Tag Archives: News

Anna Maria sends out Bert Harris offer

Anna Maria city commissioners approved another offer on a Bert Harris claim Aug. 10.

By the recommendation of city attorney Becky Vose, commissioners agreed 4-1 to offer the Phyllis C. Grey Family Trust a maximum occupancy of six or 10 people for 507 Spring Ave.

According to the terms of the agreement, the property can house six guests as it exists or 10 guests based on the proposed construction of new bedrooms.

The claim was filed against the city of Anna Maria in November 2016 alleging that the city’s vacation rental ordinance, which went into effect April 2016, lowered the value of the property by $210,000.

Commissioner Nancy Yetter voted against the settlement offer.

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 and settlements, in lieu of a cash payments can either fully or partly restore the rights that existed before the prohibitions. The city has 150 days to respond to claims submitted.

One of the most contested portions of the ordinance involves limiting occupancy in short-term vacation rentals to eight people.

Of 112 Bert Harris claims filed against the city, 87 have been settled or will be settled upon signing, while 18 are still waiting a final decision.

State charges butterfly advocate with fraud

Formal charges of unlawful practices related to a charity were filed Aug. 10 against butterfly park organizer Nancy Ambrose in the 12th Circuit Court.

The charges allege failing to register and unauthorized solicitations on behalf of a local chapter of the North American Butterfly Association. Registration is required by the Florida Agricultural and Consumer Services.

Ambrose, 58, of Bradenton and Holmes Beach, turned herself into authorities in May after Holmes Beach Detective Sgt. Brian Hall informed her of her pending arrest.

Assistant State Attorney Andrew Van Sickle, handling white-collar, animal and elderly crimes for the state, said the charges were brought after going through bank records with Hall.

Van Sickle said he decided not to pursue a scheme to defraud as originally alleged by the HBPD, saying the alleged misrepresentation is covered in the solicitation charge.

The allegations relate to Ambrose’s 2008 agreement with the city of Holmes Beach to landscape and maintain the Anna Maria Island Butterfly Park adjacent to city hall, 5801 Marina Drive.

Hall said the investigation began in 2015 when complaints surfaced about Ambrose’s failure to maintain the park and from people who said they purchased memorial bricks in the garden that were not delivered. In February 2016, the city took the garden back.

The park was initiated by Ambrose and Connie Hodsdon of Bradenton in 1999. Part of their effort included fundraising by the sale of engraved bricks for $50-$60.

Since at least February 2010, Ambrose allegedly organized three fundraising events a year, including craft shows at the Holmes Beach city field and in Bradenton Beach, to raise money for Anna Maria Island nonprofits.

Ambrose was the sole authorized signatory on a SunTrust account opened in August 2007, according to Hall’s investigation.

Hall discovered charges on a credit card account that are alleged to be personal expenses.

For the past 30 years, Ambrose has been known for volunteering for various causes and organizations on Anna Maria Island, including the American Cancer Society Relay for Life, Island Players and the Anna Maria Island Concert Chorus and Orchestra.

Noise, threats, complaints erupt in Holmes Beach

A Holmes Beach resident wants to quiet his neighbors and be heard on the matter.

In an Aug. 9 letter, Richard Motzer asks the mayor and commissioners several questions:

“Is it quiet around your house? Are you able to go out and sit on your deck, patio or balcony and enjoy a cup of coffee, beverage, read a book or just relax?”

After more similarly themed queries, Motzer states: “If you can answer yes to any of the above, I would like to know why my wife and I cannot do the same in Holmes Beach.”

Motzer wrote that despite the commissioners’ March 30 direction to the Holmes Beach chief of police that a letter be drafted to tenants, rental units and the rental management company, he’s received no news on the letter and no relief.

“June and July have been two of the worst months on record for us,” he stated.

The latest political maelstrom comes after a July 2 incident in which the Holmes Beach Police Department identified Motzer as a suspect in an assault case.

According to the HBPD, Motzer, a resident in the 300 block of 56th Street, called the HBPD at 2:14 p.m. about kids playing in a nearby pool and a possible noise violation.

On a recorded line, Motzer threatened to sue the city, the police chief and officers, the reports state.

Motzer complained about the police department’s lack of response to his calls.

“The noise is over the top, tell them to do something,” Motzer allegedly told the dispatcher.

A report by Sgt. Mike Pilato states Motzer said, “You are going to need to bring over body bags because I am fed up with it.”

Pilato reported Motzer “made a viable threat to cause death to the families and the children.”

When officers responded, they found the renters standing in their driveway, heading toward the beach.

Officer Jason Higgins reported no disruptive noises and Pilato’s report stated he heard no screaming, yelling or noise violation.

The renters told police their neighbor, apparently referring to Motzer, “hid behind the screened upper porch and began yelling on a bull horn at the children playing in the pool” and “the kids were terrified” because he “began cursing at the kids,” according to Pilato’s report.

