Tag Archives: 11-24-2010

KMB holds ‘blast on beach

Bradenton Beach hosted an outdoor gallery Nov. 20 with the arrival of Sandblast 2010, the annual sand-sculpture contest organized by Keep Manatee Beautiful.

The BeachHouse Restaurant, 200 Gulf Drive, Bradenton Beach, served as the main sponsor of the event, which featured a recycled art exhibit, showcased an 80-ton sand-sculpture created by Team Sandtastic and matched nearly two dozen teams in a friendly sand-sculpting competition.

Teams, each working with sand piled in a 15 by 15 plot, started sculpting at about 9 a.m. The contest rules required sculptures to be along one of three themes — free form, nautical or holiday.

Participants included the Anna Maria Island Privateers, Bradenton Boys and Girls Club members, and students from Bayshore High School, Braden River Middle School, Braden River High School, Bradenton Christian High School, Lincoln Middle School, Manatee High School, Manatee School for the Arts, Southeast High School, State College of Florida students and Wakeland Elementary School.

Prior to the Sandblast contest, Team Sandtastic held a series of sculpting clinics on the Gulf of Mexico shore just south of the BeachHouse. Also, for three days prior to the contest, the professional team worked on its sandy holiday showpiece that likely will remain on the beach for the next month.

Team Sandastic holds a Guinness World Record for the tallest sandcastle ever built in less than 100 people-hours — the sandcastle was 28 feet, 7 1/4 inches tall.

Friday attorney ordered to pay Walker

A state administrative law judge has ruled that an attorney representing Richard Friday of Anna Maria must pay Steven Walker $2,000.

Friday and Walker are adjacent property owners near Anna Maria’s Park Avenue beach access and both have legal actions against the city regarding a Florida Department of Environmental Protection construction permit issued to Walker.

After Walker received a DEP permit to build a home, Friday filed an appeal of the permit with the Florida Division of Administrative Hearings.

Under rules required of an administrative hearing, attorney Ricinda Perry, on behalf of Walker, said the two parties first met to attempt a settlement. Perry said Friday did not agree to Walker’s settlement offer.

When Friday also did not agree to the terms of a joint stipulation about what evidence would be presented at the hearing, an administrative law judge heard the appeal case in March and ruled against Friday.

“Because of the obvious lack of legal merit” to Friday’s case, Perry said, Walker then requested sanctions, which are generally monetary reimbursements.

The judge, D.R. Alexander, granted sanctions Nov. 12 against Friday’s lawyer for “continuing to pursue the appeal.”

Alexander ordered Friday’s attorney, Harry Haskins, to pay Walker $2,000.

The judge said that Friday agreed prior to the March 16 hearing to present testimony that Walker’s environmental permitting process was flawed. Friday said he would also present evidence of Walker’s conflict with the city’s zoning code and comprehensive plan. Haskins was not Friday’s attorney when Friday agreed to present that evidence.

Alexander said Friday failed to present the environmental evidence, only the evidence that Walker’s planned project was in conflict with Anna Maria’s zoning ordinance and comprehensive plan.

Alexander said in his Nov. 12 order that the prior hearing was unnecessary because no environmental testimony was presented.

“Florida law was clear that Friday’s legal position was without merit,” Perry said following the Nov. 12 decision.

Friday has sued the city for informing Walker that it saw no obstacle for building in the environmental district, although the comprehensive plan states that no development is allowed in that land-use category.

Walker filed his legal action after the commission failed to pass a lot-split he requested for property he owns in the environmental zone that he claims was legally platted and accepted by the city.

Walker’s project is a three-bedroom house that would be built at 100 Park Ave., west of Friday’s house at 104 Park Ave.

Haskins said he “totally disagreed” with Alexander’s ruling, and was pursuing “other appellate options.”

Court denies Stoltzfus delay

The Florida 2nd District Court of Appeal Nov. 19 denied a motion by ex-Anna Maria Commissioner Harry Stoltzfus requesting more time to file a brief in his appeal to the DCA.

The brief would be a response to the DCA’s Sept. 16 order lifting certification of the results of Stoltzfus’ recall vote and asking the ex-commissioner to show why his appeal of the recall should not be moot.

Stoltzfus filed his request for an extension Nov. 2. A posting on the court’s website indicated the request was denied.

No date for oral arguments on the merits of the appeal has been scheduled.

Stoltzfus’ recall began in March following a public records request that resulted in the release of more than 1,200 of Stoltzfus’ personal e-mails pertaining to government business.

The contents of those e-mails, some of them inflammatory, prompted Anna Maria resident Bob Carter to form a Recall Commissioner Stoltzfus Committee and proceed through the various legal steps to remove Stoltzfus from office.

On Sept. 7, the city electorate voted 363-332 to recall Stoltzfus.

Discovery viewers to discover AMI

Discovery Channel viewers will discover Anna Maria Island in February.

A crew filmed at a number of Anna Maria Island locations earlier this month, including retailers on Bradenton Beach’s Bridge Street.

