Tag Archives: 10-03-2012

World-class surfer, crusader to be remembered

Rich Salick, 62, died July 2 from complications associated with kidney disease.

His life will be celebrated Oct. 6 on Anna Maria Island, almost where he began, at the Manatee Public Beach in Holmes Beach.

The family, including sister Joanie Mills of Holmes Beach, plans to host a celebration of life at 3 p.m. and paddle out before sunset at 6 p.m. They welcome all of their extended family and friends to participate. Any sort of surf or paddle board, raft or craft will suffice, or partake from shore.

The celebration party will be for sharing memories on the beach, fittingly on Rich and twin Phil’s birthday.

The Salick twins grew up on the smooth, glassy waves of the Manatee Public Beach on Anna Maria Island.

Rich went on to greatness, induction in 2000 to the East Coast Surfing Hall of Fame and founder with Phil of the National Kidney Foundation Pro Am Surf Festival.

Rich received three kidney transplants from siblings, including the first from Phil.

His legacy as a surfer — No. 1 ranked surfer on the East Coast in the 24-35 age group in 1980 — and as an inspiration to people affected by kidney disease will live on.

He and Phil began their legacy with a surfing competition in Cocoa Beach, where they had moved to pursue the perfect wave. They opened a surf shop, created a brand of boards and from that was born the world’s largest charitable surfing competition — drawing tens of thousands of spectators to Cocoa Beach on Labor Day weekend. This year was the 27th tournament and was expected to raise some $125,000 for the NKF Orlando chapter.

The twins also opened a highway for surfers trekking from Anna Maria to Cocoa Beach to catch a wave and learn from the best of the best, and to purchase a coveted Salick surfboard. Their surf shop and board-making enterprise operated from the 1970s-80s.

Over the course of 38 years, Rich received transplants from twin Phil in 1974, older brother Channing Salick in 1986 and younger brother Wilson Shymanski in 1999.

“He was the heart and soul of the National Kidney Foundation. He personified who we are and what we do,” Stephanie Hutchinson, chief executive officer of the organization’s Orlando-based Florida chapter told Florida Today on his death.

Memorial donations may be made by mail to the National Kidney Foundation of Florida, Patient Services Program, 1040 Woodcock Road, Suite 119, Orlando FL 32803 or by calling 800-927-9659.

Salick is survived by Phil, sister Joanie and husband Tony Mills and their son Brandon of Holmes Beach, brother Rosser Shymanski, son Philip, stepson David Morgan, and ex-wife Michele Brenner Salick.

Click here to read the obituary

Former islander Viens convicted of killing wife, cooking remains

A Lomita chef who said he loved his missing wife and hoped she returned home safely was found guilty Thursday of murdering her and cooking her body in boiling water to destroy any trace of the crime.

The panel in Superior Court in downtown Los Angeles took about five hours over three days to convict David Viens of second-degree murder, a crime that carries a sentence of 15 years to life in prison.

“My opinion is if he was innocent he wouldn’t have jumped off a cliff,” said juror Tal Erickson, 46, of West Los Angeles.

The 49-year-old owner of the defunct Thyme Contemporary Cafe stared straight ahead and appeared to look toward the ceiling as the court clerk read the verdict. As a bailiff wheeled him from the courtroom, Viens gestured to his mother, Sandra Viens, that he would call her.

His mother, contacted later by the Daily Breeze, refused to comment and hung up the phone.

The verdict brought an end to a three-year mystery that began when 39-year-old Dawn Viens disappeared. She was last seen on Oct. 18, 2009.

“It’s very, very difficult trying to find the words to express what this ordeal has been like,” said Dawn Viens’ sister, Dayna Papin, who sat through the two-week trial, listening as prosecutors played a recording of Viens’ confession, describing how he bound and gagged her sister with duct tape, and later boiled her body for four days.

Detectives had told Papin and her family about her sister’s horrifying fate more than 15 months ago. She was unable to tell anyone until it was revealed during Viens’ trial.

“My family, it’s very difficult for them to understand this situation,” Papin said after the verdict, drinking water to calm nausea. “It’s so surreal. This experience has been so surreal.”

