barcelona, Spain.

“We believe this is the best designed community west of I-75 in 50 years,” said Beruff, who then turned over the presentation to his development team and attorney Ed Vogler.

Vogler said the two amendments sought by developers were simply an authorization to bring forward a concept not yet submitted and that it was a first step in a multi-agency regulatory review process.

Vogler argued that should the resort be built as proposed, it would create 1,000 jobs and hundreds of temporary construction jobs over 15 years. He said the resort would become an economic generator in terms of tax revenue and estimated it would generate $330,000 a year in annual sales tax and $952,000 in resort tax.

He said the text amendment changes were written under supervision and advisement of county staff, “I was very disappointed to come in today to hear staff disapproves of the language.”

Vogler said he was willing to work with staff in making some minor language changes that would achieve a good result, but it appeared “we don’t have that kind of relationship.”

One of Beruff’s environmental consultants, John Henslick, said the fact that Beruff has hired three environmental firms “shows how much we know that environmental concerns are a primary issue. We know we can make significant improvements to the condition of Sarasota Bay.”

Henslick cited the plan’s proposal to preserve or enhance 123 acres of mangroves, place a conservation easement and preserve 2.8 miles of the 2.9 mile Long Bar Pointe coastal shoreline.

 

Getting to the vote

After some short breaks, and a great deal of public comment — some scientific and environmental arguments as well as heartfelt concerns for the health of Sarasota Bay from the audience that dwindled to about 100 people by midnight — commissioners continued discussion on the map amendment with staff and reviewed the mixed-zoning already applied to the area surrounding the Long Bar Pointe property.

A large farming area running south from Cortez Road to 53rd Avenue West, running east past the county sewer treatment plant to 34th Street, owned now by Manatee Fruit Co., has been rezoned to mixed-use community, which allows a higher concentration of commercial at the 75th Street-Cortez Road intersection and some retail at the roundabout at 75th Street and 53rd Avenue West and on 53rd Avenue to the east.

Commissioners indicated they did not want another residential gated community at Long Bar Pointe, and mixed use was preferred.

However, several commissioners spoke against the marina and channel dredging proposed in the plan. Again, the county legal staff cautioned that the plan changes were proposed by the developer, and any change initiated by the commission would likely result in litigation by the developer.

Commissioner Michael Gallen reminded board members that the county has an agreement to maintain Sarasota Bay with Sarasota County and municipal governments by contract with the Sarasota Bay Estuary Program.

Chappie cautioned commissioners about approving the zoning change based on further environmental concerns and the ability for the developer to include “big box” stores in the commercial uses.

There also was concern that staff’s recommendations were incomplete or incorrect — that not enough information was known at the time the amendments were reviewed.

Commissioners Betsy Benac, Vanessa Baugh and Whitmore continued to say they would go along with the recommended mixed-use zoning if the marina was not an option.

It finally became clear the land-use map change would fail with the marina included — based on the commissioners’ conversations.

Vogler then approached the podium — at about 1:30 a.m. — announcing the developers had agreed to remove the marina from their request.

DiSabatino had already motioned to deny transmitting the zoning change to the state —the first step in the rezone process — and she called upon the chair to take the vote.

Bustle, Benac, Baugh and Whitmore, voted no, essentially approving the zoning map change.

Chappie, DiSabatino and Gallen, who maintained issues aside from the marina were of concern, voted yes, to deny the amendment.

The marathon meeting ended just before 2 a.m.

 

