Tag Archives: News

BB commission discusses proposed short-term rental regulations

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Bradenton Beach staff and the commission discuss the planning and zoning board’s recommendation Jan. 10 for a transient public lodging establishment license during a workshop at city hall, 107 Gulf Drive N. Islander Photos: ChrisAnn Silver Esformes
Bradenton Beach Planning and Zoning Board member Reed Mapes, former Commissioner Jan Vosburgh and P&Z member Jim Lynch sit in the gallery Jan. 10 during a commission workshop at city hall, 107 Gulf Drive N.

Bradenton Beach is the last of Anna Maria Island’s three cities to plan short-term rental regulations.

City officials say the city is working to lock in residents’ rights to prevent neighborhoods from being overrun with big vacation rentals.

Bradenton Beach commissioners met Jan. 10 in a workshop to review the planning and zoning board’s recommendations for a proposed transient public lodging establishment ordinance.

The TPLE — similar to vacation rental ordinances in Anna Maria and Holmes Beach — would replace a quality-of-life ordinance adopted in 2015, but never implemented. It would allow “transient use of residential property” upon issuance of a license from the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation along with a city business tax receipt and a yet-to-be-enacted TPLE license.

The workshop opened with city planner Alan Garrett presenting the commission with a bullet-point list of recommendations from the P&Z for the city tax license, which would be required of either the owner or rental agent.

The form establishes the city’s right to perform an administrative inspection of rental properties.

Garrett asked city attorney Ricinda Perry if the city has the legal right to inspect the properties.

Perry said “all regulations would have to be across the board” — for all rentals.

Mayor Bill Shearon said he thinks the intent of the P&Z is not to be “big brother,” rather, the city would only inspect if a violation is reported.

Shearon also said the P&Z is making this recommendation so people understand that when they decide to rent their property short-term, they are agreeing to certain requirements.

Police Chief Sam Speciale agreed with Shearon. Speciale said the DBPR license would provide a “trigger point” to enforce rental regulations.

“By providing the DBPR license, you are granting us certain inspection rights,” Speciale said. “I have the right to ask them, ‘Can I see your license?’ — the same as any business.”

Commissioner Jake Spooner said, “What we are really dealing with here is occupancy.”

The P&Z list also includes a recommendation that maximum TPLE occupancy be two people per bedroom plus two, not to exceed eight total occupants, no matter the size of the unit.

Speciale said if the new ordinance is enacted, when he is called to a short-term rental for a noise complaint, he could request the license to verify the allowed occupancy. If he sees the occupancy exceeds the stated limit, he can issue a violation.

“If it’s a rental, it’s a rental and they all have to do the same thing,” Perry said, emphasizing the regulation would need to apply to all rentals in the city.

Perry also asked why the P&Z recommendation applied only to the R-1 and R-2 districts.

Commissioner John Chappie said the R-3 district is not included because, according to the comp plan, “what can and cannot be allowed in each zoning district is clearly defined,” and high-density units are not allowed in R-1 and R-2, but are allowable in the R-3 district.

“I’m just not understanding how we got into this situation,” Chappie said. “This wasn’t the intent in those districts.”

Building official Steve Gilbert said after the state passed legislation diminishing home rule and limiting new regulations for short-term rentals — that more single-family homes came to be used for short-term rentals in the R-1 and R-2 districts.

And the city was not prepared.

“The land development code and the comp plan clearly states what we can and cannot have in the R-1 and R-2 districts,” Chappie said. “Do we need to go to court for an opinion?”

“We all know this, but it’s happening — that ship has already sailed,” Speciale said. “Let’s go with these recommendations and work on the other issues later.”

Chappie said he is not disregarding the P&Z board recommendations, he just thinks the city “should have two methods of approach.”

The commission reached consensus that the R-3 district would have the same short-term rental requirements as the R-1 and R-2 districts.

The commission tasked Perry to research state legislation in regards to the comprehensive plan. The commissioners also asked Perry to research how Anna Maria and Holmes Beach have handled occupancy issues with TPLEs, including what they’ve paid in lawsuits.

