Tag Archives: 10-06-2010

Precautionary Boil Water Notice

MANATEE COUNTY, FL (Wednesday, Oct. 6, 2010) – Manatee County Utilities Department has a Precautionary Boil Water notice still in effect for customers on the North End of Anna Maria Island from Pine Ave.

All water used for drinking or cooking should still be boiled as a precaution. A rolling boil of one minute is sufficient. As an alternative, bottled water may be used.

This precautionary notice will remain in effect until a bacteriological survey has shown the water to be safe, A Rescission Notice will be issued when lifted. If residents have any questions they may call 941-792-8811 ext: 5268 between 7:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. or 941-747-HELP, 941-747-4357 after 4:30 p.m.

THIS NOTICE HAS BEEN ISSUED BY MANATEE COUNTY UTILITIES

WATER DISTRIBUTION SECTION

Shut off information provided by:

Claude Jones

Cell # 792-8811 ext: 5268

McClash calls Longboat Pass resolution ‘lie’

Manatee County Commissioner Joe McClash Sept. 28 voted against seeking help to dredge Longboat Pass, claiming a county resolution conveys a lie to the federal government.

The resolution, which passed 5-1 with McClash’s “nay,” calls on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to help restore navigational safety in the federal channel in the pass that separates the southern end of Anna Maria Island and the northern tip of Longboat Key.

McClash said the request to restore navigational safety implies a risk that does not exist, according to an engineer that reported a new natural channel has formed, removing the need to dredge the federal channel.

“There’s not a navigational issue in that pass,” said McClash.

The commissioner, who for part of the discussion last week stepped away from the dais to speak from the audience podium, said, “You’re saying to the Corps you’re having a problem you don’t have.”

McClash removed the item from the meeting’s consent agenda for discussion, then later asked for the board to delay its vote until after more investigation.

The resolution, he said, “is false and a lie.”

But the board proceeded, with Commissioner Carol Whitmore calling the question after hearing from Charlie Hunsicker, the director of the county natural resources department.

Hunsicker said there is a disagreement between the engineer that McClash referred to and the West Coast Inland Navigation District that maintains the channel.

Substantial engineering research indicated the need to address “perceived navigational problems resulting from the silting in of the federal authorized channel template with approximately 170,000 cubic yards of high quality sand eroded from adjacent beaches,” Hunsicker said.

Both the WCIND and the town of Longboat Key supported the resolution, according to Hunsicker, who added that material from the dredge work would be used for beach renourishment on Longboat Key and Anna Maria Island.

A background memo from Hunsicker to the board stated, “Numerous adjustments to the channel marker system have been made by the U.S. Coast Guard, but users of the pass are experiencing uncertainty and danger, and potential property damage when navigating the pass.”

Aubry may be required to vote on PAR

Newly elected Anna Maria Commissioner Gene Aubry might run into state law in trying to fulfill his campaign promise not to vote on any issue relating to Pine Avenue Restoration LLC.

Prior to his election, Aubry, an architect, had performed work for PAR and was paid for his services.

Aubry said he would recuse himself from voting on a PAR issue if one comes to the commission, but would seek legal advice from city attorney Jim Dye at the public meeting about his duty as an elected official to cast a vote when required by statute.

Florida laws appear to require that Aubry cast a vote on some matters related to PAR, and does not allow voluntary recusal.

Florida statute 286.012 on the voting requirements of elected officials at meetings of governmental bodies states that “no member” may abstain from voting on a matter unless there “is, or appears to be, a possible conflict of interest” under other state laws requiring financial disclosure.

If that’s the case, the voting member “shall comply with the disclosure requirements” and recusal is in order.

But if an official has already been paid for work on a project, and stands to gain nothing in the future by any decision he or she might make on the issue regarding a former employer, they have to cast a vote, according to the statute.

The statute would appear to require that Aubry refrain from any future work for PAR because he is likely to vote on future PAR projects.

