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Investigation lingers for Holmes Beach burglary suspect

Formal charges are up to the prosecutor in Florida and, in Manatee County, it’s the 12th Circuit State Attorney.

Criminal cases are opened on arrests or referrals from police agencies.

Holmes Beach Police Detective Sgt. Brian Hall said he expects to present burglary cases based on stolen items found in a storage unit rented by a man arrested for a June 28 burglary and attack on a Holmes Beach woman — but charging the crimes will be up to the state attorney.

Hall is investigating a number of cases stemming from Mark Lee Snyder’s two arrests in July.

Snyder was arrested and jailed July 3 for attacking a 71-year-old woman and burglarizing her home in the 500 block of 75th Street five days earlier.

The second arrest came after Snyder was released from jail on a $41,620 bond. Detectives found numerous items, including a .38 caliber handgun stolen in a May 15 burglary in the 100 block of Crescent Drive in Anna Maria — but that case was dropped Aug. 24 by the prosecutor.

His bond was revoked after the second arrest.

Snyder returned to jail and the prosecutor upped his initial theft charge when the victim determined the value of her loss.

Hall said Sept. 12 in light of the dropped Anna Maria case, he doubts whether the state will pursue the cases he plans to present.

“But we’ll see,” he added.

According to a probable cause affidavit by MCSO Detective Christopher DeLuca, the 10-by-20-foot storage unit contained guns and bags of jewelry, as well as log books containing details of eBay transactions conducted by Snyder.

“Post-it-style notes with descriptions of houses as well as various names were located,” DeLuca wrote.

The report also states: “Mark Lee Snyder is the only person on the lease and has been renting it since 2012.”

The state closed the Anna Maria case despite the gun found in the storage unit.

“In this case, there is no evidence to prove that the defendant ever entered the dwelling of the victim and stole her firearm,” wrote assistant state attorneys, Payton Elizabeth Thompson and Cynthia Evers in the decline memo.

The prosecutors also pointed to an inability to prove only the defendant used the storage unit.

Like Hall, Dave Bristow, public information director for the sheriff’s office, initially predicted more arrests.

As of Sept. 13, however, Bristow said the MCSO investigations were closed.

Meanwhile, Snyder is in custody at the Manatee County jail on a $42,500 bond for the Holmes Beach burglary and attack.

Snyder is accused of entering the 75th Street home and striking the woman several times, causing her to fall. She was treated and recovered from her injuries.

Police report Snyder confessed to the Holmes Beach burglary-attack and discarding bags of jewelry stolen from the residence in the Manatee River and Bradenton dumpsters.

His next court date is 9 a.m. Monday, Oct. 23, at the Manatee County Judicial Center, 1051 Manatee Ave. W., Bradenton.

Eyes on the road

The Florida Department of Transportation and Manatee County posted the following notices for the week of Sept. 17:

State Road 64/Manatee Avenue at the Anna Maria Island Drawbridge: Crews will be working on the bridge. Expect nighttime/overnight east and westbound intermittent lane closures 9 p.m.-5 a.m. through Sept. 20.

Gulf Drive in Bradenton Beach: Crews are installing a force main in the southbound lanes of Gulf Drive between Ninth Street North and Cortez Road, to proceed eastward down the Cortez Road bridge embankment. A northbound and southbound lane will remain open. Expected completion is mid-September.

Avenue C in Bradenton Beach: Road work continues on Avenue C between Gulf Drive and 26th Street North and on 26th Street North from Avenue C to Gulf Drive.

Palm Drive in Holmes Beach: Pipe installation continues at Palm Drive and 82nd Street, moving northward on Palm Boulevard.

For more information about the pipeline project, go online to amipipereplacement.com.

For the latest road watch information, go online to www.fl511.com or dial 511.

BB CRA approves underground utilities, historic vision

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Utility lines crossing Gulf Drive between Cortez Road and Fourth Street South in Bradenton Beach soon will be transferred underground, when planned historic district improvements take place. Islander Photo: ChrisAnn Silver Esformes

The district might be historic, but modernization is the theme for the Bradenton Beach Community Redevelopment Agency.