Both cities have enacted vacation-rental ordinances and now face Bert Harris claims — demands for compensation or restored rights, due to limits on occupancy.

“I’m willing to fight the fight, but I want to know the cost — bottom line,” Chappie said.

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

Holmes Beach defends tree house order to 2nd DCA

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The tree house was built within the city’s 50-foot setback of the state-established erosion control line, seaward of the Tran-Hazen home at 103 29 St., where they operate Angelinos Sea Lodge.
Holmes Beach Mayor Bob Johnson sits alongside attorney Jim Dye, who represents the city, and attorney for tree house owners, David Levin, sits with his client, Lynn Tran, July 15 in a Manatee County courtroom. The current appeal seeks to overturn the circuit court judge’s July ruling. Islander File Photo: Kathy Prucnell

The tree house is back in the courthouse.

Owners Lynn Tran and Richard Hazen are waging another challenge in the 2nd District Court of Appeal, this time seeking to overturn an August 2016 circuit court order that halted their attempt to grandfather the tree house by putting it to a citywide vote.

Tran-Hazen feel they will have the sympathy of the voters if it eventually goes on the ballot.

The city has filed its response to the tree house appeal that was entered with the 2nd DCA Sept. 8, 2016.

In his Jan. 5 brief, Jim Dye of Dye, Deitrich, Petruff & St. Paul, attorney for the city, defended 12th Circuit Judge Don T. Hall’s decision “to choose the city’s proposed judgment over theirs.”

Attorney David Levin of Icard, Merrill, Cullis, Timm, Furen & Ginsburg, P.A., filed the owners’ citywide vote appeal in September 2016, claiming Hall’s order violated his clients’ due process rights and misapplies Florida law.

Hall entered Dye’s prepared order verbatim after asking both attorneys to submit proposed judgments at a July 15 court hearing.

Tran and Hazen built a two-story tree house in an Australian pine in 2011 without city or state permits —though they have maintained in other court cases city building staff gave them a verbal go-ahead.

The city, however, has thus far prevailed in court.

And in May 2016, a Holmes Beach magistrate imposed a fine stands at $12,050 and growing $50 a day until the owners remove the tree house or otherwise comply with city code.

The tree house was built within the city’s 50-foot setback of the state-established erosion control line, seaward of the Tran-Hazen home at 103 29 St., where they operate Angelinos Sea Lodge.

Since an anonymous complaint called the beachfront structure to the city’s attention, tree house cases have wound through city code enforcement, state environmental regulators and the courts.

In the owners’ most recent appeal, Levin argues the “rubber-stamping” of Dye’s order violated his clients’ due process rights because the record fails to support an independent judicial analysis. He contends that creates an “appearance of impropriety.”

Dye disagrees.

“The proper focus is not on whether the court simply adopted one of the parties’ proposed orders, but on whether the process the court used was fair to both parties,” Dye wrote in the appellate brief.

Dye pointed to Levin’s appeal, which states the July 15 trial court hearing was “based on a stipulated set of facts, jointly prepared and presented to the court by both parties.”

Dye’s brief contends the court process, hearing and the judge’s request for proposed orders from both parties led to an independent trial court judgment.

Dye noted Levin could have requested additional time to object to Dye’s proposed order, but did not.

A second point argued in the new appeal, and the crux of the Tran-Hazen case, is how a 2013 Florida law that prohibits initiatives or referenda “in regard to any development order” should be interpreted.

Levin contends the ballot question is not a development order because the tree house is an accessory use, incidental to the residence, excluded by the state statute.

Dye, on the other hand, advocates the matter constitutes a development order because it asks voters “to authorize the construction and maintenance of the so-called tree house.”

Tran said Jan. 11 Levin would be filing a response to Dye’s brief by the end of the month.

The 2nd DCA has not indicated whether it will hear the case.

Meanwhile, as of Jan. 12, the city had yet to respond to Tran’s application for an after-the-fact permit for the tree house.

