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Dolphin Dash 5K winners announced

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Runners at Anna Maria Elementary cross the finish line Jan. 14 in Holmes Beach at the annual 5K Dolphin Dash and 1-mile fun run. The annual AME-Parent-Teacher Organization fundraiser is the first sanctioned race of the year for the Bradenton Runners Club. Islander Photo: Jack Elka
Mike Stringer and son Nolan Stringer, an Anna Maria Elementary school fifth-grader head for the final turn and the finish line Jan. 14 in the Dolphin Dash 1-mile fun run. Event proceeds benefit the AME-Parent-Teacher Organization. The race was sanctioned by the Bradenton Runners Club. Islander Photos: Karen Riley-Love
Kids of all ages charge into action at the start of the AME Dolphin Dash 1-mile fun run Jan. 14 at the school. Some parents ran the race with their children.
AME student Ewan Cloutier goes airborne Jan. 14 as he pushes for the finish line in the AME Dolphin Dash.
A bystander applauds AME kindergartner Joey Monetti Jan. 14 as he finishes his first Dolphin Dash race, passing Holmes Beach Police officers, who monitored the race course to keep runners safe.
Jack Elka captures a gull’s view of the runners Jan. 14 at Anna Maria Elementary as they cross Gulf Drive in Holmes Beach at the start of the school’s annual 5K Dolphin Dash. Hundreds participated in the annual AME-Parent-Teacher Organization fundraiser on city streets, which also featured a 1-mile fun run. See more pics, page 21. Islander Photo: Jack Elka

Race organizers announced the names and times of the winners in the sanctioned 5K Dolphin Dash Jan. 14.

The race began at Anna Maria Elementary in Holmes Beach and meandered through neighborhoods on city streets. More than 100 runners participated in the annual AME-Parent Teacher Organization fundraiser, with proceeds going to the PTO.

Parent organizer and AME running coach Jesse Brisson worked ahead of the race to get everyone on their marks.

Winners with times in the 5K are: Overall, Raquel Lesposio 20:39 and Cory Peyerk 17:30.

Master division: Rae Ann Darling 22:07 and Ray Jereuld 19:37.

Grand Master division: Sandy Meneley 24:30 and Bill Cook 20:44.

Senior Grand Master division: Maggie Miller 27:09 and Francis Brisson 21:23.

Veteran division: Caril Westerman 44:06 and Frank Davis 23:08.

Results and the winners of the 1-mile fun run were to be announced after press time.

Former Anna Maria Commissioner Mattick died Jan. 10

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Anna Maria Commissioner JoAnn Mattick, center, who died Jan. 10, is remembered for seeing the 800-foot-long boardwalk at the city pier from concept to completion. The boardwalk opened Nov. 7, 2011. Islander File Photo
The late Anna Maria Commissioner JoAnn Mattick discusses matters with former Mayor Mike Selby in 2012 in chambers at city hall.

The U.S. flag at Anna Maria City Pier Park was lowered to half mast to honor former Commissioner JoAnn Mattick.

It was a fitting sight, the flag waving over the bayfront and the pier — so near and dear to Mattick.

Laura JoAnn Mattick, 81, of Anna Maria, died Jan. 10.

She served as Anna Maria city commissioner 2007-2012. Before even being elected to her first term, she wrote a grant to fund the Anna Maria City Pier boardwalk, pavilions and landscaping, the largest grant in the city’s history.

Later, as a commissioner, she participated in the planning and heralded the completion of the boardwalk.

Her goals were to beautify the Historic Anna Maria City Pier in a manner consistent with “old Florida charm” and to ensure a place for older and mobility-challenged people to enjoy Anna Maria’s waterfront vista. The Anna Maria pier was frequently named Manatee County’s No. 1 tourist attraction, when such records were tallied.

Other significant contributions during her tenure as a commissioner include the city’s purchase of the six lots at the Pine Avenue-Bay Boulevard intersection, the restructured Pine Avenue parking plan and the comprehensive plan amendment for the environmental and preservation zones.

She is remembered by island locals and small-business owners as a good friend and neighbor who fought to preserve the unique character and charm of the island.

