Tag Archives: News

Eyes on the road

The Florida Department of Transportation issued the following alert for the area:

State Road 789, from Broadway Street to North Shore Road on Longboat Key: Crews are constructing new sidewalks and a pedestrian crossing, improving drainage, installing lighting and adding signs and pavement markings. Motorists should expect possible daytime single-lane closures and flagging operations.

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

Court diversion ordered for Publix parking lot cases

The cases of two men arrested after a parking lot disturbance in Holmes Beach were diverted by the 12th Circuit Court — one to drug court and one by contract.

The state charged Jordan D. Brown, 20, of Bradenton, with attempted burglary in a May 12 car tampering outside the Publix Super Market, 3900 E. Bay Drive, and for possessing a controlled substance without a prescription.

A Holmes Beach police officer found 29 Alprazolam pills in Brown’s pocket, according to the report.

Trey Minick, 21, of Sarasota, who allegedly drove to Holmes Beach with Brown, was charged with possessing a controlled substance and more than 20 grams of cannabis.

Police found 26.3 grams of marijuana and 57 Alprazolam pills in Minick’s possession, according to the report.

Brown pleaded no contest and entered a 12-month court intervention contract Oct. 27 that defers his sentencing in exchange for an agreement to refrain from alcohol, drugs, crime and violence. Brown also is required to submit to drug testing.

Minick was ordered to drug court Nov. 10 by Judge Andrew D. Owens Jr.

Participants in the drug court program must waive their right to a speedy trial, submit to drug testing and appear at scheduled court dates.

Mayors prep for funding presentation to Manatee County

In the past two years, a record-breaking number of tourists have visited Anna Maria Island and Longboat Key.

The Manatee County barrier island municipalities — Anna Maria, Bradenton Beach, Holmes Beach and Longboat Key — are taking exception to the county’s budget to dole out revenue and are requesting additional funds for infrastructure and public works improvements.

Anna Maria Mayor Dan Murphy, Bradenton Beach Mayor Bill Shearon, Holmes Beach Mayor Bob Johnson and Longboat Key Mayor Jack Duncan will present their needs Dec. 6 to the county commission.

The presentation will include a report of funding sources, costs and revenue for the barrier island cities.

According to a report of the city’s funding needs compiled by Longboat Key town manager Dave Bullock, “Barrier island populations are not growing, but the demands on their infrastructure are increasing, due to visitor populations.”

The report states day-trippers and seasonal visitors more than triple the resident population when averaged across the four cities and it shows a deficit of $73,610,548 for infrastructure and operating expenses over a 15-year period.

Infrastructure demands include public safety, transportation, parks and recreation, public buildings and beaches and waterways.

Currently, the cities receive infrastructure funding from gas tax revenues, stormwater permit revenues, Southwest Florida Water Management District grants, half-cent sales tax revenues and capital improvement funding through “other revenues.”

But the barrier island cities want the county to provide additional support.

According to the report, island municipalities — representing 2.7 percent of the county’s population — are the source of 58 percent of the tourist tax revenue.

“We compiled a report showing our shortfalls and we are asking for a 33 percent increase in funding to compensate for the tourist overload in our cities,” Shearon said. “The residents shouldn’t solely have to support infrastructure needs caused by increased tourism.”

The mayors will present their study to the county in a workshop at 3 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 6, at the county chambers, 1112 Manatee Ave. W., Bradenton.

Hate graffiti mars Holmes Beach sites

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Hate graffiti is scrawled on a trolley stop bench at Gulf Drive and 70th Street in Holmes Beach. Islander Photo: Kathy Prucnell

An ugly U.S. election spilled into the streets of Holmes Beach with a flurry of hateful graffiti.

Vandals wrote on three power poles, two trolley stop benches and two street signs on Gulf Drive between 66th and 70th streets, according to a HBPD report of criminal damage Nov. 11-12 to city property.

Proclaiming “For KKK and Trump,” the remarks expressed anti-gay sentiment and support for deporting Muslims and Mexicans.

Also hit with graffiti were wooden gates around a dumpster at the Nautilus condominiums, 7100 Gulf Drive, a Sato Real Estate sign in the 7000 block of Gulf Drive and a white fence at a residence in the 200 block of 69th Street, an Island Real Estate rental property.

Hand-drawn heart-symbols around the word, “Trump,” also were observed on a stop sign at the corner of Gulf and 70th Street.

When told of the graffiti, Mayor Bob Johnson said, “I think it’s pretty disgusting personally. But I’m not surprised by much, given the nature of the campaign.”

