Tag Archives: 12-15-2010

Ahoy, ho, ho

The Anna Maria Island Privateers at the helm of their annual Christmas parade Dec. 11, which the nonprofit capped off with a party at Coquina Beach. The parade began at Bayfront Park in Anna Maria and continued down the Island to Coquina Beach in Bradenton Beach. At Coquina, the krewe hosted a lunch and party and visits with Santa for children.

Ahoy, ho, ho

Santa Claus greets a shy Carly Wade, 3, at the party that followed the annual Anna Maria Island Privateers Christmas Parade. Islander Photos: Lisa Neff

Beach Bums’ entry in the parade includes a truck carrying its soccer team, as well as a fleet of electric bicycles and golf carts.

The crowd near Bridge Street in Bradenton Beach cheers for beads during the Dec. 11 Christmas parade presented by the Anna Maria Island Privateers, the nonprofit group that is celebrating its 40th anniversary.

Santa waves to the crowd from the parade stern, leading his followers to the party at Coquina Beach where each year he hears the Christmas wishes of children.

Xmas parade smoke, The cannon blasts to announce the arrival of the annual Anna Maria Island Privateers parade Dec. 11.

Privateers serve hot dogs, dressed with much care by diners, and other party munchies at the post-parade party at Coquina Beach.

The Anna Maria Island Privateers at the helm of their annual Christmas parade Dec. 11, which the nonprofit capped off with a party at Coquina Beach. The parade began at Bayfront Park in Anna Maria and continued down the Island to Coquina Beach in Bradenton Beach. At Coquina, the krewe hosted a lunch and party and visits with Santa for children.

Merry and bright

The Roser Memorial Community Church’s “Joyful Noise” children’s choir performs during Anna Maria’s holiday open house Dec. 10. The choir performed at the historical society park on Pine Avenue.

Real estate specialists Megan Fishbach, Barbara Sato and Liza Morrow-Slaman celebrate at Sato Real Estate, 519 Pine Ave.

Board suggestions for new land-use

With Anna Maria in the process of adding two new land-use categories to its comprehensive plan, the planning and zoning board met Dec. 7 to review the proposed categories and make recommendations to the city commission.

The historic pier-use category will include the city pier and Rod & Reel Pier and their surrounding waters. The marina-use category encompasses Galati Marine, its docks and a nearby spoil island.

The commission decided to create the new categories after it annexed those lands and the underlying waters into the city earlier this year.

P&Z members agreed that the size of the city pier and R&R Pier would limit any enlargement of retail operations at those locations.

Allowed uses should include a restaurant, boat docks, bait and fishing equipment sales and fishing, the board agreed.

Member Tom Turner noted that some non-conforming uses exist at the two piers that were grandfathered to the operations. He suggested making no changes in the current usage.

“Let them keep what they have. They’re too small for large retail operations,” he said.

Garrett said the city owns the pier and could control any additional uses the lease-holder might want to add. The size of the R&R Pier would make it difficult for any new use under the land-development regulations, he added.

P&Z members agreed, although Bob Barlow expressed concern about live music.

“That should be regulated by new zoning, not the comp plan,” Garrett said. Once the land-use categories are adopted, the commission would create zoning to match, he said.

In the marina-use category, several members were concerned about live-aboards at Galati. Several years ago, the marina abolished long-term residents from the docks. It does, however, permit owners of large boats to overnight at the docks for a few days, according to co-owner Chris Galati.

Turner said allowing live-aboards was “stretching everything to allow more motels, hotels, whatever you want to call them. I’m not concerned about maintenance and repairs, but we shouldn’t tolerate live-aboards.”

Building official Bob Welch said Galati self-regulates overnight stays and does not allow ongoing live-aboards.

The marina discourages stayovers beyond one night, Chris Galati said at the November P&Z meeting.

P&Z chair Sandy Mattick said a time limit should be established on how long people could stay on a boat.

Member Carl Pearman said that some large boats have crews that live on the boat. The city should also address that issue, he said.

Garrett said the commission can regulate live-aboards similar to other area city ordinances, which allow boaters just a one- or two-night stay before they had to depart. He said he would check other municipalities for live-aboard ordinances and report back to the board.

P&Z member Bob Barlow cautioned against “over-regulating” the marina, which has been in existence for decades.

Other current non-conforming uses at Galati are painting, sand-blasting boats and boat and motor repairs, among other uses. The city needs to “look at getting those uses legally conforming,” Garrett said.