“The family insisted they were being harassed by the neighbor,” according to Higgins’ report.

Pilato asked the renters to fill out affidavits.

Motzer, whose year-round residence is adjacent to the vacation home, first complained to the city about the home when it was under construction in 2014-15.

He’s been active at city hall, attending meetings and offering comment on rental issues, questioning the multiplex development, according to The Islander archives.

While an HBPD report labels Motzer a suspect and the alleged offense as an assault, it contains no indication charges were or would be filed.

HBPD Chief Bill Tokajer said Aug. 10 the July 2 reports were forwarded to the state attorney to determine if criminal charges are warranted.

In Motzer’s most recent letter, he criticizes the HBPD, the chief and code enforcement for failing to enforce the city’s ordinance and for not using a decibel reader.

Tokajer responded, “We respond to every noise complaint and review it on a case by case basis in accordance with guidance from the mayor and commissioners.”

The chief also said he’s put together a handout which, after it is approved by the mayor, will be handed out by his officers.

Waterline resort work remains, opening delayed

The Waterline Marina Resort & Beach Club is still pulling it together for opening day, which is delayed from the planned soft opening in August.

Holmes Beach building official James McGuinness told Brian Check, managing partner of Mainsail Lodging and Development of Tampa, in an Aug. 11 email that time was running out.

“Much work remains to be completed prior to the safe occupancy of the project by people,” McGuinness emailed. “With only five working days left before your target date of Aug. 16, the possibility of the project’s readiness for a temporary certificate of occupancy by that date seems remote at best.”

Waterline had projected a soft opening for Aug. 16, but the job site remains a work in progress. Materials are still strewn about the unpaved project, including windows, insulation and doors. The building and units are mostly empty shells.

Temporary certificates of occupancy are being sought for four new Waterline buildings, including the central lodge and restaurant.

The builder’s risk insurance was to expire Aug. 15. Check said that without an extension of the deadline or certificates of occupancy, the company would be in default with its lender.

The $29 million resort at 5325 Marina Drive, Holmes Beach, will include a waterfront hotel with 37 two-bedroom suites with kitchens, 2,000 square feet of meeting space, Eliza Ann’s Coastal Kitchen restaurant, a swimming pool and a 50-slip marina.

Week 5 winner, Aerial Acrobatics

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New Top Notch photo contest deadline July 21

The Islander’s Top Notch contest is underway.

The contest celebrates what still is known as the “Kodak moment,” despite the widespread switch from lm to digital technology.

Look now to July 21 for the second week’s dead-line.The contest includes six weekly front-page win- ners. Each receives an Islander “More than a mullet wrapper” T-shirt.

One weekly photo will take the top prize in the Top Notch contest, earning the photographer $100 from The Islander and an array of gifts and gift cards from local merchants.

A pet photo winner and pet prize is announced in the nal week.

Look online for complete rules and details.

Please, note, each photo must be included in a single email to topnotch@islander.org with the name of the photographer; date the photo was taken; location and description, names of recognizable people; and address and phone number for the photographer.

More rules — Top Notch Announcement Rules — must be observed.

Woodland lays out platform for re-election campaign

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Anna Maria Commissioner Dale Woodland stands outside city hall Aug. 10 following a commission meeting. Islander Photo: Bianca Benedí

Anna Maria City Commissioner Dale Woodland says he doesn’t have an agenda — he just wants to promote civil discussion.

“When I started, one of the things I promised myself was I would be civil, respectful and honest,” he said. “That’s what it’s all about to me.”

Woodland has served as commissioner for 14 years. Aug. 1, he announced he is running for re-election — Woodland and two other commissioners are coming to the end of their two-year terms in November.

Commissioner Doug Copeland said he hasn’t decided whether he will seek re-election. Commissioner Carol Carter said she is “90 percent sure” she will, but has not decided on a platform or agenda. Both have served since 2014.

Woodland said his goal is to continue as a public servant. “I don’t have a political bone in my body,” he said.

He said during his time in office, he’s enjoyed having dialogues and debates to work through disagreements. He added that in a small community, “people are much more vocal … because they can make a difference, and that’s healthy.”

“As long as you have dialogue, at least we’re working together,” he said.

One of the major issues affecting the city, Woodland said, is the debate about the Center of Anna Maria Island, which is located on city property on Magnolia Avenue.

Woodland said he has no immediate solution to the center’s financial woes, but he’s heard in debates and private discussions that “everyone wants the community center to succeed.”

“I’m sure there’ll be some issues that come up in the election process,” Woodland said. “If I disagree, I’m going to be vocal.”

People who want to run for city commission must either obtain signatures from 1 percent of registered voters in the last general election or pay a qualifying fee.

Anna Maria had 1,167 registered voters in the November 2016 election, so 12 signatures are needed.