Sidebar

  • I am honored to speak on behalf several Manatee County residents. In all, 22 people have given me permission to speak for them today. I have the honor to speak on behalf of individuals with different backgrounds holding the same opinion. Many are fishing guides like CPT Scott Moore who is considered the pioneer of guide fishing in this area. Those fishing guides and many others here today depend on the waters and the fishing it provides to put food on the table and live what many might say is a simple life yet, to us, it’s the grandest life we could ask for. Others are residents who care deeply about where live and why they live here.
  • We are opposing:
    • Any dredging whatsoever – There is arguably no other area more important to the tidal flows and marine life that call the long bar home.
    • Any mangrove trimming or mangrove removal. Many others already have or will speak about the traumatic effects.
    • We aren’t taking a position that we should be able to tell Mr. Beruff what he can build on his land, to a certain extent, but we are taking a position we have every right to oppose any coastal destruction or alteration. No mitigating factor will ever make up for the harm caused.
  • Why to say NO:
    • In less than two months, my very own Petition has generated nearly 1000 signatures opposing the potential dredging and mangrove removal. When all of the petitions are combined, over 6000 signatures have been received.
    • Save the Manatee County Shoreline Facebook Page is reaching 1100 likes alone.
    • The only persons in favor of this project are individuals associated with developers and having a potential financial gain as a result.
    • For fishing enthusiasts and charter captains like me, there mere thought of dredging through on the most important sea beds in all of Sarasota is a devastating thought. Not to mention to multiplied, increase of boat traffic and increased in size of boats that do not currently exist.
    • When combining the dredging, the boat traffic and then the mangrove removal, the habitat and fishery will slowing wither away and no mitigating factor can every replace our special, natural environment.
    • The few in favor keep preaching “mitigation.” Mitigation is a term to legally skirt around destroying one area and technically redefining another. There is no mitigating factor that will ever make up for the harm caused if this amendment is passed. The Long Bar is not the only location in Manatee this amendment will affect.
    • If you pass this amendment, developers will be lining up to do the same thing to the rest of our shorelines and then, there is not stopping it, at least without paying thousands upon thousands of our tax payer dollars defending lawsuits which I know all too well.
    • Fl Dept of Environmental Protection – Sarasota Bay designated as Outstanding Florida Waters meaning:
      • No permits for indirect discharges significantly degrading nearby waterbody (Sarasota bay)
      • Must meet a more stringent public interest test (nothing about this is in the public’s best interest as indicated by all of the people here today and all of the petitions signed).
      • Activities adversely affecting the conservation of fish
      • Adversely affecting navigation or the flow of water
      • Adversely affecting the fishing or recreational values and marine productivity “in the vicinity”
      • (see www.dep.state.fl.us/water/wqssp)
    • Florida legislature implemented the Surface Water Improvement and Management Act of 1987. (Section 373.451, Florida Statutes)
      • “SWIM Legislation requires the water management districts to protect ecological, aesthetic, recreational and economic value of the State’s surface water bodies, keeping in mind, degraded water quality can cause both direct and indirect losses of habitats.”
      • Sarasota’s SWIM plan was approved in 1997. Commissioner Benac should know a lot about this. She sat on the Sarasota Bay National Estuary Policy Board in 2006-07.
      • Concern for the overall health of Sarasota Bay resulted in the designation by the US Environmental Protection Agency as an estuary of national significance in 1987.
      • In 1995, the following were identified as PRIORITY management issues:
        • Decline in water quality
        • LOSS of WETLANDS and other COASTAL habitats.
        • Loss of sea grasses
      • How is it that the Chairman that is supposed to be advocating for all that I just went through be here today advocating exactly the opposite?
    • LAWSUIT
      • Please do not let the lawsuit effect your decision today. Unfortunately, I know all too well that we live in a lawsuit happy world. If I am a commissioner, I would much rather fight on the grounds of supporting an existing plan designed to protect the County I was voted into office to protect versus giving into a group that has long had tremendous influence on the outcome of the world most everyday residents live in and playing “defense” for years to come.
      • Mr. Vogler, you cant legitimately say that environmental protection is important while saying environmental policies need to be changed. That’s an oxymoron.
        • You said recently, “The policy limitations that are in here today are not well though-out and tailored. They were placed there and nobody objected to them because there wasn’t a project. There’s nothing wrong with high level of environmental protection. It’s perfect. Its wonderful. When it doesn’t work right, when the words say the wrong thing, you have to change the words.” Well, you are right, they are perfect, they are right. The policy wasn’t objected to because there wasn’t a “project.” The policy wasn’t objected to because it was put in place to prohibit such a project from that point forward because those commissioners knew that our coastline was too vital, too special to let anything happen to it. The policy was well thought out. If it wasn’t, we wouldn’t be here today.
      • I assure you, the residents of Manatee County have the Commissioners back to fight any lawsuit that threatens our coastline and our way of life.

 

    • CARLOS:
      • Before the commissioners come to a vote, I respectfully request withdraw your text amendment proposal. While there may be some hecklers out there that may tease you, there will be many, many more of us that will congratulate you on listening to the vast majority of the people who call this place home and give you a great deal of respect for doing what we believe to be the right thing to do despite your disagreeing. I would be the first person to shake your hand and say thank you.
      • Even when and if you withdraw your request, you and everyone else involved is still going to make a killing on this property.
    • Commissioners:
      • Commissioner Whitmore: You are face with an important decision. A decision that forces you to look into the eyes of your friends and neighbors throughout Anna Maria and West Bradenton. Your decision today will tell them how much you truly care about them and their livelihoods.
      • Commissioner Benac: I believe that you, Comm Whitmore and Chappie have the most to gain and the most to lose from your vote today. Your vote today, one of the most important votes you will ever make, is going to define you as a commissioner representing the people of Manatee County forever. Please vote wisely. Listen to your constituents.
      • It is time that the Commissioners listen very carefully to the voters and the very people whose lives, both from a professional and recreational standpoint, depend on your NO vote today.
      • I want our fishing and tourism industry to continue thriving. I want my friends and colleagues to continue being able to put food on the table for their family and pass on their knowledge like it’s been passed on to them. I want my son to grow up enjoying all the things I have enjoyed and pass that along to his children.
      • We urge you throw out politics, say thank you to the developers for all they have done for our community and tell them there is no way we will approve any amendment that compromises our coastline for you or anyone else. Not under my watch.
      • I will be happy to answer any questions you might have.