The mystery of “Where is Dawn?” began in October 2009, when Dawn Viens suddenly vanished, failing to accompany her friend, Karen Patterson, to a doctor’s appointment. Patterson had just learned she had cancer, and her friend vowed to see her through the treatment.

Patterson went looking for her friend at the restaurant, where Dawn Viens worked as a hostess in the family business. She found David Viens agitated, sweaty, with a bandage covering a burn on his arm.

Three weeks later, Patterson, her husband, Mike Wade, and Papin filed a missing person report with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

Nobody at the time knew that Dawn Viens was already dead, her body liquefied in boiling water and poured into the restaurant’s grease trap, her skull and jawbone hidden in his mother’s attic.

Days passed. Months passed. Viens took on a new girlfriend, Kathy Galvan, a Thyme waitress who stepped into Dawn Viens’ job at the restaurant. Viens refused to do interviews. An attorney told the Daily Breeze he would not talk because “the husband is always considered a suspect.”

In April 2010, a Daily Breeze reporter confronted Viens outside his kitchen. He spoke of his wife in the past tense.

“I loved my wife. I miss her,” he said. “I want to put up a cash reward, but I’m broke.”

Viens said he expected his wife to come home one day, probably when ski season was over. Asked if he wanted his wife of more than 15 years to return, he said, “I want her to be safe.”

In August 2010, a sheriff’s department missing person detective — unable to find any bank transaction, traffic ticket or anything else to prove Dawn Viens was alive — handed the case to homicide detectives to investigate.

Viens and Galvan moved to Torrance, allowing detectives access to the Lomita house Viens once shared with his wife. They found blood spatter in a bedroom and a blood stain in the bathroom.

Suspecting Viens had killed his wife, investigators put Viens under surveillance, placing a camera on a pole outside his restaurant and wiretapping his cellphone.

Trying to see what Viens would do, the detectives supplied information about the blood and their suspicions about Viens to a Daily Breeze reporter, figuring a news story might “stimulate” their suspect into making a phone call or doing something incriminating while they were listening and watching. The reporter informed Viens that an article would appear the next morning.

At the same time, a homicide detective was in South Carolina, talking with Viens’ daughter, Jacqueline Viens. Jacqueline Viens knew the truth, just not everything.

She told detectives that while drinking with her father one night in Los Angeles, he admitted to accidentally killing his wife. He said he covered her mouth with duct tape because she was “raising hell” when he wanted to sleep. He took an Ambien and went to sleep. When he awakened four hours later, she was dead.

He told her he put her stepmother’s body in a trash bag and tossed it into a garbage bin behind his restaurant.

And, she told detectives, her father had once joked that if he had to ever get rid of a body, he would cook it.

“I’m a chef,” he told her.

The next morning, Feb. 23, 2011, Viens awakened early and went out to pick up the newspaper. The headline declared him a “person of interest” in what detectives believed was a homicide. Viens returned home upset, crying and apologizing to his girlfriend, admitting he had killed her.

“No one will believe me,” he told her.

A despondent Viens drove his girlfriend toward Rancho Palos Verdes, receiving a call from his daughter telling him she had talked. Deputies, who had been watching Viens and listening to his phone calls, pulled in behind him. Galvan grabbed the steering wheel as Viens drove up to 80 mph toward the cliff, fearing he was about to drive over the edge.

Viens stopped next to the cliff, got out and climbed a fence. Galvan and a deputy tried to stop him from jumping, but he leaped feet-first, his arms outstretched, screaming as he fell.

Rescued quickly, and without any head injuries, Viens survived the 80-foot drop that shattered a leg, his pelvis and other bones, and put him in a wheelchair. In the hospital six days after the plunge, as deputies and coroner’s officials dug up his restaurant in search of his wife’s remains, Viens confessed to detectives.

“Duct tape,” he said, explaining he threw her body in the garbage.