Candidates also must have resided in Anna Maria for two years.

In Anna Maria, where elections are nonpartisan, commission candidates must pay a fee of 4 percent of the annual salary, totaling $192.

To register, a person must open a campaign account and select a campaign treasurer before submitting qualifying materials. Candidates also must submit an oath of loyalty, a statement of candidate and a statement of financial interests to the Manatee County Supervisor of Elections office.

The statement of candidate must be filed within 10 days of opening the campaign account.

A candidate must publicly declare candidacy via newspaper, radio or television.

The qualification period began at noon, Monday, Aug. 14, and will end noon, Friday, Aug. 25.

Candidates must complete and bring qualifying materials to the Manatee County Supervisor of Elections Office, 600 301 Blvd. W., Suite 108, Bradenton.

The election is Nov. 7.

Turtle Talk, lighting workshop Saturday on the beach

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Anna Maria Island Turtle watch executive director Suzi Fox shares handouts July 31 with people at an informational Turtle Talk at CrossPointe Fellowship, 8605 Gulf Drive, Holmes Beach. Islander Photo: ChrisAnn Silver Esformes

As sea turtle hatchling season peaks, is becomes important for visitors and residents to understand turtle-friendly practices.

Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch and Shorebird Monitoring will host an informational talk and turtle-friendly lighting workshop at 9 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 12, starting at the picnic tables near the south end of the Manatee Public Beach, 4000 Gulf Drive, Holmes Beach.

AMITW volunteers will talk about “a day in the life” of a turtle watch volunteer, with tips and giveaways. Additionally turtle watch volunteers will provide a display and workshop on proper lighting during sea turtle nesting and hatchling season, which runs through October.

During August, sea turtle hatchlings are emerging from nests on island beaches, and lighting visible from the shoreline can disorient them away from the water. Through eventsincluding weekly Turtle Talks, AMITW is informing people about how to prevent disorientations.

For more information about the Turtle Talk and lighting workshop, visit AMITW on Facebook or call Fox at 941-778-5638.

Double homicide suspect apprehended

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Darryl Hanna Jr.

According to a news release from Longboat Key Police Chief Pete Cumming, the Longboat Key Police Department in partnership with the Manatee County sheriff’s homicide investigative unit arrested Darryl Hanna Jr. Aug. 9 at 4 p.m. for the Aug. 4 robbery and double homicide at the Zota Beach Resort on Longboat Key.

Cumming stated Hanna was apprehended without incident at a residence in east Bradenton by members of the LBKPD and MCSO homicide investigative unit.

Hanna has been charged with two counts of second-degree murder and one count of armed robbery.

Double homicide shakes Longboat resort, community

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Longboat Key Police Chief Pete Cumming talks to The Islander Aug. 7 at the Zota Beach Resort on Longboat Key, the scene of a double homicide Aug. 4. Islander Photo: Kathy Prucnell

Authorities may be closing in on suspects in the Aug. 4 double homicide of a night manager and security guard at a posh Longboat Key resort.

Timothy Hurley, 59, of Sarasota, the manager on duty. Kevin Carter, 51, of Bradenton, of Victory Security, were fatally shot at 2:41 a.m. at the Zota Beach Resort, according to a news release from Longboat Key Police Chief Pete Cumming.

The 187-room, $24 million resort opened June 23 where there previously was a Hilton Hotel.

“The investigation is making some progress,” Cumming said Aug. 5.

A resort guest found the men shot in the lobby and called police, who arrived about 45 minutes later.

None of the guests heard the shooting, Cummings said, adding a surveillance camera pinpointed the time of the shooting.

“We have a team working all weekend,” he said, adding he’s “optimistic” there will be an arrest soon.

Portions of the video released by Longboat Key Police Department show a suspect walking through a public area, making a slashing motion to his or her throat, and another video showing a person walking to an elevator with a drawer of cash from a register.

“We don’t know if the suspect was signaling to someone else or just looking at the camera — we’re investigating that,” Cumming said.

The suspect, or suspects, wore masks and gloves. About $600 was in the cash register, he said, adding the motive appears to be robbery.

The crime scene was processed and released.

The Manatee County Sheriff’s Office Homicide Task Force is part of the team of investigators.

Cumming said the village’s traffic camera system, which tracks license plates of vehicles traveling through the two ends of the island, was working.

The last murder on Longboat Key was June 2000, according to the chief.

The Manatee County Homicide Task Force met Aug. 7 for a briefing on the latest developments in the double homicide investigation, although no suspects have been identified.

At press time, the reward for information leading to an arrest stands at $19,000 — $10,000 from CrimeStoppers, $5,000 from the Florida Sheriffs Association, $3,000 from Zota Beach Resort and $1,000 from the Westin Hotels & Resorts.

Anyone with information is asked to call CrimeStoppers at 1-866-634-8477.