Tran submitted the application Sept. 30, 2016. She said building official Jim McGuinness advised he would send her his comments, if any, after his review.

Mayor Bob Johnson said he and the city’s building department and legal representatives have discussed the application.

But the mayor referred further comment to McGuinness, who referred The Islander’s inquiries to Susan Corsi, clerk for the building department.

Corsi said Jan. 12 that Tran’s after-the-fact permit application is still being reviewed.

She added it is a “different situation” than the typical residential request and she expects “something more” soon.

Islander of the year: soft-hearted Moose Lodge leader

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Ernie Casali Jr.

You really couldn’t ask to meet a nicer guy. Or a more devoted member of the Loyal Order of the Moose. Or a softer, kinder, bigger-hearted man.

He is Ernie Casali Jr.

He has been the Moose Lodge administrator since 2003.

And since he took over, membership at the Bradenton Beach lodge has grown to more than 9,000 snowbirds, regulars and local members.

The lodge has grown from 1,700 to 5,600 members, while Women of the Moose grew five-fold, from 800 to 4,200.

Under his guidance — and fundraising acumen — a new state-of-art building was completed in 2015 on the beachfront.

He likes to say the building will withstand hurricane-force winds and waves will roll over it.

Casali says, “At the beach, we are always on borrowed time.”

His operation does more than $l million a year in food and beverage sales.

And it runs some successful fundraisers, including the wildly popular Queen of Hearts card contest. The lodge raised enough money to award some $30K a week in door prizes during the height of the 2016 contest, which in 10 months brought in about $400K.

And the contest has only run in three of the past six years, partly because the popularity overwhelms the staff and crowds the lodge, beachfront, parking lot and streets.

The queen contest accounts for some of the membership surge, since only members can buy tickets for the raffle drawings.

In December 2016, Casali decided to share the wealth, awarding $28,000 to outside charities, including $4,000 to Hope Family Services and a ministry providing aid in Haiti, as well as $1,000 each to a number of charities, including Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, Shriner’s Hospital in Tampa , Meals on Wheels, the Salvation Army, Moonracer No Kill Pet Rescue and many others.

Casali’s plans for the future include aiming for young family members, to bring a mix of young adults and kids to the lodge — no longer a place for mostly retired people.

And more improvements. Either a new roof or a new addition where the old building is attached to the new lodge. He also is mulling over putting a roof or canopy on the rooftop deck — where the sun limits comfort and service for food and cocktails.

Casali claims one of his greatest lifetime achievements is being admitted in 2016 to the fourth and highest degree of service to the Moose Legion, that of a Pilgrim. It is an honorary degree awarded to few Moose Legionnaires.

He humbly says of his accomplishments on Anna Maria Island, “I’m just the leader of the band.”

To which we say, play on.

Casali is on our hit parade.

Cashing in on football

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Raymond Woo and wife Lynne came to The Islander office filled with excitement and anticipation Dec. 28. Woo has entered The Islander’s “Get in the Game” NFL football contest for many weeks — many seasons, in fact — and he had won the Guess the Bucs Score and no one had cashed in yet in 2016. Woo went home with the rollover prize of $750 and a big smile! Islander Photo: Bonner Joy

Islanders honored, remembered

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The Islander takes pride in recognizing members of the Anna Maria Island community for their unselfish contributions and for making this slice of paradise an even better place to live.

Since the newspaper started up in 1992, its path was to partner with community organizations, report the news of record and tell the tales of people who live and work on AMI.

We launched the Islander of the Year award to recognize deserving people. It was presented posthumously to the late Anna Maria Mayor Ernie Cagnina in 1993 and Anna Maria Mayor Ray Simches in 1994.

Katie Pierola was the 1995 recipient of The Islander’s annual award. During her six years as mayor of Bradenton Beach, the city underwent a renaissance.

She embodied the definition of a public servant in her tireless efforts to improve her city and Anna Maria Island.

Pierola played an instrumental role in initiating the current beach renourishment program and in putting a halt to a proposed Cortez megabridge.