He called the vandalism “most disappointing” and “unfortunate.”

“It’s not the kind of community we want to live in,” he said and added, “My only hope is that this too shall pass.”

A week after the Nov. 12 reports, HBPD Detective Sgt. Brian Hall said there are no suspects and no other reports of campaign-related graffiti.

“My guess is it was some kids being jerks,” he said, adding the reports mark the first time for graffiti problems in Holmes Beach following an election.

Officer Steve Ogline reported the suspects “moved south as they committed multiple offenses of criminal mischief,” using red, purple and black permanent markers.

In another report, Ogline identified the suspects as “at least two people, one male and one female, based upon the handwriting style and my experience.”

Public works will be painting over the graffiti on city property, Hall said, adding he believed the Nautilus property already was repainted.

No similar damage was reported in Bradenton Beach or Anna Maria.

Damage to city property was estimated at $100 and for the Nautilus gate, $100. Island Real Estate estimated $20 in damage, and Sato valued its sign at $50.

Hall said anyone with information should contact HBPD at 941-778-COPS or CrimeStoppers at 866-634-TIPS.


Bert Harris claims approach $30 million in Anna Maria

Anna Maria received 12 additional Bert Harris claims Nov. 16-18 to add to the pile of 74 claims.

Two new claims were submitted Nov. 16. One alleges $240,000 in lost value on behalf of owners Christopher and Catherine Hackney for their four-bedroom house at 157 Crescent Drive. Before adoption of the vacation rental ordinance, the short-term rental could accommodate 10 people, according to the claim.

Another claim was filed on behalf of Once Upon A Tide LLC for a property at 703 Fern St.

Three claims were submitted Nov. 17.

One, submitted on behalf of Bridgeview Properties LLC, alleges $635,000 in lost value. The claim states that prior to the VRO, the short-term rental could accommodate 14 guests in five bedrooms.

Another, on behalf of Bridgeview Vacations LLC alleges $745,000 in lost value. It states the home could accommodate 16 guests in six bedrooms before the VRO.

The Bridgeview claims are for two units at 832 S. Bay Blvd.

The third claim, submitted on behalf of owner Una Harris, alleges a five-bedroom property at 215 Magnolia Ave. lost $345,000 in value as a result of the VRO limiting the former 14 occupants to eight.

Another seven claims were submitted Nov. 18.

One claim on behalf of Three Gulls LLC alleges a five-bedroom property at 104 Palmetto Ave. lost $400,500 in value after the VRO limited the rental from 12 occupants.

A claim on behalf of Olga Alexander alleges a five-bedroom property at 207 Palm Ave. lost $300,000 after the rental was limited from 15 occupants to eight.

A claim for property at 423 Spring Ave. was submitted on behalf of 423 Spring Street LLC for an alleged $325,000 in lost value.

A claim for lost value of $200,000 for a property at 715 Holly Road was submitted on behalf of Alan and Ann Chappell.

Another for a property at 753 Jacaranda Road alleges owner Hull Speed LLC lost $345,000 in value after the VRO went into effect.

Two claims were submitted on behalf of Michael and Frieda Jaworski. The two claims are for two lots at 894 N. Shore Drive and allege that each lot lost $405,000 in value.

Anna Maria has received 86 claims totaling nearly $30 million in alleged losses since the April 1 adoption of the city’s vacation rental ordinance. Of those, 19 have yet to be responded to by the city, which has 150 days to respond to any claim filed with a “reasonable offer,” or risk the claim going to court.

The earliest claims, filed April 27, had response deadlines for settlement offers from the city of Nov. 23.

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

Anna Maria’s VRO limits short-term rental homes to an eight-person occupancy. Soon after its adoption, property owners began filing claims, alleging financial losses as a result of the city restrictions.

Bradenton Beach appoints two CRA business representatives

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John Horne, owner of Anna Maria Oyster Bar on the city pier, speaks Nov. 16 at a Bradenton Beach Community Redevelopment Agency workshop at city hall, 107 Gulf Drive N. Islander Photo: ChrisAnn Silver Esformes

It’s deja vu all over again for the Bradenton Beach Community Redevelopment Agency.

Bradenton Beach is again expanding its community redevelopment agency to include two representatives — and both are business owners — restaurateurs — in the district.

Ed Chiles of Anna Maria, owner of the Beach House Restaurant, and John Horne of Bradenton, principal owner of Anna Maria Oyster Bar on the city pier, were appointed Nov. 17 in a unanimous vote by the city commission.