Anna Maria P&Z rejects parking ordinance amendments

A proposed amendment to Anna Maria’s parking ordinance was reviewed by the city’s planning and zoning board, but it failed to gain approval.

At its Aug. 6 meeting, a vote on the ordinance ended 3-3, with member Carol Carter absent. The tie vote means the board will not recommend the plan to the city commission for approval, city planner Alan Garrett said.

The proposal would allow the city public works director to approve a variety of permeable materials for sidewalks instead of the standard concrete now required by ordinance.

Building official Bob Welch said testing has proven that concrete does not filter rainwater, while other substances aid in filtering stormwater runoff.

Welch said the change would facilitate Commissioner Gene Aubry’s proposed master plan for Pine Avenue parking and green space. He told the board the commission was still considering the plan and public hearings have yet to be held.

But P&Z Chair Tom Turner said he wanted to see Aubry’s plan.

Welch and Garrett then rolled out the estimated 15-foot-long rendering, and Turner suggested the city needs the advice of a professional parking engineer.

Other board members, including Margaret Jenkins, objected to removing language that requires parking spaces to be located entirely within the lot or parcel. But Welch said the city already allows some parking spaces to be located outside the subject property.

Member Lou Ellen Wilson raised the question of whether boardmember Mike Coleman should vote on the amendment. Coleman is a principal in Pine Avenue Restoration, a company that owns retail-office-residential complexes on Pine Avenue.

An Aug. 6 letter to the board from attorney Jeremy Anderson, representing Spring Avenue property-owners William and Barbara Nally, objected to Coleman voting. Anderson alleged Coleman’s “ties to Pine Avenue development interests create a clear and definite conflict of interest.”

Anderson demanded in the letter that Coleman recuse himself.

In response, Coleman said he checked with an attorney and was told Florida statutes require that he recuse himself only if he has a direct financial interest — either a gain or loss — resulting from the amendment. If he has none, he said, he must vote.

Coleman said the amendment has no financial affect on PAR properties on Pine Avenue, and he will neither benefit nor lose financially from the proposed changes.

Coleman, along with board members Mike Pescitelli and Carl Pearman voted to recommend approval, while Jenkins, Wilson and Turner voted no.

With the tie vote, the proposed amendment will be presented at the commission’s Aug. 22 meeting without any P&Z recommendation, Garrett said.

Paid parking likely for visitors to city of Anna Maria

The idea of paid parking, at least for day visitors to the city of Anna Maria, is gaining traction among commissioners, who, after an Aug. 8 meeting, seem ready to drive home a parking plan.

Although the meeting was to be a workshop of ideas for possible new revenue streams, commissioners quickly agreed that some revenue should come from day visitors, as they have a great deal of impact on the city’s infrastructure.

Commission Chair Chuck Webb said his thoughts on how to generate more city revenue concluded with the idea that paid parking could be the easiest to accomplish. Although paid parking has been suggested by previous commissions, it was turned down because parking on holidays and weekends was not a serious issue, he said.

“But it is now,” Webb observed.

Paid parking is easier to implement as a revenue source than a special city tax, he said. A study providing factual evidence is needed for a special assessment, but paid parking is not an assessment, Webb noted.

“And if we passed a tax, we would need approval of the Florida Legislature,” Webb said. “But we own the roads, right of way and many parking spots and can charge what we want.” There is no need for a study to have paid parking, he said.

Commissioner Dale Woodland agreed that paid parking is easily done and does not impact city residents. He opposes any impact or parking fee for residents.

The short-term visitors are using more of the city’s roads, beaches, trash bins and the city pier than the residents, Webb said. Therefore, it’s only fair that those who use something the most should help pay for it. City taxpayers already are paying for those items in their annual tax bill, he said.

Woodland said parking seems to be “the easiest and most agreeable” to commissioners, and “what is charged is a controlling mechanism” on the large number of day visitors.

“Paid parking is our priority,” Woodland.