W.H. “Snooks” Adams was 1996 Islander of the year. He was born in Cortez, and spent much of his life on Anna Maria Island as a law enforcement officer who used common sense as his guide.

He started Snooks Adams Kids Day in 1954, an end-of-school tradition that was later taken over by the Anna Maria Island Privateers.

Charles Lester and Jo Ann Lester fell in love with Anna Maria Island and along with it, the community center. They put their money where their hearts are, both here and in the small towns in Wisconsin where they also reside half the year.

They established an endowment for the community center and a successful fundraising campaign. We honored them as 1997 Islanders of the Year.

Jim Kronus, retired after 25 years as Anna Maria Island Elementary School principal, and was named 1998 Islander of the Year.

Suzi Fox was recognized for her efforts in organizing volunteers to protect sea turtles in 1999.

Nancy Ambrose was named 2000 Islander of the Year for initiating the Holmes Beach Butterfly Park.

The original keeper of the island’s history is Carolyne Norwood, Islander of the Year in 2001. The Anna Maria Island Historical Society, its museum, the old jail and Belle Haven Cottage are owing to her vision.

Billie Martini, 2002. Her finest achievement while a commissioner for Holmes Beach may be the realization of the Grassy Point Preserve. Martini first eyed the undeveloped area for preservation.

Ilona and Jeff Kenrick were The Islander newspaper’s Islanders of the Year for 2003.

While managing a foundation for international aid, the Kenricks created a blood drive that included a reward for donors, a cash payout to the donor’s choice of four island charities. It was a win-win and we thank them for their positive impact here and beyond.

Jeff Croley, 2004 Islander of the Year, represented all the good qualities we could ask for in a volunteer — he quietly went on his own, delivering aid to those in need in remote areas immediately after Hurricanes Charley, Frances, Ivan and Jeanne. And he took vacation time from work to do his good deeds.

If there ever was a symbol for Anna Maria Island, it is the sword-wielding, cannon-firing, benevolent crew of the Anna Maria Island Privateers.

For all the good they do year after year, 2005 stood out for their efforts on behalf of one unfortunate little boy with a failing heart on a “wish” trip to Anna Maria Island.

The Privateers also came to the rescue with Hurricane Katrina relief and initiated a memorial scholarship fund for an island teen killed in a car crash.

They did all this and more — despite the sudden illness and deaths that year of president Greg “Shiprek” Davidson and member Dick Cline.

They were our 2005 Islanders of the Year.

Pete Lannon, 2006 Islander of the Year. If there ever was a person who brought out the best in the Anna Maria Island community, it was Pete Lannon.

He was more than a Holmes Beach police officer, he was a mentor for our children, a confidant for people in need and a friendly face at Anna Maria Elementary School, where he served as resource officer.

He lost a tough battle with cancer that year and he is still missed by many. Following the death of Christine Olson’s 22-year-old daughter, Tiffiany, in a motorcycle crash, Olson sought to connect people in emergencies with loved ones and family members who “need to know.”

Her quest to allow emergency contact information be included with driver’s licenses was a success. We thank Olson for making a difference in the lives of many, and for taking her initiative to other states and the federal government.

Florida Institute for Saltwater Heritage, 2008 Islander of the Year. Cheers to the organization that runs the Cortez Commercial Fishing Festival and dedicates the proceeds to preserving Cortez, including the Burton store, the old schoolhouse, and the 95-plus acres that provide a buffer to the village from encroaching development.

It was an honor for Anna Maria Island to be home to the first lady of Florida, Rhea Chiles, and to have her return to Holmes Beach to live after the death of Gov. Lawton Chiles.

AMI embraced Rhea. Little did we know she would bring with her culture, education, arts and artists, and a sense of nature and the beauty around us — the Studio at Gulf and Pine.

Combined with the generosity and vision of son Ed Chiles, owner of a trio of landmark restaurants on Anna Maria Island and Longboat Key, we have a legacy for the future.

Rhea, who died in November 2015, and Ed Chiles were our honorees in 2009.

