Tag Archives: 12-25-2013

Beach renourishment begins with hiccup

The long-awaited renourishment of Anna Maria Island beaches from 79th Street in Holmes Beach to Coquina Beach began Monday, Dec. 16, but there was an immediate, if temporary, problem.

Great Lakes Dredge & Dock of Chicago, the contractor charged with renourishing the beach, placed some equipment on the beach in front of Blue Water Beach Club, 6306 Gulf Drive, Holmes Beach. That forced Blue Water’s beachgoers to detour around the equipment and over a berm with growing sea oats, said Sebastian Mueller of Blue Water.

The problem was solved for a time following a telephone call to The Islander from Mueller, a phone call to Manatee County Parks Natural Resources director Charlie Hunsicker, who called the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, who called Great Lakes.

Mueller said Great Lakes came Wednesday, Dec. 18, and moved its equipment away from the beach access.

“Thanks to everyone for solving this and making our guests happy,” Mueller said then.

But the enjoyment and the beach access, was short-lived. On Dec. 20, Great Lakes moved its barge and equipment back in front of Blue Water to begin the renourishment.

Workers for Great Lakes said the equipment would be moved again as soon as that section of beach is renourished. And sand was pouring onto the beach there by Dec. 22.

Hunsicker also said the company would work as fast as possible to renourish that area, then move south along the beach.

“This was mobilization,” he said. Pumping of sand from the borrow area, which is about 2,000 feet off the north end of the island, had not yet begun.

Hunsicker said Great Lakes has incentives in its contract to finish renourishment, which will progress down to Coquina Beach by early February, when tourism traditionally begins in earnest on the island.

The company will work from 79th Street in Holmes Beach south to Coquina Beach, but the sand will be pumped ashore in the 6300 block of Gulf Drive in Holmes Beach.

After renourishing Cortez Beach, Great Lakes will renourish from Coquina Beach to Longboat Pass, Hunsicker said.

Anna Maria beaches are not included in this renourishment project because marine engineers have found them to be “in good shape,” Hunsicker said.

Manatee County’s portion of the $16 million renourishment project comes from the tourist development tax. That’s the 5 percent on rentals of six months or less collected by the county.

Often called the bed tax, the money collected provides for beach renourishment, in addition to the Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Bradenton Area Convention Center and other public tourist attractions in the county.

Long Bar opposition rallies, developer cancels hearing

Opposition to the development of Long Bar Pointe on Sarasota Bay saw success in reduced environmental impact, but there is a difference between winning a battle and winning a war.

The first battle was won in August, when the Manatee County Board of Commissioners narrowly voted to deny a text amendment change to the county comprehensive plan submitted by developers Carlos Beruff and Joe Lieberman.

The request would have opened a door to allow the development of a boat basin and dredging a channel in Sarasota Bay that environmentalists said would have devastated the bay’s delicate ecosystem.

The developers were tentatively successful in gaining a map amendment change to rezone the property from Residential-9 to mixed use, essentially allowing for a project that consists of 2,700 homes, an 84,000-square-foot convention center, a 250-room hotel and additional commercial space.

Commissioners approved the land-use change, which then requires it be reviewed by the state before the board takes a second and final vote, which opponents are now gearing up to confront.

Opposition to the Long Bar Pointe project garnered another victory on Nov. 7 when the county board voted to uphold a county planning commission decision that proposed to remove 3,000 coastal acres — including most of Long Bar Pointe — from the Urban Service Area.

The USA zoning was created with the intent to allow development exemptions from extensive regulatory review to spur economic growth. The decision essentially means the development could cost Beruff and Lieberman hundreds of thousands of dollars for additional project scrutiny.

Save Our Bay representative Joe Kane said people should not assume “total victory” has been reached and that his group, as well as others, has pledged to continue to monitor what the developers come up with for Long Bar Pointe.

The opponents put out a rally cry in recent weeks for concerned citizens to attend a second public hearing on the map amendment planned for Jan. 23 but the county canceled the meeting Dec. 23.

The attorney for the applicant — Long Bar Pointe — Ed Vogler of Vogler & Ashton, PLLC, Bradenton, wrote the county building and development services department Dec. 19, stating, “We wish to withdraw the comprehensive plan amendment from further consideration or action at this time.”

Vogler goes on to thank the participants in the process, including the board of county commissioners.

He also said the applicant looks forward to working with “all interested parties as plans for development are presented and considered from time to time in the future.”

Kane said he realizes this may be just a delay of the inevitable, but speculated that the developer may want out. “It may be they’ve had enough and they’re throwing in the towel. We don’t know that.”