Two weeks later, Viens asked the detectives to return. He wanted to talk again. He had something to get off his chest. He explained how he disposed of his wife’s body, boiling her at night for four days in his restaurant kitchen. During the day, while the restaurant was open for customers, he wheeled the huge pot with her body inside to a storage shed at the restaurant’s rear, detectives said.

When he was done serving customers during the day, he spent the nights cooking his wife’s remains.

Viens told detectives he hid his wife’s head and jawbone, the only thing that could identify her, in his mother’s attic. They have never been found.

In court this week, Viens’ attorney, Fred McCurry, told jurors that Dawn Viens’ death was an accident, not a murder. Viens had gagged his wife before and did not intend to kill her.

But homicide Sgt. Richard Garcia and Deputy District Attorney Deborah Brazil did not believe the death was an accident. The night Dawn Viens died, Viens told a friend he suspected his wife of stealing a few hundred dollars from the restaurant. “I’ll kill the bitch,” he threatened.

And, Patterson testified, Viens had choked his wife previously, causing marks to her neck.

For two weeks, jurors listened, faced with the decision of premeditated first-degree murder, a lesser second-degree charge, or manslaughter. An acquittal was unlikely, although Viens’ attorney told jurors they should disregard the confession Viens made describing his gruesome body disposal.

Erickson, the juror, said the panel considered first- and second-degree murder, and settled on second “based on the evidence.” The threat Viens made to kill his wife was not enough for first-degree, he said, adding plenty of people have made similar threats.

Jurors used Viens own words from his confessions to convict him, Erickson said.

“His testimony basically said what he did,” the juror said. “He was read his Miranda rights. Everything you say can be used against you in a court of law.”

Some jurors, he said, had trouble sleeping after listening to the disturbing confessions.

“I think he has anger management problems,” Erickson said. “He’s shown no remorse, no apology, nothing.”

Papin said she started crying the minute the jury buzzed the courtroom three times at 10:30 a.m. Thursday to indicate they had reached a verdict.

She bowed her head and wept as the verdict was read.

Papin later thanked the detectives, prosecutors, jurors, Patterson and Wade, and others for their work in pursuing Viens and bringing justice.

“It means he has to pay for what he did,” Papin said. “He tried to get away with it.”

Patterson, who often socialized with the Vienses with her husband, and helped design his restaurant kitchen, said she “loved Dawn like a sister.”

“My good friend murdered, my good friend,” she said.

Patterson said she remains upset that she chose not to call the police when Dawn Viens told her about the domestic violence incidents, including one where she had locked herself in the bathroom. Dawn Viens had told her not to.

“We all need to listen to friends who reach out to us,” she said.

Patterson said she might visit Viens in prison to tell him how much his wife loved him.

“Through all of this he is still my friend,” Patterson said. “I hope he knows that the week before he killed her, Dawn loved him so much.”

Judge Rand Rubin scheduled sentencing for Viens on Nov. 27. Viens, who has been behind bars since his suicide attempt from the cliff, previously served a short prison term in Florida for drug dealing.

Reprinted with permission. larryaltman@dailybreeze.com.

BB Commissioners Straight, Vosburgh look to future

Bradenton Beach Commissioner Jan Vosburgh and Vice Mayor Ed Straight never had to look over their political shoulder through this year’s election cycle.

Both are up for re-election Nov. 6, but are unopposed, leaving them with the opportunity to not only focus on tasks at hand, but also to look ahead to the next two years.

But whether it’s a political opponent or more involvement on city boards, Vosburgh said she would like to see more people get involved with the city.

“I am concerned we don’t have more people involved, and I am considerably concerned that more citizens don’t come to the commission meetings,” she said.

Vosburgh said she was particularly concerned with the lack of public interest in the summer-long budget process.

“That is one of the things I plan to work on during my upcoming term,” she said. “It is so important that we keep the lines of communication open to all we serve.”

Vosburgh was appointed to the commission in 2010 following the resignation of former Mayor Michael Pierce, and when Ward 4 Commissioner Bob Bartelt vacated his seat to assume the mayoral role.

She went on to defeat mooring committee member Michael Harrington later that year to claim her spot on the dais for a full term. She will enter her second term following the Nov. 6 election.