The Geyer family was our 2010 Islander of the Year. You may have known Pat Geyer as mayor or commissioner, or maybe Mom, but for many years, hundreds, if not thousands of islanders grew to love her as Miss Duffy.

Patricia A. Geyer, proprietress of Duffy’s Tavern, died May 1, 2010, at age 79, but she is remembered still.

She served 18 years on the city commission and was elected mayor from 1990-94. During her public service, she demonstrated courage and conviction, and a willingness to listen to the people.

And listen she did. She had an ear — and respect — for all opinions that came across the bar at Duffy’s Tavern, the quaint and quirky hamburger joint she ran for more than 35 years.

But it wasn’t just Miss Duffy who did the island proud. She had loads of help from husband Ed, who kept a pot of bean soup.

Pat Geyer was known for her quiet humor, as well as her fierce loyalty to family, work, causes, politics and principle.

Miss Duffy earned many accolades, but surely none pleased her more than the simple appreciation for her political service and her burgers.

For those reasons, the Geyers were our choice for Islander of the year 2010.

The Privateers, Islanders of the Year for 2011, are our only repeat winner in 25 years of news-making.

Much deserved, much applauded and cheered.

They brought revelry and excitement to all three cities during 2011, their 40th anniversary year. The captures at all three city halls were lifetime adventures for city officials, particularly the mayors, some who found themselves shackled for ransom to the mast on the Skullywag float/boat.

It was a very good year for the Privateers, a crew that proved worth its weight in gold — raising more than $40,000 for kids and community — and for their service and entertainment on Anna Maria Island.

Arrrrrgh! Here’s to 40 years of Privateers … and many more.

On to 2012, and we came to recognize a crusade of sorts by one woman to stock the island pantry.

While we may not directly benefit, the Roser Church Food Pantry and its chair Pam Leckie — who literally brought the pantry out of a closet to a place of its own — can be proud of their aid to islanders.

In 2012, Leckie and her fellow volunteers distributed almost 1,500 bags of food. Each recipient also received a gift card to purchase fresh foods.

Leckie and her volunteers proved they are among the best of the best by coming to the aid of out-of-work employees of the Rod & Reel Pier.

2013: Former Anna Maria Commissioner Gene Aubry — a renaissance man.

He’s empowered with seemingly limitless knowledge, embracing the sort of great thinking that we so seldom see, so much so that less accomplished people often fail to recognize his significance.

If you haven’t heard him play guitar, you may not recognize his range of talent. If you don’t know of his many architectural achievements, you might doubt this quiet man had reached such heights. If you don’t know of his art — the simple, fine lines and subtle colors that capture moments in time like no photograph could — you may not appreciate his refined taste.

He may no longer serve in city government, but he isn’t giving up on this place he loves. Surrender is not in his character.

And for 2014, we honored the effort of one woman — Jeannie Bystrom — to make a difference by not only saving seabirds day after day, more so for pushing for better education and regulations to protect a valuable environmental asset.

As we searched for the person who made a difference in our lives in 2015, we came to realize the value of lessons learned from the loss of Sabine Musil-Buehler and for the closure she finally provided from her resting place on the beach.

She inspired us to encourage anyone who fell victim to abuse to speak up and seek help.

Our pledge to honor her memory with the final sunset of the year deserves repeating.

And this year, we recognize a grand figure in Moose International and at our local lodge in Bradenton Beach.

He has made a difference for the lodge and in the daily lives of people he helps both through the Moose and through his own soft-hearted generosity.

You may never know who gave to help a person in need or a cause, but often it comes from Ernie’s personal wallet.

Mooseheart, a 1,000-acre campus for children to learn and grow in Chicago, may be dear to him, but he has room in his heart for so much more.

He’s the friend you didn’t know you had.

We especially thank and celebrate them all.

FISH signs on for Long Bar Pointe fight, mitigation appeal

The Florida Institute for Saltwater Heritage recently voted 14-1 to oppose a second attempt from Long Bar Pointe LLLP to operate a 260-acre wetland mitigation bank on Sarasota Bay along a 2-mile stretch of pristine shoreline southeast of Cortez.