At it’s Sept. 5 meeting, the CRA board voted to ground utilities along Bridge Street and across Gulf Drive and to contract a designer to implement an aesthetic vision for the historic district.

The CRA district, bordered by Cortez Road, Sarasota Bay, Fifth Street South and the Gulf of Mexico, was deemed blighted in 1992, allowing for incremental tax revenue to promote restoration and growth, including tourism.

The CRA includes the mayor, city commissioners and two appointed members, restaurateurs John Horne and Ed Chiles.

The board started discussing running existing overhead utilities on Bridge Street underground last spring, when Commissioner Ralph Cole, CRA chair, reminded the board that the utility project was incorporated into the vision plan when the district was created.

Cole said previously the funds were not available, but now that more money has come in to support the district, “this is the time.”

As of late August, the CRA fund had accumulated about $1.7 million.

CRA funds are intended for enhancements for the district, not to be saved, and are separate from the city budget.

At the Sept. 5 meeting, Mark Porter, senior utilities coordinator for CDM Smith, the engineering and construction firm overseeing the project, reviewed the probable costs with the board.

Porter estimated the cost at $440,000 to ground utilities for Bridge Street, including streetlights and connections for Bridge Street property owners, and $77,000 for the lateral crossings on Gulf Drive between Cortez Road and Fourth Street South.

Additionally, the cost for CDM Smith to oversee the project was estimated at about 10 percent of the project cost.

He said the project should take about six months, the properties on Bridge Street would not be without power during construction and work would be planned during slower periods for business.

A motion to approve the utility grounding passed unanimously.

The motion included direction for CDM Smith to work with CRA designer Emily Anne Smith, who indicated her approval to bury the power lines.

Following that action, CRA members discussed contracting Smith to design anaesthetic plan for the district.

CRA members approved Smith’s design proposal for the district and authorized moving forward with a contract in August.

“My intent is to preserve every little bit of history that hasn’t already been destroyed,” Smith said.

Smith’s plan will cost $38,333 to implement, including construction and landscape plans, public signage, benches, bike racks, ropes and bollards, lighting and streetscapes on Bridge Street.

Additionally, Smith will create a district “design standards book” as a guide for development that will be included in the land development code.

Chiles, who attended the meeting by phone, asked if Smith will be responsible for the landscaping portion of the project.

Mayor John Chappie replied that Smith would bring options to the board.

Chiles said he couldn’t support the decision since Smith does not specialize in landscaping.

At one time, the board had considered a separate proposal from a professional landscaper for the district.

A motion to approve Smith’s contract passed 5-2 with Chiles and Horne voting “nay.”

The final public hearing for the 2018-19 CRA budget will be at 5:05 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 19, at city hall, 107 Gulf Drive N.

The next monthly CRA meeting will be at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, Oct. 3, also at city hall.

HB commissioner takes aim at builder for clearing trees

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Recently cut Australian pines lay in piles Sept. 4 on residential property between 47th and 48th streets. Islander Photos: Courtesy City of Holmes Beach
Evidence of heavy equipment used to deposit and spread beach-compatible sand was visible Sept. 5 at the 48th Street beach access. Islander Photos: Courtesy City of Holmes Beach
Beachfront property between 47th and 48th streets is cleared for development.

Claiming “irreversible damage” to a beach access and city right of way — cutting Australian pine trees and adding sand between 47th and 48th streets — a Holmes Beach commissioner wants to hold someone accountable.

At the Sept. 13 city meeting, Commission Chair Judy Titsworth called out builder-developer Shawn Kaleta as a “repeat offender” who skirted state and city environmental rules in clearing a block of beachfront residential property.

She asked for the support of the commission and mayor in bringing Kaleta before a special magistrate to be “properly fined” and for the issue to be reported to the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation.