“The reason that I want to continue to serve this community is because I feel very strongly that each of us should be obligated to do our share as citizens of this wonderful country,” she said. “It doesn’t matter how small the task may be. Remember what President John Kennedy said: Don’t ask what your country can do for you, but ask what you can do for your country.”

Vosburgh said she believes in the “KISS” — Keep It Simple Stupid — philosophy of governing.

“I try to keep the KISS theory in all my decisions, as it seems like there are a lot of unnecessary procedures, which can be simplified with little to no effort,” she said. “Of course, my primary goal always has been and always will be to watch the expenses and taxes for the sake of our citizens.”

Vosburgh said she understands the job voters have chosen her to do, “and I will continue to serve the citizens as I always have. That’s my job.”

Straight won the commissioner’s race in 2010 after three decades in public service as Manatee County EMT chief, 911 emergency response center chief and as a Manatee County Sheriff’s Office reserve deputy.

Straight was initially undecided on serving a second term, saying his nonprofit Wildlife Inc. was time-demanding, but expressed his love for Bradenton Beach as the primary reason for serving a second term.

Just before filing his qualification papers in May, Straight said he enjoyed serving the citizens of Bradenton Beach.

“I know controversial things come up and there are times when you make a decision based on what the people you serve want,” he said. “There are also times you base a decision on what you know is best, and you hope to God you know the difference.”

He was in public safety for 29 years, including serving as EMT chief for 13 years and chief of the Manatee County 911-emergency center for seven years.

He was a 27-year MCSO reserve deputy before retiring in 2010 to run for office.

 

Candidates and challengers:

      • Holmes Beach Mayor: Incumbent Rich Bohnenberger faces off against challenger Carmel Monti.

• Holmes Beach Commission: Incumbents Sandy Haas-Martens and John Monetti face challengers Judy Holmes Titsworth and Marvin Grossman for two seats.

• Manatee County Commission District 7 at-large: Betsy Benac defeated Joe McClash in the Aug. 14 primary to advance to the general election, where she faces write-in candidate Thomas Dell.

• Manatee County School Board District 2: Republican Dave “Watchdog” Miner, a member of the Anna Maria Island Kiwanis Club, came out on top of several candidates in the Aug. 14 primary election. The District 2 school board race was the closest race of the election, and Miner now will face Robert Moates for a second time in a runoff election.

 

Unopposed in the general election:

• Anna Maria City Commission: Charles Webb.

• Anna Maria City Commission: Nancy Yetter.

• Bradenton Beach City Commission: Ed Straight.

• Bradenton Beach City Commission: Jan Vosburgh.

• West Manatee Fire District Seat 1: Larry Jennis.

• West Manatee Fire District Seat 4: David Bishop.

• West Manatee Fire District Seat 5: Randy Cooper.

• Manatee County Commission District 2: John Chappie.

 

Elected during the primary election:

• Manatee County Sheriff Brad Steube defeated William Waldron in the Republican primary election. With no Democrat in the race, Steube was re-elected.

• Manatee County School Board District 4, which includes Anna Maria Elementary School: Republican Bob Gause defeated Linda Schaich.

 

Dates to remember:

      • Oct. 9: Final day to register to vote in the Nov. 6 election.

      • Oct. 19: Popcorn & Politics, political rally at The Islander newspaper, 5:30 p.m. Friday, 5404 Marina Drive, Holmes Beach.

• Oct. 27: Early voting begins.

• Oct. 31: Final day to request an absentee ballot.

• Nov. 6: Absentee ballots must be received by 7 p.m.

• Nov. 6: General election.

 

Anna Maria Island voting precincts:

• Precinct 91, Roser Memorial Community Church, 512 Pine Ave., Anna Maria.

• Precinct 92, Gloria Dei Lutheran Church, 6608 Marina Drive, Holmes Beach.

• Precinct 93, St. Bernard Catholic Church, 248 S. Harbor Drive, Holmes Beach.

• Precinct 94, Tingley Memorial Library, 6200 Second St. N., Bradenton Beach.