Next to the submerged mitigation site of mostly mangroves and seagrasses, the same developers are planning a large-scale, mixed-use development, Aqua By the Bay, which is under review by Manatee County planners.

Long Bar Pointe LLLP lists as owners/managers Carlos Beruff and Larry Lieberman.

Vice president Jane von Hahmann asked the FISH board Jan. 2 to “discuss and decide” whether it wants to join former Manatee County Commissioner Joe McClash and Suncoast Waterkeeper Inc. — as it previously had done — to fight against the developer’s state mitigation permit.

Member John Stevely said he favored the appeal to battle dangerous precedents.

“Take it from me, never give up,” FISH member Rick Stewart said.

Member Rose Lipke moved to authorize FISH to join McClash and Suncoast and file for a formal administrative hearing. It was seconded by Stevely.

FISH Secretary Karen Bell, owner of A.P. Bell Fish Co., voted no. After the meeting, she explained her vote.

“I’ve always said FISH, as a nonprofit, shouldn’t be involved in legal issues,” Bell said.

While she doesn’t totally approve of the proposed project, Bell believes owners should have the right to develop their property. The county should consider purchasing and preserving the Long Bar property, she added.

FISH is dedicated to preserving the commercial fishing industry, the environment and fishing culture of Cortez.

Also a nonprofit, Suncoast Waterkeeper, founded by executive director Justin Bloom, aims to protect and restore Florida waterways through advocacy and education.

The FISH-Suncoast-McClash petition was prompted by a Jan. 6 deadline for objections after the Florida Department of Environmental Protection announced in December its intent to issue the permit.

Permits from the DEP as well as the U.S. Corps of Engineers are required for the project to move forward.

The Corps denied Beruff-Lieberman a federal permit in September at about the same time Beruff-Lieberman withdrew its first plan from the DEP.

As of Jan. 5, a revised prospectus had not been filed with the Corps, according to Nakier Nobles, Corps public information officer.

About a week after its DEP withdrawal, Long Bar developers re-filed another mitigation plan for the state permit.

 

Mitigation bank plan

McClash and other objectors say there is little difference between the first plan and the new one, except for the removal of four drainage ditches owned by Manatee Fruit Co. — reducing the site by about 2 acres.

FISH, McClash and Suncoast members consider the proposed bank a developer ploy to build a channel for a marina complex for Aqua, which will threaten a shoreline of already-protected wetlands, mangrove swamps and seagrasses.

The Corps, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration raised similar concerns.

The new plan assigns 18.01 credits, a decrease of 0.52 credits. Each credit translates roughly to 1-acre of restoration.

Developers — including Beruff and Lieberman— could pay the Long Bar Pointe LLLP bank to “mitigate” in exchange for the destruction of wetlands elsewhere.

Each credit runs $100,000-$200,000. Payments of the “credits” would fund the bank’s preservation and enhancement activities, such as exotic vegetation removal.

The proposed credits are allocated at 7.38 for seagrass-dominated submerged bottomlands, 0.23 for salt marsh, 7.07 for mangrove swamps, 0.68 for trimmed mangrove hedge, 2.65 for coastal freshwater marsh.

McClash acknowledges wetland mitigation banks can provide a positive impact to the environment — but not in this case, he said.

Bloom of Suncoast has likened the plan to putting “lipstick on a pig.”

 

The second petition

Attorney Ralf Brookes of Cape Coral Jan. 3 filed the petition for a hearing opposing DEP’s second “intent to issue” the mitigation permit.

The petition alleges Beruff did not meet the “purpose and intent” of state laws — that such banks “should emphasize restoration and enhancement of degraded ecosystems.”

Brookes calls out the mitigation plan for failing to prevent mangrove trimming and suggests a reduction in credits for mangroves that can be trimmed to 12 foot in height.

Also in the petition, Brookes argues the seagrasses are “already healthy” and “already protected.”