“If more cities would do that, maybe he’d take notice,” she said.

Titsworth thanked building official Jim McGuiness for issuing the stop work order for the property.

The commissioner said she spoke to Kaleta after the city was alerted to the clearing and he advised he had obtained a Florida Department of Environmental Protection after-the-fact permit.

Titsworth criticized the builder for making a pre-emptive strike for development.

State and local rules require developers to obtain a letter of “no objection” from the city before obtaining a Florida Department of Environmental Protection permit and to return to the city for site-plan approval, she said.

Asked for a comment on the matter the next day, Kaleta texted, “I don’t own 47th and I’m not sure why Jim (McGinnis) red tagged the beach access, which is city property.”

Seaward of the coastal construction control line, the beachfront single-family home at 102 47th St. is owned by Fourty Seven Street LLC. The Florida Secretary of State lists Ivo Travnicek as owner.

Titsworth said Kaleta is listed as an agent for the owner on the DEP permit.

She referenced a Sept. 6 letter she wrote to Mayor Bob Johnson that called the city’s initial response to the developer “weak.” In it, Titsworth criticized the mayor for telling her she’s “not the mayor yet,” regarding her research on the 47th-48th street clearing.

Johnson said the city was “well into” the matter at the time of their conversation and he had no further comment on the matter.

The building department’s stop-work order was in place Sept. 14, he said.

Titsworth said the police may have given Kaleta permission to clear vegetation “to open up” the beach access and, later in the meeting, Police Chief Bill Tokajer requested other beach accesses with vegetation be cleared a minimum of “3 or 4 feet” so officers can access the beach on all-terrain vehicles.

After the clearing, Sgt. Mike Pilato, McGuinness and code enforcement officer JT Thomas met Kaleta at his 48th Street home adjacent to the beach access, according to a Sept. 5 email from Pilato to McGuinness.

According to the agreement, the beach access work would stop, while cutting, grinding and clearing the downed Australian pines would continue.

In a followup to the beach meeting, McGuinness wrote Kaleta an email advising him to stop land development and provide excavation and revegetation plans and surveys identifying the volume of fill to be added to the property.

“I’m sorry that he threw the police under the bus,” Titsworth said, referring to HBPD allowing the vegetation removal but, she added, a developer can’t circumvent the DEP.

Asked why Kaleta received an after-the-fact permit without the city signing off, Titsworth said, “Who knows.”

A DEP spokesman did not return a Sept. 15 email from The Islander by press time Sept. 19.

“He is a licensed professional in the field. And with that license, he is to know what is required when he starts to do work.… He just got in trouble for it with the 77th Street beach,” Titsworth said.

However, as reported in November 2017 in The Islander, Kaleta’s 77th Street project met approval from the DEP, including a pool on the Gulffront.

Titsworth agreed that the 47th Street lot was cleared of mostly Australian pines, “which some people love and which some people hate.”

Australian pine trees are considered by the state to be a nuisance and, according to a DEP source, no permit is required to remove Australian pine trees.

“I happen to like some of them because they’re birds nesting in them. He also spread sand on the beach access. Beach accesses are supposed to remain in their natural state,” not landscaped, Titsworth said.

Kaleta again denied Sept. 16 he is the developer or owner of the property at 47th Street. He also denied hiring the company that cleared the 47th Street lot.

Kaleta said in a Sept. 16 text message to The Islander: “I believe the sand spread in the city beach access touched my property (on the north side of the access) so my address was included on the red tag. I called the state to come out so the red tag would be lifted on my personal property, because I was doing no work at the time. I don’t understand why it was tagged at all.”

“I personally think the city made the right choice in clearing its beach access. It gives the street a fresh, new look.”

Cortez man arrested for DUI in Holmes Beach

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Logan Huck, 31

A motorist was arrested for driving under the influence at East Bay Drive and Manatee Avenue after Holmes Beach police found his vehicle stranded atop a boulder.