The Aubry-PAR situation is similar to that of Commissioner Chuck Webb in 2009, when the commission had to vote on a matter involving the Fiske marina property at the end of South Bay Boulevard.

Prior to the vote, Webb disclosed that before his election as a commissioner in 2008, he was the attorney for the Fiskes against the city’s code enforcement board. He said he was paid for his legal work and resigned as the Fiskes’ legal counsel upon his election.

Webb said then that he would recuse himself from voting, but Dye said that if (Webb) no longer had any financial interest with the Fiskes or represented the Fiskes, he had to cast a vote.

Webb voted to approve a measure that grandfathered the Fiske property some rights as a non-conforming marina use. The vote was unanimous.

Aubry was clear that he would seek legal counsel prior to any vote regarding PAR.

“When any issue involving PAR comes before the commission, I will ask Dye for legal advice and disclose any involvement I had with that project,” he said.

“I will follow Dye’s advice on whether to vote or recuse myself,” he added.

Aubry’s wife Janet has an interior design business and also has been paid for work on some completed PAR projects. She said she would not do any further work on PAR projects that come before the commission with her husband sitting as a commissioner.

A situation similar already has occurred in Anna Maria.

Commissioner Dale Woodland owns a pool-cleaning business and has done work for PAR at its properties. His company also has performed work for Mike and Lizzie Vann Thrasher, developers of the Anna Maria Historic Green Village on Pine Avenue.

Tom Turner is Anna Maria’s top citizen for 2010

Tom Turner of North Shore Drive is Anna Maria’s Citizen of the Year.

The citizen’s recognition committee honored Turner Sept. 28 for his outstanding volunteer service to the city, including assisting the city planner on various planning proposals, his input at commission meetings, his service as a planning and zoning board chair and member and on the city’s code committee and his work as a former chair of the Anna Maria Historical Park Committee.

“He has always been active in anything pertaining to our city and has devoted a lot of time and energy for us,” said committee member Karen Di Costanzo.

The award caught Turner off guard.

“I was shocked when they all showed up here and told me,” he said from his home.

“It’s quite an honor and one I never expected. I really appreciate the award.”

The recognition committee will formally present Turner with his award at the city commission’s Oct. 28 meeting.

Other nominees for the award were Ed Chiles and Gene Aubry.

Turner, who bought property in Anna Maria in the late 1960s and has lived there permanently since 1984, is retired from the U.S. Air Force.

He served on the planning and zoning board for more than a decade in the 1990s and is a former P&Z chair. Turner also has served on the code enforcement board and once chaired a committee to select two city officials.

Earlier this year, Mayor Fran Barford again appointed him to the board as a member.

Order issued in Lohn case

Circuit Court Judge Edward Nicholas recently asked the city of Bradenton Beach to formally respond to a suit filed by property-owner Ken Lohn more than a year ago.

Nicholas issued an “order to show cause,” a routine judicial order in civil suits that formally asks the defendant — in this case the city — to respond to a complaint.

Nicholas issued the order in mid-September and instructed the city to respond within a month.

Lohn lives on Bay Drive South and owns a nearby duplex. He is challenging a city building official’s issuance of a certificate of occupancy for an adjacent duplex at 109 Fifth St. S.

In April 2009, the Bradenton Beach Board of Adjustment recommended that the city commission deny Lohn’s complaint regarding the Fifth Street property, also known as Hibiscus II and now privately owned.

In June 2009, the city commission voted against Lohn’s complaint, which essentially is that a driveway built on an easement alongside his home is too close to his property line and too narrow.

Lohn’s 11-page complaint, filed in July 2009 in Manatee County Circuit Court by attorney Robert Turffs, seeks a judicial review of the commission’s decision.

“This complaint challenges the city of Bradenton Beach issuance of a certificate of occupancy for the multi-family condominium … despite the fact the location is in violation of express provisions of the Bradenton Beach Land Development Code,” the complaint states.

