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Date of Issue: October 05, 2006

Holmes Beach moves city limits, won't enforce traffic laws in disputed area

HB City Survey
Staked out city
This orange stake along the north side of Manatee Avenue about 400 feet west of Kingfish Boat Ramp is apparently now the Holmes Beach city limits. In the background is Westbay Cove, which is within the city, at least according to the most recent survey. Islander Photo: Rick Catlin

Holmes Beach and Manatee County are at odds over where the city limits begin and end on Manatee Avenue West.

A Manatee County survey shows the city limits actually cut through the western portion of Westbay Cove condominiums, while the city's survey apparently has Westbay Cove well within Holmes Beach (The Islander, Sept. 27).

According to city surveyor Leo Mills, the city survey shows the city limits as being about 400 feet west of where the city limits sign near Kingfish Boat Ramp was formerly located, Holmes Beach Police Chief Jay Romine said. The city survey was not available for the Sept. 26 meeting, but was delivered to the city Sept. 27.

Romine said "formerly located" because he had the city limit signs on Manatee Avenue removed last week and stakes placed where the city survey shows the city boundary is located.

Until ownership of the disputed area between Kingfish Boat Ramp and the city limits is resolved, said Romine, police will continue to patrol that area, but will not enforce any traffic regulations. That will be up to the Florida Highway Patrol and the Manatee County Sheriff's Office, he said. It's a question of jurisdiction, he noted.

"We've policed this area for 40 years," Romine said, but until the issue gets resolved, the city will let the FHP and MCSO handle traffic enforcement in the questionable area. Police will continue to patrol that location and arrest people for any suspected illegal activity.

Residents of Westbay Cove, however, can rest assured that the HBPD will patrol their area. Romine said the city survey clearly shows both the north and south sections of Westbay Cove are within Holmes Beach, although nearer to county property than previously believed.

Romine said the city and county surveyors were to meet this week and attempt to determine exactly what are the city limits. If resolved, he said, the city limit sign will be placed at that agreed upon location.

Commissioner David Zaccagnino suggested the city move immediately to investigate annexation of the disputed area, including Kingfish Boat Ramp.

Commission Chairman Rich Bohnenberger, however, said the commission should wait until both surveys are available and discuss annexation at a future workshop. "We need to know what our city limit is before going any further," he said.

Mills' survey was unavailable for the commission meeting, but was delivered the following day to Romine and the city staff.

Mayor Carol Whitmore said she's already told Manatee County Administrator Ernie Padgett that the city will be looking at annexation, including Kingfish Boat Ramp.

That's probably won't stop the county from expanding the parking lot at the boat ramp, she said, an action that is opposed by the city.

It was the county plan earlier this year to add parking at the boat ramp that triggered the city's request for a new boundary survey. The plan has been opposed by the city and Westbay Cove residents, some of whom are currently circulating a petition to support their plan to create a "nature walk" in the proposed expansion area of the boat ramp.