Logan Huck, 31, of Cortez, was arrested at 9:49 p.m. Aug. 28 for DUI following a single-car crash at the intersection and a field-sobriety test.

Officers transported Huck to the Holmes Beach police station, where he provided breath samples measuring blood-alcohol concentrations of 0.185 and 0.191. The legal limit is 0.08.

He was assigned a $500 bond.

Huck’s arraignment is set for 8:30 a.m. Oct. 1 at the Manatee County Judicial Center, 1051 Manatee Ave., W., Bradenton.

Correction

The Islander reported Sept. 12 some Bradenton Beach 2017-18 budget numbers that were preliminary, according to city treasurer Shayne Thompson.

Some expenses reported for 2017-18 represented “actual” expenditures for the first six months of the budget year, not what was budgeted for the full fiscal year, which concludes Sept. 30.

Police department expenditures rose from $1,062,123 in the 2017-18 fiscal year — not $538,905 as was reported — to $1,143,188 proposed for 2018-19.

Administration expenditures will increase from $548,011 in 2017-18 — not $324,591 as was reported — to $599,872 for 2018-19, a proposed 9.5 percent increase.

City planning expenditures will rise from $365,066 — not $194,497 — in 2017-18 to $384,312 proposed for 2018-19. This represents a 5.3 percent increase.

Additionally, professional planning services will remain unchanged from 2017-18 at $80,500 if the 2018-19 budget ordinance is adopted.

Previously set for Sept. 13, the final public hearings and votes for the 2018-19 CRA and city budgets will be at 5:05 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 19, at city hall.

Lake residents cry foul about pollution, await answers

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Manatee County utility workers deploy a generator and pump Aug. 21 near 68th Street at Palm Drive to divert and mitigate runoff after a county worker broke a sewer line during force main replacement work near Spring Lake in Holmes Beach. Residents say the pump and bladder remained in use at the site for several days, while a county spokesperson maintained there was “no sewage issue.” Islander Photo: Melissa Williams
Bob McCaffrey said in July the brown water in Spring Lake has not recovered since Manatee County accidentally dumped 22,000 gallons of sewage there in 2015. Islander File Photo
Melissa Williams photo of an osprey on a piling at her dock on Spring Lake was taken a few years ago.She says wildlife has not returned since pollutants were introduced to the lake. Islander Courtesy Photo

There’s a small spring-saltwater fed lake in Holmes Beach that many people pass by and never notice.

The neighborhood lake with a pocket park on Holmes Boulevard lies between 68th and 70th streets in Holmes Beach. But those whose homes surround it say problems continue to impact the health of the once pristine waters of Spring Lake.

Answers may soon come.

After nearly three years of complaints, the city of Holmes Beach again is testing Spring Lake to determine the health of the lake waters.

Residents Melissa and Frank Williams say the smell is horrible some days, just like raw sewage. They say the fish that hung out under their backyard dock and the birds and other wildlife that frequented the lake have disappeared.

They are concerned for the environmental health of the lake and its marine and wildlife.

Bob McCaffrey, who has lived on Spring Lake for 28 years, agrees, calling the lake “murky and cruddy” in July.

The lakefront residents are looking for the same thing: Answers.

The lake, which is fed by tidal flow through underground pipes connected to the canals that terminate on Marina Drive, experienced a major sewage spill in October 2015, when a county sewer force main broke near the intersection of Clark and Palm drives.

The county public works department estimated 22,000 gallons of wastewater spilled into the lake, resulting in the death of hundreds of fish and crabs. A county report said a stormdrain structure placed atop the force main proved too heavy and crushed the lower pipeline, resulting in the spill.

State and local authorities cleared the lake in less than two weeks following the 2015 spill, saying that f. coli and enterococcus sewage contamination levels had returned to background levels.

However, those who live in the area say the water quality never returned to normal.

County officials acknowledged in an email to Holmes Beach officials Dec. 7, 2015, they had “no historical levels to compare against.”