Mayor SueLynn confirmed that paid parking would count toward the public parking spaces needed to qualify for state and federal beach renourishment funds.

“Just as long as they are public parking locations,” she said.

Commissioner Gene Aubry said Anna Maria may be the only city where he’s worked without paid parking.

“But the last thing I want to do is penalize people who have lived here for years,” Aubry said. “And remember, our biggest industry is tourism, so we have to be careful. We don’t want to penalize the little guy who runs a business,” he added.

The commission will have to hold several more brain-storming sessions to iron out the details of how paid parking is implemented, including who gets charged, Webb said.

Commissioners Doug Copeland and Nancy Yetter were absent.

“Let’s start with parking for now,” Woodland said. “It’s easy and we get 100 percent of the revenue and it won’t impact our residents.”

The subject will be on the agenda for the Aug. 22 meeting and the city attorney is expected to be present.

Webb noted the city gets nothing back from the resort tax for its infrastructure, despite pleas to the Manatee County Tourist Development Council for support for the city.

“They keep saying they’ll look into it, but we hear nothing, despite our pleas that a small city like Anna Maria has a hard time dealing with thousands of people on weekends and they make a big impact on our roads, the pier, our beach accesses and landscaping,” Mayor SueLynn said.

The mayor also noted that if the city is to begin towing vehicles in no-parking zones, or placing a lock on a vehicle to prevent a driver from moving it, ordinances are needed. At present, the city code only allows towing a vehicle that is blocking a private driveway.

Commissioners also discussed a uniform sign ordinance. Building official Bob Welch said he has talked to several real estate agents, who offered ideas for a standard sign.

Any change to the sign ordinance that creates a standard-size sign would take about two years to implement, Webb said.

“But we could have temporary and permanent signs for sales and rentals and charge accordingly for each,” he suggested.

Welch said he would bring a draft sign ordinance to the commission as soon as possible for discussion.

“If we implement the ordinance over a period of time, we could achieve compliance,” he said.

The next commission meeting will be at 6 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 22, at Anna Maria City Hall, 10005 Gulf Drive.

Bridge Street pier reconstruction inches closer to reality

Reconstruction of the Bradenton Beach Historic Bridge Street Pier inched a step closer to reality July 25 with a few details of construction drawings being addressed.

Commissioners and department heads gathered for a pier meeting and fielded questions from ZNS structural engineer Glenn Warburton.

While an official budget for the reconstruction won’t be released until a scope of work is presented, city officials have indicated financial limitations are in place and are not to be exceeded.

Warburton presented some possible cost-saving measures, but needed commission input on details such as replacing existing copulas, extending pilings for railing support and whether or not the city wants railings.

Commissioners have discussed whether to keep the three copulas on the pier leading to the T-end pavilion.

Building official Steve Gilbert asked whether the copulas should remain, be reduced or to change the design to a less expensive pergola.

Warburton presented a variety of ideas to save money, such as scaling back the design to a simple box structure.

He advised against extending the pilings up to the railing, saying the pilings would not be able to be installed to exact measures and an additional extension would be needed to provide the added structural support.

“As I’m doing the details, the hand notching to the railings would be somewhat cumbersome,” he said.

The discussion turned back to the copulas where Warburton suggested a less expensive pergola would still provide some shade. The city, he said, could always add a roof at a later time.

Mayor John Shaughnessy said the T-end of the pier was more important and suggested reducing the number of copulas and changing to a less expensive design to put the money into the T-end.

Commissioner Ric Gatehouse agreed, saying the pavilion at the end of the pier is not only necessary, “but gives the city part of its visual impact when people are coming over the Cortez Bridge. It’s more important that we maintain that.”

Commissioners ultimately agreed to reduce the number of shaded structures on the pier walkway from three to two and to change the design from copula to pergolas.

Police Chief Sam Speciale, who is the pier team facilitator, suggested both a copula and pergola design be placed in the request for proposal, noting one contractor may decide he can do a copula for the same price as a pergola.

Commissioners agreed and also discarded the notion to change to the pier’s handrails from wooden rails to ropes, suggested as a cost-saving measure.

Gilbert suggested eliminating wooden handrails also would lower maintenance costs, but commissioners were uncomfortable with potential safety issues.

Gatehouse said ropes will eventually stretch out, “and once they stretch, they become unstable and then we have a liability issue.”

Commissioner Jan Vosburgh asked about the expense of using a composite material for the handrails to cut down on maintenance costs, but Gilbert said composite materials on saltwater have virtually the same life span as treated wood.

Warburton cautioned against losing the pier’s appeal by using different materials.

“As an outside spectator, I notice how charming the pier is because it is wooden,” he said. “It is a fishing pier and my suggestion is to not lose that charm.”

