Tag Archives: 08-21-2013

Travel site lists Cortez among top villages

The website SmarterTravel.com, in a travel feature, listed Cortez Village as one of its “Most Unforgettable Villages in North America.”

In its comments about Cortez, the website says the fishing village in Manatee County “comes with a side of historical local lore. Claiming to be the oldest remaining fishing village in Florida, Cortez dates back to the late 1800s, and many of its current inhabitants are descendants of early settlers from North Carolina.

“Today, commercial fishermen in the village still make their livings catching fish and crabs in Sarasota Bay’s blue-green waters.”

The website says visitors can learn more about the area’s history by visiting the Florida Maritime Museum, which “displays historic vessels, houses a research library, and even runs boat-building programs.”

The website also lists several restaurants in Cortez that offer fresh-caught local seafood.

Karen Bell, owner of A.P. Bell Fish Co. and the Star Fish Co. Market & Restaurant in Cortez, said she was surprised to learn of the ranking.

Bell, whose family roots go back to the early settlers, said she was pleased the village has been recognized.

“I was surprised and shocked. It’s quite an honor to be recognized as one of the great villages in North America,” Bell said.

“We’re glad to share our history with others who come to visit,” she said.

Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau marketing director Deb Meihls said she found the ranking to be “wonderful and exciting.”

This confirms what we already knew,  “what a special place Cortez is,” Meihls said.

BB-FDLE death investigation nears finish line

The death investigation of Sheena Morris, 22, who died New Year’s Day 2009 in a Bradenton Beach motel room, is close to a conclusion.

Bradenton Beach Police Chief Sam Speciale said Aug. 15 that rumors the case was closed were untrue, but that the Florida Department of Law Enforcement has concluded its interviews and turned over specific information to the 12th Judicial Circuit state attorney’s office in Manatee County.

“FDLE has finished their interviews, but they still have other things to do,” said Speciale. “As of right now, the case is not closed.”

Assistant State Attorney Art Brown does have part of the case, but not all of it.

Speciale would not speculate when Brown will have the entire case file, at which time the state attorney’s office will review the FDLE and BBPD findings and make a determination as to whether Morris’ initial ruling of suicide was correct.

Morris was found dead in her BridgeWalk Resort motel room on Bridge Street, hanging from the shower head by a dog leash.

BBPD Lt. Lenard Diaz is the lead investigator on the case and found no evidence of foul play. A Manatee County Sheriff’s Office crime scene investigation unit came to the same conclusion, and 12th District medical examiner, Dr. Russell Vega, ruled the death a suicide.

Morris’ mother, Kelly Osborn, has never agreed with that ruling and hired forensic specialist Dr. Michael Berkland in 2011 to review the case file. Based on his opinion that the crime scene photos may have been staged, Berkland convinced Vega to change the cause of death to undetermined.

Berkland was discredited in 2012 when he was arrested for illegally storing human organs in a Pensacola storage shed. During the course of that investigation, information surfaced that Berkland was twice fired from medical examiner duties.

In September 2012, FDLE conducted a SMART panel review of the BBPD investigation after months of Osborn’s public campaign to have her daughter’s case reopened.

While FDLE found no wrongdoing in Diaz’s investigation, the panel came up with 15 recommendations to follow up on and offered BBPD assistance.

Speciale administratively reopened the case and Diaz and the FDLE agents have been following through on the SMART panel recommendations, which include further interviews and a review of Morris’ computer and medical records.

The case stalled in November 2012 when Osborn refused to release her daughter’s computer and medical records, but relented in December at the behest of FDLE Special Agent in Charge John Burke, who wrote a letter to Osborn outlining the importance of her cooperation.

The forensic investigation into Morris’ computer has been attributed to the long delay in closing the case, which was expected to be completed earlier this year.

Speciale would not comment on the investigation, as it is still active, but has consistently maintained confidence in Diaz’s conclusions. He stands behind the initial ruling of suicide.

Anna Maria requires compliance on address displays

Tape measure? Check. Address numbers? Check.