Opponents like Kane say Beruff is not trustworthy. He claims too much is at stake for the property that the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council has called “a regionally significant natural resource.”

He also said he spoke to one of the county commissioners, who claimed to have negotiated the withdrawal of the map amendment.

The hearing was set to again be held at the convention center, and a large audience of opponents was expected.

More than 1,000 people attended the August meeting with the majority in attendance opposed to the project.

Bradenton Beach fast tracks hiring new city clerk

Bradenton Beach Mayor Bill Shearon got a nod from Manatee County for assistance on an internal audit of the city’s policies and procedures.

In a letter to county officials dated Dec. 16, Shearon said an internal audit would help the city make recommendations “to address time-sensitive issues, in addition to provide assistance to the new city clerk and treasurer we having coming on board.”

Shearon wrote that he is “fast tracking the hiring of a new city clerk and treasurer,” with resumes due to the city by Jan. 3.

At a Dec. 5 work session, Bradenton Beach commissioners decided to take notice of recommendations from the city auditor and Florida League of Cities to separate the duties of city clerk and treasurer.

Former city clerk Nora Idso, who held the position for 15 years until November when she accepted a resignation agreement, fulfilled both duties, as well as being head of the building department.

Idso continues to be paid her salary through April per the resignation agreement, and additionally the city will pay her insurance through July.

Her resignation agreement indicates her departure was due to medical reasons. The current administration is using the changeover as an opportunity to overhaul the administration department.

Shearon placed an emphasis on hiring two department heads, separating the clerk and treasurer positions, and then plans to fill the building position at a later date.

While the city does not have a new position budgeted for the 2013-14 fiscal year, Shearon said Dec. 5 that the city would “have to bite the bullet” and hire a treasurer.

The city has drafted separate job duties for the two positions in advertising for candidates. The city clerk will act as an assistant to the mayor and commission while serving as the city’s primary spokesperson.

And serving as the position includes acting as supervisor of office staff, custodian of all city records, election official, as well as other duties.

The treasurer will focus on the financial side of the city, including maintaining all financial records, collecting all monies due to the city, preparing the annual budget, filing quarterly and annual reports, overseeing payroll and more.

While the city clerk and treasurer positions are separate department heads, job descriptions include the ability to back up one another in their duties.

The hiring of a new city clerk and the creation of a treasurer position are two steps in a bigger overhaul for city hall.

Commissioner Jack Clarke introduced and received support from the commission to require all administrative employees to reapply for their jobs.

A timeline for much of the overhaul plan has not been discussed and, while Shearon has set a deadline for Jan. 3 to receive city clerk and treasurer resumes, none were received as of Islander press time.

 

City clerk job posting at cityofbradentonbeach.com:

“The city of Bradenton Beach is seeking a highly motivated and energetic city clerk. All applicants should have exceptional organizational and personnel skills. The city clerk will be hired by, serves at the pleasure of, and reports directly to, the mayor. The city clerk supervises the daily activities of assigned employees including deputy clerks and assistants. The ideal candidate should have a two-year degree, experience in Florida local government with general understanding of statutes, ordinances, and record keeping requirements. The ideal candidate should also be a Florida notary and a certified municipal clerk, or be in the process of obtaining certification.

“Any combination of education, training and experience which provides the required knowledge, skills and abilities to perform the essential functions of the job may be acceptable in lieu of education or certification. The candidate may be subject to a thorough background check, including a credit check.

“The pay range for this position is $45,000 to $65,000 annually. Starting salary will be market competitive, and will be based on the experience and qualifications of the individual chosen for this position. The city of Bradenton Beach offers a full benefits package.”

The job description, salary and benefits also are listed on the city website for the treasurer’s job.

Ho! Ho! Ho!

HB-chief-standalone-122513-MY

Holmes Beach Police Chief Bill Tokajer took some time out this holiday season to ring the Salvation Army bell at Publix, 3900 E. Bay Drive, Holmes Beach. Tokajer spent a couple of hours mixing charity work and sharing holiday greetings with shoppers Dec. 12. Islander Courtesy Photo

HB ponders complexity of noise ordinance

From nightlife to city-sponsored events to a neighbor’s air conditioner and pool pump, Holmes Beach city officials acknowledge the long road ahead for a noise ordinance that can satisfy the majority of citizens.

The terminology of “being a good neighbor” surfaces often in such discussions, but it is sometimes a challenge to believe that everyone will embrace goodwill in an ordinance.