Warburton and Gilbert said they had enough information to finish the drawings. Once the drawings are complete, a request for proposal can be formulated so the city can begin receiving bids on the project.

But reconstruction is already behind schedule.

According to the original ZNS proposal, design plans and a scope of work were expected by the end of April, the bidding process was to begin in May, and construction was expected to start up in early June.

It now appears advertising and bidding may be completed by the end of August. Under the current estimated timetable, construction could begin in September and could take two months to complete.

About five years ago, the pier underwent a renovation project that focused on rebuilding the restaurant and the landside areas of the pier.

That project stopped just east of the restaurant. The new renovation project picks up where the previous project stopped and focuses on the remainder of the pier.

New HB committee tackles parking problems, traffic congestion

Chair Richard Motzer of the newly formed Committee on Traffic Congestion and Parking summed up the committee’s dilemma at its first meeting Aug. 5 at Holmes Beach City Hall, saying, “We have a congestion problem.”

The committee was formed under the direction of Holmes Beach Mayor Carmel Monti and includes Motzer, Carol Soustek, Pam Leckie, Terry Davidson, Peggy Davenport and Holmes Beach Police Chief Bill Tokajer.

Commissioner David Zaccagnino is liaison to the committee with Monti providing input and direction. Zaccagnino and Davenport were absent.

The committee is directed to address traffic congestion and parking issues during weekends, on holidays and in season.

The committee suggested asking representative of Holmes Beach churches and banks to open their parking lots on weekends and holidays, with signage directing motorists to park in the specified lots.

Motzer said Sunday parking would need to be coordinated with church services, and suggested a donation box be set up at the churches.

Motzer suggested the city purchase signage for the cooperating businesses and churches and direct the public works department to ensure the lots are routinely cleaned.

The committee also discussed parking on Manatee Avenue near the entrance to Manatee Public Beach, 4000 Gulf Drive. While parking on the south side of Manatee Avenue is allowed, the north side now is a posted tow-away zone.

Motzer said even though it’s legal to park on the south side, safety is an issue.

“It depends on how they park,” said Motzer. “Normally, the family is trying to get all their stuff together and sometimes the kids get away from them. I saw two kids run out in the street when I drove by the other day.”

Motzer said the other issue is parallel parking.

“If everyone is parallel parking, that means someone is stopping on Manatee Avenue in an attempt to pull into a spot and that’s causing traffic to back up,” he said.

Tokajer said if the city wants to continue to allow parking on the south side, then angle parking is better.

“It’s the safest way,” said Tokajer. “No matter where you park on Manatee it’s still a problem getting out into traffic, but if we allow it on the south side, I would say mark it for angled parking only.”

The committee agreed that marked angle parking would be safer and allow more parking spaces than paralleled-parked cars.

 

Bradenton Beach overflow?

Davidson offered a suggestion to create signage directing beachgoers to Coquina Beach in Bradenton Beach when the Manatee Public Beach parking lot is full.

Manatee Public Beach has 400 designated parking spots, while Coquina Beach has 1,600.

Committee members acknowledged that as congestion issues continue to be addressed, dialogue with representatives from the other island cities is necessary. They also acknowledged that Bradenton Beach officials may not like the idea of diverting excess traffic to Coquina Beach.

“I know traffic at night is pretty rough in Bradenton Beach, and we’ll need to have a discussion with them before doing anything like that,” said Motzer.

Tokajer said diverting traffic to Bradenton Beach might cause an islandwide traffic problem, as beachgoers wind their way to Coquina Beach.

Monti said conversations about congestion with Bradenton Beach Mayor John Shaughnessy and Anna Maria Mayor SueLynn are ongoing.

Monti also is pursuing ideas of charging for parking at the beach.

“We have to maintain a certain amount of free parking to qualify for beach renourishment,” said Monti. “But we are in discussion regarding parking programs for the respective cities.”

The mayor brought up his idea for building a multi-level parking structure at the beach.

“I know that conjures up some bad issues, but if it’s done right and designed right, it can be done tastefully and raise revenue.”

One idea being discussed is to create a permitted parking system on public streets and beaches.

Residents would receive free stickers and it also could assist the city in ensuring rental agents are not overbooking units by issuing only a specific number of permits for the allowed number of vehicles at each licensed accommodation.

If not issued a permit to park on the street, all other vehicles parked at a rental unit could be ticketed and towed.

Committee members acknowledged that it was only an idea, and that there were a lot of details that would need to be worked out.

Monti also is pursuing ideas to put an airport-style booth at the beach that would accept credit cards for entry, as well as continuing discussions on approaching Manatee County and the state for toll booths at all three island entry points.

