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Date of Issue: October 28, 2009

BIEO discusses resolutions against offshore drilling

Members of the Coalition of Barrier Island Elected Officials are deeply concerned about the potential for the Florida Legislature to open up new areas in the Gulf of Mexico for offshore drilling.

Longboat Key representatives made an impassioned plea at the BIEO’s Oct. 20 meeting for support from member cities to join Longboat Key in opposing any change in state statutes to allow more drilling in new areas.

Longboat Key Vice-Mayor Bob Siekmann said the Legislature will either discuss opening new areas in the Gulf of Mexico at a special session in November, or take up the idea during its April 2010 session.

Siekmann said Longboat Key is opposed to any change in the current status and invited BIEO members to have their respective city commissions pass resolutions supporting the position that no new areas be opened for offshore exploration and drilling.

BIEO members agreed to discuss resolutions at their city commission meetings.

Anna Maria City Commissioner Chuck Webb said any resolutions or letters against offshore drilling need to be presented “early” to the Legislature and opponents need a “game plan” to combat the efforts of oil company lobbyists in Tallahassee.

Holmes Beach Mayor Rich Bohnenberger said resolutions will make the people “feel good,” but opponents need to get information on public opposition to members of the appropriate legislative committees that will bring the issue to a vote.

“Resolutions are good for the people, but do little to sway the lawmakers,” he said. Opponents of offshore drilling might want to consider hiring their own lobbyist to make their views known, he suggested.

If the respective cities all agree they are against future exploration and drilling, the BIEO can issue a joint resolution at its November meeting, Bohnenberger said.

In other business, Bradenton Beach Mayor Michael Pierce agreed to be the BIEO’s representative on the Joint Planning Committee established by the 2002 “Accord” agreement between Manatee County and incorporated cities.

Bohnenberger has been the Island’s representative since inception of the JPC, but would like to step down.

The BIEO will formally make Pierce the Island’s JPC representative at its Nov. 18 meeting. The alternate will come from Longboat Key.

BIEO members also discussed the sale of the SevenShores condominium project to Minto Properties LLC and how that impacts the Island.

Bohnenberger said he had “heard through the grapevine” that Minto plans to “increase the number of units” from the 686 already approved, and “not follow the plan” presented by the former owner.

A new site plan for a Perico project would be “another can of worms,” Bohnenberger predicted.

He stressed he’s heard nothing official from Minto.

Minto spokesperson Mike Baldwin had not responded to an e-mail about the project prior to The Islander press deadline.