Anna Maria residents and business owners better make sure they have a proper address sign posted on their structure by Sept. 30. Otherwise, they could be facing a code citation and potentially an appearance before the city’s special magistrate.

The city has mailed notices requiring that house numbers be “affixed and visible” from the street, and is giving residents until Sept. 30 to comply.

After that date, code enforcement officers will be issuing citations, a news release from the city said.

The release said finding an address in an emergency is important, particularly at night.

“If numbers are unreadable, hidden, unlighted or have missing numbers, it may delay emergency responders from getting to you as quickly as possible,” the release said.

City code requires that residential one- and two-family dwellings, as well as individual units in multi-unit structures, have address numbers that are a minimum of 4 inches tall.

Non-residential buildings must have an address number a minimum of 6 inches tall.

Numbers and letters must be plain and in an “easily readable style,” continued the release. Script and cursive characters are not permitted.

Structures located on more than one street, such as a corner lot, are required to post street numbers “on each street frontage.”

Waterfront lots must post addresses on both the waterfront side and street frontages.

Mayor SueLynn said, “If someone has an emergency, we have to be sure fire our medical units can find their address quickly and easily.”

SueLynn discussed the problem with code enforcement officer Gerry Rathvon and building official Bob Welch, also a code enforcement officer, before sending out the notices.

Most structures in the city comply with the code, the mayor said, but she suggested residents and business owners check to see if an address is properly posted and visible from the street.

For more information, call Anna Maria City Hall at 941-708-6130, ext. 29.

Anna Maria requires compliance on address displays

November election qualifying kicks off this week and next

Anna Maria citizens who want to run for a seat on the city commission in November, have until noon Friday, Aug. 30, to submit qualifying papers.

The qualifying period for three of the five two-year seats on the commission that expire in November began Aug. 19.

Incumbent Commissioner Dale Woodland wasted no time in submitting his qualifying papers to serve a sixth two-year term to the Manatee County Supervisor of Elections Office, 600 U.S. 301 Blvd. W., Bradenton. The supervisor’s website lists Woodland as a qualified candidate, the only one as of Aug. 17.

Incumbent Commissioner Gene Aubry has declared he intends to run and is in the process of compiling his paperwork and signatures.

Commissioner Doug Copeland, who was appointed June 13 to the commission, said before the Aug. 15 city meeting that he’s made a decision, but was not ready to make an announcement.

“Part of me says to run, then realization sets in,” but he declined to elaborate.

Planning and zoning board member Carol Carter has said she plans to seek commission seat.

For a city commission election to take place in Anna Maria Nov. 5, at least four candidates are needed.

If only three candidates qualify, each would automatically be elected.

An Anna Maria commissioner is elected to a two-year term and earns $400 per month.


Bradenton Beach has two races

Bradenton Beach voters will have their first contested city election this year since 2010.

Qualifying officially begins Aug. 26, but already former Commissioner Bill Shearon has declared he will run for the two-year term against incumbent Mayor John Shaughnessy, who confirmed he will seek re-election.

Shaughnessy is a former Ward 1 commissioner, who served six years on the dais before term limits forced him out of office in 2009. He took two years off before making a successful run for mayor when the incumbent mayor declined to run for the seat.

Bradenton Beach Ward 3 Commissioner Ric Gatehouse declared July 29 he will seek a term on the dais.

Gatehouse assumed office in February 2012 after no one stepped forward to run for the seat vacated by Ward 3 commissioner Janie Robertson, who termed out of office after six years on the dais in November 2011.

Three city commissioners and Shaughnessy eventually appointed Gatehouse to the seat.

This will be his first run for election and he faces the very person who vacated the Ward 3 seat — Robertson.

Robertson said she wants her seat back because, “It seems as if my desire to make things work as best they can is beyond my control and I can’t stay out of it anymore.”

Robertson began her service to the city on the comprehensive plan committee in 2004 and held various volunteer board positions before serving as commissioner.

A third seat up for election is the Ward 1 seat presently held by Commissioner Gay Breuler, but since she married recently, she has been more absent than not from meetings.

John V. “Jack” Clarke has declared his intention to run in Ward 1.

Bradenton Beach commissioners must reside in wards, but the vote is citywide.