She was born April 13, 1935, to Leola Evelyn and Joseph Fitch in Portsmouth, Ohio, and raised by Ralph and Dortha Sutterfield in Wilder, Kentucky. She married John Anthony Mattick Oct. 1, 1955.

They lived in Cincinnati, where they raised six daughters and one son: Laura, Kathryn Sally, Janet, Sandy, John Francis, Esther and Rebecca.

She fell in love with the tranquility and beauty of Anna Maria Island in the late 1990s, while visiting daughter Sally, who had recently relocated to Sarasota.

She purchased a vacant lot opposite the Rod & Reel Pier and built a home where she resided with her youngest daughter Becky, Becky’s husband David Bouchard and their children, Emma and Will.

It was not long before three more of her children and their families — daughters Sandy and Esther, son John and daughters-in-law Marcia and Tara — followed suit and relocated to her little piece of paradise.

Upon retirement from the city commission, she split her time between Anna Maria and Aurora, Indiana, where she shared a passion for gardening, artisanal crafts and bargain hunting with sister Reba Sue Weldon and her husband Delmar of Sunman, Indiana.

A celebration of life will be held on the island in the spring. Brown & Sons Funeral Homes & Crematory 43rd Street Chapel is in charge of arrangements. Condolences may be made online at www.brownandsonsfuneral.com.

Survivors include children Laura and husband Michael Poirier, Kathryn Sally and husband George Fritz Stauffacher, Janet and husband David Brinton, Sandy, John Francis, Esther and wife Tara O’Brien and Rebecca and husband David Bouchard; daughter-in-law Marcia; grandchildren Fritzy, Alison, Erin, Max, Fred, Nick, Katie, JoJo, Sarah, Caroline, Paige, Michelle, Hallie, Jack, Emma, Will, Jackson and Chloe; two great-grandchildren; half-brother Michael Sutterfield of Cincinnati, Ohio; and step-brother Louis Richard Schardt Jr. of Union, Kentucky.

League takes up fight against senator’s vacation rental repeal

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ManaSota League of Cities board members Kit McKeon, left, Jean Peelen, Carol Carter and John Chappie prepare Jan. 12 for a meeting in the chambers at Longboat Key Town Hall, 501 Bay Isles Road, Longboat Key. Islander Photo: ChrisAnn Silver Esformes

As the state gears up for the 2017 legislative session in Tallahassee, the ManaSota League of Cities is preparing its stance on short-term rental regulations.

Its position is clear — give short-term rental rights back to residents in barrier island cities.

At its Jan. 12 meeting, board members discussed the MSLC’s approach for the legislative session, which starts March 7.

The MSLC comprises nine members, each representing a municipality in Manatee and Sarasota counties. Members of the MSLC meet bimonthly to discuss local issues affecting the cities.

The primary goal of the MSLC is to support and enforce home rule — the power for local governments to make legislative decisions.

State law enacted in 2011 prohibit municipalities from further legislating vacation rentals beyond any rules that existed prior to the legislation.

Currently, island cities can impose some regulations on vacations rentals. However, according to state law, local governments cannot regulate frequency and duration of stay.

Additionally, when home rule was diminished in 2011, island cities were not prepared to deal with the influx of people in their neighborhoods from short-term rentals and many neighborhoods were not zoned accordingly.

Former MSLC president Linda Yates, mayor of North Port, shared an article with MSLC members about state Sen. Greg Steube, R-Sarasota, filing a bill that would eliminate any ordinances adopted after 2011 that regulate short-term rentals.

SB188 states, “A local law, ordinance, or regulation may not restrict the use of vacation rentals, prohibit vacation rentals, or regulate the duration or frequency of rental of vacation rentals based solely on their classification, use, or occupancy.”

Steube also filed a bill Jan. 10 that would limit city revenue for all local business tax receipts to $25.

“This would limit the annual revenue for the town of Longboat Key by more than $95,000 and is going to be brought to the attention of the Florida League of Cities,” Yates said at the Jan. 12 meeting.