Brookes and McClash dispute 7.34 credits for seagrasses.

McClash said the proposed buoy-placement “will actually increase motorized boat traffic and increase scarring” because the markers in the water will attract boaters.

“To destroy seven acres of seagrass somewhere else for these credits, it defies logic.”

“The big picture is the DEP has failed in its responsibility to protect the public interest against the destruction of the environment,” McClash said.

According to DEP public information officer Dee Ann Miller, the petition will undergo a sufficiency review by DEP attorneys and forwarded to the Office of Administrative Hearings if deemed sufficient.

A judge and hearing date will be assigned.

McClash expects the process to take about a month.

No other objectors have filed petitions, Miller wrote in a Jan. 5 email.

WMFR finds fire code violation on Spring Lane

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Two people walk on Spring Lane, a short, narrow path running parallel to the beachfront north of the Sandbar Restaurant on Spring Avenue. West Manatee Fire Rescue Chief Tom Sousa has determined the fence interferes with access for the fire department. Islander Photo: Bianca Benedí

The West Manatee Fire Rescue District has determined that two fences installed along Spring Lane create a potential problem for first-responders.

WMFR Chief Tom Sousa wrote to Anna Maria Mayor Dan Murphy Jan. 4 stating that a resident alerted the fire district that fencing had been installed along property lines at 103 Spring Ave. and 108 Magnolia Ave.

The backyard fencing of the Magnolia Avenue address and the fencing of the Spring Avenue parking lot both run along Spring Lane, restricting travelers to a narrow path.

Spring Lane is a short, 10-foot-wide one-way shell road running parallel to the beachfront north of the Sandbar Restaurant on Spring Avenue.

According to the Manatee County Property Appraiser’s website, the Magnolia Avenue property is owned by Sarasota residents Richard and Christine Mason.

The other fencing encloses a parking lot for the Sandbar Restaurant at 100 Spring Ave. The restaurant leases the parking lot from Tampa residents Michael and Louis Caltagirone, according to the property appraiser’s website.

Sousa said the fences could impede WMFR’s ability to provide timely fire suppression for the properties along the beachfront portion of Spring Lane.

Two properties in particular, at 204 Spring Lane and 206 Spring Lane, are at risk because of the fence, he said.

According to the fire code, fire department access roads should have an unobstructed width of at least 20 feet. Because Spring Lane was platted in the early 1900s, Sousa said, the lane is only 10 feet wide. The construction of the fences along property lines limits travel on the narrow lane.

WMFR recommends a minimum width of 16 feet to provide adequate passage for fire equipment and firefighters.

Because the lane and property lines were platted before the fire codes were created, Sousa said, neither the city nor the fire district can force the property owners to remove the fences, as they follow property lines.

His letter to the mayor stated the WMFR was willing to work with both the city and the property owners to resolve the potential risk.

The WMFR had not contacted the property owners as of Jan. 6, Sousa said.

Progress: Bradenton Beach CRA awards day dock contract

Progress is being made in Bradenton Beach.

At its Jan. 4 meeting, the Bradenton Beach Community Redevelopment Agency approved the city pier team’s recommendation of Technomarine Group Inc. to build and install a new day dock at the Historic Bridge Street Pier.

Storms in June 2016 from the passage of Tropical Storm Colin in the Gulf of Mexico caused boats in the neighboring anchorage to crash into the dock, rendering it temporarily unusable and permanently damaged.

The pier team reviewed three bids to replace the dock and recommended contractor Technomarine, based in North Palm Beach, to the CRA.

At $119,980, Technomarine’s bid was the lowest.

When the request for proposals closed Nov. 14, Bradenton Beach Police Chief Sam Speciale, who chairs the pier team, and team members Steve Gilbert, city building official, and Tom Woodard, public works director, reviewed the proposals.

The criteria for evaluating the bids included contractor background and experience, financial history, unique system characteristics, technical characteristics, estimated time to complete the project, warranty and references.

“Each of us evaluated the bids separately, but when you look back, our evaluations were very closely matched,” Speciale said Jan. 4.