Holmes Beach election wide open

Holmes Beach incumbent Commissioners Pat Morton, Jean Peelen and David Zaccagnino, are up for re-election in November.

All three officials have told The Islander they intend to seek retention, but as the qualifying period inches closer, none have taken the necessary steps at the Manatee County Supervisor of Elections Office.

And, thus far, no challengers have come forward, although there is no lack of rumors circulating.

Note: Candidate qualifying information for the three island elections can be found at www.islander.org.


The process

According to the Manatee County Supervisor of Elections Office, prospective candidates may state their intention at any time, but they are not considered a “declared” candidate until they register a treasurer and open a campaign bank account.

SOE office, 600 301 Blvd. W., Suite 108, Bradenton, said candidate qualifying packets have been delivered to the island cities.

A prospective candidate must first file a form to appoint a campaign treasurer and designate a campaign depository — a bank account — with the SOE before contributions can be accepted or funds are spent.

The candidate then must file a statement of candidate form within 10 days of filing the treasurer and bank designation forms.

Candidates were able to file early by obtaining a qualifying packet at the SOE office.

Candidate qualifying in the three island cities officially began with Anna Maria on Aug. 19. Qualifying for Bradenton Beach and Holmes Beach begins Aug. 26. All three cities wrap up at noon Aug. 30. The city elections are non-partisan and all seats are for two-year terms.

In Anna Maria, a candidate must be a citizen of the United States, a registered voter in Manatee County and a resident of the city for two years prior to qualifying. The candidate must file a loyalty oath, oath of candidate, a statement of financial interests and a residency affidavit for both the candidate and his/her treasurer.

The candidate must pay from its bank treasury fund a qualifying fee equal to 1 percent of the annual salary for the office sought — $96 for mayor, $48 for commission seat — and obtain 10 petition signatures of voters residing in the city.

In Bradenton Beach, a candidate must be a citizen of the United States, a registered voter in Manatee County in the ward for which he/she qualifies and a resident of the city for nine months prior to qualifying. The candidate must file a loyalty oath, oath of candidate, a statement of financial interests and a residency affidavit, as well as 10 resident affidavits attesting to the candidate’s residency.

The candidate must pay a qualifying fee equal to 1 percent of the annual salary for the office sought — $96 for mayor, $48 for commission seat — and obtain 10 petition signatures of voters residing in the city.

In Holmes Beach, a candidate must be a citizen of the United States, a registered voter in Manatee County and a resident of the city for two years prior to qualifying. The candidate must file a loyalty oath, oath of candidate, a statement of financial interests and a residency affidavit.

The candidate must pay a qualifying fee equal to 1 percent of the annual salary for the office sought —$60 for a commission seat and $120 for mayor, although the mayor’s seat does not expire until 2014 — and obtain 15 petition signatures of voters residing in the city.

Candidates in all three cites can opt to file an undue burden oath, which eliminates the election assessment fee if all other requirements are met.

Anna Maria discusses toll, paid parking

Maria commissioners unanimously agreed Aug. 15 that some form of paid parking must be established to control the number of day visitors driving into the city.

What they could not agree on was how to implement a plan that exempts residents and long-term visitors.

Mayor SueLynn, however, said she and city staff have been discussing such a plan. She said she would prepare a draft of her plan and have Commission Chair Chuck Webb schedule a work session when it’s ready.

Commissioners received information on paid parking from city resident Bob Inserra, who is a park ranger at Fort DeSoto Park in Pinellas County. Inserra maintains the park’s five paid parking kiosks.

“Since we established paid parking, we’ve eliminated the joy-riders, the people who just wanted to cruise through the park and throw their garbage anywhere,” Inserra said.

“These machines are used all over the world for paid parking,” Inserra said. “You can buy as much time as you want.”

Inserra said the machines — kiosks — can easily be moved and, because they operate on solar power, can be implemented just about anywhere. Fort DeSoto Park’s machines handle several thousand cars on holidays and weekends.

Commissioner Gene Aubry said parking kiosks also worked well in Galveston, Texas, where he lived before moving to Anna Maria Island.