The county has maintained the lake had problems before the spill in 2015, and that a fish kill occurred just prior to, not after, the sewer main break.

Complicating the issue: A local contractor was found to be discharging water into the lake during construction of a swimming pool. Building debris also found its way into the lake during a subsequent storm and again, later, during Hurricane Irma.

“All kinds of material blew into the lake” last year, Melissa Williams said Sept. 5. “I’m sure it just sank and it’s probably still in there.”

On Aug. 21, wastewater again flowed into Spring Lake when a worker with the current Manatee County Force Main Project hit a wastewater line.

A pump and generator were added near a storm drain and bladders were positioned to filter the runoff. County officials were adamant no further sewage spills occurred in the recent damage.

“They were just doing their work. It was human error. (The county is) required by law to report any sewage spillage. There were no sewage issues this time. There might have been a smell, but there were no sewage issues,” Amy Pilson, liaison to Manatee County Utilities Public Works, told The Islander Sept. 6.

Now there is movement in decoding the source of Spring Lake’s poor conditions, which residents have been requesting for more than two years.

The water in Spring Lake is again being tested, this time by Aquatic Systems Lake and Wetlands Services of Sarasota, at the request of Holmes Beach officials.

Code enforcement offer JT Thomas, called to the lake by the residents complaints on more than one occasion, understands their frustrations.

Thomas, along with HBPD Sgt. Vern McGowin, looked at the lake again Sept. 6 after having checked out the bladder system that was put in place several weeks earlier by county workers. It was an “unofficial visit, said Thomas, who was struck by the stillness of the lake.

“There was no movement, no ripples. It was just so still. Nothing,” Thomas said.

He was pleased to learn of the new round of water quality testing by the private company, which will send findings to Holmes Beach officials and the state.

“We can complain and keep asking,” Thomas said.

Like the lakefront residents, Thomas indicated the city wants to see Spring Lake thrive again.

HAB moves slightly offshore, onshore conditions improve

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A map from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, published Sept. 5, shows concentrations of Karenia brevis along the Gulf coast. The midweek report showed lower concentrations for AMI waters, but by Sept. 7, the bloom was in higher concentrations offshore. Islander Courtesy Image

Easterly winds and Tropical Storm Gordon chugging northward in the Gulf of Mexico may have helped lessen the impact of a harmful algal bloom in the waters surrounding Anna Maria Island in September.

Many islanders had their hopes up, buoyed by fresh air and turquoise waters. Beach chairs and umbrellas returned to the shoreline and reports of fish kills fell off.

The midweek report Sept. 5, compiled by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, showed the red tide bloom decreased slightly in size, down to 120 miles in length from 145 miles on the southwest Florida coastline.

High concentrations were offshore in southern counties and Hillsborough, but the concentration of red tide dropped Sept. 5 offshore of Manatee and Sarasota counties.

Very low concentrations on the Manatee coast — less than 1,000-10,000 Karenia brevis cells per liter of water — appeared on the map for the first time since red tide arrived in island waters just after Aug. 1.

But numbers released by the FWC Sept. 7 showed a slight reversal in the clearing trend, with the toxin climbing 5-25 percent higher than mid-week readings. The highest concentration remained about 5 miles offshore.

Officials had hoped easterly winds and Tropical Storm Gordon would move red tide west, away from Anna Maria Island and Longboat Key beaches.

However, surface waters pushed the HAB slightly northwest, with fish kills becoming prevalent Sept. 8 on the beaches at Clearwater, Treasure Island and Madeira Beach.

Some preceding weeks had readings exceeding 1,000,000 parts per liter, resulting in massive fish and wildlife kills and respiratory issues for some people.

The damage from red tide continued to take a toll on Florida wildlife. The FWC reported 127 manatee dead from red tide through Aug. 31. Many have been necropsied and others were awaiting examinations.

Forty-one dolphins died in August in the five-county Southwest Florida HAB area. The 10 carcasses examined as of Aug. 26 all showed high levels of red tide toxin.