According to 83rd Street resident Bob Kelly, who addressed the city commission at a Dec. 12 work session, not everyone is a good neighbor.

“I wanted to retire here,” said Kelly. “Things were going along pretty good until we got one of the big homes built next to us.”

Kelly said he had no issue with the structure. In fact, he said, he thought the design was beautiful until he noticed in the drawing that air conditioners would be a couple of dozen feet away from his master bedroom.

Kelly said he spoke to developer Shawn Kaleta about his concerns and received encouragement that the air conditioners would be placed on the other side of the home.

“I walked away happy until the house started going up and I saw the air conditioner contractor start to put up two of those big units right by my master bedroom,” said Kelly. “I asked how he was going to fit two of those units there, and he said it’s not two units, it’s three units.”

Kelly said he will never have another quiet moment in his retirement home because the city allows mechanical equipment in the side setbacks of residential properties.

Commission Chair Judy Titsworth said she had a similar issue with a generator placed next door to her home, “but we are all bound to the ordinances we have on the books right now,” noting it’s this kind of issue the commission is addressing.

Building official Tom O’Brien said it’s just one of many concerns in moving forward with a noise ordinance.

City officials are narrowing down a possible decibel level and current codes call for less than 50 decibels from the source of the noise measured to a complainant’s door or window.

Kelly said one air conditioner would likely exceed 50 decibels; so three units would “destroy our quality of life.”

Commissioner David Zaccagnino said the city needs to be careful what it determines the decibel level to be in a new ordinance that will go from subjective enforcement to performance-based enforcement with a decibel meter.

“I have a retired neighbor that has an old, squeaky air conditioner that I know is over 50 decibels,” said Zaccagnino. “But it doesn’t bother me.”

Zaccagnino said the city shouldn’t place a hardship on anyone once a new ordinance is enforced.

Commissioner Jean Peelen asked if the city could impose limits on decibel levels based on manufacturer standards and simply limit the installation of new units that produce less than a set amount of decibels.

Zaccagnino said the city tried it with pool pumps in 2011, “but the commission decided it wasn’t a good idea. I think it is a good idea.”

Titsworth said the city should take it another step.

“My opinion is that anything that makes noise shouldn’t be in a setback,” she said. “No pumps, no generators, no air conditioner units. We tell the developer that ‘if you do, you better spend the money to buffer it.’”

Titsworth said research is in order to see what other cities do, and Commissioner Marvin Grossman agreed.

He said someone like Kelly is “essentially being committed to a life sentence. I do think this is a serious issue.”

Commissioner Pat Morton said it’s situations like the one Kelly is facing that are causing the city to lose permanent residents.

“When we get into this ordinance, we have to help people out like him, because that’s who we are losing. We really need to step back and look at this from a development point, because it’s a runaway train,” Morton said.

Titsworth suggested that the builder be notified immediately that if air conditioners violate the current ordinance by producing more than 50 decibels at Kelly’s window, “we are going to have an issue with it.”

And Peelen didn’t mix words: “It’s just so damn depressing that something new comes every day from the monster houses. We addressed making pools go back further, to have pool equipment baffled, try to control cars and excess parking. It’s just so depressing that some developers are doing this for profit.”

Mayor Carmel Monti asked Kelly to be patient.

“We’ve inherited a lot of things that were in place for a long time here,” he said. “We can do it with ordinances, but as you saw, some people will find a way to take advantage of it. We also have to keep tightening the ordinances and use code enforcement.”

Christmas dream for Anna Maria Island

A few nights ago, I fell asleep dreaming about what to get everyone for Christmas.

I didn’t dream of sugar plum fairies or candy canes while nestled in bed, I dreamed about what I should give the three island cities.

For Anna Maria, I dreamed of giving the city one large parking lot. I would build it on the south side of the city, on pilings, so it would be above all the homes.

The lot would be about 1,000 feet by 1,000 feet and motorists entering the city for the first time would take an up ramp by the city limit to get to their rooftop parking.

There would be about 500 parking spaces and signs would direct people to where they wanted to go. Elevators would deposit visitors on Pine Avenue and at the city pier, or near the beaches, restaurants and other shops on Gulf Drive.

Of course, half of the city would be in darkness, covered by this huge parking lot, but it would forever solve parking problems in the city at the north end of AMI.

Then, I dreamed of Holmes Beach. I dreamed of a giant duplex with 200 bedrooms, 100 on each side. The two sides would be connected by a covered walkway to ensure the structure was a duplex.