Signs of trouble?

Holmes Beach commission candidate Marvin Grossman over the weekend reported to the Islander that he found damaged campaign signs and about 12 signs that had been removed from locations that were pre-approved by property owners.

And Holmes Beach commission candidate Judy Holmes Titsworth was alerted of an anonymous complaint about her housing wildlife — in this instance, chickens that were found running loose and rescued from near the Sunshine Skyway Bridge.

Titsworth holds a wildlife rescue permit, similar to that of Wildlife Inc. and its operators, Gail and Ed Straight have for their Bradenton Beach home.

She noted her twin, Jeannie Bystrom, also of Holmes Beach, also holds a wildlife rescue permit.

Grossman said he would likely file a police report on his sign vandalism in order for HBPD to keep a lookout for further instances.

The pair of candidates are running for seats on the Holmes Beach city commission presently held by Sandy Haas-Martens and John Monetti, whose terms are expiring.

The election includes candidates for the mayor’s seat as well and will be held Nov. 6.

AM agrees on post-election process to fill mayor, commission seats

If someone had run for Mayor Mike Selby’s soon-to-be vacated position, Anna Maria would not be in such a quandary.

The problem, said Commissioner Jo Ann Mattick at the commission’s Sept. 27 meeting, is that when no one qualifies to seek an office, the city must turn to the city charter for direction.

The city charter calls for the commission chair to automatically become the mayor when the mayor’s seat is vacant.

It’s up to the present commissioners to determine the process to follow after the Nov. 6 election, when the city will be faced with a vacant mayor’s seat.

All agree the first order of business at the Nov. 15 organizational meeting, after swearing in new commissioner Nancy Yetter and incumbent Chuck Webb, will be to elect from among themselves — including Commissioners SueLynn, John Quam and Dale Woodland — a chairperson.

That vote will be followed by an appointment, this time by four commissioners, minus the mayor, of a qualified person from the electorate to fill the newly vacated commission seat.

At the Sept. 27 meeting, the commission asked that anyone interested in the inevitable open seat complete an application at city hall by Oct. 31 and be present at the Nov. 15 meeting to be nominated and possibly answer questions from commissioners.

To date, only two people have applied — former Commissioner Gene Aubry and environmental enhancement and education committee chair Billy Malfese.

In other commission business at the Sept. 27 meeting, Webb said he had to bring back the recently passed ordinance to commissioners that amended parking, dock space and requirements, and other issues because he found “unintended consequences” for the commercial district.

Without that certain language, transient rentals or “sleeping units” would not be required to have on-site parking for guests.

City attorney Jim Dye said the city would need to go begin anew the ordinance process.

Commissioners also tabled the purchase of an electric truck from public works supervisor George McKay, who bought the truck to ensure no one else got the bargain. McKay paid $4,600 for the 2005 truck, while the book value is around $7,500.

Dye said there was a legal issue to be resolved before the city could approve the purchase.

Commissioners also agreed with Selby to have a workshop Oct. 11 on his proposal to move parking at the city pier across Bay Boulevard to the vacant city property and turn the north city pier parking lot into a park.

“Think about it and come talk to me,” Selby said.

The commission also unanimously passed a resolution supporting the Manatee County Commission initiative to repeal the state statute passed in June 2011 that allows every homeowner to rent their residence.

The initiative is supported by the Florida League of Cities, the Florida Association of Counties and other organizations.

Webb added that the FLC and FAC are opposed to Amendment IV on the general election ballot.

The amendment would cap non-homesteaded property value increases and ad valorem taxes at a 3 percent increase per year, similar to the Save Our Homes initiative passed by voters in the mid-1990s.

The reason the amendment is opposed, Webb said, is because without the ability to raise the value of non-homesteaded property, cities throughout Florida would have to raise millage rates on everyone to meet their budget needs.

Selby also said he recently spoke with U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Longboat Key, who pledged to help the city find a way to halt proliferation of large vacation rental properties.

Sex offender moves to Bradenton Beach

A convicted sex offender moved to the 2500 block of Avenue C in Bradenton Beach last week, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement website. He is the second convicted sex offender to move to the city in 30 days.