Monti wanted a consensus from the committee on a toll booth and committee members found it worthwhile.

Tokajer said it would need to be a SunPass kind of system, or it would create more of a traffic issue than what currently exists.

A lot of discussion was geared on how to exempt island residents, as well as employees of island businesses who come from the mainland.

Whether it’s paid parking, toll booths or both, Monti said the citizens are demanding that tourists do more to pay their fair share.

“What I keep hearing from citizens is that they are being heavily taxed and everything is free for the tourists,” said Monti. “I don’t think tourists would mind paying for the beautiful beaches if we come up with the right idea, but right now they aren’t paying for anything.”

Monti said just because tourists pay to vacation here, “doesn’t mean you can be disrespectful to the people that live here.”

The committee discussed several other ideas, from bicycle access to traffic flow.

More enforcement of illegal parking already is underway, according to Tokajer.

In April, prior to the commission’s direction to increase enforcement, 66 traffic tickets were written. In May, 225 tickets were issued.

New traffic committee seeks new ideas

Attend a commission meeting in any of the three island cities and there is common ground when it comes to parking concerns.

All three island commissions continue to address the issue, and now Holmes Beach has formed a committee to define the its concerns and develop solutions.

The Committee on Traffic Congestion and Parking in Holmes Beach is looking for positive suggestions from residents of the city.

“We know a problem exists with traffic and parking, and we would like constructive ideas for alleviating the congestion,” said committee chair Richard Motzer.

Residents are invited to send suggestions to Congestion Committee, 5801 Marina Drive, Holmes Beach Fl 34217, or email islandcongestion@holmesbeachfl.org.

Finally, a winner

Yes, after 50-plus weeks of anxiety for administrator Ernie Casali, center rear, the Anna Maria Island Moose Lodge’s popular Queen of Hearts contest drew down to two cards remaining and a winner. Dawn DooDOOXXXXX of XXXX opened the envelope containing the queen of hearts playing card Aug. 7 at the lodge, amid the largest-ever crowd and a downpour. The contest proceeds have helped the lodge with its ongoing remodeling project, including a new kitchen and air conditioning. Islander Photo: Bonner Joy

Image-i-nation

Announcing the honorable mentions in The Islander’s annual Top Notch photography. Look for the top entries in the pet photography contest in the Aug. 21 issue.

Amber Allen of Bradenton receives an honorable mention for a saturated, cool-themed photograph of a forest.

Phil Bunnell earns an honorable mention for his infrared image of an iconic beachfront home on Oak Avenue in Anna Maria.

Holly Moher wins an honorable mention for her bird with prey image, which she captured using a Nikon D40 in Anna Maria.

Barbara Raber of west Bradenton receives an honorable mention for catching a brown pelican in the middle of a big gulp.

 

 

Calendar – 08-14-2013

Making plans…

Getting ready for the 2013-14 season? The Islander encourages publicists for local groups to send 2013-14 calendars to calendar@islander.org.

 

Wednesday, Aug. 14

8:10 p.m. — Official sunset time.

 

Thursday, Aug. 15

9:30-11:30 a.m. — Anna Maria Island Community Center blood drive, 407 Magnolia Ave., Anna Maria. Information: 941-778-1908.

10 a.m. — Book club, Island Library, 5701 Marina Drive, Holmes Beach. Information: 941-778-6341.

8:09 p.m.: Official sunset time.

 

Friday, Aug. 16

8:08 p.m.: Official sunset time.

 

Saturday, Aug. 17

8:30 a.m. — Kiwanis Club of Anna Maria Island breakfast and meeting, Anna Maria Island Beach Cafe, Manatee Public Beach, 4000 Gulf Drive, Holmes Beach. Information: 941-778-1383.

11 a.m. — Stress management session, Island Library, 5701 Marina Drive, Holmes Beach. Information: 941-778-6341.

8:07 p.m. — Official sunset time.

 

Sunday, Aug. 18

2-4 p.m. — Island Players open house, 10009 Gulf Drive, Anna Maria. Information: 941-778-6878.

8:06 p.m. — Official sunset time.

 

Monday, Aug. 19

Classes begin for Manatee County public school students.

8:05 p.m. — Official sunset time.

 

Tuesday, Aug. 20

10 a.m.-6 p.m. — Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce Small Business Development Expo, CrossPointe Fellowship, 8605 Gulf Drive, Holmes Beach. Information: 941-778-1541.

Noon — Rotary Club of Anna Maria Island meets, BeachHouse Restaurant, 200 Gulf Drive N., Bradenton Beach. Information: 941-794-8044.