A restaurant is a permitted use at the marina, as is a ship’s store. Board member Mike Pescitelli was concerned that Galati could sell packaged beer and wine from the store.

Garrett said the commission could decide that issue in an ordinance.

Members agreed that before any recommendations are forwarded to the commission, Garrett would meet with the Galatis to discuss the proposals.

Garrett said he would refine the board’s suggested uses in a draft land-use statement and return with that to the Jan. 4 meeting.

Pine Avenue parking also will be on that meeting agenda and Mattick urged more public participation on the subject.

“We need public input on these parking suggestions. The more input, the better we can decide,” she said.

Anna Maria pier is tops – again

The Anna Maria City Pier remains the No. 1 visitor attraction in Manatee County, according to the most recent visitor study from the Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau.

The July-September 2010 visitor profile report by Research Data Inc. of Tampa for the BACVB said 34.2 percent of visitors named the 100-year-old wooden pier their most favored Manatee County attraction, up 5.9 percent from the 32.3 percent figure in the June-August 2009 study.1.

Although St. Armands Circle in Sarasota is the top area attraction among visitors to the Bradenton area, Anna Maria’s historic pier — owned by the city — has been ranked the No. 1 Manatee County attraction since the quarterly surveys began in 2008. St. Armands Circle has headed the attractions list in each survey.

The latest report showed the Rod & Reel Pier, also in Anna Maria, was the third most-favored county attraction, behind the Ellenton mall.

Visitors gave the privately-owned Rod & Reel Pier a 27.8 favorable vote, down from the 30.6 percent for the same quarter in 2009. Retail shopping at the Prime Outlet Mall in Ellenton climbed from 30.6 percent in the 2009 study to 35 percent for July-September 2010.

The Historic Bridge Street Pier in Bradenton Beach gained in popularity among visitors, rising from a 13.3 percent favorable rating in the 2009 quarter to 17.5 percent for the same quarter this year, a 31.6 percent increase.

Multiple responses were permitted in all voting categories of the survey.

Going to the beaches on Anna Maria Island was the most favored activity among visitors with a 90.2 percent rating, followed by dining out (83.3 percent), relaxing (78.3 percent) and walking on the beach (78 percent).

Anna Maria Island also gained the top three spots in attributes that best describe the area.

Beautiful, clean beaches headed the list with a 92.8 percent vote, while clear, blue water was next at 86.5 percent and sunning on the beach third with an 86.3 percent rating.

Also in the Top 10 of attributes for the area were family friendly at No. 6 (63.5 percent), ease of traveling at No. 7 (63.5 percent), good food and restaurants was No. 8 (61.8 percent) and No. 9 was good value for money (61.5 percent).

The survey reported $48.4 million in direct expenditures during the quarter, an increase of 5.5 percent from the 2009 figure, and a total economic impact of $76.5 million from July-September 2010, up 5.5 percent from the same quarter in 2009.

Average visitor spending during the summer quarter was listed at $466 per person per trip and $75.50 per day. The average tourist party budgeted $1,424 for their vacation in the area, according to the survey. Out-of-state visitors budgeted an average of $1,721 for their vacation, while Florida visitors had a budget average of $977.

The average visitor party stayed 8.1 days, spent $610 on accommodations, $423 on food and beverages and $158 on retail purchases.

Eighty-eight percent of respondents said they planned to return to the area, 81.1 percent said they were “very satisfied” with their vacation time, and 13.7 percent said they were “satisfied.”

Visitors to the Island in May 2011 will have even more reason to visit the pier.

In recognition of the 100 years the pier has been operating, the city is holding a pier centennial celebration May 13-14. Pier committee chair Sissy Quinn said the celebration would be “befitting of the old Florida charm of the pier.”

Quinn, an Island history buff, has headed the committee since its 2008 inception and plans a spectacular affair. She’s always known the pier and the Island are the driving force behind area tourism.

“The pier is old Florida. It’s a piece of Island history that’s been around for 100 years. Visitors realize an old wooden pier is something they won’t find at other Florida resort destinations. This is a piece of history, and I’m delighted to be a part of the celebration.”

Manatee County Commissioner Carol Whitmore, a former Holmes Beach mayor and current Island resident, said the pier and the Island are “the engine that drives tourism.” The BACVB survey on what attracts people to the area confirms what’s she’s known since she moved to the Island as a teenager.

But occasionally during budget discussions, some county staff don’t always view the Island and its attraction as “the engine” for tourism, she said.

One example is the fare-free Island trolley.