The crew turned its cameras on the Bridge Street Market, the Back Alley, The Hive, The Fish Hole and the BridgeWalk, which also hosted the film team.

The crew also filmed skimboarders off Longboat Key and some Island real estate properties, including those in the Pineapple Fish accommodations roster.

The crew was working on a 30-minute episode of “Florida Travel Life Affordable Luxury” that will first air at 9 a.m. Feb. 12 and then repeat 14 times.

“Florida Travel Life Affordable Luxury” is paid programming sponsored by American Express and Visit Florida, the statewide tourism bureau.

The promotional series, an extension of Florida Travel Life magazine, debuted in June to take viewers “to Florida’s hottest destinations, starting with Daytona Beach, Miami and Ft. Lauderdale, with insider tips on where to stay, dine, shop and play like a VIP.”

Next on the itinerary for the “Florida Travel Life” team was a stop at Palm Beach and a visit to the Keys.

Official oath

Bob Bartelt, Janet Vosburgh and Ed Straight take their oaths of office from city clerk Nora Idso Nov. 15 at city hall. On Nov. 2, Straight and incumbent Vosburgh were elected to the city commission and incumbent Bartelt was elected mayor. Swearing-in ceremonies took place in Anna Maria Nov. 9 and in Holmes Beach early Nov. 15.

County taxes discounted until Dec. 8

The Manatee County Tax Collector’s Office this month mailed 157,634 annual tax bills and notices to property owners.

The office is encouraging property owners who did not receive tax bills to print a copy from www.taxcollector.com.

Taypayers also can make payments on the website, as well as complete applications to pay in quarterly installments.

Annual payments received or postmarked by Dec. 8 are discounted 4 percent.

The total taxes owed to Manatee County governments is $481,703,771.31.

The total taxable property value for the county is $32,402,644,636.

A report from the Manatee County Property Appraiser’s Office indicates the total taxable value in Anna Maria is $609,147,976, in Bradenton Beach it is $403,596,403 and in Holmes Beach it is $1,237,767,765.

Property owner’s tax bills show the millage rates and taxes for the various taxing authorities — from Manatee County to the local municipality, as well as the school district, fire district, mosquito control district, water management district, library operations and navigation district.

Total millage rates — rates that combine the charges from all the taxing authorities for a property — are 16.4927 mils in Anna Maria, 16.8584 mils in Bradenton Beach and 16.4545 mils in

Holmes Beach. For comparison, the rate is 16.4545 mils in Bradenton and 19.3707 mils in Palmetto and 15.3154 mils in unincorporated Manatee County, including Lakewood Ranch.

A mil is $1 for every $1,000 of assessed value of property.

Unpaid 2010 taxes become delinquent on April 1, 2011.

Water, sewer rates to rise

Manatee County water customers will see rates rise with the arrival of the new year.

The county board of commissioners, meeting Nov. 9 in Bradenton, raised the water and sewer rates effective Jan. 15, 2011.

“We can’t do business without raising rates,” said at-large Commissioner Joe McClash.

The increase impacts water and sewer customers throughout Manatee County, including Island customers.

The county last increased its rates for potable water, reclaimed water and wastewater in October 2008.

A staff memo to the county commission explained the reason for the increase.

The commission directed the county staff to accelerate capital improvements in 2009-10 to help boost the economy, with utility system reserves used to fund the projects.

The county now faces the need for additional improvements in 2011-12, in part to meet regulatory requirements. “Revenue projections for 2011 and 2012 are not sufficient to fund the CIP. As a result, borrowing is recommended… .A rate increase is necessary to fund the additional debt service and ensure adequate reserves for operational integrity,” the county memo stated.

So what will be the impact on consumers?

The bill payer in a single-family home that uses 6,000 gallons of water per month will see the rate rise from $55.42 to $60.26, a monthly increase of $4.84.

The monthly increase for a single-family home that uses 10,000 gallons of water will be $7.57 and the increase for 20,000 gallons will be $3.43, from $120.32 to $123.75.

For a condominium using 4,500 gallons of water per month, the rate will go from $38.05 to $40.99, an increase of $2.93.

For a commercial operator using 15,000 gallons of water per month, the rate will go from $131.34 to $143.69, an increase of $12.35.

In addition to upping the rates, the resolution approved by the commission reclassifies hotels and motels as “commercial” entities, which should lower monthly base charges for utilities.

The maximum charge for residential accounts also was lowered from 12,000 gallons per month to 10,000 gallons per month and the wastewater rate per 1,000 gallons was reduced.

The commission also voted to increase sanitation rates.

However, the Island cities do not use county sanitation services. Anna Maria and Holmes Beach contract with Waste Management for trash, yard waste and recyclables collection. Bradenton Beach operates its own yard waste and trash collection service, but contracts with Waste Pro for the pick up of recyclables.

HB officeholders take oaths

Newly elected but incumbent city officers Rich Bohnenberger, Sandy Haas-Martens and John Monetti took their oaths of office Nov. 15.