Bradenton Beach city clerk Terri Sanclemente reported Jan. 12 at a department head meeting that the city had collected more than $57,000 in business tax receipt revenue since August.

Also at the Jan. 12 MSLC meeting, Bradenton Beach Mayor Bill Shearon read a letter drafted by Holmes Beach Mayor Bob Johnson on behalf of the barrier island cities — Anna Maria, Bradenton Beach, Holmes Beach and the town of Longboat Key — asking the state to reconsider home rule for short-term rentals.

“I’m not sure why the right to rent is deemed OK, but the right to live peacefully is not,” the letter states.

MSLC board member and Bradenton Beach Commissioner John Chappie thanked Shearon for reading the letter and said MSLC members need to “show a stronger effort to get this terrible law changed.”

“This lack of home rule has destroyed neighborhoods and is destroying communities,” Chappie said.

Yates said Rep. David Richardson, D-Miami Beach, has filed a bill that would return home rule and the ability to regulate rentals.

The bill — HB6003 — states, “A local law, ordinance, or regulation may prohibit vacation rentals or regulate the duration or frequency of vacation rentals.”

Yates said it is important for the MSLC board to show support for HB6003.

Holmes Beach Commissioner Jean Peelen presented a letter to Steube she drafted for Holmes Beach commissioners, asking for a return of home rule.

Peelen said she hopes the Holmes Beach letter will complement the letter from the island mayors read by Shearon.

Peelen’s letter claims the proliferation of large rental homes in residential neighborhoods has caused residents to “vote with their feet — moving off-island rather than living next to a hotel,” citing a 20 percent decrease in Anna Maria Island voters in five years.

“The more the residents leave this island, the less it will have the character it now has,” Peelen read.

The board agreed the MSLC would draft two letters to Steube — one regarding the bill for short-term rentals and the other regarding the bill limiting local business tax receipts, and that each city in the MSLC should do the same.

The motion passed unanimously.

The board also motioned to draft a letter to Richardson supporting his bill, which also passed with a unanimous vote.

The next meeting of the MSLC will be at 9:30 a.m. Thursday, March 9, at Longboat Key Town Hall, 501 Bay Isles Road.


ManaSota League of Cities elects officers

The ManaSota League of Cities elected its 2017 officers at a meeting Jan. 12.

Palmetto Commissioner Brian Williams succeeds North Port Mayor Linda Yates as MSLC president.

Sarasota Mayor Willie Charles Shaw succeeds Williams as vice president.

Bradenton Councilman Patrick Roff was elected treasurer and will assume the position Sept. 14, before the end of treasurer Venice Councilman Kit McKeon’s term.

All officers were elected in a unanimous vote.

… while Anna Maria plans its own fight against legislator’s VRO threat

Island officials learned in recent weeks their focus on limiting vacation rentals could be unraveled.

In Anna Maria, the gloves are going on.

A bill introduced by state Sen. Greg Steube, R-Sarasota, could undo vacation rental regulations Anna Maria enacted in recent years, Anna Maria Mayor Dan Murphy told city commissioners Jan. 12.

Murphy said the bill would “take away all of our vacation rental work. Everything would be wiped out, right back to ground zero.”

Senate Bill 188 was filed Dec. 16, 2016, by Steube and referred Jan. 10 to the Senate’s regulated industries, community affairs and rules subcommittees.

The bill would amend legislation that regulated some aspects of vacation rentals. Steube proposes that “a local law, ordinance or regulation may not restrict the use of vacation rentals, prohibit vacation rentals, or regulate vacation rentals based solely on their classification, use or occupancy.”

The current law specifies that rules cannot legislate “the duration or frequency of rental.” Steube’s proposal would broaden the protection to all regulations passed after June 1, 2011, that apply to vacation rentals.

Murphy said the city needs a swift, strong challenge.

“Writing letters is a good effort … but I think we need to do more than write letters,” he said.

He proposed hiring a lobbyist.

Murphy said he spoke with the Holmes Beach and Bradenton Beach mayors about requesting Manatee County beach concession money to pay for a professional lobbyist.

However, Murphy said, the other two mayors did not arrive at a consensus to fund a lobbyist.