“When the bean counters look at numbers, they just say ‘let’s charge for a ride.’ They have no understanding that the free trolley is part of the Island’s attraction, an amenity that draws visitors and keeps cars off the Island streets, especially during the winter season. Thankfully, the commission understands we have to take care of the Island. It’s what runs the economy,” she said.

Whitmore observed that pictures of the Island beaches are always featured in advertisements, brochures and on websites for home-buying in Manatee County, especially in the eastern county region.

“The Island and beaches are what sell those homes out east. Sooner or later, every person who moves to Lakewood Ranch or east Manatee County is going to visit the Island. Unfortunately, some people have a hard time understanding the strain this puts on Island infrastructure and the Island way of life,” she said.

Another example of the Island’s perception among some officials could easily be the demolished Manatee Public Beach pier.

County commissioners have pledged to rebuild the pier, but there has been difficulty fitting the estimated $3 million cost into a departmental budget.

“Everybody loved that pier,” Whitmore said. “The commission promised Holmes Beach a new pier, but it’s moving slowly. But it will happen.”

From the latest tourism survey report figures, it would appear the Anna Maria City Pier, the Rod & Reel Pier, the Historic Bridge Street Pier and Anna Maria Island are selling the Bradenton area rather well.

City hall hosts cook-off

Chef Aldo Cipriano of Island Gourmet, back row, third from left, joins city of Holmes Beach representatives after an Oct. 27 chili cook-off at city hall. Top finishers include Joyce Stadt of the police department, first place; Chris Hanula of HBPD, second place; and code enforcement officer Janet Gorman, third place. Islander Photo: Olivia Willis

Shop owner vows fight

The owner of a lingerie and novelty shop vowed last week to remain on Cortez Road despite opposition from her landlord and Cortezians, code enforcement complaints and her husband’s statement that they’re leaving.

“I ain’t moving,” said Debbie Sumner, who owns the retail shop at 12207 Cortez Road W., Cortez. Signs on the exterior of the shop advertise novelties, adult fun, lingerie, romantic gifts and videos.

Roy Sumner also operates a golf cart sales and repair business at the location.

Earlier this month, Roy Sumner told The Islander that the couple would be relocating operations because of complaints from neighbors and their landlord, Lou Nassar, who also owns the building next door and initiated eviction proceedings against the Sumners.

But last week, Debbie Sumner said she planned to stay.

“It’s going to be a doggone fight,” she said. “He told us we can move in there.… I’m going to stay here until I have to move.”

Roy Sumner also said his wife would not open the retail shop, but Debbie Sumner said the shop already is open and isn’t closing.

If that’s the case, Manatee County will be investigating to determine whether the shop is a sexually oriented business and, if so, whether it complies with the county’s SOB and land-use regulations, said Joe Fenton of the code enforcement division.

“I’ll be sending an officer back out to the address,” he said.

Fenton said the code enforcement department already has issued notices of violations at the site, including for unpermitted work and golf carts positioned in the right of way.

“We’re looking into whether they are living there,” he added.

It the code enforcement notices are challenged, Fenton said the process first involves a review by a special magistrate and then, if the challenge goes forward, a hearing before the county code enforcement board.

Annunciation welcomes new pastor

Members of the Episcopal Church of the Annunciation congregation welcome their new pastor, Rev. Dee Ann de Montmollin, at a reception at the church fellowship hall Dec. 5. Pictured are Gerry and Thibaut Brian, left, Bud and Gretchen Edgren, de Montmollin, deacon Irvin Maranville and the pastor’s husband, Phil de Montmollin. Islander Photo: Bonner Joy

Cortez coyote crisis draws crowd

Scream “ahhhhhhh!”

That’s one suggestion to scare off a coyote, said Manatee County naturalist Lisa Hickey.

That’s also the response of some frustrated Cortezians who say coyotes are preying on domestic pets and feral cats.

Residents of the fishing village and other nearby communities gathered Dec. 9 at the Florida Maritime Museum in Cortez to discuss with county and state wildlife experts what appears to be a growing coyote population.

Village resident Linda Molto, who has reported the loss of cats to coyotes, moderated the 90-minute meeting.

About 50 people packed the former schoolhouse to listen to representatives from Florida Fish and Wildlife and the Manatee County Extension Office, but also to voice their grievances and express their fears about coyotes roaming back yards, parking lots and wooded areas.

Sometimes people shouted from the audience, asking whether there is anything government can do to control the coyotes.