Commissioner Dale Woodland said the idea had some merit, but he wanted to keep any paid parking plan as simple as possible.

“We never had this parking problem before the influx of day visitors. It’s only been in the last few years that we’ve seen cars parked everywhere,” he said.

Commission Chair Chuck Webb suggested hiring part-time employees to work weekends and holidays to sell parking passes at beach access locations.

Aubry, however, was concerned with limiting parking on rights of way. He suggested a booth at the Gulf Drive entrance to the city from Holmes Beach, where day visitors would be required to purchase a parking pass before entering the city.

Commissioner Doug Copeland said that could create “major congestion” on Gulf Drive, particularly on weekends and holidays. Residents and vacation renters with parking permits in hand would be stuck in line waiting for others to purchase a permit.

“The problem is getting parking passes to the day visitors without causing congestion,” he said.

Mayor SueLynn said she and staff have discussed a plan where “every property owner gets a permit to park on their property and anywhere in the city. A landlord would get one permit per property to give to a rental person,” she said.

Copeland said it was obvious to him from the ensuing discussion that “this is going to be an involved process and take some time. Is there anything we can do now?” he asked.

The mayor said commissioners could pass an ordinance allowing illegally parked vehicles to be towed and increase the parking fine.

“We could do that in a few weeks while we work on a long-term parking plan,” she said.

SueLynn said she and staff would prepare a draft of a paid parking plan and bring it back in a few weeks to commissioners.

“Some of you are not going to like parts of the plan, but at least it’s a start,” the mayor said.

Islandwide resort tax increase correlates to tourism hike

Anna Maria Island resort development tax collections for June were up 7.8 percent from the same month last year, a good indication that tourism to the area increased almost 4 percent for the month.

That’s because for 25 of the past 26 months, the percent of tourism increase to Anna Maria Island has been about half the percentage increase of resort tax collections.

The resort development tax is the 5 percent collected by Manatee County on rentals of six months or less.

For June 2013, resort tax collections hit $797,117 compared with $739,150 for June 2012.

Total resort tax collections — also called the bed tax — for fiscal year 2012-13 are at $7.22 million, and, with three months remaining in the fiscal year, are on pace to surpass the record of $8.1 million set in 2011-12.

Resort tax collections have jumped significantly the past two years since the collections department of the Manatee County Tax Collector’s Office became proactive in finding property owners that had been renting their properties, but were not registered with either the tax office or the state of Florida.

The resort tax collections office began field inspections of popular vacation rental areas, including Anna Maria Island, and brought many property owners into compliance with the resort tax laws.

Property owners found not in compliance had to pay past due resort taxes on their rental properties, in addition to any past due sales tax.

For the June resort tax collections, Anna Maria Island cities contributed $457,962, or 59.7 percent of the total.

Holmes Beach collected $258,911 in June resort taxes, while Anna Maria brought in $122,188. Bradenton Beach collected $76,863.

When combined with the $90,000 collected on Longboat Key, the barrier islands contributed $547,962 in June resort taxes, or 68.7 percent of the total.

For the past four years, the three island cities and Longboat Key have brought in about 62 percent of the annual resort tax collections.

The resort tax began in the 1989-90 fiscal year as a result of a state statute. The initial tax in Manatee County was 3 percent and $1.427 million was collected the first year.

In 2003, county commissioners increased the tax to 4 percent. That year, $2.9 million was collected on accommodations.

The present 5 percent resort tax rate was approved by county commissioners in June 2009.

Bradenton Beach passes first reading of cell tower lease

Negotiating politics is rarely a straight path and more often a long and winding road, but Bradenton Beach officials, at their Aug. 15 city meeting, turned another corner in what has been a long haul to improve cellphone service.

City attorney Ricinda Perry presented a five-year land lease agreement with the option to extend the lease for nine successive five-year periods to commissioners on behalf of Ridan Industries, the company spearheading the cellular communications tower at the city’s public works facility on Church Avenue.

Perry said the land-lease ordinance was going to be presented later in the process when Ridan approaches the city with a land development application, but Ridan “requested that it was presented beforehand so they can begin negotiations with their sub leases for the tower.”