Chiles was a representative member of the CRA in 2009 during a short-lived citizen expansion of the CRA, before it reverted to a five-member board comprising the city commission in 2010.

The commission, sitting as the community redevelopment agency, unanimously voted Nov. 2 to change its bylaws — to appoint two additional members.

The bylaws state the members have to be either residents or business owners in the district, which is between Cortez Road, Sarasota Bay, Fifth Street South and the Gulf of Mexico, including the Historic Bridge Street Pier.

The agency decided both members would serve staggered four-year terms, one beginning with the two new city commissioners and the other being a “partial four-year term,” timed according to the mayor’s two-year election term.

At its Nov. 16 workshop meeting, the CRA discussed the applicants, made nominations and approved the appointments.

Before discussing the applicants, Bradenton Beach Mayor Bill Shearon asked city attorney Ricinda Perry whether the CRA is considered a “board of the city.”

Perry said it is not.

CRA Chair Ed Straight made a point of order and asked Shearon about the nature of his objection.

Shearon said if the CRA is a board of the city, it must follow the city charter, which says the board does not have the authority to appoint members.

Perry responded, “The CRA is an agency, not a board, and you are a member of it.”

“Our city charter doesn’t recognize an agency,” Shearon said.

Perry the CRA and the city have an interlocal agreement that allows the CRA to receive city funding for projects in the district. The CRA was created under state statute, which overpowers the city charter, she said.

Shearon said the statutes are confusing and he did not agree with Perry’s assessment.

Straight made a motion to determine whether other board members were confused and in favor of the mayor’s objection.

The objection failed 1-4 with Shearon the only member in favor.

Following a 10-minute recess, the CRA members returned to the dais to discuss the applicants.

Commissioner Jake Spooner asked Perry if the two new members need to be one each, a business representative and a resident of the district.

Perry said, according to the bylaws, both members can be either a business owner or a resident.

All of the CRA members said the applicant pool was strong and it was a difficult choice.

Perry said “dual office holding could be a problem” with one of the applicants, Reed Mapes, who also is a member of the city’s planning and zoning board.

No person can serve in more than one municipal office at the same time — elected or appointed — according to the state statute governing the CRA.

Perry said considering P&Z members make quasi-judicial decisions involving the city’s comprehensive plan and land development, the CRA would amount to a second office.

Mapes was not present Nov. 16 to state his preference for the P&Z or CRA.

“It is my opinion, as chair of the CRA, that Mapes should be disqualified,” Straight said.

The rest of the members agreed with Straight and Mapes’ application was withdrawn.

Spooner asked if applicants are prohibited from being members of any city board, including Scenic WAVES Partnership Committee.

Perry said Scenic WAVES membership is not a conflict because the members don’t make “binding decisions.”

The applicants spoke during public comment.

Thomas Burdy and Bill Vincent, a recent candidate for the Ward 4 commission seat, spoke for themselves as residents of the CRA district.

“I have the highest and best intent for the city and I think this is evident by my attendance at all the city meetings,” Vincent said.

Business representative applicants in the district, including Jack Clarke, executive director of the Bridge Street Merchants, and Walter Loos, owner of Adventure Away, along with Horne, were next to approach the dais.

“I feel like an island boy — I’ve lived here for 20 years,” Horne said. “I think the CRA district is awesome and I’d love to be a part of it.”

There was no additional public comment as the CRA members resumed their discussion.

Outgoing Commissioner Jan Vosburgh said she thought both Bill Vincent and Jack Clarke would be assets to the agency. She also noted that Horne and Chiles have “added so much to the community over time.”

City Commissioner Ralph Cole said he would nominate Chiles and Horne.

Straight declined comment.

Spooner, whose term on the CRA and commission will end in November 2017, said Clarke, Chiles and Horne were his top choices.

Shearon said he thought the new members should be a resident and a business representative “for two different perspectives.”

Members made their nominations for the full four-year term position.

Shearon nominated Vincent, Spooner nominated Clarke, Cole and Straight nominated Chiles and Vosburgh nominated Horne.

The nominations for Clarke and Vincent failed with one vote each and Chiles was voted into the position 4-1, with Spooner the dissenter.

Next came nominations for the partial term.

Shearon, Straight, Cole and Vosburgh nominated Horne, with Spooner again nominating Clarke.

Horne was appointed with a 4-1 vote, with Spooner the naysayer.

Speaking to The Islander following the workshop, Tjet Martin, CRA district resident and Scenic WAVES chair, said, “I think it should have been a business person and a resident — that was the point.”