Help continues for island workers
Island workers and businesses continued to face red tide head-on.

The Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce announced Sept. 6 a program named SIRF — Service Industry Relief Festivities — encouraging patronage at the local businesses. SIRF events and business specials are listed on the chamber website at amichamber.org.

Manatee County government and the U.S. Small Business Administration announced a SBA Disaster Loan Outreach center opened Friday Sept. 7 at the Island Library, 5701 Marina Drive, Holmes Beach. The center is open 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Friday and 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday until further notice.

SBA representatives will provide information on disaster loans, as well as answer questions and assist with SBA applications.

Manatee County’s Economic Development team and chamber of commerce partners also will be on hand to assist people.

In August, Gov. Rick Scott requested federal SBA help for those impacted by red tide, including an Economic Injury Disaster Declaration for Manatee, Sarasota and Lee counties to enable low-interest loans.

Meanwhile, Amanda Horne of the Anna Maria Oyster Bar had AMOB staff distributing cards and posters with information on resources available to businesses. Also, resources can be found by dialing 211, a free county helpline.

Community cleanups by Suncoast Waterkeepers, Friends of Palma Sola Bay, other environmental organizations and local governments continued.

But could the reprieve be short-lived?

The current HAB is in its 11th month, and, though weakening, still has the potential to regroup, according to scientists, such as Robert Weisberg with the University of South Florida, who said at the end of August, significant amounts of red tide remain close by.

1 year later, post-Irma work continues at Cayman Cay

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The roof at Cayman Cay Villas was destroyed Sept. 10, 2017, by wind damage blamed on a microburst. Islander Photo: Courtesy Tom Knarr
Accutech Restoration and Remodeling contractor Rob Wilkes oversees the remodel job Sept. 6 at Cayman Cay Villas, 4307 Gulf Drive, Holmes Beach. Islander Photo: Kathy Prucnell

The work definitely should be done by this time next year.

That’s the word from a Cayman Cay Villas contractor about an estimated completion date on 10 condos in Holmes Beach a year after Hurricane Irma ripped off the roof and rendered the south building uninhabitable. The north building of the two-building complex was not impacted.

Irma’s winds barreled through Florida and created $50 million in damage statewide.

The storm hit Anna Maria Island Sept. 10, 2017. And, at Cayman Cay, after the roof came off, the 10 units were drenched in rain before a temporary roof cover was installed.

Also, the power was out. Mold set in.

To do the work, the villas’ condo association hired Accutech Restoration and Remodeling of Sarasota and, in April, project manager Rob Wilkes came to the job at 4307 Gulf Drive.

According to Wilkes, when a microburst hit the south building, it unearthed a storm of problems — involving insurance, termite damage and Federal Emergency Management Agency questions, as well as challenges to bring the building’s 1970s construction up to code.

Getting inspections, estimates and permits became challenging.

A blame game ensued between the city, property manager PMI Holmes Beach Property Management of west Bradenton and Accutech about why work didn’t begin until January.

Accutech has since gutted the building and installed a new roof.

And now, there are more delays.

“Because so much construction is going on” across the area, Wilkes said, trades people are sparse and city inspections are hard to come by.

Condo owner and association board member Tom Knarr spoke to The Islander Sept. 6 about the owners’ frustration with the process.

“We’re at a year. Basically, right now, one of our problems is the city,” he said.

A few weeks ago, the building failed its first plumbing and electrical inspections, Knarr said, adding the city may have been justified on some items, but “too picky” on others.

“They say Joe is just so busy — and he doesn’t have time for it. When I asked if they’re going to hire anybody else, I’m told no,” he said, referring to Joe Aukstikalnis, Holmes Beach senior plans examiner.

All in all, Knarr is satisfied with his contractor and the insurer, but not the city, due to inspection delays. He’s also criticized the building department for delaying a decision on a FEMA 50-percent rule.

“They’re just incompetent and not qualified to do their jobs, in my opinion,” he added.