Former Commissioner Janie Robertson, who recently declared as a commission candidate in the November election, asked when commissioners intend to address the city charter’s height restrictions.

“I don’t remember that ever happening,” said Robertson. “When attempting to make a change to the charter, there are other procedural issues to address.”

Kevin Barile, from Ridan, said the city has exemptions in its charter for each of its zoning districts and certain items like bell towers, church towers and cell towers fall under those exemptions.

However, city planner Alan Garrett was asked to look into Robertson’s query and Mayor John Shaughnessy assured her that proper procedures would be followed.

Robertson also referenced the city’s recent passage of an agreement with Ridan to fund the $30,000 testing of the city’s old fueling site, which also is the location of the proposed cell tower.

The city took the necessary steps to have the old gas storage tanks filled with cement some 30 years ago, but the permit was never closed and the original samples are nowhere to be found.

The city must close out that permit by testing the site and cleaning it if necessary. Initial samplings of the site show no contamination, but testing and sample drilling is projected to cost the city $30,000.

Ridan agreed to pay the city for the testing and then deduct it from the $350,000 promised to the city once the cell tower is operational.

Robertson wanted to know if the city would have to pay that bill if the cell tower project somehow fails to be completed.

Barile said that question was easy to answer.

“If the tower is not built, basically we get stuck with the bill,” said Barile. “The agreement states that the $30,000 will be deducted from the rent payment once rent payments start. If the rent doesn’t start, then there is nothing to deduct from.”

Barile said it would be no different from the other $40,000 Ridan has already invested into the project.

“It’s called dead-site costs,” he said. “You invest money into a site as the process moves forward and, if it doesn’t happen, you basically lose those site costs.”

Commissioner Ric Gatehouse moved to approve the first reading of the ordinance, which was seconded by Vice Mayor Ed Straight. The motion passed 4-0 with Commissioner Gay Breuler absent with excuse.

HB takes groundbreaking step toward domestic partner registry

Holmes Beach commissioners agreed at an Aug. 13 city meeting to move forward with the creation of a domestic partnership registry for city residents.

The program is making a successful run around the state and recent adoption by the Manasota League of Cities to encourage registries prompted a presentation by the program’s promoters, Ken Shelin and Grace Carlson.

Commission Chair Jean Peelen heard the presentation at a league meeting and invited the pair to present the concept to Holmes Beach.

Shelin told commissioners the registry is gender neutral, meaning it can apply to same-sex and opposite-sex couples who share both a residence and a relationship.

He said the registry does not provide every benefit typically associated with a legal marriage, but does strengthen some basic rights for domestic partners.

The rights strengthened by the registry when adopted within a state, county or city include:

• Health care facility visitation: There are times when a domestic partner will be prevented from visiting a partner because hospital policies allow only “family” visitation rights. A domestic partnership registrant would be afforded that right.

• Health care decisions: A registrant could be designated as a partner’s health care surrogate, so that person could make decisions for a partner.

• Funeral/burial decisions: A registrant would have the same authority as a spouse to follow through with a decedent’s post-life wishes, unless the decedent has written instructions to the contrary.

• Correctional facility visitation: A registrant would have the right to visit a partner at a correctional institution with the same rights afforded a spouse. The visitation rights would extend to the partner’s relatives.

• Pre-need guardian designation: A domestic partner shall not be denied serving as a plenary guardian of his or her partner.

• Participation in education: A registrant would have the same rights to participate in a partner’s child’s education if the other parent, if he or she retains parental rights, does not object.

Carlson added, “It’s about two people watching each other’s back and wanting respect and acknowledgement that they are committed to each other.”

Shelin said when domestic partners register, it is essentially a legal contract and, unlike the complications of dissolving a marriage, only requires a written letter to the city clerk where they are registered to have it terminated.

Without the rights afforded under the registry, even a power of attorney to someone who is not a blood relative or spouse can be easily challenged, Shelin said.

“My point is that you may think you can get certain legal rights under a power of attorney, but it’s not always accepted,” he said.

Carlson commended commissioners for being open to the concept.