This giant duplex would be built on the city field and could be raised high enough to allow soccer players and dogs to continue their activities.

High-speed elevators would deposit guests on the appropriate floor. Some guests might enjoy a bedroom at the top, which would probably be about 300 feet into the sky. Guests might also enjoy small retail shops and a grocer in the parking garage.

Whatever.

This would solve the problem of too many large duplexes in Holmes Beach. Now, there would only be one giant duplex.

For Bradenton Beach, I dreamed of a restaurant on the Historic Bridge Street Pier — one built high enough to be raised to allow boats to pass underneath.

Boaters would tie up to the dock and dine, while some guests could fish for their dinner.

The restaurant would be two stories high, and be taller than the Cortez Bridge.

This would allow diners to gaze down at the boats traversing the bridge. The diners could even throw bits of food to hungry boaters.

Food would be terribly expensive, but diners would be paying for ambiance, not cuisine.

Then, I dreamed of island consolidation: One city for Anna Maria Island. One police force. One building department. One city commission. One set of codes.

There we go. All problems on Anna Maria Island solved.

A giant parking lot, duplex, restaurant and consolidation on the island are the answers.

Suddenly, I heard a loud explosion.

Kaboom!

The bridges to Anna Maria Island exploded and were destroyed, requiring visitors to arrive by boat.

That woke me up.

Hey, it was only a dream.

Merry Christmas, happy holidays and feliz navidad to everyone.

Rod & Reel Pier remains closed, work continues

Rod & Reel Pier fans might be singing “Blue Christmas.” But sometimes Santa just can’t deliver on time.

    The 1947-built pier at 875 N. Shore Drive, Anna Maria, didn’t reopen as hoped in time for Christmas, but manager Dave Cochran said repairs to the facility are moving ahead “as fast as possible.”

    The pier and restaurant have been closed since a Sept. 30 electrical fire.

    Repairs — amounting to a rebuild — are ongoing but renovations must meet current Florida Building Code, said Anna Maria building official Bob Welch, and that requires more work.

    Cochran said he’s not giving anyone an exact date for reopening, but he’s hopeful it will be in mid-January.

    “I just can’t say when. Everyone is working as fast as possible, and Bimini Bay Construction has been great in getting things done quickly and up to code,” Cochran said.

    Welch said he inspects the renovations regularly and agreed with Cochran —  a mid-January opening is possible.

    The 30-member staff of the Rod & Reel Pier has been receiving assistance — some payments toward rent and utilities — from All Island Denominations, the coalition of island churches.

    Additionally, the food pantry at Roser Memorial Community Church has been available to R&R pier employees.

Webcam of pier receives honor

Joe Zambito enjoys a great view of Tampa Bay and the Rod & Reel Pier from his home in Anna Maria.

In fact, he’s had a webcam focused on the Rod & Reel Pier, 875 N. Shore Drive, Anna Maria, since before the landmark pier and restaurant closed for repairs following a Sept. 30 electrical fire.

Zambito’s webcam has apparently captured international attention.

He said he’s been getting a lot of praise from local television stations, and some have carried his webcam photo of the pier during discussion of current weather conditions on Anna Maria Island.

Zambito said that earlier this month he was featured on ABC’s “Good Morning America” television show and weatherman Al Roker of NBC’s “Today” included a Zambito picture in one of his best sunrise segments.

Zambito said he’s also received an email from earthcam.com, the company that hosts his webcam, to inform him that his cam has been included in the 2013 Most Interesting Webcams.

Earthcam.com reported more than 200,000 visits to Zambito’s webcam as of Nov. 30.

      Zambito said his webcam photo of a sunrise over the Rod & Reel Pier won the first-ever “Best Sunrise or Sunset” picture from earth.cam’s worldwide network.

 

West Manatee announces 2013 annual awards

The West Manatee Fire Rescue recently presented its 2013 awards to staff.

Firefighter Adam Baggett was named Rookie of the Year, while Battalion Chief Rich Losek and fire prevention/training secretary Sherry Vetter received the 25-year Career Service Award.

The 15-year length of service award went to firefighter Nate Bergbom, while firefighters Mike Bugel and Brian Gaskill received 10-year awards. Firefighter Rodney Kwiatkowski received a five-year service award.

Pension board members Stewart Moon and Roger Liesch were recognized for serving 15 and 10 years respectively on the pension board, and WMFR medical adviser Joseph Soler, M.D., was recognized for 18 years of service.