In the complaint, Lohn said he wants the court to issue an order quashing the commission’s order upholding the certificate of occupancy.

Responding to the complaint, city attorney Ricinda Perry has stated, “The issues raised by Mr. Lohn were reviewed three times by the city and were found to be without legal merit unanimously by the board of adjustment and the city commission.

“To interfere with, abrogate or annul the easement at issue would be a threat to the public’s health, safety and welfare, including Mr. Lohn, since there are no other options available to access Mr. Lohn’s property and the adjacent lot.”

Lohn filed the case — 2009 CA 7099 — at the judicial center in Bradenton July 31, 2009.

Commision favors Waste Pro

Bradenton Beach commissioners voted 4-1 to proceed with negotiating a contract with Waste Pro of Florida for recycling services in the city.

The commission had reviewed bids from four companies during a meeting Sept. 21, then met briefly Sept. 30 to select a bid winner.

Commissioners decided to hire a private contractor to save money, especially in equipment costs, such as repairing the aging city truck or replacing the truck.

Waste Pro of Florida, Waste Management, Waste Services of Florida and Republic Services bid on the contract.

Commissioners Gay Breuler, Janie Robertson and Bob Connors and Mayor Bob Bartelt favored Waste Pro. Commissioner Janet Vosburgh favored Waste Services. So the vote to proceed with Waste Pro was 4-1.

“We’re excited,” said Waste Pro district manager Andy Toller. “We’ve wanted this city’s business all along.”

City clerk Nora Idso said the next step in the process is for attorneys for the city and the company to negotiate a contract, including the details of a franchise fee for the city.

“I would like to see this within the next six weeks,” Idso told commissioners.

In the meantime, public works director Tom Woodard said the city crew would continue business as usual. “Nothing is different until we have an agreement, a contract,” he said.

Once there is a contract, the two public works employees who collect recyclables weekly will take on new duties.

Toller said Waste Pro could move quickly to start its weekly collection routine.

“We could be ready to go in a very short time,” he said.

Waste Pro partners on recycling initiatives with the Manatee Chamber of Commerce, the Sarasota YMCA and the Baltimore Orioles at Ed Smith Stadium and is a green-certified company.

Toller promised to help Bradenton Beach reach a goal of recycling 75 percent of the city’s solid waste by 2020 with an educational program aimed at residents, businesses and schools.

Waste Pro’s bid pledged a customized schedule for the city, the use of new recycling trucks and added collection containers on holidays.

Waste Pro’s fee schedule was $3.07 a month per residential unit and $15 per month for commercial sites that use a 96-gallon bin.

Waste Pro’s cost to sort and dispose of residual garbage is $75 a ton. After subtracting such costs, the company offered to split 50/50 any profits from recyclables with the city, which would be detailed in a monthly report.

BB’s recycling rules

When? Currently the city operates the recycling program in Bradenton Beach, collecting materials on Thursdays at most residential locations, but on Tuesdays at Sandpiper, Pines, Runaway Bay and other selected condominiums and businesses.

What? The city can recycle most paper goods, including magazines, corrugated cardboard, newspapers; plastic items No. 1-7, milk and juice boxes, aluminum and steel cans, glass bottles and jars of all colors and empty aerosol cans.

What not? The city cannot recycle egg cartons, plastic bags, Styrofoam, mirrors, pizza boxes, cereal boxes, packing material, ceramic items, hardcover books, gift wrap and tissue paper, beer and soda cartons, prescription bottles and window glass.

What about? Questions about recycling or requests for recycling bins should be directed to the Bradenton Beach Public Works Department at 941-778-3947.

HBPD: Sunshine complaint ‘unfounded’

The Holmes Beach Police Department deemed “unfounded” an allegation of a Sunshine Law violation involving Manatee County Commissioners John Chappie and Carol Whitmore and county administrator Ed Hunzeker.