“I can tell this is a community that has a great deal of pride in diversity and the live-and-let-live attitude,” she said. “A domestic registry would enhance and enable your economic development resources and enhance community pride.”

Shelin said one of the factors economic development resources look at is a community’s tolerance.

An affidavit is required at the time of registry that states the two partners are competent adults, neither person is married, are not blood related, and each considers themselves to be a partner to the other.

Shelin said the process is inexpensive and cities typically charge around $30 to cover the expense of office materials used to document the partnership and create a domestic partnership identification card.

Commissioner Judy Titsworth said it would be better for Manatee County to initiate the registry, considering there are no hospitals in Holmes Beach.

Shelin said a county ordinance would likely only apply to the unincorporated areas of the county and that cities would then have the option to participate.

In the meantime, he asked, “Do you wait until somebody else does something or do you do it now while you have the power to do something?”

Peelen said, “Sometimes the way to get larger entities to act is by smaller entities acting.”

She said the average age of Anna Maria Island residents is about 62.

“I know a lot of people in domestic partnerships and don’t want to get married for very good reasons,” she said. “A lot of those reasons are financial. I think it’s a wonderful idea.”

Shelin also explained that if domestic partners register in Holmes Beach, the ordinance would include a reciprocity clause that would extend the domestic partnership rights to every city and county that has adopted a similar registry.

Sarasota recently adopted a registry. So has Tampa, Venice, Orlando and several other cities and counties in the state.

Commissioners agreed 4-0 to authorize city attorney Patricia Petruff to proceed in drafting an ordinance. Commissioner David Zaccagnino was absent with excuse.

Holmes Beach-Mainsail mediation on unstable ground

Much like the vacant property that sits near the intersection of Gulf and Marina drives, the grounds for mediation between Holmes Beach and the Mainsail development team is riddled with obstacles.

Mediation on the proposed development that includes a lodge, marina and multiple two-and-three-story housing units is scheduled to resume at 9 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 4, at CrossPointe Fellowship, 8605 Gulf Drive, Holmes Beach.

However, after an Aug. 15 city commission work session, it is unclear if progress made thus far through ongoing negotiations will go any further.

Since the initial round of mediation in June, Mainsail has made several concessions to the site plan that was revoked in March in a 3-2 vote — a decision Mainsail attorney Robert Lincoln contends was an illegal vote.

The developers have eliminated Building A, which was situated on the peninsula that juts into the basin, reduced Building B, which sat partially on the peninsula and downsized Building D, which sits adjacent to Sunrise Lane — yet another controversial subject in the proposal.

In exchange, developers are seeking concession from the city on its height restrictions. To make up for lost housing units, which the developers say are the primary revenue generator of the project, they want to add units to the upper floors of the lodge.

Commissioners Marvin Grossman, Judy Titsworth and Pat Morton have opposed the site plan from the beginning and want the developers to start from scratch. While pleased with the concessions being offered, the trio does not appear to be budging from any concessions on setback requirements and height restrictions.

Building official Tom O’Brien reminded commissioners during his Aug. 15 “progress report” that everything being discussed is merely a conceptual plan and not set in stone.

“This is just a topic for discussion,” he said. “Don’t get hung up on the details of the conceptual plan.”

While there was a lot of back-and-forth discussion on the project’s setbacks based on a partial seawall constructed by the original developer in 2001, O’Brien said the more significant concession is removing buildings from the peninsula.

Mainsail is now proposing two-story buildings over ground-level parking, and to put lodging under the roof of the buildings as a compromise.

Commission Chair Jean Peelen asked if the proposal can be done under the city’s height restrictions, and O’Brien said that was currently being studied.

“I think we are making good progress on the issues we wanted them to improve,” said O’Brien. “With some encouragement, I hope to continue to make progress.”

However, not a lot of encouragement was forthcoming from the dais.

“I would not approve a four-story building in the center of Holmes Beach,” said Titsworth.

Grossman agreed, saying, “There is no way our citizens are going to want us to change the height restrictions. It would be foolish to even think about it.”


War of words

Mediation appears to be complicated by views from both sides that written communications have threatening implications.