Island police blotter – 12-25-2013

Anna Maria

• Dec. 5, 300 block of Tarpon Street, burglary. An unknown person gained entry to the property by prying open a window. The suspect stole several items that were not listed or valued on the report.

• Dec. 15, 100 S. Bay Blvd., Anna Maria City Pier, torture of an animal with intent to kill. Witnesses observed four men torture and subsequently kill an egret. One of the witnesses confronted the four men, who then got into their vehicle and fled before law enforcement arrived.

• Dec. 12, 100 S. Bay Blvd., Anna Maria City Pier, vehicle burglary. A beer truck delivery driver reported a man stole a six-pack of beer off his truck. The suspect was located at Coquina Beach in Bradenton Beach, but the complainant declined to press charges and the suspect was released after returning the beer.

• Dec. 19, 200 block of Oak Avenue, domestic battery. A 61-year-old man was charged with misdemeanor battery after getting into an argument with a woman over a cellphone he had given her. The argument turned physical when he attempted to take it from her. He allegedly tried to put the woman in a chokehold, but she managed to escape his grip.

Anna Maria is policed by the MCSO.

Bradenton Beach

• No new reports.

Bradenton Beach is policed by the BBPD.

Cortez

• Dec. 13, 11904 Cortez Road W., Beach Shop, theft. A store employee witnessed two males enter the store and steal several items. She told police she thought one man was armed. She supplied police a description of the suspect’s vehicle and surveillance video of the theft.

Cortez is policed by the MCSO.

Holmes Beach

• Dec. 16, 5300 block of Marina Drive, DUI. A 68-year-old Holmes Beach man was arrested for misdemeanor driving under the influence after being involved in a parking lot crash. A Holmes Beach Police Department officer contacted a Manatee County Sheriff’s Office deputy when he suspected the at-fault driver of being impaired. The deputy approached the driver and observed that he was exposing himself. The deputy inquired of the driver, who mumbled a response. The deputy performed a field sobriety test on Joseph Reid and he allegedly failed. According to the report, the test had to be halted due to Reid’s inability to stand without falling. Reid was arrested and booked into the Manatee County jail and held on $500 bond. He posted bond and was released.

• Dec. 7, 200 block of 56th Street, stolen vehicle. A complainant reported she heard a vehicle starting up outside the residence, but assumed it was the neighbors. The next day she observed the vehicle missing and reported it stolen. Police were told that a spare key is hidden inside the vehicle and it was left unlocked. The vehicle was located Dec. 11 in the 500 block of 71st Street and returned to its owner.

• Dec. 8, 4500 block of Second Avenue, vehicle burglary. An unknown person entered an unlocked vehicle and ransacked it. Nothing was reported missing.

• Dec. 8, 200 block of Harbor Drive South, vehicle burglary. Someone entered an unlocked vehicle and stole $5 in cash.

• Dec. 8, 3200 block of Sixth Avenue, stolen vehicle. A complainant reported that someone stole her golf cart valued at $1,500 from a parking area underneath her elevated home. On Dec. 12, a neighbor reported seeing the golf cart in the 7500 block of Marina Drive. Police investigated, but the cart did not match the complete description provided. After several attempts, police were able to locate the victim, who said the cart belonged to her. Fingerprints were secured and the cart was returned to its owner.

• Dec. 10, 4000 Gulf Drive, Manatee Public Beach, vehicle burglary. A complainant reported someone entered his vehicle and stole a backpack. It contained all of his identification, credit cards and $30 cash.

• Dec. 11, 3700 block of East Bay Drive, theft. A complainant reported a bicycle valued at $700 had been stolen from his garage. A lock was cut to gain access to the bike, which was located about a block away and had been damaged.

• Dec. 11, 500 block of 75th Street, burglary. An unknown person entered a house under construction and stole copper wire valued at $1,000.

• Dec. 12, 3800 block of East Bay Drive, theft. Someone entered the complainant’s carport and stole two bikes valued at $700. A witness observed a man taking one of the bikes, but assumed it was a guest of the victim. A description of the suspect was provided.

Holmes Beach is policed by the HBPD.

Streetlife is based on incident reports and narratives from the Bradenton Beach and Holmes Beach police departments and Manatee County Sheriff’s Office.

Merchants make merry on Bridge Street

Christmas on Bridge Street Dec. 14 included a holiday bazaar, face painting and live holiday music performances. A visit from Santa also was on the schedule. The market housed Santa’s sleigh and a Christmas tree and a good crowd. The festival ran until 10 p.m., with a lighted boat parade passing by the city pier after dark. Islander Photo: Jennifer Glenfield