At the Nov. 17 city meeting, the commissioners unanimously voted to adopt the joint resolution to allow appointment of the two new members to the CRA.

There was no public comment.

Beach erosion control project finally ends

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A couple relaxes Nov. 17 on the beach end of the center erosion-control groin at Cortez Beach in Bradenton Beach. The groin was completed Nov. 16. Islander Photo: Kristin Swain

It’s been a long time coming, but the erosion control project to replace three groins in Bradenton Beach is completed.

Construction ended on the central groin Nov. 16.

Work on the three groins, located on the Gulf of Mexico between Sixth and 13th streets south, began in March 2015. Several delays plagued the project, including weather and unforeseen underwater debris, pushing the end date back to January 2016, then March, April, May, July and finally January 2017.

The most recent delay was due to damage to the center groin as a result of Hurricane Hermine.

As the hurricane passed about 250 miles west of Anna Maria Island in early September, and heavy wave action hit the shore, a section of the groin sank two inches. Repairs to the groin added $500,000 to the project budget, bringing the estimated total to $5.4 million and again delaying completion.

Bradenton Beach Mayor Bill Shearon said Nov. 17 the project had ended Nov. 16.

He also said he expected the staging area to be cleared by Nov. 20, after press time for The Islander.

Still to come, installation of signs restricting access to the three groins. The groins are not approved for use by the public.

Three groins were originally built in the 1960s to help prevent beach erosion. Years of being exposed to the elements caused the groins to decay. The groins were replaced as a part of Manatee County’s beach renourishment program.

Shearon said once staging is removed, the area near Gulf Drive will be graded for parking.

“I know some residents were inconvenienced and will be glad it’s done,” Shearon said.

Holmes Beach woman ordered to probation, house arrest

A 37-year-old Holmes Beach woman arrested twice in 2015 for driving under the influence of alcohol was sentenced to 12-months probation.

With a Sept. 26 probation order in two cases, 12th Circuit Judge Robert Farrance sentenced Michol Bugel to 30 days of house arrest, a six-month driver’s license suspension and portable alcohol monitor, contract and curfew, DUI school, a victim-impact panel and a 10-day vehicle impoundment.

Bugel also must complete 50 hours of public service work and attend counseling twice a month.

The sentences in the two cases run concurrently.

Bugel was arrested in October 2015 by Holmes Beach police in the 2500 block of Gulf Drive and in December by the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office in northwest Bradenton.

She was fined more than $4,470 in the cases.

Palmetto man gets probation

Probation was the sentence for a 23-year-old Palmetto man who pleaded no contest to driving under the influence in Holmes Beach.

Twelfth Circuit Judge Robert Farrance sentenced Nicholas Burns Easterling Oct. 6.

The 12-month probation includes requirements to complete a DUI course and a victim-impact panel, a six-month driver’s license suspension, a 10-day vehicle impoundment and 50 hours of public service. Half of the public service time can be substituted for payments of $10 per hour.

Holmes Beach police arrested Easterling in March after an officer reported observing him driving into a bicycle lane in the 5200 block of Gulf Drive.

In his DUI case, the judge ordered $2,241 in court costs and fines.

Easterling also was fined for failing to drive in a single lane, no proof of insurance, expired registration and open container.

Man sentenced to prison for stealing a truck

A 42-year-old man was sentenced to 30 months in the Florida Department of Corrections for stealing a truck from a Holmes Beach business and break-ins in Bradenton.

At a Nov. 15 sentencing, 12th Circuit Judge Susan Maulucci combined two cases against Damian C. Toto — a home trespass and vehicle burglary on March 1 and a May 2 grand theft of a motor vehicle belonging to Frank Agnelli of Agnelli Construction. Toto lived above the contractor’s office at 6000 Marina Drive, Holmes Beach.

On all charges, Toto changed his initial not-guilty pleas to guilty, waiving his rights to a trial and appeal.

A surveillance video led to Toto’s arrest and confession in the Holmes Beach case.

The March 1 trespass involved break-ins to a home in the 4300 block of 23rd Street in Bradenton and a vehicle parked outside the residence. He was arrested near the vehicle after a 911 caller reported the home invasion.

Motor vehicle theft and vehicle burglary convictions each carry a maximum penalty of five years in prison. A trespass to an occupied structure is punishable by a maximum of one year in jail.

In Toto’s sentencing, Maulucci ordered Toto to serve the two 30-month sentences concurrently with 344 days credit for time in jail after his arrests.