In a letter dated Aug. 14 to Mayor Carmel Monti and city attorney Patricia Petruff, Lincoln once again reiterated his client’s legal position, but also acknowledged his letter may be viewed as a threat.

“While some members of the city commission and the community may view what I have to say as a threat, I provide the following in order to inform city commissioners, so they may understand the issues from Mainsail’s point of view when considering their assessment of what is best for the city,” he wrote.

Lincoln went on to outline what Petruff said is likely his legal position should the matter end up in litigation.

“I don’t see it as a threat,” said Petruff. “I do wish that Mr. Lincoln had not sent the letter, however.”

Commissioners opposing the Mainsail proposal did view it as a threat.

Grossman challenged Mainsail “to bring it on,” and offered a suggestion that the city drop mediation and initiate litigation.

“If it’s wrong, it’s wrong,” he said.

Peelen, a supporter of continuing to work matters out with Mainsail, said the city should continue the process and that the process is working.

“This is not the time to give up on that process,” she said. “It’s give and take and no time to say ‘come on and get us.’”

Grossman said it’s Lincoln making threats.

“I want a change,” he said. “I thought we were coming here to work together, not be threatened. I believe we are right and I think if we went to court, they would lose. I’m not afraid of that. I want to work with them, but I don’t want to be threatened.”

Morton agreed, saying Lincoln’s letter was clearly a threat, but Titsworth then took it one step further.

“His letter is basically his opinion on everything we did wrong up here,” she said.

Petruff said commissioners are getting caught up in things that don’t matter and the goal is whether or not to move forward until such a time an impasse is reached.

Monti agreed, saying the intent all along was to move forward in good faith.

“You are not going to have 100 percent on both sides, but you can come up with a good compromise,” he said. “I feel they have moved forward in good faith and each time we’ve met with them, they have come up with good attributes to their plan.”

Monti said commissioners should stop responding “to puffery in a letter from an attorney and not take a cavalier attitude and say ‘Let’s just go to court.’ As stewards of the city, that’s not very responsible.”

Titsworth disagreed, saying Lincoln is implying he has all the rights and if Mainsail doesn’t get its way, “He’ll see us in court. I don’t want to spend $4,000 on mediation until we see a better plan.”

Lincoln stated in his letter: “If the city asserts that Mainsail has no entitlements … Mainsail will have no choice but to file a legal action to judicially establish its rights.”

He concluded his letter to the city by writing, “I set forth this information to clearly inform the city of the unavoidable consequences of the failure to settle this dispute in an acceptable manner.”

Commissioners took no official action, which leaves the plan in place to move forward with mediation on Sept. 4.

HB chief warns motorists: ‘zero tolerance’ in school zone

Holmes Beach Police Chief Bill Tokajer reminded islanders that Anna Maria Elementary School students are back in classrooms and speeding through the school zone at 4700 Gulf Drive will net “zero tolerance.”

Tokajer also announced that the department will participate in the statewide Labor Day Impaired Driving Crackdown campaign, which has begun and will last through Labor Day.

Police officers will give extra focus to possible driving under the influence, seatbelt enforcement, child safety equipment and speeding.

Tokajer also is reminding visitors and residents that no alcohol, bicycles, golf carts or pets are allowed on the beaches and cautions people to keep valuables locked safely away while at the beach.

His safety tip for the month focuses on parking rules in Holmes Beach, including parking where prohibited by sign.

Parking in Holmes Beach is prohibited on sidewalks, crosswalks, bicycle paths, within 30 feet of a stop sign and within 30 feet of an intersection with a traffic light, stop sign or flashing signal.

Parking is prohibited within 15 feet of a fire hydrant and 20 feet of a crosswalk.

Tokajer reported in his monthly report to the city commission that 140 parking tickets were issued in July.

There also were 13 arrests in July, including an aggravated battery, a DUI and a theft, as well as a juvenile who was arrested for narcotics.

Officers also arrested two people on outstanding warrants.

The police department received 979 calls on its non-emergency line. The calls requiring a responding officer were reported to be 334, including 81 911 calls.