By law, all convicted sex offenders must inform the FDLE of their address within 48 hours of moving to a new location. Local law enforcement routinely check on the whereabouts and activities of the offender.

The FDLE said Bradenton Beach police have been informed.

The offender is a 30-year-old man convicted in Manatee County in 2004 of lewd or lascivious battery on a victim between the ages of 12-15.

The other Bradenton Beach offender is a 65-year-old man convicted in Polk County in 1995 on two counts of sexual battery. In early September, he moved to the 1600 block of Gulf Drive in Bradenton Beach.

The FDLE lists one convicted sex offender in Holmes Beach and none in Anna Maria. One convicted sex offender lives in Cortez, according to the FDLE.

New center director choice narrows

It may have taken longer than Pierrette Kelly planned, but her replacement as executive director of the Anna Maria Island Community Center should be announced in the next few weeks, said center board president Greg Ross.

“We’ve narrowed it down to two people,” Ross said.

He said the entire board of directors was to meet early this week and vote on their candidate of choice. The candidate with the most votes will be offered the position.

If an offer is accepted, Ross said, the board would give the candidate time to give his or her current employer proper notice before announcing the appointment.

Ross said there may be a problem getting a quorum for the meeting to vote on a new executive director.

“I’ve been trying all week to arrange a meeting date,” Ross said Sept. 28. He said as soon as he’s got a firm date for the meeting he’ll announce that.

Kelly submitted her resignation April 23, but agreed to stay until June 30 while the board found a replacement.

A screening committee headed by West Manatee Fire Rescue Chief Andy Price and including restaurateur Ed Chiles and Manatee County Commissioner Carol Whitmore, was formed to short-list the original 46 applicants down to three.

However, the board was unable to agree on a satisfactory replacement from among those applicants, and put out a call for more applications.

This time, the screening committee came up with several people who were acceptable to the executive board.

Ross declined to say how many names were on the second list, but said the board has narrowed its choice down to two people.

“We interviewed those two candidates last week and we will make a decision once we have a meeting with a quorum,” he said. “It will be as soon as I can get enough people to make a quorum.”

Kelly has been executive director of the center for 23 years.

She said she wanted to move on to other things in her life and quit while she was ahead.

Kelly said she would spend a few days training her replacement, particularly regarding grant writing.

Anna Maria, MCSO contract down to the wire

The Anna Maria City Commission approved the 2012-13 spending plan of $2.3 million with $675,000 for law enforcement services from the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office.

However, Mayor Mike Selby, city attorney Jim Dye and Commission Chair Chuck Webb still plan to meet with MCSO legal attorney Michelle Hall to make sure all parties understand the duties of deputies.

As of last week, Selby had not signed the MCSO contract, which was to become effective Oct. 1. A meeting was scheduled last week between the city and MCSO attorney Michelle Hall of iron out the dispute.

At issue, according to Selby, is that MCSO deputies are required by the contract to enforce the laws in Anna Maria, including city ordinances. He and Webb just want to be sure everyone understands that duty.

Ordinances and codes are the city’s laws, Dye said.

Sgt. Dave Turner, head of the MCSO-Anna Maria substation, said his deputies are not code enforcement officers, but perform their duties as professional police officers.

One main issue is deputies responding to noise and nuisance complaints. The city believes deputies can provide more enforcement for those complaints.

MCSO deputies have responded to noise complaints, Turner said, and have broken up loud parties and issued citations and warnings. They work closely with the city’s code enforcement officer Gerry Rathvon, Turner said.

Turner’s problem is that there is usually only one deputy on duty in the city from late at night to early in the morning. The deputy can’t be spending a lot of time responding to nuisance calls while patrolling the streets.

Consultant says commissioner ‘blatantly misinformed’

Bradenton Beach Commissioner Ric Gatehouse won’t have to worry about Center for Municipal Solution’s Lawrence “Rusty” Monroe standing in the way of his proposal to repeal the city’s cell tower ordinance by severing ties with Monroe’s company.