Following Speciale, Technomarine representative Ben Talbert spoke to the CRA.

Commissioner Jake Spooner asked Talbert if the dock system would include concrete floats. Talbert replied that Technomarine only uses plastic and aluminum floats.

“The benefit is longevity,” Talbert said. “You don’t have to worry about cracks in the concrete, allowing water to affect the rebar and damage the structure.”

Commissioner/CRA Chair Ralph Cole asked Talbert how much wave action the proposed day dock could withstand.

Talbert said the dock would withstand a 3-4 foot swell.

Cole said a 3-4 foot chop could be likely, more so than a swell.

Talbert said the dock is equipped to handle choppy conditions and that a swell would be more dangerous to the dock.

City attorney Ricinda Perry inquired about Technomarine’s warranty.

Talbert said as long as the city keeps up with an established maintenance schedule, Technomarine will honor its warranty.

Speciale gave the CRA the pier team’s recommendation and discussion opened around the dais.

Commissioner John Chappie, also CRA vice chair, said he wanted to clarify the difference between the CRA district and the city, as it has been a source of confusion.

“The CRA is a separate agency that uses incremental tax dollars specific to the CRA district, per state statute,” Chappie said.

The CRA district is the area of the city bordered by Cortez Road, Sarasota Bay, including the Historic Bridge Street Pier, Fifth Street South and the Gulf of Mexico.

A motion was made to approve Technomarine as the successful bidder.

Before the vote, the members went around the dais again for final comment.

When it came to Chappie, he said, “This floating dock facility is such an important piece of the puzzle for what the CRA area is all about … I thank the commission and pier team for the work that’s been done.”

The Technomarine proposal passed 6-1, with Shearon voting nay due to concerns over the city managing the project.

Graffiti on Crescent bridge

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Graffiti on the Crescent Drive Bridge in Anna Maria was discovered in late December by public works director Ronald Jones. Manatee County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Russell Schnering, who heads the sheriff’s substation in Anna Maria, said deputies have no lead in the case. The graffiti was painted over by the public works department. Islander Photo: Courtesy MCSO

Grassy Point project nears completion

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Signs forbid trespassing in the Grassy Point Preserve at the north end of Avenue C in Holmes Beach

A number of ongoing beautification projects are nearing completion in Holmes Beach.

The biggest outstanding project in the city is the Grassy Point Preserve, said Dennis Groh of the city parks and beautification committee.

Located east of the 3200 block of East Bay Drive and fronting Anna Maria Sound with entry limited to a pedestrian path at the northern terminus of Avenue C, the preserve will reopen to the public upon completion of a boardwalk that is undergoing construction.

“Right now, there’s posted signs that it’s a felony if you come into the construction site because of liability, so you can’t really just go out there on your own,” Groh said.

The 34-acre preserve is the last large undeveloped parcel in the city with natural uplands, wetlands and mangrove hammocks. It’s a project that’s been in the works for 10-15 years, said committee chair Jerry West.

Acquired in 2001 by the city through a $359,945.51 grant from Florida Communities Trust, stipulations for the habitat restoration project require the city provide a boardwalk and walking trails for passive observation, an observational platform, a kayak launch and fishing pier.

During the Jan. 4 parks and beautification committee meeting, discussion included members wanting to see what progress was being made, since the boardwalk was built from the water back to the land and the construction area has limited pedestrian access.

“We’re in the same boat,” Groh said, as far as the committee members’ ability to view any progress.

At 10 a.m. Monday, Jan. 23, the city will provide vehicles, from the entrance of the preserve to where the boardwalk starts, for viewing.

“Then we can walk on the boardwalk from there out,” Groh said. “We’re going to observe and see what we like and then discuss it in a public meeting.”

A variety of signage concepts also were discussed that would alert to the Grassy Point Preserve entry. The committee hopes the preserve will be open by mid- to late-February.

“When you have a bunch of people who want to make things happen and don’t care who gets credit, that’s usually when good things happen,” Groh said.