The early morning session at Holmes Beach City Hall, 5801 Marina Drive, was followed by a brief organizational meeting.

Bohnenberger was re-elected mayor without opposition Nov. 2.

Haas-Martens and Monetti were re-elected to two-year terms on the city commission. They faced challenger Jean Peelen on Election Day.

Twelfth Judicial Circuit Court Judge Janette Dunnigan, who lives on the Island, officiated during the swearing-in program. Bohnenberger took his oath first, followed by Monetti and then Haas-Martens, who brought a nearly 60-year-old family Bible for the occasion.

During the organizational meeting, Commissioner David Zaccagnino nominated Haas-Martens as chair, a post she has held numerous times.

With a second from Monetti, the vote was unanimous.

“I enjoy doing it and I enjoy working with the staff,” Haas-Martens said.

The commission then unanimously elected Monetti vice chair, a position he previously has held.

Bohnenberger, at the conclusion of the meeting, said he looked “forward to another productive year.”

The commission’s next regular meeting will be at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 23, at city hall.

Key Royale break-ins concern residents

The Holmes Beach Police Department is investigating a spate of break-ins on Key Royale that have some residents in the community concerned.

“We lost our privacy, security and sense of comfort in our home,” said Brookie K. Ritchie, whose home on Ambassador Lane was broken into while she and her husband were visiting the Chicago area.

A police report indicates the break-in occurred sometime between Sept. 29 and Nov. 5. HBPD on Nov. 18 reported that someone gained entry to the home by breaking a screen and window lock, then climbing through a bedroom window on the canalside of the property.

Ritchie said just one item appeared to be missing.

“This is the weird part,” she said. “The house was not disturbed at all, but a shoe tree was missing and shoes were turned over, dumped.”

HBPD also is investigating a half dozen other burglaries on Key Royale, according to Lt. Dale Stephenson.

In addition to opening an investigation last week on the Ambassador Lane break-in, HBPD began investigating a burglary to a home in the 600 block of Key Royale Drive. The break-in occurred sometime between Oct. 28 and Nov. 10, Stephenson said.

The consolidated location of the incidents leads police to suspect a link in at least some of the crimes.

“I believe,” Stephenson said, “there’s a common thread.”

The lieutenant spoke cautiously, emphasizing that he doesn’t want to “tip” HBPD’s hand in the investigations.

But, he noted, in such crimes, the culprits usually are local.

“Out here, more often than not, the people who commit the crimes live out here,” Stephenson said.

He added that HBPD has a couple of persons of interest in “some Key Royale cases” and has turned over some evidence to the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office for processing.

“We’ve made some arrests on burglaries,” Stephenson said. “And we have some suspects in some others.”

In each of the break-ins on Key Royale, the homes were unoccupied — sometimes for extended periods.

As a precautionary measure, HBPD encourages homeowners to contact the department before they leave for a length of time to enroll in the House Watch Program. Enrollment costs $7 per home per vacation. During the summer, HBPD officers may check security at as many as 70 residences under the House Watch Program.

Ritchie said House Watch sounds like a program she might subscribe to for comfort and security on the next trip.

But right now, she’s still “pretty creeped out.”

“The comfort of our home is gone,” Ritchie said.

She also expressed concern about HBPD’s response to the break-in.

The Ritchies said they reported the burglary Nov. 5 and requested the HBPD dispatcher send an officer to their home to take a report and collect any evidence.

“They dropped the ball,” Ritchie claimed. She said a “very apologetic” officer didn’t respond until she wrote complaint letters nearly two weeks after the call and after the broken lock was replaced.

Stephenson, however, said he checked the HBPD call log and talked with the dispatcher, who reported that the man from Ambassador Lane who called said it wasn’t necessary to send an officer to prepare a report.

Stephenson also refuted some Key Royale residents’ concerns that burglaries are on the rise. Florida Department of Law Enforcement statistics for the first quarter of 2011 show a decrease in the city.

“We’ve been very proactive when it comes to being in the neighborhoods at all hours,” Stephenson said. “I believe this has something to do with the drop in crime.”
The lieutenant also urged property owners to be proactive.

“Protect yourselves,” he said. “Buy motion-censor lights. Install an alarm system. Ask a neighbor to watch your home. And be a good neighbor. Watch the house to the left, the house to the right, the house across the street, the house across the canal.”

‘Unruly kids’ sideline bus

Some Manatee County school district children arrived home on Anna Maria Island later than usual Nov. 18 after a bus driver pulled over and called police to report “unruly children” aboard.

The bus driver, after traveling across the Palma Sola Causeway to the Island, pulled over on Manatee Avenue near Fifth Avenue in Holmes Beach and called the Holmes Beach Police Department.

HBPD reported that “the children were being very loud and yelling” at the substitute driver, who had missed a stop along the route. The driver told police there was a child trying to assist her with the bus route, but he could not be heard over the noise.

An HBPD officer told the King Middle School students that “yelling would not get them home any faster,” quieted the passengers and then helped the driver return to the missed stop.