The city “has no need to sever ties with CMS as Mr. Gatehouse recommends, since at this point it apparently has no” agreement, Monroe wrote in a nine-page letter to commissioners.

The letter was in response to Gatehouse’s Sept. 6 criticism of Monroe’s involvement with writing the city’s ordinance.

Gatehouse said the ordinance, adopted in May 2011, was designed to be obstructionist and financially beneficial to Monroe.

Gatehouse said the ordinance “stinks to high heaven,” and “smelled of a backroom deal.”

The commissioner said he would seek to repeal the ordinance and draft a new one, or at least amend the current one.

Monroe said in his letter, dated Sept. 12, that he took umbrage with Gatehouse’s comments, “and the thinly veiled clear implication as regards to the wholesomeness of our intent and motives.”

Monroe said he welcomed constructive criticism, but Gatehouse’s implications crossed a line of integrity. Monroe said his company, “effectively donated” $28,000 to the ordinance process for a three-year agreement that probably would not generate more than $10,000 in revenue.

Monroe said CMS went forward with its work regardless, because it made a commitment to do so and, “simply because it was the right, honorable and ethical thing to do.”

He said it’s a model ordinance that has been accepted in more than 800 communities in 33 states, including Anna Maria.

Gatehouse said the ordinance has been challenged and defeated in other communities through litigation, and he feared Bradenton Beach was setting itself up to violate federal communications laws by adhering to the ordinance, as it is written.

Monroe said that was not true and the Alabama lawsuit Gatehouse brought up at the Sept. 6 city commission meeting did not involve CMS.

“It was simply an issue of whether or not the city’s ordinance was a zoning ordinance or a land-use ordinance, and if it could be enforced,” said Monroe. “We have always told communities it should be a land-use ordinance, but that city insisted on making it a zoning ordinance.”

Monroe said the Alabama ordinance was done against the advice of CMS.

“In short, Mr. Gatehouse is certainly entitled to his own opinions,” he said. “However, he is not entitled to his own facts.”

Monroe said, “It is truly regrettable that Mr. Gatehouse chose to listen to individuals who choose to so blatantly and intentionally misrepresent the facts, do not have the city’s best interests at heart, and have a vested interested in avoiding reasonable regulations intended to protect the public safety, welfare and interest” of the city.

The back-and-forth cell tower argument began to get contentious Aug. 16 when Scenic Waves Partnership chair Carl Parks sent an email to commissioners titled “I smell a rat.”

In that email, Parks implied someone with the city was being paid off by ignoring the Monroe ordinance requirements. As it turned out, the city had not taken action to trigger those requirements, according to city attorney Ricinda Perry, but Parks has been an outspoken proponent of the Monroe ordinance.

He also said the Bradenton Beach ordinance was meant to be difficult, as Parks is an opponent of a cell tower in the city.

Monroe said he is not affiliated with Parks and that Parks speaks only for himself. He also said the CMS supports the cellular communications issues in the city and the ordinance clearly reflects such.

Monroe said, contrary to Gatehouse’s implications, he is not in partnership with Parks, “Neither I, nor anyone associated with CMS has any kind of relationship with any resident or group of residents in the city. Nor have I ever expressed an opinion of any kind to anyone in the city regarding the desirability of cell towers in Bradenton Beach.”

Monroe went on to say that he has not returned Parks’ emails.

“Mr. Parks’ opinion of cell towers is his, not mine,” he said. “The quote attributed to Mr. Parks about having worked long and hard to keep a cell tower from being built … may be his impression of what was done, but it’s neither accurate nor factual. We have never worked with anyone to keep towers out.”

Gatehouse was expected to respond to Monroe’s letter Sept. 26, when his proposal to address a new ordinance was on the city commission agenda. However, the commissioner missed that meeting due to illness.Anna Maria property owner Larry Kerr, who lives in South Carolina, spoke at the Sept. 19 final hearing on the 2012-13 budget. He praised commissioners and city treasurer Diane Percycoe for a wise use of funds. To the right of Kerr are Commissioners SueLynn and John Quam. Some commissioners said it was the first time in their memory a member of the public spoke at a budget hearing. Islander Photo: Rick Catlin

 

BB releases flood plain mitigation plan, insurance may rise

Bradenton Beach public building official Steve Gilbert said changes to the National Flood Insurance Program will likely lead to higher premiums, but there are things the city can do to help keep premiums down.