“I recommend we go it alone,” the Anna Maria mayor said. “We have everything to lose and nothing to gain from this bill.”

Murphy tasked city attorney Becky Vose with vetting lobbyists for the position, while the city seeks a way to pay for the lobbyist.

Murphy also said a Holmes Beach resident had approached him about the bill, offering to donate money to fight the proposal.

Commissioner Carol Carter said the ManaSota League of Cities discussed the bill Jan. 12.

“Everyone was unanimously appalled that Steube would introduce such a bill. …The League of Cities will come out with a strongly worded letter to the governor, as well as the president of the Senate,” said Carter, Anna Maria’s representative to the league.

Commissioners Nancy Yetter and Dale Woodland suggested the city pursue a grassroots campaign to encourage people to call, email and write lawmakers.

“We’ve got to be very serious and use multiple different ways to get the message through,” Woodland said.

Carter said a competing bill introduced in the House by state Rep. David Richardson, D-Miami Beach, would specifically allow rental regulations.

The House bill was referred Jan. 9 to the agriculture and property rights subcommittee, careers and competition subcommittee and commerce committee.

Carter said any grassroots efforts should include support for Richardson’s bill.

Gull’s-eye view of Dolphin Dash start

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Jack Elka captures a gull’s view of the runners Jan. 14 at Anna Maria Elementary as they cross Gulf Drive in Holmes Beach at the start of the school’s annual 5K Dolphin Dash. Hundreds participated in the annual AME-Parent-Teacher Organization fundraiser on city streets, which also featured a 1-mile fun run. See more pics, page 21. Islander Photo: Jack Elka

Public weighs in on Bradenton Beach short-term rental plan

Public comment during the Jan. 10 Bradenton Beach commission’s workshop on a transient public lodging establishment ordinance began with comments from planning and zoning board member Reed Mapes.

Mapes said it is important for the commission to read the comp plan. He said the city is required by the state to limit density due to the problems that could result during an emergency evacuation.

“We are putting ourselves at risk,” Mapes said. “We have agreements with sewer, water and trash that all say we must keep our population where it is today and not allow it to grow.”

Mapes suggested the commission not think of “density” as the number of people in a house, but rather that increasing the short-term population has long-term effects on the entire city.

He also said the city “can no longer patchwork the land development code and comp plan.”

“We need to go through both of them and get them corrected, sooner or later,” Mapes said.

Tom Mattern, a resident of Runaway Bay condominiums at 1801 Gulf Drive N. said he has concerns for the P&Z’s signage recommendations. He said requiring a TPLE to show the unit is not owner-occupied could invite theft.

Mattern also said he agrees with Commissioner John Chappie’s suggestion to research current state and local law before creating new regulations.

Adam Jenkins, a real estate agent and property manager at Edgewater Real Estate, 104 Bridge St., said he agrees with the need for rental regulations but he also has concerns.

He said he agrees that notice should be given before an administrative inspection.

He also said he thinks existing properties that can support occupancy of more than eight people should be grandfathered if the eight-person maximum occupancy is adopted.

Jenkins finished public comment, saying, “At the state level, there is a large conversation about changing rental properties from a residential zone to a commercial zone.”

Jenkins suggested this would create conforming use and code enforcement issues.

The next TPLE workshop will be at 1 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 24, at Bradenton Beach City Hall, 107 Gulf Drive N.

Bradenton Beach approves marijuana ban, moratorium

More than 79 percent of voters in Bradenton Beach voted in November 2016 to allow the use and sale of medical marijuana in the state — more than any other precinct in Manatee County.

However, the city is prohibiting medical marijuana dispensaries.

At a Jan. 5 meeting, the city commission unanimously approved the first reading of an ordinance to prohibit dispensing medical marijuana in the city.

City attorney Ricinda Perry drafted the ordinance, which includes a “backup” 180-day moratorium if the state repeals the right to prohibition.

More than 122,623 voters — 69 percent of the county electorate — voted “yes” for medical marijuana, and 54,980 voted “no.”

Voters in the three municipalities on Anna Maria Island approved the amendment with supermajority votes.