Neither Mayor Bob Johnson nor building official Jim McGuinness returned Sept. 6-7 calls for comment.

“People are losing money. Tens of thousands of dollars — especially those that rent. I don’t rent my place. But I still have the quarterly dues, taxes and no use of the building at all,” Knarr said.

The condo-owner/board member acknowledged a county tax break from the property appraiser’s office due to the building’s disrepair that lowered his condo unit value from $218,000 to $90,000 for 2018.

Most recently, a faulty lift pump Sept. 6 plagued the project, creating drainage and plumbing backups and uncertainty about who was responsible for the failure and the repairs.

Nonetheless, the project manager took it in stride, hopeful for progress with the plumbing, electrical and HVAC inspections.

“I’m much more optimistic today than I was a few days ago,” Wilkes said.

Attorneys debate KORN ballot petitions, await judge’s order

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Bradenton Beach Mayor John Chappie and city attorney Ricinda Perry attend the Sept. 6 hearing in the case of KORN v. Bradenton Beach at the Manatee County Judicial Center, Bradenton.
Bob Hendrickson, attorney for the political action committee, Keep Our Residential Neighborhoods, left, reviews materials Sept. 6, while KORN founder Reed Mapes observes the civil hearing of KORN v. Bradenton Beach at the Manatee County Judicial Center. Islander Photos: ChrisAnn Silver Esformes

With arguments made, the judge must decide.

Judge Lon Arend of the Manatee County 12th Judicial Circuit Court heard a request for a writ of mandamus Sept. 6 in the case of Keep Our Residential Neighborhoods v. Bradenton Beach.

During the hearing, Arend denied Bradenton Beach’s 44-page motion to dismiss the writ of mandamus, a request filed by KORN founders Reed Mapes and John Metz to gain an expedited hearing to direct the city to put KORN’s proposed charter amendments on the Nov. 6 ballot.

A writ of mandamus is an order from a higher court to compel a judicial or government officer to perform a duty owed to the petitioner.

The Manatee County Supervisor of Elections Office deadline to submit the initiatives for the November ballot was Aug. 28. If Arend’s final order requires the city to submit the ballot questions to the SOE, the city must provide a special election for KORN’s proposed charter amendments.

Mapes and Metz, former planning and zoning board members, registered KORN as a PAC and collected signatures on petitions from more than 10 percent of Bradenton Beach electors in support of the ballot questions. They say they followed state laws providing for citizen-initiated charter amendments that supersede the city charter.

According to state statute 166.031, “the governing body of the municipality shall place the proposed amendment contained in the ordinance or petition to a vote of the electors.”

However, at a June 21 meeting, the mayor and commissioners voted against placing four KORN charter amendments on the ballot. City attorney Ricinda Perry said the amendments would violate the city charter and did not fully comply with state statutes.

At the Sept. 6 hearing, Perry argued that KORN should have named the SOE as a party to the complaint.

KORN attorney Bob Hendrickson countered with, “The SOE is not an indispensable party because the SOE has not refused to do anything.”

Hendrickson said the SOE is required to verify voter signatures, but it cannot do that until the petitions have been presented to them by the city.

Perry said the ballot language used by KORN on the petitions included political rhetoric and exceeded the state mandated word limit for ballot summaries and titles.

Additionally, she argued that two of the four proposed KORN charter amendments deal with land-use matters, which violates state law.

Hendrickson said according to case law, it is the city’s responsibility to generate the ballot language for the amendments and ensure it complies with state statutes.

He also said the two initiatives that include land-use matters are not “development orders,” which are particular to a parcel of land, not an entire city. Only development orders would be in violation of state law, according to Hendrickson.

Perry said on one hand Hendrickson is saying the city’s job is “ministerial” — to “rubberstamp” the petitions, but on the other hand he claims the city is required to write KORN’s questions for the ballot.

Arend ordered that before he makes his final order, Hendrickson and Perry submit their proposals for the outcome of the case for his review by Sept. 28.