Florida Fish and Wildlife Lt. Tom Ware said permits are issued to control the coyote population, generally to farmers and ranchers whose stock is being attacked.

Ware said he wasn’t aware of any trappers removing coyotes, but that the animals, introduced by hunters to the state in the 1920s for sport, are tracked and hunted.

The option of trapping and hunting coyotes intrigued some at the meeting, who wondered whether coyotes could be shot on the 100-acre Florida Institute for Saltwater Heritage Preserve on the east side of Cortez.

Ware said that might be up to FISH, but he expressed a number of safety concerns about such a strategy.

A simpler response to the situation, which likely would yield more success, would be to eliminate what’s drawing coyotes into the village — water and food sources, officials said.

Coyotes, like raccoons, eat what they can find and go for the easiest food source.

With development boxing coyotes into residential neighborhoods, the easiest food source can be garbage and small pets, said Hickey.

“Coyotes are very intelligent animals,” Hickey said. “But also very lazy. They will go for the easiest meal first — pets and feral cats. And that’s why you are seeing them in this community.”

Hickey said she received a call last week from a woman who witnessed a coyote attack her small dog, which had been let outside at about 5 a.m.

Florida, Hickey said, has a leash law that helps pet owners control their animals, as well as protect their animals.

Hickey also stressed that coyotes — about as big as a medium-sized collie — generally fear humans, and can be scared off with a wave of the arms or a scream. If not, she cautioned, the animal might be sick.

About 18 months ago, Hickey said residents in the Palma Sola area reported a problem with coyotes that had possibly moved into neighborhoods during the construction of Robinson Preserve.

Residents committed to removing food and water sources and the problem seemed to subside.

Several representatives from wildlife organizations said keeping domestic pets indoors and on leashes while working to control the feral cat population was the best solution to the problem.

Shooting coyotes might actually result in an increased population, said Becky Pomponio of Project Coyote. As some animals are put down, that creates an opportunity for more to move in from outside the range.

“If you hunt and trap, you will increase their numbers,” Pomponio said. “If you disperse their families by randomly killing them, you are going to end up with more coyotes.”

Plus, dogs and cats prey on native wildlife, said Pomponio, Manatee County Audubon Society representative Nancy Dean and Wildlife Inc. co-founder Gail Straight.

Without free-roaming pets “we wouldn’t have a problem with coyotes, and I wouldn’t have a freezer full of animals your cats ripped apart,” Straight said.

“Cats are supposed to be on a leash,” Dean said, reporting that domestic cats are responsible for the extinction of 33 species of birds in the United States and the death of a billion birds a year.

The most vocal residents in the audience, however, seemed resistant to leashing pets or keeping their cats indoors.

Plus, they remained concerned about how to protect the village’s feral cats and boasted that the cats help with rodent control.

“Those cats keep the mouse population down,” a woman shouted from the audience.

“So do coyotes,” Hickey replied.

At the conclusion of the meeting, there was a consensus to document coyote sightings in the area and to disseminate information in the village about coyote behavior.

Coyote conflicts

What attracts coyotes to residential areas? Food, shelter and water.

So animal experts recommend:

• Avoid feeding animals outside.

• Remove outside water bowls.

• Never compost fish scraps or meat.

• Keep trash in closed containers.

• Remove fallen fruit.

• Keep domestic pets indoors and, when outdoors, keep them on leashes.

What should a person do when facing a coyote?

• Yell or make another noise.

• Stand tall and wave arms.

• Do not run away.

Are coyotes a threat to people?

• Hardly ever. Incidents of coyotes attacking people are rare. There has been one human, a 3-year-old child, killed by a coyote. By comparison, domestic dogs kill as many as 30 people a year in the United States.

Sources: The Humane Society of the United States, Manatee County Extension Service

Harbour Isle sales office open

Harbour Isle sales office open

The sales office for Harbour Isle on north Perico Island was expected to open this week, but any contracts can’t be written until January.

Mike Belmont of Minto Properties Inc., owners of the project, said a grand opening would take place Feb. 1.

Phase One of Harbour Isle is Mangrove Walk, a 98-unit subdivision that will include two-story town homes, with an option for a third floor of living space.

Prices will begin around $320,000, Belmont said.

Harbour Isle’s site plan is approved by Bradenton for 686 units, but Belmont said the second phase of the project would not begin until the company determines the success of Mangrove Walk. The entire project will be done in phases, Belmont said.

Future plans for Harbour Isle call for a private beach club adjacent to a 110-slip marina that will be built at the site of the former Perico Harbor Marina.