When commissioners began discussing medical marijuana after the amendment passed, they planned to draft a 180-day moratorium, similar to a county moratorium.

However, at the Dec. 1 meeting, Bradenton Beach Commissioner John Chappie suggested the city instead follow Anna Maria’s lead and ban medical marijuana dispensaries.

He said medical marijuana is illegal under federal law and federal law trumps state law.

Chappie motioned for Perry to draft an ordinance similar to the measure adopted in Anna Maria, banning the growing, cultivation, processing and sale of marijuana in the city.

The motion passed with a unanimous vote.

At the Jan. 5 meeting, Perry said even through the commission had nixed the moratorium in favor of a permanent ban, she included the moratorium because she is concerned that “this is still an unsettled situation.”

Perry said the prohibition may not hold up in court and she does not want to see the city enter a situation — similar to what is happening with short-term rental legislation — where it has no control.

“I tried to put the city in its best possible standing, should the prohibition not work,” Perry said. “Since there is not a Florida Supreme Court opinion on this subject matter yet, I wanted to have a backup plan to the prohibition.”

However, Perry said the ordinance could be challenged because it includes both a prohibition and moratorium.

If the court did not agree to the prohibition, Perry said she thinks the moratorium would stand on its own.

Chappie said he trusts Perry’s expertise and appreciates her recommendation.

Commissioners Ralph Cole and Marilyn Maro agreed with Chappie.

“We’ve got to cover our bases — there’s a lot of money at stake and people are going to come with lawyers ready to fight that fight,” Spooner said. “If this is the city’s wish, we need to be aware.”

“We need to do something and I think this is a good approach,” Mayor Bill Shearon said. “I agree that if we do nothing, this could end up like our rental situation.”

Chappie motioned to approve the first reading of the ordinance and set a public hearing and final reading for the next commission meeting.

The motion passed with a unanimous vote.

The next commission meeting will be at noon Thursday, Jan. 19, at city hall, 107 Gulf Drive N.

35 of 87 Bert Harris claims unresolved in Anna Maria

The city of Anna Maria finished 2016 with 35 unresolved Bert Harris claims.

Of the 87 claims submitted since the vacation rental ordinance went into effect April 1, 2016, 52 claims have been settled with relief on the occupancy restriction.

The Bert Harris Jr. Private Property Protection Act of 1995 allows property owners to seek relief if they can prove a government action lowered the value of their property.

Claimants must provide appraisals to establish value, but settlements can either fully or partly restore the rights that existed before the prohibitions, in lieu of a cash settlement.

The city’s VRO limits short-term vacation rentals to an eight-person occupancy.

However, city attorney Becky Vose has brought settlement offers to the commission recommending the city allow two guests per bedroom, plus two additional guests. Some settlements have allowed for occupancy of up to 16 guests.

Beginning in September, Vose also began suggesting purchase offers on some properties. Any property the city purchases would go to a third-party investor, Anna Maria Mayor Dan Murphy said, and must thereafter follow the ordinance for occupancy rates.

No purchase offer has been accepted.

The city has 150 days to respond to claims. Of 62 claims that have come due, all have received a response from the city and 10 are awaiting a return response from claimants.

There are 17 claims awaiting a response with occupancy requests ranging from 10 guests to 16 guests.

One claim, filed Dec. 1, 2016, by Rick and Kristina Kellar for an undeveloped lot at 501 S. Bay Blvd., Anna Maria, is based not on the VRO but on a land-area-ratio ordinance adopted in 2013that limits the home living area based on the lot size, as well as additional amendments to the LAR ordinance in 2015.

According to the claim filed by attorney Scott Rudacille of Blalock Walters, the Kellars intended to build a dream retirement home in Anna Maria but the LAR ordinance severely restricted their ability to construct the home they planned.

The claim alleges a loss of $88,500 in value based on the limited post-LAR lot coverage. Rudacille argued this ordinance created difficulties for the Kellars, as the wife is disabled and requires elevator accommodations, which further restricts their building plans. Their plans previously included elevator space in the calculation of the land-area-ratio.

Murphy said the city has not drafted a response to the Kellar claim.