The case was closed Sept. 30, about a week after it was opened.

HBPD Chief Jay Romine said the complainant, Holmes Beach resident Nancy Deal, and the commissioners were interviewed and that the HBPD determined there was no violation.

“It is apparent after taking sworn statements of all parties involved that these individuals met for a social gathering, but there is no evidence or statements to confirm that any county business was discussed or conducted,” Romine said in a news release Sept. 30.

The state attorney’s office reviewed the case and concurred, determining there was no basis for further investigation or prosecution.

Florida Sunshine Law — Chapter 286 of the state statutes — establishes a basic right of access to the meetings of boards, commissions and other governing bodies of local governments. The law prohibits members of a board from privately discussing board-related business and requires reasonable notice of public meetings.

HBPD received a complaint and drafted an incident report Sept. 22 related to a Sept. 15 dinner at the Beach Bistro, 6600 Gulf Drive, Holmes Beach.

Deal was at the bistro that evening with her husband and later filed an affidavit questioning whether there was “some kind of Sunshine issue” over a gathering at the bar that involved Chappie, Whitmore and Hunzeker. The county officials were joined at the bar by Whitmore’s husband and Island businessman David Teitelbaum, who serves on the Manatee County Tourist Development Council and a chamber board member.

Deal, an officer with the Save Anna Maria citizens group, said she overhead Whitmore and Hunzeker talking. She reported to HBPD that she heard Whitmore “say either ‘builders’ or ‘developers’” and heard Hunzeker “say either ‘…not alarm the public…’ or ‘…not inform the public.’”

Deal, in addition to filing a complaint, which was dropped off at HBPD by another SAM officer, sent a letter to the state attorney’s office. She said the county officials did not meet by chance at the bar and that Whitmore and Hunzeker “engaged in a continuous conversation.”

Deal told the HBPD she “had no other information to provide … in regards to the specifics of the conversation,” according to the police report.

Romine, in the HBPD release, said, “Someone overhearing what might have been ‘builders’ or ‘developers’ does not rise to the level of a Sunshine Law violation. The statement of the restaurant employee also confirms those of the county officials involved.”

Whitmore and Hunzeker maintained throughout the investigation that the Sunshine Law was not violated during the casual dinner.

Whitmore, who is seeking re-election and suggested the complaint was politically motivated, stressed that she and Chappie sat apart from one another at the bar and did not talk about county business.

Hunzeker said he can, under the statute, talk with Whitmore or Chappie separately about county matters.

Teitelbaum said, “I’ve been with Carol and with John and with Ed before for dinner.… Usually after a chamber event. We all pay our own way. And they never ever break the Sunshine Law.… John and Carol were not talking shop.”

In addition to the HBPD and state attorney’s reviews, county attorney Ted Williams said he read Deal’s affidavit and determined “there’s nothing there” in regards to a Sunshine Law violation.

“It isn’t against the Sunshine Law for someone to mention ‘developers,” said Williams.

The affidavit quoted pieces of conversations and nothing in the document suggested a violation of the statute, he concluded.

The dinner followed a meeting at the Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce, where Hunzeker briefed the chamber board and other attendees, including Whitmore and Chappie, about the replacement of the Island trolleys and the suspension of a member-supported advertising program on the vehicles.

Deal’s complaint triggered conversation at city halls and other hangouts on the Island last week among citizens who often see elected officials and appointed board members in social settings.

In advisory opinions, the Florida Attorney General’s Office states that a social meeting of two or more elected officials from one board does not constitute a violation of the Sunshine Law.

However, a conversation between those two board members about board business would constitute a violation.

County board OKs trolley purchases

Five new 35-foot diesel trolleys will roll along Anna Maria Island’s north/south transit route within the next year.