8:04 p.m. — Official sunset time.

 

Wednesday, Aug. 21

6 p.m. — Mana-Tweens craft session, Island Library, 5701 Marina Drive, Holmes Beach. Information: 941-778-6341.

8:03 p.m. — Official sunset time.

 

Off-island

Friday, Aug. 18

6 p.m. — Music and Movies, “Chicago” screening and cabaret, Manatee Performing Arts Center, 502 Third Ave. W., Bradenton. Information: 941-748-5875.

 

Saturday, Aug. 17

6 p.m. — Bradentucky Bombers Women’s Roller Derby, Bradenton Area Convention Center, 1 Haben Blvd., Palmetto. Fee applies. Information: www.bradentuckybombers.net.

 

Ongoing

• Through Aug. 31, Bradenton Marauders regular season baseball, McKechnie Field, 1611 Ninth St. W., Bradenton. Fee applies. Information: 941-747-3031.

• Wednesdays and Saturdays, 9 a.m., horseshoes pitched, Anna Maria City Hall, 10005 Gulf Drive, Anna Maria. Information: 941-708-6130.

• First Wednesdays and third Wednesdays, Mana-Tween Book and Culture Club, Island Library, 5701 Marina Drive, Holmes Beach. Information:  941-748-5555, ext. 6318.

• Second Wednesdays, 7 p.m., Think+Drink science night, South Florida Museum, 201 10th St. W., Bradenton. Information: 941-746-4131.

• Fourth Wednesdays, 7 p.m., star talk, South Florida Museum, 201 10th St. W., Bradenton. Information: 941-746-4131.

• First and third Thursdays, 2 p.m., knitting group meets, Island Library, 5701 Marina Drive. Information: 941-778-6341.

• Most Fridays, Senior Adventures, low-cost field trips from Annie Silver Community Center, 103 23rd St. N., Bradenton Beach. Fee may apply. Information: 941-962-8835.

• Fridays, 5:30-8:30 p.m., sunset drum circle, Anna Maria Island Beach Cafe, 4000 Gulf Drive, Holmes Beach. Information: 778-0784.

• Saturdays, 4 p.m., family night, South Florida Museum, 201 10th St. W., Bradenton. Information: 941-746-4131.

• Third Saturdays, 11 a.m., stress management through breathing, Island Library, 5701 Marina Drive. Information: 941-778-6341.

• Weekends, through Oct. 20, ranger-led kayak tours, De Soto National Memorial, 8300 De Soto Memorial Highway, Bradenton. Information: 941-792-0458, ext. 105.

• Mondays, 12:45 p.m., bridge games, Roser Memorial Community Church, 512 Pine Ave., Anna Maria. Doors open at 12:15 p.m. Information: 941-778-0414.

• First Mondays, 7 p.m., Florida Institute for Saltwater Heritage board meets, Fishermen’s Hall, 4515 123rd St. W., Cortez. Information: 941-254-4972.

• Tuesdays, noon, Rotary Club of Anna Maria Island meets, BeachHouse Restaurant, 200 Gulf Drive N., Bradenton Beach. Information: 941-794-8044.

 

Coming up

• Sept. 2 is Labor Day.

• Sept. 23, Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce Golf Tournament.

 

Save the date

• Oct. 18-19, Bayfest.

• Nov. 8-10, ArtsHop.

 

Calendar announcements

        Send calendar announcements to calendar@islander.org. Please include the time, date and location of the event, a brief description and a contact via email and phone. The deadline for submissions is the Wednesday a week before publication. High-resolution photographs welcome.

Fishing – 08-14-2013

Island anglers find consistent weather, consistent fishing

 

Fishing around Anna Maria Island remains consistent with mangrove snapper, flounder and Spanish mackerel catches coming from  nearshore structure in the Gulf of Mexico and Tampa Bay. You can also find any of these species around the local fishing piers and bridges, although a little more determination might be required to get your limit.

On the flats, you need to fish early morning or late evening to find success. Beat the heat and get into some catch-and-release snook along mangrove edges and grass flats, especially those close to passes or inlets. Redfish are cruising the flats during high tides and schooling close to mangrove shorelines, although you may see them in open water, too. I guess you just need to keep a watchful eye out no matter where you are on the flats. Live shiners and pinfish under a cork should get eaten by a red.

Meanwhile, shark fishing along the beaches is proving adventurous. Rumors of fish 3-8 feet are being reported. Expect to encounter blacktip, bull, sandbar and bonnethead sharks along the beaches. If you’re lucky you may even tie into a hammerhead. Chunk baits such as mackerel, bonito, jack crevalle or stingray wings will get the sharks interested.