A Sept. 24 report detailing the city’s strategies in flood plain mitigation was prepared by Gilbert. It focuses on what the city is doing and should do in the future.

In a memo to city commissioners, Gilbert explains the city is part of the Community Rating System of the National Flood Insurance Program. As such, he said the city identifies programs and activities to help prevent flood damage, and is subsequently awarded discounts on insurance premiums for the city and its residents.

Gilbert’s six-page report emphasizes what the city can do to continue to benefit from the program that reduces flood insurance premiums in the city.

“The city has continued to address the stormwater master plan developed in 2006,” Gilbert reports. “Implementation of mitigation projects for street flooding and surface-water management continued in the last fiscal year … and several other smaller projects for shoreline protection have been identified and addressed.”

Gilbert identified some of the major issues facing the city and what the city has done, or plans on doing, to address those issues.

Coastal conservation is one concern. Gilbert is recommending regulations within the land-development code to ensure new development and substantial improvements in the environmental zones include coastal dune mitigation projects, appropriate dune vegetation planting and the installation of bollards to create beach access points.

Commissioners have been reviewing the LDC for several weeks now and are getting closer to finalizing the goal of bringing the LDC into compliance with the city’s comprehensive plan. The deadline to submit the LDC to the state is the end of October.

Gilbert said he recommends more public-private partnerships to protect and enhance the dunes, “as they are our only defense at this time to storm surge and resulting washouts of Gulf Drive, our only means of evacuation and recovery.”

Gilbert points to the controversial project between the city and the BeachHouse Restaurant, 200 Gulf Drive N., as an example of more public-private partnerships, but that project is currently being challenged in the court system.

Three Bradenton Beach residents, including two former planning and zoning board members are suing the city over that project, claiming it violates the city’s land-development code.

Gilbert also discusses in his report the hardening of city facilities, a subject that came up during the summer’s budget talks, as a means to better protect city buildings from storm damage.

Gilbert recommends commissioners follow through on discussions to install impact-resistant storm shutters and flood panels at city hall and the public works building.

“These hardening improvements are not extremely expensive,” Gilbert said. “Consider how much more expensive it may be if we are forced out of either facility due to flooding or wind damage.”

Gilbert said there have been discussions on relocating all city departments to the public works and police department property, but there has been no official action taken on developing a long-range plan to achieve that goal.

He is recommending that commissioners authorize funding to study the city’s facilities and make recommendations.

Also being considered as urgent are:

• Evacuation routes and stormwater impacts: Gilbert notes an ongoing potential for street flooding from Fifth Street South to 13th Street South, as well as Cortez Road to Seventh Street South.

Gilbert said the city already is identifying and making stormwater improvements, but would like to include those streets as part of the discussion, and recommends drainage improvements for Church and Highland avenues, as well as Bay Drive South.

He also recommends:

• Upgrade communications system: The city should enhance its digital capabilities for emergency management activities, and its warning system capabilities.

• Benchmark maintenance and data: The city should update its existing benchmarks for current standards, and to check benchmarks used for floodplain management for continuing accuracy. He will recommend authorizing staff to pursue an agreement with Manatee County’s surveying and engineering department to achieve that goal.

• Post-disaster redevelopment planning: An island wide post disaster redevelopment plan has existed since 1999, and the city also has participated with the county’s plan.

“Things change though, and it is time to begin the process of making this our own plan, addressing the needs and goals of Bradenton Beach for post-disaster redevelopment,” he said.

In closing, Gilbert said Congress has made some significant changes to the National Flood Insurance Program.

“We are assured that premiums will be increasing across the board,” he said. “Additionally, a number of changes are going to increase premiums for properties which are not the primary dwelling of the owner. We anticipate that almost every property will be financially impacted by these revisions.”