The Manatee County Board of Commissioners Sept. 28 voted unanimously to purchase the trolleys using federal funding. The cost, according to finance director Jim Seuffert, is $2,295,565, with each trolley from the California-based Gillig Corporation costing $459,113. Gillig currently provides buses for the Manatee County Area Transit.

The trolleys would replace the current fleet, which includes vehicles prone to breakdowns, according to Manatee County administrator Ed Hunzeker.

“In the long run, what we need is different trolleys,” Hunzeker told commissioners last week.

The existing open-air trolleys are operating seven days a week, from about 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.

“They just weren’t designed for that,” Hunzeker said. “Thee trolleys are not rugged enough for that type of service. The long-run fix is we just need better trolleys.”

MCAT director Ralf Heseler, in a brief memo, wrote, “The present fleet of trolleys which have passed the life cycle.”

Replacement vehicles would arrive in about a year.

In the meantime, Hunzeker said, the existing trolleys may be held in reserve to operate during the busiest tourism periods.

“These trolleys are worn out,” Hunzeker said. So one approach is to use more buses on the Anna Maria Island route and “then, during the peak season, we put the trolleys back in service.”

County Commissioner John Chappie, who represents Anna Maria Island, suggested that at least one open-air trolley be kept in operation.

“If there’s any way possible,” he said. “I hate to lose what we’ve gained all these years.… The trolley is a real asset.”

Commissioners also briefly discussed the replacement trolleys.

Commissioner Joe McClash requested photographs and other details to review at a future meeting and asked that practicality be considered in submitting the final purchase order.

Cloth seats, for example, might not be best for beachgoers in damp swimsuits or the passengers who sit down after them, McClash said.

He also said MCAT drivers told him the trolleys are more difficult to drive than regular buses.

Hunzeker said he’d present more information to the board at an upcoming meeting, as well as bring to commissioners a proposal to compensate the Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce, which sold contracts for advertisements on the trolleys.

Last year, in an effort to avoid the institution of a fare on the trolleys, the Island community, led by the chamber, committed to raising at least $60,000 for the transportation service.

There were three revenue streams — an Islandwide festival, donation boxes on the trolleys and an advertising campaign on the vehicles.

The festival did not generate money, and with trolleys either off the road because of mechanical problems or because they are held in reserve, people cannot drop money in the donation boxes.

Additionally, said Hunzeker, it’s not fair for Island businesses to pay for advertising that isn’t being seen.

“My recommendation to the board at the next meeting will be that we put the program on hold for one more year,” Hunzeker said, referring to the advertising campaign administered by the chamber.

The county would offset the loss of revenue from the chamber with revenue from its new concessionaire at the Manatee Public Beach.

The money the chamber gave the county would be refunded, Hunzeker said.

“Your agreement is with the Island chamber,” Hunzeker said. “Their agreement is with the advertisers. We’re trying to be fair about this.… Rather than nickel and dime it, let’s just admit that it didn’t work right and come back with a solution.”

Crash disrupts water service

The north end of Anna Maria Island remained under an advisory to boil water Monday, Oct. 4, after Jason Bond, 24, of Bradenton, crashed his vehicle and wiped out a utility pole and fire hydrant at Gulf Drive and 73rd Street at about 3:30 a.m. Sunday, Oct. 3.

A Manatee County Utilities Department notice Oct. 4 alerted residents and businesses to boil cooking or drinking water for a minute prior to use. The precautionary notice remains in effect until a bacteriological survey determines the water is safe, usually 24-48 hours.

The crash disrupted water service for some eight hours for areas of Anna Maria Island north of 54th Street.

Holmes Beach Police Department Lt. Dale Stephenson said Bond told him he thought he fell asleep as he was heading southbound on Gulf Drive, and he’d already hit a mailbox when he was awakened. Bond said he then hit the fire hydrant and pole, according to Stephenson.

Bond turned himself in Oct. 3 and was charged with leaving the scene of a crash with property damage, and careless driving. He was released on a summons to appear in court.