Check the charts for what’s a keeper and what must be released among shark species.

Johnny Mattay at Island Discount Tackle is seeing limits of mangrove snapper being filleted on the Keyes Marina cleaning tables. Mangoes in the 1- to 2-pound range are the norm for nearshore catches. Mattay suggests hunting at nearshore reefs, rock piles, deep mangrove edges and the piers for these tasty fish.

For bait, small live shrimp or shiners will suffice. For rigging, stealth is key. While fishing the piers or mangrove edges, rig with as light as 15-pound fluorocarbon leader combined with a No. 2 mosquito hook. If you’re fishing the nearshore reefs, you may want to increase your leader to at least 30 pound, but not more than 50 pound. When fishing the reefs, you may encounter larger snapper or even grouper, which require a larger leader.

Along the beaches, Mattay is experiencing drag-screaming action on catch-and-release snook. By using live shiners, pinfish or whiting, Mattay is hooking up snook up to 36 inches. When beach fishing, Mattay is using 30-50-pound fluorocarbon for leader depending on water clarity. Lighter leader for clear water, heavier for cloudy or stained water.

Other catches along the beaches include jack crevalle, mackerel, flounder and, of course, shark. For the jacks and macks, small white jigs or silver spoons will get a bite. For flounder, live shiners or pinfish will work. If you’re into using artificials, try a Berkley Gulp shrimp on a 1/4-ounce jighead. For the shark, use jacks or mackerel. Cut them into hand-size chunks and cast the bait in the strike zone past the sandbar. For the shark, expect to catch anything from 3-foot bonnetheads all the way to 8-foot bull sharks.

Capt. Rick Gross of Fishy Business Charters is working nearshore structure in Tampa Bay and in the Gulf of Mexico for mangrove snapper and flounder. By using live shiners and pinfish for bait, Gross is catching limits of mangrove snapper in the 1- to 2-pound range. Flounder catches are occurring on the same baits with an average size of 15-16 inches.

Moving to the flats, Gross is targeting redfish. By working the mangrove edges, he’s managing to find schooling reds on the high tides. For rigging, Gross is using a small cork attached to a 20-pound leader with a No. 2 hook. Small live shiners and pinfish are the baits of choice.

To finish up, Gross is fishing deep grass flats for spotted seatrout. While targeting trout, Gross is also putting his clients on Spanish mackerel, ladyfish, jacks and bluefish.

Capt. Warren Girle is fishing offshore with good results — limits of both gag grouper and mangrove snapper. For bait, Girle is using live pinfish, shiners and threadfin herring. While fishing offshore, you can expect to catch Key West grunts, red grouper and Spanish mackerel.

Moving inshore, Girle is targeting redfish in Sarasota Bay, where he quietly moves along shallow grass flats at peak high tide, to hook up with schooling reds. For rigging, he’s either free-lining baits or using a popping cork to aid in casting if the reds are far from the boat. Live shiners and pinfish are Girle’s baits of choice.

Also in the bay, Girle is catching spotted seatrout and catch-and-release snook. For the snook, Girle suggests looking in the same areas as for redfish. For the trout, Girle is fishing deeper grass flats of 4-6 feet, and finding good numbers of fish.

Dave Sork at the Anna Maria City Pier says night fishing for shark is resulting in numerous catches of blacktip and sandbar sharks. Chunk baits, such as Spanish mackerel, bonito, jack crevalle or stingray wings, are resulting in catches of 5-6 feet.

If night fishing isn’t your thing, Sork suggests working the morning bite at the pier. At sunrise, Spanish mackerel are swarming on schools of hatch bait. Joining the macks are schools of ladyfish and jack crevalle. To catch any of these species, a small white crappie jig or silver spoon is the trick.

Under the pier, around the structure, pier fishers are catching flounder, mangrove snapper and juvenile grouper. Live shrimp, shiners or a pinfish will get you connected with these species.

Jim Malfese at the Rod & Reel Pier is seeing flounder, snapper and black drum being reeled up from under the pier. Fishers using live shrimp or live shiners are getting the bite. If you’re planning on bringing fish home for dinner, make sure you’re equipped with a ruler to measure your catch. Most of the fish are just barely keepers, so you need to be measuring.

When the bait schools are abundant around the pier, Malfese says you can expect to catch Spanish mackerel, jack crevalle and blue runners. The key to cashing in on this bite is right place, right time. These species are schooling fish that will quickly come in and ravage the bait schools and leave just as quickly as they arrived. Small white speck rigs or Gotcha plugs are a good way to lure the fish to your hook.

Send fishing reports to fish@islander.org.