Mayors drive appeal to offset costs from vacation rentals

More people, more problems?

That could be the case for the barrier islands.

With tourism on the rise and the seasonal population more than three times the permanent population, the mayors of the island cities have partnered to find funding to offset the increasing impact of infrastructure — a projected $24.5 million deficit over the next 15 years — according to a report coordinated by the three island mayors.

“We’ve got this intensity-of-use issue here,” Holmes Beach Mayor Bob Johnson said Jan. 10, during a city commission work session.

Johnson estimates Holmes Beach has more than 9,000 day visitors, second only to Anna Maria’s estimated daily influx of 13,313.

Bradenton Beach Mayor Bill Shearon attended the Holmes Beach meeting but did not speak. Anna Maria Mayor Dan Murphy was not present.

The trio of mayors held meetings to seek solutions to their budget problems and Johnson was first to make his presentation.

After failed efforts by the cities to promote solutions with the Manatee County Board of Commissioners, Johnson and the other mayors are recommending their cities develop local municipal options to fund the increasing demands on public safety, transportation, parks and recreation, public buildings, beaches and waterways.

“We can deal with some of this with ad valorem,” Johnson said, adding that the mayors have conceived the creation of a special assessment program that would apply to rentals to fund a portion of the necessary improvements, or a combination of ad valorem and a special assessment district.

In order to determine the viability of such a program, Johnson recommended the city hire Stantec, a consulting group that is currently conducting a similar study for the city of Anna Maria, to undertake a special assessment study for Holmes Beach.

“We can’t just take something that’s been done in another city and copy it,” he said.

Commissioners agreed to allow the mayor to present a contract between the city and Stantec for consideration at the next city commission meeting.

The commission meets next at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 24, at city hall, 5801 Marina Drive.

Sheriff arrests murder suspect, victim had island ties

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Eugene Matthews

An 83-year-old man was arrested for the Jan. 10 fatal shooting of a longtime Anna Maria Island hairstylist.
Manatee County Sheriff’s Office arrested Eugene Matthews at the county jail several hours after he allegedly shot Rebecca Rawson, 65, of Bradenton, who was taken to Manatee Memorial Hospital in Bradenton and pronounced dead at 8:10 p.m.
Rawson was a hairstylist at Lor-Ells Hair Designs in Anna Maria until the salon closed at end of June 2016. Before Lor-Ells, she worked many years at Head Quarters Salon on Gulf Drive in Holmes Beach.
According to MCSO reports, Rawson drove two family members to a Parrish residence at about 7 p.m. Jan. 10 to pick up her dog, Bart, when Matthews emerged with a handgun, fired twice into the air and then at the vehicle, where Rawson sat in the front seat.
Gunfire pierced the windshield and struck Rawson in the face.
Rawson’s brother-in-law, Rodney Rawson, who had gone to the front door and retrieved Bart, was on his way back to the vehicle when the shooting occurred. Rawson’s 26-year-old daughter also was in the vehicle, MCSO public information officer Dave Bristow said.
After Rawson was shot, the vehicle backed up and crashed, the report stated.
A struggle ensued between Rodney Rawson and Matthews before Rodney Rawson took the gun from Matthews, according to an MCSO report.
The tragedy was compounded by the Jan. 4 death of Ed Rawson, Rebecca’s husband, six days earlier.
Rebecca Rawson was well liked by people who knew her on the island.
She had moved to Tennessee about five years ago, according to Head Quarters owner Carol Conte, who remembers her as “a great worker, a great person.”
She returned to work at Lor-Ell’s on Pine Avenue, where Rebecca Barnett of the neighboring store, Anna Maria Island Accommodations, remembered Rebecca Rawson as “a very nice lady.”
Online records show Matthews faces a second-degree murder charge.
At his first appearance Jan. 11, a judge found probable cause for his arrest and ordered him held without bond.
However, a pretrial report recommends Matthews’ release on conditions, including electronic monitoring and surrendering and possessing no firearms.
His arraignment is set Feb. 10 at the Manatee County Judicial Center, 1051 Manatee Ave. W., Bradenton.